Did you know that your voice has a massive impact on how persuasive you are in sales? While sales reps are focused on perfecting their pitch, most of them pay little attention to the tonality of their voice.
In a world where the role of tonality is easily underplayed, not being mindful of its usage can jeopardize your sales success. After all, how you say something is just as important as what you say.
The reality is that many sales reps are unaware of the importance of tonality because they don’t realize how beneficial it is for sales success. Fortunately, the minute they are aware of the role tonality plays in sales, it allows them to start making conscious changes to their audio delivery.
In this blog, we will dive deeper into the various types of tonality with examples, along with the dos and don’ts.
What is tonality?
Tonality simply refers to the intonations in the way your voice sounds when you speak—the rise and fall of your voice. As simple as it may sound, the correct use of tonality has the potential and power to make or break your sales pitch.
Why is tonality in sales important?
With sales being a field of work where sales reps have to present a convincing sales pitch, the role of tonality is indisputable. Your tonality has the power to either command the full attention of your audience and inspire them or bore them and simply shut you off.
In fact, while most sales representatives are motivated by a super impressive script chock-full of persuasive words, Stanford research revealed that the words you use account for only about 7% of whether or not anyone believes a single word you say. But over 90% of whether anyone connects with you, whether they like you enough to listen to you, has to do with the sound that comes out of your mouth aside from the words—your tonality and your body language.
To be honest, not everyone is going to remember what you said—they will remember how you made them feel.
The different components of tonality
Tonality is the art of effective communication, and it is more than just the tone of your voice, though that certainly plays a role. It is a complex interplay of several components, including the volume, pitch, pace, etc., all working together to create an effect that resonates with listeners far more than a single monotone delivery ever could. Since there is no “perfect” tone for every individual and situation, it is best to create a tailored framework that can be adjusted as needed.
Let’s look at the components in detail:
The pitch is basically how high or low your voice is. In fact, the way you use your pitch can have a powerful impact on how you feel and how others perceive you. Women tend to use a higher pitch, while men typically employ a lower one; however, simply sticking to the same level of pitch can make you sound monotonous and uninteresting.
# A “flat” or “monotone” pitch is when you speak without any variation in your delivery (as you can see in the video below), which makes it sound dull and uninteresting. As it lacks intonation, it leaves listeners struggling to differentiate if you’re asking them a question or making a statement, causing them to zone out and lose focus on what you’re saying, ultimately defeating the intended purpose.
On the other hand, injecting inflections into the part of the sentence you want to emphasize can hold and maintain the listener’s attention. In the video below, Roger Love, one of the world’s leading authorities on voice, has demonstrated how making small variations in your pitch can have a huge impact on people’s emotions. When you use notes that climb upward (from low to high), it adds a feeling of happiness and friendliness, whereas if you go from high to low, it creates a sad and somber tone.
Here are a few situations in which you can use this technique:
a. When you want to emphasize on important keywords in a sentence:
“The reason I’m calling is because we help sales reps improve their response rates with videos, and I thought you might be interested too.” By raising and lowering your pitch at the correct times, you indicate to them subconsciously that the italicized words need their attention.
b. When you ask your listeners a question:
Use an inflected upward pitch at the end of the sentence so they will subconsciously understand that it is a genuine question and that it invites an answer.
c. When making a statement
Inflect your pitch downward to demonstrate your confidence in your statement.
The volume of your voice has the power to make a huge difference in how people perceive you. If you’re too quiet, you might come across as timid or shy and fail to build credibility with the listener. On the other hand, if you are too loud, it can create a sense of hostility and intimidation that makes it hard for others to trust what you’re saying. To ensure that your message gets across effectively, strike the right balance between being heard and not being overpowering.
In the video below from The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo di Caprio shows his impressive vocal control, varying his voice to build excitement at the right moments and commanding attention with his skillful use of words.
Here are a few things you can learn from the below video:
a. Start louder with their name and then soften the volume
Notice how Leonardo di Caprio starts slightly louder with “Hello John!” to command attention and then softens his volume with “How are you doing today?” This downward inflection in volume begins to grab the attention of the listener and then proceeds to create a sense of calmness and comfort.
b. Use a louder volume while pitching and lower it while closing
Like in the movie clip, utilizing a louder volume when discussing the benefits of your product will create an atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm, but when it comes time to close the sale, transitioning to a lower volume is key. This change in volume will help establish a sense of trust between you and the customer, as it communicates that you are sincere in your desire to provide them with a quality product or service. Additionally, low-volume speech signals that you are composed and confident in your offer; this helps build assurance in their decision-making process.
Finally, speaking at an ideal speed is key when it comes to conveying information effectively, and research indicates that a rate of 2.6 words per second—or 140 to 160 words per minute—will ensure that listeners comprehend you clearly.
However, speaking too quickly may lead to sentences running together and sounding rushed; similarly, talking too slowly will make the conversation tedious and cause listeners to lose interest. To ensure your message is understood, it’s important to maintain a moderate pace throughout your speech or presentation.
Here are a few tips:
a. To demonstrate urgency or excitement, you can speak quickly.
b. When you want to create a dramatic effect, slow down or pause so it will give the listener time to comprehend what you are saying.
How to improve your tonality
It’s no secret that each of us has a distinct vocal quality, but that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone and you can’t refine it. With some practice, you can develop a tonality that will allow you to speak with more charisma and engagement. So here are some tips to get you on your way:
1. Create the perfect script
In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Leonardo di Caprio used his script to train his team to nail the pitch. That’s our first tip: instead of just winging it, thinking you have years of experience under your belt, imagine yourself as the sales rep in this movie: they memorize the script so much so that it naturally flows while talking to their clients.
2. Highlight the intonations
Once you have your script ready, it’s important to focus on the intonations. To do this, highlight each question in a different color than the statements. Doing this will help you practice and perfect the pitch of your lines. Also, when you are rehearsing, pay attention to the inflection at the end of each question and to maintaining an even tone for statements.
3. Record your voice for practice sessions
Did you know that self-criticism is the key to becoming a better speaker? When you take the time to record your practice sessions, it allows you to perfect your pace, volume, and pitch—giving yourself the tools and feedback needed to improve. Not only this, but it also helps you hone in on intonations and pauses, allowing your words to be heard loud and clear. As Roger Love so aptly put it, if you like the sound of your own voice, chances are those who hear you will too! So start mastering the art of speaking by recording yourself during practice.
4. Be mindful of any filler words
Filler words not only detract from the flow of your delivery, but they can also make it difficult for your audience to follow what you’re saying. When practicing your speech, ensure that each part is articulated clearly and concisely and that any filler words are eliminated. Doing this will help keep your audience engaged and allow them to better absorb the information you’re delivering.
5. Use apps to reduce the monotone voice
If you’re looking to improve your vocal tonality and make it more expressive, there are two great apps that can help. Vocal Pitch Monitor and SingScope work together to reduce monotone voices by providing feedback based on recorded readings. Read aloud passages of your own creation or from existing sources and receive real-time audio analysis detailing areas where improvement is needed.
It is said that knowledge is power, and when it comes to tonality in sales, this statement could not be truer. In my opinion, when you are aware of your tonality in its original form, you’ve won half the battle. However, that is only the beginning; getting to master it requires time and effort. The good news is that nobody is born a great salesman; it’s all about recognizing areas for improvement and working on them accordingly. With dedication and effort, even the most introverted person can become a successful salesman. The power of tonality is in your hands; go for it.