Get more clients with your tone

There once was a study at the University of Michigan[1]. This study divided participants up in to 3 groups which were all told the same basic story.

You were originally given a ‘good faith’ quote of $14k on catering for a wedding you’re planning. Now 2 weeks later you’ve been told by the business manager that it’s actually going to be $16,995 and if you don’t sign now they have someone else ready to take your space.

One group was told this in a ‘happy positive’ tone.

One group was told this in an ‘assertive overbearing’ tone.

The third group was told the same story in monotone.

Do you think there was any difference in which group took the higher quote?

Dealing with Kids

I’ve got a 2 wonderful kids. The 6 month old doesn’t do much yet, but that 4 year old can get on a bad streak.

If you were to listen to my wife and I deal with it you’d hear 2 different approaches. Mine tends towards calm and steady and happy (as is my personality). My wife tends to jump a bit in to the ‘heated’ tone.

Which one do you think my 4 year old responds to best? Who does she calm down for or stop whining for most of the time with a few words?

Now back to that study

What do you think happened based on delivery?

The business manager’s affect had significant effect. Those who’d heard the positive-inflected pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as those who’d heard the negative one–even though the terms were identical. – To Sell is Human

So your tone does make a difference in how you sell.

Now that kid of mine

If you guessed that my kid responds best to the calm or happy tone you’d be right. When my wife get’s ‘heated’ the behavior usually spirals down until one of them is so frustrated and the little one is in her room with no bike or other ‘fun’ stuff.

You’re a sales person if you run a business

Last year my friend Brian wrote a great post about the fact that you’re a sales person even if you’re not running a business.

You’re a sales person X10 if you run your own business.

Not selling a client on your services means that you don’t eat or pay the mortgage.

That means not thinking about your delivery with clients is going to cost you real money. We saw it above, given a happy tone people went in for almost $3k extra in costs.

Before you talk to a client to ‘sell’ them on your services ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Am I feeling positive in general?
  2. Am I feeling positive about this contract?
  3. How can I feel positive now before the call?

I’ll talk in the future about why asking yourself questions is better than telling yourself that you should ‘feel positive’.


  1. Shirli Kopelman, Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, and Leigh Thompson, “The Three Faces of Eve: Strategic Displays of Positive, Negative, and Neutral Emotions in Negotiations,” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process 99, no. 1 (January 2009): 81–101.  ↩

photo credit: hatalmas cc

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