Being Yourself and Sounding Your Best
Many, if not all phone based sales people, use some kind of one-piece headset with a built-in earpiece. Depending on the quality of that equipment, as well as the telephone lines, your voice can sound distorted and interfere with the impact of your message. Trying to sound sincere? You might come across as condescending. Trying to sound committed? You could be heard as threatening. That’s why it is so important to become aware of your voice and to make it an instrument in your toolbox, just like your keyboard, computer screen, and chair.
Your voice is a symphony created by:
- Breath control, which gives your voice its power. Good breath control is a result of proper posture and good care of your physical health, particularly the lungs and diaphragm. You are not breathing effectively if you are slumped and slouching at your desk. Make it a habit to sit up straight when you talk on the telephone. You will also notice that the more physically fit you are, the better control you have over your lung capacity and the more effectively you speak.
- Tone, which is the quality of your voice as air moves from your chest through your larynx. If you are angry or upset, surprised or excited, callers will hear it in your voice; this is something that your customers will pay attention to. Although you cannot eliminate negative aspects of tone completely, you can manage them with concentration and practice.
- Articulation, which is the way that your pronounce sound by using your mouth, lips, and jaw to form words. Articulation is highly responsive to practice, so if you wish to change the way you pronounce things, practice can certainly make perfect.
There are no right and wrong rules about speech patterns. Just be aware of your accent and vocal patterns and think about how they are helping you at work. Although a regional accent may provide more appeal in some areas, for example, you have to think about whether that same accent interferes with clear communication. As our workplaces continue to diversify, and we offer sales services around the world 24/7, the number of accents and regional variations will increase. You have to ensure that your customers can understand you.
The Four E’s
The four E’s of an effective telephone voice are:
Use your voice to vary the tone of what you say and rate to make it interesting to hear.
Use clear enunciation and master articulation. We can be casual when speaking with friends or family, dropping a final consonant like the “g” in an “ing” ending or truncating the middle letters of a word. Unfortunately, when we do that on the telephone, the sound of these shortcuts gets exaggerated. Open your mouth and speak clearly.
Your voice should be smooth and pleasant, not whiny or negative. Communicate that you are happy in your work (and a happy person overall) in order to engage your customer. Speaking in anger or being curt will put your call – and your company – in a negative light.
Your voice needs to really shine when you use the telephone as your instrument. You need to feel energy and pass that positive flow through to your customers. This means that you approach your job as if it the only thing that matters right now, and that the customer you currently have on the line is the most important customer ever. Although it sounds corny and might feel uncomfortable, think about the salespeople you speak to in your own life, and what it was that led you to talk to them, buy from them, or made the conversation pleasant. Inject energy and joy into your voice and work from the attitude that you are there to serve your customer, and you will be more likely to meet your targets.