Learn how tonality in sales communication can make the difference between a sale and a see ya later.

It’s scary to think that success can boil down to how well you use your voice. Tonality in sales or the way your voice sounds when you speak has an effect on whether you close a deal or not. Tone is an integral part of communication. Even in the written word, tone makes is a big variable that can determine your success. While your “voice” isn’t necessarily out loud, written communication carries your tone while transmitting and eliciting a series of emotions.

Tonality is an important variable to understand, especially when meeting or speaking with a customer for the first time. Understanding and leveraging tonality in sales will improve rapport building with your customers. Knowing what levers to push and pull in your tone can change the outcome in your sales. Before learning how to shift your tonality, it’s important to understand why it matters.

The way you speak could be affecting your sales

The tone you choose to start a conversation, respond to a customer, or engage in an email exchange affects how your customers move forward with their decision to buy whatever you’re selling. When engaging with a customer for the first time (or the 50th time), you demonstrate your personality and values. A customer will recognize your particular tone and feel at ease with it. Or maybe they will feel intimidated by your tone and lose their nerve to continue communicating. Many times, customers and colleagues will use tone either subconsciously or consciously as a way to assert their own dominance or authority over a situation.

The way you write affects your sales, too

Think about an email or a text message that ended in a “.” Instead of a “!” Or when a partner responds to a text with the dreaded, “K.” In the written word, tone is easily shifted by a simple punctuation mark or abbreviation. “Thanks” feels a little different than “Thank you.” “Hello, how are you doing today?” feels a little different than “Hey, how’s it going?” It’s not just the difference between formal and informal writing. Using more questions in writing can yield an inquisitive and consultative tone. Choosing words like “will” instead of “could” or “is” instead of “might be” lend themselves to a more assertive and confident tone.

How to assess and improve your tonality techniques

Record yourself using different tones
In order to improve your tonality in sales, you need to assess your baseline. If you don’t already have recorded calls or messages, try leaving yourself a voice mail using different tones and tone combinations. Then replay them and decide what tone seems the most effective. Ask a colleague to listen in, too, to make sure you get an unbiased response.

Match the tone and energy of your customer
A common technique used by salespeople to disarm their customers is to match their level of energy. Matching a customer’s tone helps them feel comfortable and at ease in the conversation as if you were a close acquaintance.

Use A/B testing with your written materials and track the data to see which scripts/emails/and messages get the most responses.
Take advantage of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or your email marketing software and use A/B testing to compare different scripts and texts. You may find that one version of an email garners a better response which can help you tailor the rest of your written communications by following suit.

What tone levers to pull

Experiment with pacing. After listening to your own recordings, try speeding up or slowing down your speech. Maybe there’s a part of the conversation that you want your customer to pay close attention to. Try slowing down during that part.

In general, having a neutral pitch, with your voice not sounding too high or low, is a good strategy when it comes to tonality in sales. Use moments of high pitch to express excitement and friendliness. Try moments of low pitch to convey a sense of authority and expertise.

Letting your sentences go up in pitch at the ends of your sentences, when used judiciously, can lead your customer into agreement. Try using three sentences in a row with a subtle up tone at the end of each sentence. These tones signal a level of agreement in your voice that encourages your conversation partner to agree as well. Be careful not to overuse this since it can easily go overboard and become a bit too sing-songy.

Speak with authority and clarity using clear diction and word choice that exudes confidence.  Add a layer of certainty, speaking in absolutes as a way to build trust with your customer.

Genuine care
Speak to your customer in a way that shows you care about them. Demonstrate your concern for your customer by speaking in a voice or writing in a tone that is earnest. If you believe what you’re saying, chances are your customer will too.

Why tonality in sales matters

The tricky part is there is no one right tone. In fact, in most of our conversations, tonality shifts multiple times depending on the conversation partner and the context of the conversation. Tonality in sales is not a one-size-fits-all, either. What works at the beginning of a conversation, may not work for when it comes time to close the deal. The key is to listen carefully and pick up and respond to your customer’s verbal and nonverbal cues. Building a relationship with your customer is key to making a sale (and hopefully repeat business). Becoming more fluent in tonality will lead to stronger customer relationships.

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