How to use NLP Tonality in Sales

Not getting the results you want? You might be saying all the right words ... just in the wrong way!

9th February 2016Leigh Ashton

Have you ever been in a sales conversation where you feel like you’re saying one thing but the other person is hearing something completely different? It might be that the words are all right … but the tone is all wrong!


What is tonality?


Tonality is the way that your voice sounds when you’re saying something. It may sound simple, but it makes a huge difference in the way that what you say comes across to the other person. In fact, studies show that 38% of communication comes down to tonality, and just 7% to the actual words you say. (The rest is body language.)

There are three main types of tonality: question, statement, and command tonality. With question tonality, your voice goes up at the end of the sentence; with statement tonality it stays flat; and with command tonality it goes down. You can try it now — take any random sentence and see how the feel of the sentence changes when you change the tonality.


Why does this matter?


Your tonality directs the other person how to take your statement, so if you make a strong statement, but you say it with a question tonality, it loses a lot of its strength. The other person hears it as a “nice to have” instead of a “must do” — you lose your authority in the situation, which can have a huge impact on your sales.


For example…


One really common way this plays out in small businesses is in the way that people present their pricing. Imagine the difference in telling someone, “The price for my services is £1,000” with question tonality vs command tonality. If you say it with question tonality, the other person immediately feels like there’s something off there, even if they’re not quite sure why. You come across as lacking confidence, like you’re asking their permission to charge that much, or even like you’re inviting them to bargain!

But if you say it in command tonality, with your voice going down at the end of the sentence, you sound confident, which makes the other person feel like you know what you’re doing and that you’re absolutely justified in charging that price.

The great thing is that when you’re aware of your tonality, you can use it intentionally to create specific effects in conversations. It can feel a little counterintuitive to begin with, especially if you’re nervous during the conversations, because then you’ll naturally tend to say things in question tonality. But with a little practice, you’ll see a big difference in your communication — so give it a try!


Until next time,

Leigh xx

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