You can even sell ice to Eskimos!

Relationships are key in sales, which is why tonality in speech is crucial to your success. You see, while what you say is important, how you say it really matters. Take that word ‘really’. How you intonate can make the meaning different: is it a statement, a question, or an expression of incredulity?

Speech tonality can help you build rapport, which we all know is essential to developing relationships and closing sales. So, you must get your tone right from those very first words that you speak.

Whether meeting in person, on the phone, or on a video call, or communicating on a podcast, or even writing in a blog, your tonality in speech will leave an impression. It had better be the one you want to leave.

Get tonality in sales right, and you can even sell ice to Eskimos! So, let’s explore tonality in speech and how to employ it in your sales processes.

First off, what is tonality in speech?

Tonality is the sound of your voice when speaking. The three main types of tonality are:

  • Questioning – when the tone of your voice rises toward the end of a sentence

  • Statement – when tone remains flat throughout a sentence

  • Command – when the tone of your voice lowers toward the end of a sentence

Try saying this sentence in these three tones of voice, and you’ll see what I mean:

“I enjoy eating cream cakes with a mug of black coffee.”

Why speech tonality matters

How someone says something to you really makes a difference in how you perceive that message. Receiving meaning through tone is an ability that we are born with. 

Test this science if you like. 

Say the words “Well done, you’ve eaten all your dinner” to a toddler in two different tones of voice. 

First, in a light, up and down tone with a smile on your face. What does the toddler do? If you’re lucky, they’ll laugh. At worst, you’ll probably get a smile. Good job!

Now, try saying the same words in a deep, stern voice, with staccato phrasing. The toddler’s reaction? Quivering lips, right? A few tears are likely. They probably put their arms out – not to you, to anyone else in the room.

Actually, on second thought, don’t try this experiment! It’s a bit cruel. I’m sure you get my point, though? (Or should this be, “I’m sure you get my point, though” with no question mark? See the difference in tone, even in written communication?)

38% of your message is tonal

According to research by Professor Albert Mehrabian, how you say what you say conveys a massive 38% of your message. 

This is second only to your body language, at 55%. 

The words you use come in at a paltry 7%.

Imagine the power of this knowledge when cold calling. The tone of voice can be the difference between securing a sales meeting and failing to get buy-in. It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it.

Speech tonality is even more important when selling remotely

COVID-19 has accelerated the move to working remotely and virtual sales. Video calls are commonplace now. But with on-screen communication, it’s difficult to read body language and nonverbal communication.

This means that speech tonality takes over as the number one way in which we decipher the real meaning of messages.

Therefore, it’s crucial to set the tone of your conversation by setting your tone of conversation.

As we touched on earlier, tone is at least as equally important as the words used in written communication. The difference is that you present tone using textual techniques. What, you don’t believe me? Well, you should! In this paragraph alone, you have subconsciously connected with a change in tone because of my use of bold text, question and exclamation marks, and italics.

While I’m on the subject of communicating in writing, listen to my podcast ‘Marketing reimagined through copywriting’ for some great tips on how to make your tone count in the written word.)

Using tone to convey deeper meaning

As you can see, your tone of voice conveys deep meaning to your audience. 

It establishes authority, empathy, enthusiasm, liking or loathing, and a whole host of other qualities and emotions.

How you say something can convey meaning such as:

  • Urgency

  • Certainty

  • Caring

  • Presupposition

  • A thirst for knowledge

You can convey nervousness and uncertainty, or confidence and assuredness. What tonality in speech do you think would help to convince an Eskimo that ice is a commodity they should buy from you?

The PAVP of tonality in speech

Speech tonality can be broken down into four parts:

  • Pitch – how high or low your voice is, and different pitch inflection during speech.
  • Articulation – the clarity of your speech (you want to get someone’s back up, then mumble something under your breath!).
  • Volume – quiet is coy, loud is aggressive.
  • Pace – a slower pace of speech aids understanding, though speak too slowly and you become annoying. Speaking faster may make you sound more excited, but you may also be misunderstood.

And in the written word? 

Short sentences create pace. Excitement. Breathlessness, even. 

Longer, more drawn-out sentences, accompanied by complicated phraseology, force the reader to consider more deeply the message that you are sharing.

See what I mean?

Boost your revenues by considered tonality in sales

Here’s a quick tip to help boost your sales by simply applying tonality:

Make the first 10 seconds count most.

How do you do this?

Sound interested and interesting in your introduction. 

Don’t be monotone. Sound dynamic, confident, and welcoming. 

When you do this, the results of your cold calling tone of voice will propel your sales to the stars. Instead of a polite (or not so polite) ‘no’, you’ll be more likely to be asked to explain more.

Practice this now. Here’s what to do:

  1. Write down your telephone introduction.

  2. Call your own number.

  3. Read the introduction, then put the phone down.

  4. Listen to your recorded message.

  5. Rinse and repeat steps 1 to 4 using different speech tonality.

  6. When you have found the tone of introduction that you prefer most, practice it – then use it with your prospects.

If you like, why not book a free 15-minute call with me? I’ll give you my honest opinion of your cold call introduction, and suggestions on how to use tonality in sales more effectively.

Publish Date: 12/11/2020 12:00:00 AM
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You can even sell ice to Eskimos!
Relationships are key in sales, which is why tonality in speech is crucial to your success. You see, while what you say is important, how you say it really matters. Take that word ‘really’. How you intonate can make the meaning different: is it a statement, a question, or an expression of incredulity?
Speech tonality can help you build rapport, which we all know is essential to developing relationships and closing sales. So, you must get your tone …

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