Are You Ugly on the Phone? How You Sound is How You Look

When speaking on the phone  your voice creates an image of you in the mind of your prospect.

At conscious or subconscious level, that image can be positive, negative or neutral. Needless to say, your voice image can directly affect your sales result. Who wants to buy from a bully or a wuss?  Naturally, you want to portray a positive or neutral image and avoid the negative.  Here are the most common causes of negative images:

1.  Too Loud – The Bully

When you hear someone who is loud over the telephone, what image do you conjure up? Typically, a loud voice paints an image of a rep who is pushy and aggressive.  In effect, a bully.  Certainly there is very little warmth to a booming voice. The trouble is, the prospects aren’t always aware that they have created this image in their minds.  They only know they are uncomfortable with that person and ‘something’ tells them not to buy.

Would you buy from a ‘bully?’

Be conscious of how loudly you speak.  This is particularly true if you work in a noisy environment where there is a tendency to raise your voice.  Get feedback from your co-workers or your boss if you’re not sure.

2. Too Soft – The Wuss

For better or for worse, a soft voice creates an image of a wuss.  I know, it’s not fair… but there you have it.

A soft voice creates buyer uncertainty because your prospect senses that the rep lacks confidence.  This lack of confidence ripples over into the product or the service.  It suggests the product is a risky purchase.

If you think you might have a wussy little voice kick it up a notch.  Build your vocal chord. Practice speaking and reciting out loud.  Your voice will begin to sound more confident.

3. Too Fast- The Slick

Every hear the expression “Fast Eddie?”

It refers to a fast talker…and a con man.  Someone who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  That’s precisely how a prospect feels with a fast talker – like the rep is slick and pulling a ‘fast one.’  Or, it can sometimes create an image of someone reciting their lines, going through the motions, bored, indifferent.  In either case, the image is not flattering and certainly doesn’t inspire your prospect to take action.

Now here’s the thing: fast talkers are very, very common in the tele-sales world.  This is probably because tele-sales reps speak to lots of prospects and the tendency to ‘recite’ is a natural outcome.  Similarly, tele-sales reps tend to speak faster because they fear that the prospect will terminate the call so they try to cram as much in as they can.

Slow down.  It’s tough to do if you’re used to zipping along.  Get a yellow sheet of paper. Draw a skull and cross bones on it, or maybe a big exclamation mark and write, “Slow Down!”  Post this in front of you; somewhere so that you will notice it when speaking.

4. Too Slow- The Wimp

The wimp is a cousin of the wuss. A slow, ponderous speaker creates an image of someone disinterested and tired, or someone who lacks confidence. The wimp leaves a prospect feeling doubtful, uncertain and cautious… or worse, bored and annoyed.

A slow pace usually plagues rookies who still don’t know the product and who are still learning the process.  It’s natural but it should be short term as experience and confidence take over.  But it also plagues veterans who are simply burned out.  Here again, it’s the job of the manager to help light a fire.  Be aware of  the image you create.  Think before you dial!

5. Too Tonal

You’ve heard it before, right? “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

Tone refers to the emotional content of your message.  It’s how you “sound.”  It refers to your level of conviction, belief and interest you have in your product or service.  In fact, your tone accounts for about 85% of the meaning of the message you deliver.

The biggest issue in tone for many tele-sales reps is a monotone.  That means your message is delivered within a narrow tone range that makes the message sound boring.  There is no  inflection or intonation to give words or phrases a little extra zest. There is no ‘umph’, no excitement. Dull. Lifeless.  The message that is conjured up is a dull and drab rep selling a dull and drab product.  Kind of tough to buy with that image swirling away in your head, isn’t it.

On the other hand, there are reps who overcompensate.  Their bosses say, ‘be enthusiastic’ and they comply but go overboard.  You know what I mean: over emphasis, cheery, cheery and rah, rah.  Hyper.  While the attempt to show enthusiasm might be admirable, to the prospect it creates an image of someone phony (no pun intended…well, maybe a little)  and false.  It creates absolute distrust.

Clearly, there is a fine line between a sense of conviction and bombastic rhetoric.

The solution?  Practice until you’re blue in the face.  Take your opening statement and analyze it.  Where should you put emphasis?  If you use the word “exciting,” add a measure of excitement in your tone to convey it. Test it. Put lots of emphasis on it and hear how it sounds. Tone it down. Get it right. If you use the word “frustrating” when describing a typical challenge your prospect might have, make sure it sounds’ frustrating.  This takes practice.  It’s what actors and actresses do. And it can be done.

Why Bother?

Part of why face to face selling is so effective is that the prospect can ‘see’ the person they are dealing with.  At a subconscious level, this can impact the decision making process.  On the phone, you don’t have that advantage so you must consciously create a positive image of your voice. Be aware of these image busters.  Do something about it.  Because when you do, your sales will improve.

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