Ask Questions Or Make Statements, but Not Both

I’ve noticed something in my consulting practice over the last month or so. It may be something you struggle with or someone you know struggles with. It’s a tendency that sales people in any realm struggle with, not just owners or sales people in barter and trade exchanges. Here’s how you know you’ve been infected: the words coming out of your mouth are a statement, but the inflection, the way you say the words, is a question. It happens most of the time when your voice inflection goes up at the end of sentences.

In American english, when you ask a question or are wondering about something, your voice goes up at the end of the sentence. This same voice inflection is used to denote insecurity, questioning, doubt, or inquiry.

On the other hand, when you are making a statement, your voice tends to go down at the end, like a verbal period on the end of a sentence. You punctuate your verbal delivery by having your voice go down at the end.

The problem exists when you cross these wires.

For example, I was instructing a client on the finer points of 30 second presentations in networking type meetings, and every time he said his name and what he did, it sounded like a question. Taken alone, it’s probably not a problem. Put in the context of what he was doing, i.e. attempting to establish a connection between him and a group of people AND create enough confidence in who he is for them to give him referrals to people they know, it is completely unacceptable. If you question who you are and what you do, you’re giving a semi-conscious letter of rejection to the people that are listening before they even have a chance to make up their own minds.

The other example I can share was part of a sales presentation. I was going over the verbage of a sales pitch with one of my barter exchange owner clients and I noticed that when he started explaining how a barter exchange works, he started asking questions about how it works instead of making statements. I don’t know what you think, but if I am expecting a confident, clear explanation of how something works, and the person that is explaining doesn’t have enough confidence to verbally make statements, I will have even less conviction about what he is doing.

You can see, as a salesperson for a barter exchange, that this approach, mixing questions and statements, is a distraction at best, a hinderance to sales at worst. To make matters worse, selling a barter exchange is like selling air – most of the time people don’t really get what you are talking about and without a strong explanation they never will. Barter exchanges are a foreign concept, so selling them is difficult enough on its own.

What do you do about this problem? Practice changing your voice inflection. Notice where you are asking questions instead of making statements and stop.

I’d love to hear back from some of you about your experience with this…

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