The Importance of How You Sound

It might sound surprising to you, but mimicking the way a prospective customer speaks can help increase your appeal when trying to sell to them. Check out the areas of speaking outlined below and how some slight changes in the way you sound can help improve your customer connections.

While people feel comfortable with other people who are like themselves, it’s also true that people feel comfortable with other people who sound like themselves. When you listen to someone speak, concentrate on the several subsets of tonality, which we are identifying as: volume, rate of speech, tone, tempo and favorite words and phrases.

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    Have you been on a sales call where you spoke loudly and your prospect spoke in a much lower voice, or vice versa? It doesn’t seem like something so trivial would matter, but it does. Put yourself in the prospect’s position. You generally speak in a very loud voice and the salesperson across from you uses a very soft voice. Does that make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable? OK or not OK? Listen carefully to the person you’re speaking to and then try to match their volume.

    Rate of speech

    What’s your rate of speech? Is it fast, slow or in between? When you’re with a prospect, do you speak at your own rate, or do you mirror the prospect’s rate of speech?  Put yourself in the prospect’s place once again: You speak slowly. You like to pick and choose your words carefully. You like to leave a little thinking time between your sentences.  But there’s this salesperson across from you and he’s speaking so fast that you can’t even think. How do you feel? What are you thinking? Are you likely to say to yourself, “I like this guy. He talks fast.” Or, might you say to yourself, “This guy is slick. I’m not sure I can trust him.” Form a better connection with the person you’re trying to sell to by matching that person’s rate of speech as closely as you can.

    Tone

    A squeaky, high-pitched tone is irritating to all but the people who use the same tone. Equally bad is a tone that’s sarcastic, all-knowing or gruff. The tone that’s most pleasing to your prospect is the one you hear your prospect using. 

    Tempo

    The rhythm of conversation, or tempo, is important too. Some people begin speaking slowly and they build up speed as they become more emotional. Others begin speaking emotionally and then wind down to a monotone, as though they’ve burned out before finishing. Pay attention to tempo and begin to mirror the tempo that you hear in conversations with your prospects.

    Favorite words and phrases

    Listen for your prospect’s favorite words and phrases and then “play them back” for your prospect. Words and phrases have special meaning to people. Listen for them, write them in your notes, and use them later in your conversation and in future meetings with your prospect or customer. 

    These are slight changes in the way you talk that can yield big results. Being aware of the differences in speech, and the preferences of your prospects, can help form a better connection with your customers.

    Tom Scully is sales consultant and owner of a Sandler Training franchise in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.


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    Next up: The importance of our PAC as Election Day nears

    The importance of our PAC as Election Day nears

    We are about a month away from Election Day and early voting in Ohio begins on October 12. In addition to voting, there are a number of ways you can ensure your individual voice and the voice of the business community is heard throughout the political process, but no tool may be more useful than having the ability to collectively pool our resources together to provide our members with the means for concerted political action. And, the dollars contributed through the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Political Action Committee are specifically used to provide support for state and local governmental leaders campaigning for election who share your interests.

    We are about a month away from Election Day and early voting in Ohio begins on October 12. In addition to voting, there are a number of ways you can ensure your individual voice and the voice of the business community is heard throughout the political process, but no tool may be more useful than having the ability to collectively pool our resources together to provide our members with the means for concerted political action. And, the dollars contributed through the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Political Action Committee are specifically used to provide support for state and local governmental leaders campaigning for election who share your interests.

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    Please consider making your contribution of $50, $100, $500, or $1,000 to GCP PAC prior to the Election Day on Tuesday, November 8, so we can continue to lead the conversation in the development of common sense economic policy and regulatory reform.  

    The decisions government officials make impact all aspects of our lives, including your ability to conduct business in Ohio and achieve success. Participation in the process is not a requirement, but it is crucial business leaders and their elected representatives take action together to support the kind of environment in which you and your business can thrive. GCP PAC is a non-partisan, unified voice for businesses of all sizes and industries in our region and aids businesses in educating key decision makers on the issues that are important to you. 

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    Use your non-corporate credit card to make a secure online donation today at:  www.gcpartnership.com/GCPPACcontribute

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    Mail your personal check (payable to GCP PAC) to:

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    Cleveland, OH 44115-1722
     

    Please note individuals, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships and sole proprietorships can legally make contributions to a PAC. Contributions must include itemized allocations by partners in partnerships or members of a LLC. Ohio law prohibits other corporate political contributions.

    Your participation in the GCP PAC is completely voluntary. Donations are not tax-deductible and will be used for political purposes. An individual may contribute up to $12,532 annually to an Ohio Political Action Committee. You may choose not to participate without fear of reprisal. You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or decision not to contribute.

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    Next up: The lowdown on Lakewood

    The lowdown on Lakewood

    Patty Ryan of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce talks about what the city has to offer small businesses.


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    Next up: The Medici Effect Author Shares His Insights on Innovation and Success

    The Medici Effect Author Shares His Insights on Innovation and Success

    Frans Johansson, best-selling author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, writes about what he is passionate about. And in writing his books, he has shattered assumptions about how great ideas happen and the idea that in business you can strategize, plan and analyze your way to success. Johansson will share his insights as the featured speaker at COSE’s next think spot event. We recently had the opportunity to ask Johansson a few questions about how he got his start, his advice for entrepreneurs and what to expect at his upcoming think spot appearance.

