You're days away from the end of the sales quarter, and you've been hustling to reach your quota all month.
You've got a long list of calls to keep making. Tons of clients to connect with. And major goals to reach. IT IS CRUNCH TIME.
So you pick up the phone to make your first call of the day, and then you feel it. There's no hiding the growing tickle in your voice, and you're sure by the end of the day it will become a major strain and turn your most powerful sales tool into a husky horror.
If you're in the sales world, your voice is your livelihood, and you need to keep it in tip-top shape.
First, a quick science lesson. Your voice has two major parts—the source of vibration and the resonator. The source of vibration is the vocal cords, and the resonator is the throat, nose, or mouth.
When you inhale and exhale air, the movement of air in between the vocal cords paired with muscular action draws the cords together. Your brain then gives messages to the vocal cords to let them know they can start vibrating. Then, your resonator system shapes this into your voice.
You're probably thinking, “Thanks for the info Bill Nye, but this is a sales blog.” Here’s why this is important: As a salesperson, your voice is your meal-ticket, and it takes a lot to care for such a finely calibrated system. Even some small lifestyle changes can serve to keep your voice vigorous and those calls productive.
Four Ways to Care for Your Voice in Sales
When you're stressed, your muscles feel it. And because voice production requires good breath support it's important to avoid muscle tension.
When you're speaking, whether in front of a group or over the phone, try relaxing your muscles and breathing intentionally. This means using your diaphragm to breathe and taking the stress off of your lungs for breath support. If your body is stressed, your voice will be stressed as well so allot yourself time to loosen up your head and shoulders if you feel the temptation to carry muscle tension there.
Dr. Laura Sicola, a professional speech coach and author of Speaking to Influence: Mastering Your Leadership Voice, shared with us the importance of posture as well. She says, "Good posture allows you to fill your 'air tank' (lungs) and use good breath support, promoting a nice full sound." Dr. Sicola went on to recommend that sales reps even consider standing while on the phone, which "allows for a full stream of air" and helps "your whole body to get involved, which makes your speech sound more animated."
I hope this doesn't come as much of a shock, but in case you weren't aware, hydration is key to survival. And like every other organ in your body, your vocal cords need it too. Keeping your vocal cords moist helps to prevent the raspy sound produced from a dry membrane.
Unfortunately, dehydration isn't uncommon for working sales reps. Jam-packed days, lots of traveling, and many conversations with clients can make for a dry throat. But being intentional about drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses of water daily will help to keep your voice at optimum function.
If you can't always get a refill on your water bottle, things like chewing gum between calls or running a humidifier can help to moisturize your vocal cords as well.
#3: Limit Your Yelling
When it comes to your clients, it's probably wise to, ya know, never yell at them, but what we're really talking about is avoiding putting extra force on your vocal cords.
When you yell or shout, you're essentially stretching your vocal cords, and with enough stretching permanent damage can be caused. This could result in an indefinite scratchy voice. Avoiding going to a sporting event the night before a long day of calls or karaoke night before a big presentation might be wise, unless of course you want to sound like Batman.
Dr. Sicola shares another tip for watching your volume: "People tend to speak too loudly when on the phone, especially if they have a Bluetooth or other hands-free headset on." Her recommendation? "Don't be afraid to ask people to tell you if you need to speak up or tone it down." You don't want potential clients straining to hear what you have to say, but there's really no reason to waste your voice shouting either.
#4: Don't Force It
If you can, rest your voice. We especially make this recommendation if you're beginning to experience strain or discomfort. If you begin to feel the familiar hoarseness creeping up on you, use wisdom by only using your voice when absolutely necessary.
Of course, this might not always be realistic if your job depends on the use of your voice, but there are ways to strategically rest your voice. One wise solution to begin incorporating is simply pausing during your calls. With strategic pausing you'll be able to allow yourself time to relax and breathe, and you'll be able to listen to the needs of your customers and add expression to your message as well.
Learn to use the silence, which may also mean speaking more concisely. Fewer words means you're less likely to have a hoarse voice (not to be confused with a talking horse).
Benjamin Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and good ol' Ben really knew what he was talking about. Your voice is the vital foundation of successfully communicating with your clients, and taking small steps to care for your voice now will go a long way in making sure you're able to effectively communicate with your customers for calls and calls to come.
For more great advice on how to use your voice to its full potential, pick up a copy of Dr. Laura Sicola's book Speaking to Influence right here.