A bad attitude is like a flat tire—if you don’t change it, you’ll never go anywhere.
Are you aware that your sales force’s attitude about your company, your customers and their jobs is expressed through their tone of voice every day? In fact, only 27 percent of each impression they make on a customer or prospect is formed by the words they speak.
Even in an initial conversation, prospective customers can sense whether your sales team is interested and engaged in assisting them or they simply view answering the phone as another chore. Only customers who feel engaged, heard and respected will close business with you.
Sometimes the customers themselves are disengaged, rushed and rude. However, if properly trained, your sales team has the power to positively influence those customers simply by the way they use their voices.
Connie Kadansky, a professional certified Sales Call Reluctance coach and President of Exceptional Sales Performance, provides eight tips you can teach your sales team to help them modulate their phone voices and close more business:
1. Articulation refers to how clearly one speaks. Do your salespeople mumble and slur words, using lazy language like “gonna, gotta or doin’?” The goal is to have them speak crisply and precisely.
2. Word choice is important. Teach your team not to tell me I’m going to save “tons” of money on your product or service when—in reality—I will save about $15, at most.
3. Pitch is the relative highness or lowness of tone as perceived by the customer. You may be surprised to learn that a speaker’s mood and emotions can affect the pitch of his or her voice. The lower the pitch, the more credible a person is perceived to be in a business environment. People with high-pitched voices are judged as less powerful and more nervous.
4. Quality is how one sounds. Fatigued? Bored? Hurried? This is the most important component for a salesperson on the phone because the overall impression of any voice depends on its quality. What impressions are your salespeople leaving on your customers?
5. Pace is the speed of speech. Your sales team’s pace needs to be slow enough to be clearly understood, yet rapid enough to maintain interest. It is possible to slow the pace of the conversation if a customer seems to be hurried or not listening. Teach your team to try the following: In a friendly tone, slowly and without judgment, have them say,“I get the feeling you are in a rush, and I’m here to help you get on with your day.” This technique can help change the tone of a conversation. The customer feels like your salespeople are listening and, more importantly, in tune with the conversation.
6. Rhythm is the beat of one’s speech. Listen to your sales team on the phone. Is their rhythm choppy or fluid? Halting or flowing? Help them listen to themselves, notice clunky patterns, and make more fluid speech choices.
7. Pausing is an important technique that gives your salespeople the opportunity to listen while the customers answer their questions.
8. Non-verbal sounds are the sounds that are not words: sighs, laughs, moans, hums, ums, ahs, huhs and grunts. All of these can be incredibly distracting to a customer. Have you ever spoken to someone on the phone who was not really paying attention to the conversation? All you heard were a lot of ums and ahs. You just knew they were checking email and attempting to speak with you at the same time. How did you feel? Teach your team to notice their non-verbal sounds and eliminate them if they are distracting.
Awareness is key. I highly recommend that you record your incoming calls and listen to how effectively your sales team handles a diversity of customers. You will be duly impressed with a few conversations and slightly embarrassed by the way your salespeople interact on others. A few will make you say, “Ugh!” or “Eek!” or “Yikes!” But these are perfect teaching opportunities. Teach your staff to quickly self-correct and become more professional communicators who can influence the customer in a positive way through their tone.
At the very core of your team’s tone is how interested they are in helping your customers and whether they like them, their jobs and themselves. In this case, the old “fake it until you make it” adage simply isn’t true; you cannot teach your team to fake engagement and caring.
Your team’s attitude speaks loudly to your customers and prospects. Help your sales team work on their tone, and you’ll be amazed at how much more successful they are.
Connie Kadansky is a professional certified Sales Call Reluctance coach and President of Exceptional Sales Performance. She offers speaking, training, coaching and performance improvement services specifically addressing Sales Call Reluctance. She has a proven track record with diverse businesses, from entrepreneurs to Fortune 50 companies, both nationally and internationally. She credits her current status as a speaker to her longtime involvement with Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association. Kadansky is a graduate of one of the most respected and accredited coaching schools, Adler School of Professional Coaching. She served as Vice President of Programs for the Phoenix Chapter of International Coaching Federation in 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.exceptionalsales.com/.