Costly errors in sales writing and presentations(2)

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By Goke Ilesanmi

Last week, we said selling is based on certain guidelines. We stressed that two things that have great impacts on a corporate organisation’s profitability are sales forecasting and targeting. We advised that to be successful in selling, you need to avoid some errors made in sales writing and oral sales presentations. We said one of these avoidable errors is when a salesperson focuses on what matters to him or her by using the first person singular pronoun “I” or even the plural version “We” which makes him or her appear selfish. We said closely related to this is the error of data dump. We explained that rambling by just writing for the sake of writing is another error. We also added that failure to be specific about your expected result is another error. We said it is better to impress prospective clients with what you know not with fancy words.


Failure to establish necessary credibility

Failure to establish necessary credibility (believability) is another notable error in sales writing and presentations. Credibility can be intellectual, moral, temporal, social, financial, vocal, etc. Your letter or presentation must show that you are competent and you know recipients or audience.  So, ensure that you personalise your sales letters or presentations.


Lack of vocal power and confidence

Lack of vocal power and confidence is another error common in sales presentations. When your credibility is on the line, the quality of your voice may be critical. This is essential information for salespeople, presentation specialists, spokespersons and virtually all professionals.

According to the late Peter Urs Bender, the author of the five best-selling business books “Secrets of Power Presentations”, “Secrets of Power Marketing”, “Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication”, “Leadership from Within” and “Gutfeeling”, “The most successful salespeople are often those that don’t know the most about the service or product they are presenting. But they make commission checks that boggle the minds of their co-workers. They bring smiles to the faces of their sales managers. They make the accountants speechless. Why? I believe it has to do a lot with their voices. The deeper a voice, the greater its believability. Just listen to commercials on the radio. You will notice calm, relaxed, deep voices.”
Well, I would like to say at this analytical juncture that Bender is right about the psycho-linguistic interconnectedness between depth of voice and believability. But the fact must be stressed that if (the sound of) your voice is not deep but velvety, there is no crime in that. What matters more is the sound quality of your voice in terms of aural attractiveness, that is, attractiveness to the ear. Train your deep or velvety voice to sound so attractive and devoid of local accent that may not be pleasing to the ear.

Some vocal terminologies

Norm Voice Range: This occurs shortly after one begins to talk (assuming the voice is not too high or too low). This is the level others recognise you as being you.
Pitch: This is the level (high/low) of one’s voice. A pleasing one is mixed, high at times, low at others.
Pace: This is the number of words one can articulate per minute. Research shows that we articulate an average of 145 words per minute. The older one gets, the slower the pace.
Pauses: These are the breaks we build into our speeches, to give allowance to our listeners to think. But one needs to have a good dose of confidence to be able to use pauses effectively.
Projection: This is the way we emphasise clarity and tone. If one lacks confidence, the projection will give it away. One will sound uncertain and that will be noticed immediately.
As soon as the voice rises above Norm Voice Range, the believability of the message diminishes; the minute it drops below the Norm, the believability of the message increases, stresses Bender.

Illustration for justification   

According to him, imagine two sales people. They are both equally qualified to do the job. They are identical in educational background, physical appearance and even religious beliefs. They have the same parents and are twins. They work for the same company. There is only one difference between them. This is that one is a winner who sells quota three times over, and a bonus cheque of a huge amount of money is deposited in his bank account. The other has not sold anything for the last few months. He knows if he does not produce, there is a problem.

How does the winner feel? Confident, self-assured, happy and fulfilled. He has a positive outlook towards his future and an inner feeling of real accomplishment. It would be no understatement to say the other twin feels nervous, uptight, unsure, insecure and unconfident.
Assume both have to make a presentation to equally qualified prospects.
The one who sells three times quota subconsciously assumes that if the prospects do not buy, he will miss out on a big opportunity. The projection of his voice automatically varies because he is excited to make another sale. That makes any presentation more interesting.
Just before he comes to the close, he pauses. He has all the confidence in the world that he will win. Then, when he asks for the order, his pace gets slower. That means his voice gets lower and the believability of his message increases. He will surely get the order. The other twin is extremely nervous and very uptight. He feels that if he does not sell, he is a loser and can even lose his job.

When it comes to closing, he gets even more nervous and starts to talk faster, so his voice rises. As soon as that happens, his believability decreases. This is not the result of academic research but the result of Peter Urs Bender’s field observations. When one is under great pressure, one talks faster. Therefore, the voice rises. When that occurs, believability diminishes.

The next time when you get nervous, slow down your speech. Make a conscious effort to do it. It will make your voice deeper and show that you are in control. Your confidence level will increase as well as your believability. It can give you that extra energy required to close the sale or make that deal. Voice control is very important in any situation in which you have to articulate your points. Finally, believability is one of your most important assets in business, etc.

PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details.

GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: gokeiles2010@gmail.com

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng

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