Playing the role
Who are you? What’s your job? Why are you calling?
Define this before you start. “I want to speak to the decision maker about my solution to a problem you have.” Think about how you sound, the language you use and how you want to be received. Prepare your responses to anticipated objections and know how you’ll handle the typical outcomes of a sales call:
They aren’t interested.
The decision maker isn’t available.
They want you to send more information.
If your offer is rejected, remember, they’re probably not rejecting you – well, at least not without good reason! Reflect on the call and ensure you explained your proposal concisely, you were polite, you listened to the contact and you tried to read the situation correctly. Some people are busy or just not interested. Each sales call is a learning opportunity!
The key to success is to match the recipient’s mood and voice tone and to raise this by one step. For example, if you speak to someone authoritative, be assertive but not arrogant. If someone’s tired, don’t be over bubbly. Be more energetic than them but not by too much, think steady and measured rather than slow and dull.
Try to adjust your tone to reflect the direction the call takes. Like an actor, you must be realistic and believable, or the superficiality will create a barrier.
Want to sound confident and measured? Or to put it another way, want to avoid sounding panicked, stressed and overwhelmed? Breathe from your diaphragm. It’s what singers, actors and even babies do. Breathing “properly” will help you stay calm, focused and grounded.
One of the best ways to help your breathing is to be conscious of it. If you feel yourself breathing from the top of your chest or talking from the top of your throat – pause. Take a deep breath, and focus on your diaphragm. One trick is to entwine your hands and place them on your navel. Take a deep breath and exhale. If your hands begin to spread apart, you’re breathing correctly.
Some people like to stand, some like a headset, others prefer a handset. It’s down to personal choice, but it’s integral that you give yourself the best possible chance to breathe correctly and project your voice.
Unsurprisingly, slumping your shoulders and adopting a subordinate posture is likely to come across in your call. Remember, it’s about playing the role, as much as it is about what you say and how you respond.
Too fast, too slow, misplaced intonation – achieving correct diction can be tough. Pacing and clarity are two key things to focus on. Practicing simple tongue-twisters can help limber up your vocal muscles. Also, record yourself reading out your pitch and listen for areas where you trip over words or run out of breath.
Try to be conscious of your diction. Typically people talk quickly when they’re excited, especially if they’re near to closing a deal. This is acceptable – and natural, but be mindful of the recipient, they want to understand you and you don’t want to lose them in the final throws!
Sales needs tactfulness, tenacity and a clear focus. Practice these tips to help you control your self-portrayal on the call, and hopefully you’ll put in a successful performance!