    Frans Johansson, best-selling author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment, writes about what he is passionate about. And in writing his books, he has shattered assumptions about how great ideas happen and the idea that in business you can strategize, plan and analyze your way to success. Johansson will share his insights as the featured speaker at COSE’s next think spot event. We recently had the opportunity to ask Johansson a few questions about how he got his start, his advice for entrepreneurs and what to expect at his upcoming think spot appearance.

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    What can the audience expect from your think spot presentation? 

    Innovation will be the underlying theme of my talk. I will focus on how we come up with a great idea and the different approaches we take in response to it – whether innovative or ordinary. Your best chance for groundbreaking innovation is at the intersection where diverse concepts, disciplines, cultures and industries collide. I’ll talk about ways you can tap into your community and your life to make unique connections that can bring about breakthroughs. 

    How important is innovative thinking for a small business owner?

    The ability to think innovatively is one of the most important characteristics of a small business owner. You should constantly be thinking about how to stand apart from everyone else. You need to find your niche and grow that niche to outdo your competitors. Approaching things differently, and innovatively, is not just the key to growth, it’s the key to survival.

    What led you to become an author?

    I was raised in Sweden by my mother who is African-American and Cherokee, and my father who is Swedish, so I have always seen things a little differently. I have a great interest in diversity and its effects and opportunities. People were always saying that diversity drives innovation, but I wondered if this was true and if so, why?  I did a lot of research and found that the power of diversity is not a myth. 

    After several innovative experiences as an entrepreneur, including as founder of an international healthcare firm, a software company, and a hedge fund, I knew how to make myself stand apart from others. I knew I could make an impact imparting knowledge on what I learned about innovation and diversity and its impact on success. 

    Tell us a bit about The Medici Effect and The Click Moment.

    My first book, The Medici Effect, is named for the phenomenon that happened in Florence hundreds of years ago when diverse concepts, cultures and disciplines intersected, leading to one of Europe’s most creative eras, the Renaissance. I started thinking about what happens if you combined architecture and termites, bikinis and burkas, and techno music and Martin Luther King. How and why are those combinations possible? You would assume that they aren’t. But out of these seemingly random combinations have come groundbreaking ideas that have created whole new industries. I discovered that the unexpected outcomes in every life journey can have the biggest impact on the fortunes of others. You can have that same effect in your organization or business if you can figure out a way to bring about diversity. 

    My next book, The Click Moment, delves into how to harness serendipity to stand apart. It’s a study of randomness and luck. I say that if a good idea is a light bulb going off over your head, a true click moment is a supernova exploding at 100 billion degrees. There is no cheat sheet for life. No one can say, “Follow these three steps and you will be successful.” Success comes in many different forms, but it virtually always comes from the unexpected. This book uncovers ways to capitalize on those unexpected moments.

    What is the best business advice you ever received?

    Stick to what you are passionate about. My father told me that about life, but it can also apply to business. When you absolutely love what you do you go to sleep thinking about it and wake up thinking about it. You obsess over how to do it better than anyone else. It’s hard enough starting a business; that passion for what it is that you do can give you strength. 

    What advice do you have for small business owners today?

    I’d say to be innovative and constantly look for intersections. You must find ways to keep your business fresh and alive and moving. The world is changing so fast now that industries are eradicated quickly and the level of competition is absolutely ferocious. You can’t just stick to the business you develop. You need to figure out how to innovate and constantly reposition yourself. Stay hungry and explore the intersection of other industries and cultures.

    See Johansson at the next COSE think spot event on June 24, 2015. 

    This article originally appeared in the June 8, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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    Next up: The Right Way to Handle Customer Service

    The Right Way to Handle Customer Service

    Small businesses live and die by their customer service game. Here's how to keep yours strong.


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    Next up: The Science of Selling

    The Science of Selling

    Apple, Inc., with a market capitalization of more than $600 billion, is one of the most admired companies in the world. Despite this success, the company is always looking to get better. For example, despite its huge retail presence, the company is in the middle of a redesign of its stores as part of an effort to improve customer experience.

    Apple, Inc., with a market capitalization of more than $600 billion, is one of the most admired companies in the world. Despite this success, the company is always looking to get better. For example, despite its huge retail presence, the company is in the middle of a redesign of its stores as part of an effort to improve customer experience.

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    There’s an important lesson there for entrepreneurs, says BizConCLE keynote speaker Mel Robbins: You’re never so successful that you can’t get better. 

    •    RELATED: Register and reserve your spot at BizConCLE October 13-14

    “Disrupt yourself,” she advocates. “Think like a disruptor.”

    How do you do that? Entrepreneurs can take some inspiration from Apple. Small business owners need to be thinking about why their customers are making the decisions that they do. It’s not enough to just try to hit people over the head with your message over and over and over again. Think about things from the customer’s point of view. For instance, if they buy your product or service, is that going to force your customer to switch out one of their vendors? That might be a pain point that keeps them from doing business with you.

    This is why it is so important to maintain a customer-focused point of view, she advocates.

    “The old way was to market, market, market,” she says. “We now live in a customer service economy. It’s customer-centric. Invert the sales process and understand your customer’s objections and you’ll become more effective.”

    “The top down approach doesn’t work anymore,” she adds. “People buy based on feeling.”

    It’s all part of the science of selling, and it’s a topic Robbins will describe in detail on October 14 at BizConCLE, a two-day event tailored specifically for small- and middle-market companies taking place October 13 and 14 at the historic Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center. Learn more about BizConCLE by visiting www.bizconcle.com.

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