Sound Executive

I’ve listened to a bunch of calls recently made by our own telesales team and our clients. It’s a more revealing process than I initially expected. When you are doing your own prospecting you don’t hear how you really sound. Just like seeing yourself in photos or on video, listening to yourself can be quite shocking and revealing.

What struck me from listening to calls is that some people sound like they are executives and some people don’t. Some people sound like they are in the right place and some people sound like they are not. Some people sound like they are calling to transact business and others sound like they are pleading for a favor.

When someone is calling you for the first time, you (the prospect) are looking for “clues” as to what to do. Is it important? Is this somebody important? Is this call worth my time and attention? (Or if you are an executive assistant, should I put this call through)?

Human beings are incredibly good at processing non-verbal information. The sound (tone, speed etc) of your voice is processed extremely quickly by the prospect to try to make a determination as to who you are (note: calling from a noisy call center is a major clue you are not important). Obviously, you want to sound like you are important.

Your voice gives away a lot more about your inner thoughts than most of us would like to admit. So first of all, it’s very important that you actually believe in what you are selling! If you don’t, you are likely to start sounding like you are pleading for help.

Assuming you do believe in your product or service, you may still need to practice conveying this strongly in the “heat of battle” when prospecting. A little self-programming may be needed. Speaking from personal experience, what I find useful is to review all the positive results our service/product has brought to clients, including reading our testimonials and case studies and focusing on the benefits contained in those documents. This helps me get in a positive frame of mind. Then just keep repeating this exercise over-and-over again every time you prospect (daily if that’s your prospecting routine) — repetition is key to self-programming.

For anybody who knows me or who has read much of my writing you will know I am a huge believer in testing. So in this case I believe it’s critical to record a whole bunch of your calls and listen to how you sound. As I said earlier this is like looking at photographs of yourself. Usually what you hear is not what you expect. Listen and judge if you sound “executive”. Do you sound like you belong? Do you sound like you should get an appointment with “Mr. CxO”? You need to. The person on the other end of the phone will be trying to figure that out.

Sounding right takes a lot of practice and working on yourself. But if your primary tool for starting the sales process is the telephone, it’s a must. Prospects are listening to your voice as much as to what you say. Don’t sound like you are pleading. “Dress” your voice for success!

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