Many Advisor clients and colleagues of mine, have said something like this to me:
I wish I could skip the whole sales thing and just get to where they’re already my client so I can relax and do what I do best!
If you’re grappling with this frustration, you’re not alone. The majority of Advisors feel this way in the early years of their career, and some never shake the feeling.
This disconnect between doing what you love and having to sell what you love extends well beyond the financial industry:
- I just want to help my clients with their legal issues – I don’t want to waste my time and energy convincing them they need a lawyer!
- I’m an artist with flowers. But the energy it takes to communicate the value of what I do to potential customers who see cheap bouquets at the grocery store really saps the joy out of my work.
The frustration expressed here can have a real impact on your approach to sales. Left unacknowledged, you can unknowingly bring emotions of sadness, fear, resentment and desperation into your sales interactions.
To cover all that up, many of us instinctively alter our voices when selling.
One voice for the real you – the person you are with your friends and your best clients – and another for the ‘sales you’, a subtly altered voice that you use as a sort of coat of armour during sales interactions.
How does your voice change?
You might find your speaking pitch is higher. Or you’re not ‘on voice’; instead, you sound breathier because you’re not relaxed and using your vocal chords to produce rich sound, as you naturally do when completely at ease.
A former colleague springs to mind. Whenever he is in a situation where he needs to persuade someone of something, his voice gets higher and there is a bit of a pleading tone to it that undermines his credibility.
A dear friend of mine struggles with this in a different way. She is a communications coach who would rather be doing something else with her life. When she is working with a client and they are not ‘getting it’, she gets frustrated, and then angry. Her voice gets louder and harsher.
These elements that creep into our voices reflect stress or inner conflict. This stress can be as obvious as the pressure to make sales targets or managing a natural fear of rejection, or as insidious as a lifelong frustration with always feeling you have to prove yourself. (I’ve grappled with all three of them in my lifetime!)
Why is this important?
Respected psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian studied the relative impact of words, tone of voice, and body language when speaking and found:
- The three elements account differently for our liking for the person who puts forward a message concerning their feelings: words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55% of the liking.
- For effective and meaningful communication about emotions, these three parts of the message need to support each other – they have to be “congruent”. In case of any incongruence, the receiver of the message might be irritated by two messages coming from two different channels, giving cues in two different directions.
So, if your words are saying ‘This is important, and I’m confident in my expertise and the value we provide’, but your voice and body language conflict with that, your prospective client will pick it up and say No to doing business.
A real-life Advisor story:
I was working with a client a few months ago – I’ll call him David. We met on the train. I was heading home from a two-day workshop facilitation, and he and his friend were heading into the city to have a fun party weekend. They were getting a little drunk, laughing and flirting with the waitress. At some point we exchanged business cards, and about a month later, David reached out for some help with his sales conversations.
During our coaching sessions he expressed how much he hated the sales part of his job; that he’d never gotten much training on how to do it, and consequently, even though he was a Wealth Advisor managing millions of dollars, he felt like a fraud when talking to potential clients.
This showed up in our practice conversations. His voice was tight and controlled and defensive. He used technical language and had a hard time connecting.
We worked on two different things to help him tap into his Authentic Selling Voice:
- uncovering what parts of his work as a Wealth Advisor he was truly passionate about
- bringing the real David to the interaction
A couple sessions in, I asked David: ‘What happened to that fun-loving guy who was laughing with his friend and flirting with the waitress? How would he communicate right now?’
Suddenly everything shifted for him. He spoke with confidence. He was conversational and professional and spoke with conviction about what he knew to be true. He used humour to connect. The real David showed up! He had tapped into his authentic selling voice.
Finding your own authentic selling voice may take a little patient exploration. Here are a few tips to help you tap in:
The first step is to become aware of the differences in how you communicate when you’re at ease with friends and your favourite clients, and how your voice changes when you are in a high-stakes sales interaction.
Make some notes for yourself about what’s going on. What are you thinking and feeling in sales situations that bumps you out of your authentic self?
Talk with a favourite client who needs your help. Be of service. Reconnect with your confidence and the parts of your profession that you love. Ground yourself in your expertise.
Talk with a friend or family member who has known and loved the real you for years.
Sell from there
This step takes some focus and courage. If you are used to protecting yourself with a slightly fake voice, then tapping into it and selling as the real you, means dropping that protection. You will be allowing yourself to be seen as your close friends see you, but in a context that is inherently riskier.
Build up slowly. Book meetings with lower value potential clients and fully show up there. Since it matters less whether you win that business or not, this is a reasonably safe environment to practice in.
At first this feels vulnerable. The real you may be rejected. But over time, you’ll find that speaking consistently in your authentic voice becomes your new normal. Sales conversations become, just conversations!
Speaking from your Authentic Selling Voice is empowering and ultimately far more effective in building relationships. Enjoy!
Did you enjoy this article? Kira writes weekly articles packed with actionable tips for sales professionals in the financial services industry. Sign up here to receive Kira’s article delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday.
Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.