Businesses grow by conversations. Mastering the art of being persuasive on the phone can propel your small business to success in sales, funding, building critical networks and keeping employees engaged. Getting employees on your side may be the most important skill of all because they are the ones who will bring your vision to life.
The most persuasive leaders are great communicators: they know the value of active listening and responding appropriately. Superstar entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson wrote:
Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.
We have certainly relied on it to drive the success of the Virgin story.”
You can communicate without persuading, but you can't persuade with
Branson went on to quote author Brian Tracy, who assured small business owners, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”
The three components to persuasion are: speaking with authority, listening for the emotional state of the other party, and adjusting your message based on new information. Here is a suggestion for each stage to help you excel at phone-based persuasion, based on the latest scientific research.
Speaking with authority: Lower your voice
The Journal of Experimental Psychology published a study showing that men and women who lowered their pitch. The paper by researchers at the University of Illinois was titled “Listen, follow me: Dynamic vocal signals of dominance predict emergent social rank in humans.”
In other words, a lower pitch is the sound of a leader, and it doesn’t matter how low the original voice was. What matters is how much deeper the speaker’s voice became when presenting their plan of action. Research lead JT Cheng said, “If you lower your voice, chances are you'll probably be more effective at becoming leaders and influencing others, because it changes how others see you."
Listening for emotion: Close your eyes
A business phone line may be your most effective tool in assessing how people really feel. It’s much easier for people to control their facial expressions, but the true story will come through in their voice.
The journal American Psychologist, covered a group of five experiments testing the best way to read the emotional state of others. The reports concluded that subjects got the most accurate results by listening only, with no visual component. The article, Voice-Only Communication Enhances Empathic Accuracy, specified that meetings in person or on video can distract the viewer from paying attention to what could be the most important clues.
Michael Kraus at Yale concluded:
“What we find here is that perhaps people are paying too much attention to the face — the voice might have much of the content necessary to perceive others’ internal states accurately."
"The findings suggest that we should be focusing more on studying vocalizations of emotion.”
This makes the telephone call the ideal medium for gaining clarity and communicating credibility. Cut out distractions and zero in on the voice if you want to know where you stand. Likewise, remember it's not just your words but your delivery that makes a phone call effective.
Adjusting your message: Make it brief
Often the harder you try to convince another party of your position, the more they become entrenched in their original position. A study by Cornell University found that people lose their persuasive edge after around a handful of exchanges. While two exchanges tended to be more persuasive than one, after 4-5 exchanges, the first party had virtually no chance of changing the other’s mind.
This is precisely what business researchers have observed in countless situations where email or chat messages start flying back and forth without a successful resolution. A two-minute phone call solves more problems and is much more persuasive than chains of arguments, no matter how well reasoned and supported.
The most important call might be the one you didn't get
Does your office phone system help you take and make calls, wherever you go? Some office phone systems are too complicated to set up and too confusing to use -- so 75% of employees end up just forwading calls to their own mobile phones. This can be a problem for small businesses who need to manage and track call data and traffic.
Spoke is a next-generation virtual phone system, built to run on top of new technologies like VoLTE, HDVoice and 5G networks. The Spoke app transforms the phones that your employees already love into a global mobile network, with local numbers in 56 countries. You can port your business line over to give it a modern upgrade, or choose a DDI number and use it exclusively on your mobile phone.
In researching how employees at small companies actually use their phones, we've found out that less is more. The intuitive Spoke interface contains all the business phone line essentials that small businesses want --- but none of the unnecessary features that distract employees from doing their work. It has a simple interface that makes it easy to transfer and rout calls on the go, and an auto attendant and smart call log, so you never lose track of the calls you miss.
Spoke is as easy to install and easy to use, yet powerful enough to replace your office phone system, eliminating up to 88% of your telecom costs.