Context Matters

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Debate two speakers. Political speeches, debates, rhetoric. Broad and expressive hand gestures.

Tonality refers to how you use your voice to speak during your sales appointment. How you speak during your sales appointments will powerfully communicate your enthusiasm and conviction for your product. If you primarily sell over the phone (with no video conferencing), your tonality is your entire nonverbal communication!

Wait-and-see salespeople believe that value of content alone is what persuades buyers to take action. They think, Sure, enthusiasm is helpful, but really, either buyers want to take action or not. So the wait-and-see salespeople drone their way through the presentation, paying little attention to how the presentation is being received. When buyers don’t leap to purchase the product, the wait-and-see salespeople shrug and blame fate for not sending them more enthusiastic buyers.

Don’t make that mistake!

•How you deliver the content of your presentation directly affects the persuasiveness of your presentation.

•How you ask your buyers to take action directly affects the probability of their taking action.

One of the most persuasive elements of tonality is volume. Pay attention to the volume of your voice and the volume of the buyer’s voice. It’s important. Do you speak to every buyer at the same volume? No.

Many salespeople believe that to speak with enthusiasm they must speak loudly. That’s not necessarily true. You can speak quietly or loudly yet still communicate with enthusiasm.

How loudly should you speak with buyers?

By applying the three principles of rapport to your tonality during your sales appointments, you will adjust the volume and intensity of your voice to that of your buyers. Ideally, you will match the buyer’s speed and volume of speech within the first ninety seconds of contact. When the buyer speaks loudly, you will want to increase the volume of your voice close to his. He could be speaking loudly because he is hard of hearing. He may just be a normally loud speaker.

When a buyer speaks quietly, decrease the volume of your voice. You do not need to match the volume of your buyer’s voice exactly, but come relatively close. The idea is to make her as comfortable as possible with you. Close enough is usually good enough.

Consider the perspective of your buyer. If she is soft-spoken and you speak loudly to her, it is possible she might assume you are a stereotypical, blustery salesperson? You could, in effect, push her away.

On the other hand, if your buyer speaks with a booming, powerful voice and you speak in a mild, quiet manner, is it possible he might think that you lack confidence in your company, in its products, or in yourself? The answer is yes. He may then attempt to dominate the sales process, and you may lose control.

The issue is not whether speaking loudly or quietly is more persuasive. In each example, the challenge is created by the difference in volume between you and your buyer. Matching tonality is a penalty situation. Too much of a difference in volume will distract your buyer from the message of your presentation, and will often lead to a no-sale situation. Make it a habit to talk to your buyer in a similar volume to what he uses, but within the natural range of your voice.