Our voice is the most powerful business tool we possess. I won’t kid you. The internet changed my life.
Twenty years ago I reached a milestone in my life. I was at a point in my career that found me at a crossroad. I’ve told my story time and time again, and you can read it quickly here, but suffice it to say the internet introduced me to a world beyond anything I imagined.
I’m a very fast learner, glued in pragmatism. The one thing that has always ground me to my very last nerve about the internet, is that undeniable siren call it possesses and my near inability to resist it. It’s so easy to spend hours and hours on it, especially when there’s some unpleasant task waiting in the wings yet to be done.
I know you know what I’m talking about – that list of company names waiting to be called with scary Gatekeepers on the other end of the lines just waiting for you to call – knowing what it is you’re up to and thrilled to catch you out at your game and shut you down!
In my last article, I said I was going to talk about tone and cadence when talking with Gatekeepers.
Remember when I said our voices allow another person to not only hear something but also to feel something?
That the person listening to your voice thinks she knows what you’re going to sound like, so she thinks she knows what you’re going to say?
Your voice, the sound of it, places a mental image into the recipient’s mind, and she immediately begins to prepare her response, even before you finish speaking!
This is why it’s so important that you know what you sound like.
This is why it’s so important that you record yourself and listen to it.
Your voice is your moneymaker.
Think of it like that.
You’re dealing with the public and your voice is your meal ticket.
You cannot afford not to know.
The volume, tone, cadence, projection, pitch, speed, inflection and texture of our voices are, to a phone sourcer, what the ability to construct Boolean search strings are to an internet sourcer.
Many of these characteristics can be learned and controlled with practice. There are many great articles on how to do that. Arguments can be raised on why one technique beats another in different situations and there’s no sense engaging in any one side over another. They all have merit.
But our voices are our human inheritance, the human condition and our voices are what we’re left with at the end of the day when we kiss one another good night and whisper “I love you.” It’s with our voices we make one another feel things. And nobody can deny that.
When the Gatekeeper answers, remain calm.
Listen to what she says, carefully.
In fact, take notes. If she says her name, write it down.
Say back to her, calmly, slowly:
Hello ______ (if she said her name.) This is _______. Can you direct me to ______?
Hello (if she didn’t say her name.) This is _______. Can you tell me…?
Ask the Gatekeeper (right away) if you have the right location. It gets her to give you an affirmative answer right off the bat and gives her a feel good feeling about you, like she knows you’re in the right spot and she feels “safe” handing over info to you.
Say your words slowly and purposefully and in a conversationally natural tone loud enough for her to hear. For many of you, this will take practice because you’re not used to talking on the phone but you must get used to talking on the phone. Once you do, and the more you do it, I promise you, it will come to feel natural. The phone is a very friendly navigator.
As I said in my last article, the amount of information beyond her name, your name, and the reason for your call, only give the Gatekeepers – no more, no less.
I mean that. Inordinate and lengthy explanations only raise her suspicions and, to many, irritate the snot out of her. Don’t do it. At this point, you’re testing the gatekeeper to see what she will, and will not, tell you.
DO NOT speak in a monotone. Put inflections in your cadence and practice speaking sentences. Say these:
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Hello. My name is (your name.)
Say it with the inflection on your name on an up note. Sounds happy, doesn’t it?
Say it with the inflection on your name on a down note. Sounds sad, doesn’t it?
Say it with no inflection, just the same straight across. Sounds blah, doesn’t it?
Once I get into the conversation with a Gatekeeper, I notice on some words in some sentences I will speak more slowly and on some words I’ll hesitate. These are the words I want her to concentrate on and to “notice” more. Just as a search engine “notices” a Boolean context more because of a certain construction, I’ll pause over a word, thinking she will too and then I will continue.
Dealing with Gatekeepers is very much like a dance. This is one such example. It’s almost as if you have your arms around her at one point and the two of you are waltzing.
I think of phone sourcing very lyrically like this. I hope you will also convey and think of phone sourcing like this. It can be a very enjoyable experience.
Most people don’t like the sound of their own voices.
In fact, hearing the sound of one’s own voice, for the first time is a cringe-worthy experience for most people.
If you want to know what you sound like to others– quickly – here’s a trick.
If you want to know what you sound like and want to participate in live, on-air phone sourcing training, myself and another professional phone sourcer, Pam Rahal are going to do this via a radio show and podcast format very soon. Here’s what Pam and I sound like talking about phone sourcing.
The reason I always went to the phone in the first place was that it was usually the fastest place to get information. This was a carryover from my former career. Also, a carryover from my former career was the ability to talk with people on the phone; the ability to hear things on the phone. Things you just don’t get when communicating (or investigating) electronically.