The Monotone Sales Problem

In order to be a successful salesman, you need a few things: knowledge of your product and effective communication skills. Very often, salespeople focus solely on the former to the neglect of the latter. Alongside being very knowledgeable about your product, it’s equally important to sound confident, passionate, and dependable; the easiest way to improve on this is working on prosody.

A simple readjustment to your inflections and vocal tone can completely change how the prospect views your solution. Remember, you’re trying to present a solution to the prospect’s problem, so the overall goal is to make the prospect feel as confident as you sound about your product. Today, we’ll analyze common problems with prosody and how to fix them.

What is prosody

To start, prosody is the patterns in stress and intonation in a language. Respectfully, intonation is the rise and fall of voice in speaking. A good example of prosody is poetry. The art of poetry thrives on the relationship between stressed and unstressed syllables in order to portray emotion; a pattern of stressed and un-stressed syllables is written, but then must be spoken appropriately to portray that same emotion. The same concept can be applied to sales; when you want to emphasize something important, you stress it with a rise in voice or tone, but destress that which isn’t. However, here lies the problem: the common salesperson does not take the time to analyze what they must emphasize. At the same time, many salesmen have a consistently flat tone of voice, which comes off as monotone; this is boring and does not entertain the prospect.

Monotone actors don’t make it far, neither do monotone salespeople.

How to get rid of your monotone voice

So how do we take the monotone salesperson and turn them into a sales poet?  Now, we don’t expect you to read poetry on downtime, but what we emphasize is that salesmen should review their dialogue framework for the most important words, phrases, and/or facts and then analyze them as if it were poetry.

 As a common practice in analyzing poetry, when you have a word or phrase that you want to emphasize, put an accent above the syllables you want to stress. Not only does this tell you where to emphasize your words, but it also tells you when it’s appropriate to raise the tone of your voice in order to portray the urgency or significance of what you say. For example, I will use bold and underlined letters in substitute of accents, instead of “This solution can save you thousands,” add some emphasis and it turns into “This solution can save you thousands!” Try reading them out loud to hear the difference in urgency and enthusiasm.  Try modulating your voice to create feelings of excitement and passion. 

Your voice is your most powerful tool, don’t neglect it.

Once you’ve reviewed your dialogue framework, try reading it aloud while you practice; you’ll be able to hear where emphasis sounds natural or awkward, then adjust appropriately. Another useful exercise is to leave a voicemail on your cell phone, then listen to it and pick-up on where you need emphasis and where you don’t.  Even more effective is to have a coworker sit down with you, listen to your pitch, and give you honest feedback. By practicing these simple steps, you’ll recognize an improvement in your sales pitch, but more importantly, you’ll notice a difference in how your prospect engages with you on the phone. Overall, a simple change in your speech and tone can solve your prosody problems and improve your closing rates.

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