Speech Patterns Affect Sales
Eastern accents, like those spoken by New Yorkers, are normally a very fast rate of speech. Southern drawl, like those spoken by people from the South, is a much slower rate of speech. And, when you speak with the Midwesterner, the speech pattern is totally different. How do these different accents, speech patterns, and speech rates affect sales and telemarketing efforts?
There is a lot of evidence that speech rate and accents affect sales. For years, consultant have tried to analyze how accents and speech rate impact both face to face sales and tele-consulting sales. There is nothing conclusive, but leading sales authorities all agree that accents and speech rates do affect sales performance.
Many companies like to hire people with radio voices, hoping that the voice quality will impact sales performance. Many companies do speech test when hiring individuals who will have constant interaction with other people. The “theatrical” voice does appear to reduce resistance.
Importance of Speech Rate
Why is speech rate important? Let’s explore the reasons. Sales calls and telemarketing calls are almost always an interruption. People are eating dinner, or watching movies on TV. The prospects are certainly not anticipating the TSR’s call. While our brain when focused, can understand 600 words a minute, the prospects brain takes five to ten seconds to adjust to the new rate of speech by the agent. It simply takes the brain a few seconds to put speech rate, accent, and message together so communication can occur.
A Midwesterner, who speaks at 170 words per minute (WPM), will have problems communicating (at first), with a New Yorker, who speaks at 240 words per WPM. What does that mean? It means they will miss or not understand the agent’s name, company, and possibly the primary calling purpose.
Why do you think that many large telemarketing service bureaus go to Omaha Nebraska to establish their call centers? The Reason:
- there is little if any accent in the middle part of America
- their rate of speech is moderate when compared with Southerners and New Yorkers
The Ideal Rate of Speech – 180 Word Test
The Pennsylvania Bell Company measured speech rate by putting out a 180 word test to measure it. This test can help train your agents to speak at the best speech rate. It works by timing your agents while they read this test: longer than one minute is too slow; less than one minute is too fast. Here is the 180 Word Statement by Pennsylvania Bell Company:
Most experts agree that the ideal rate of speech is between one hundred and eighty to two hundred words per minute. At this rate, people who are listening to you will be able to hear and understand what you are saying. In the United States there are different patterns of speech that are the product of geographic areas. In the northeastern part of the country, people tend to speak faster than others while people from the southern states speak slower than the ideal rate. However, people in the mid-western states will tend to speak the one hundred and eighty word rate. To test yourself, note your start and finish time. Use the second hand of a clock to do this. If you read this statement in less than one minute you are speaking too fast and should make an effort to slow down. But if you read this statement in more than a minute, you are speaking too slowly and should try to speak faster when talking on the phone.
How to improve your agents performance
Take one of your scripts and identify the first 180 words. Have your agents try and read them within one minute. If you mark ten second intervals, it will help you identify speech patterns and habits, both good and bad, in your agents. Once identified, you can begin the process of correcting bad habits and emphasizing good ones. Another helpful suggestion is to perform this test over the phone or in front of other agents.