The Voice of Reason

I was completely taken aback by the voice on the other end of the line. He sounded weary—like he might be having a bad month. And he spoke slowly, as if he were having trouble gathering his thoughts. I was feeling impatient. It was the middle of the business day and I had answered my phone in between meetings.

I was completely taken aback by the voice on the other end of the line.

He sounded weary—like he might be having a bad month. And he spoke slowly, as if he were having trouble gathering his thoughts.

I was feeling impatient. It was the middle of the business day and I had answered my phone in between meetings.

By the time he finally laid out his sales pitch, I had already been multi-tasking for a few minutes: dashing off an email, signing off on an expense report, and scribbling down a headline that had popped into my head for a client project.

I politely thanked him for his call, told him I wasn’t interested and hung up. His style was such a turn-off, that I couldn’t recall his name, the company he represented, or the reason he thought I might be a good prospect for his product or service. Net-net, he had wasted my time and his.

So, I have to ask: when was the last time you audited your sales team? I don’t mean their stats—number of calls, number of connects, number of leads, etc., but actually listened in on their calls? Evaluated and provided tips on how an individual might improve with regard to tone and style? It may be the downfall of your telemarketing program.

So here are a five tips to share with your team:

  • Rev the vocal chords before you start dialing for dollars. Just like an athlete warms up before starting to practice, your voice needs time to get ready. Humming, singing or talking to coworkers is a great way to get your chords warmed up.
  • Adjust your pace. A great speaking voice/style includes particular attention to rhythm, pacing, intonation and inflection. Adjusting your tone to find the warmth in your voice that can match your company brand is critical to making your listener feel the same positive energy about your product/service that you’re feeling.
  • Stand up and be heard. Many experts agree that a voice carries more range, resonance and power when the diaphragm isn’t folded over. I often find myself pacing around my office, headset on, participating in a conference call or consultative conversation. It helps me to think clearly and listen more carefully.
  • Step away from the mic. Too often, callers sound muffled or difficult to hear because of their VOIP network, cell phone coverage or background noise. Test out your line/microphone/headset on others so it doesn’t detract from your call.
  • Adapt and reflect. People love to work with people who are like them. As you listen to your prospect, try to match their volume, speed, style and tone without sounding over the top. I was taught to nod while listening (even though they can’t see you) and that “agreement” will come across in your voice.

As for the sad-sack who called me, I’d suggest he find another line of employment. It was clear he didn’t like what he was doing and these tips probably won’t help.