Tone of Voice: What is it, why does it matter?
And more importantly, how can your company get this right to win more clients?
Ultimately, isn’t that what every sales and marketing related activity is about? Yes, and this is one area where a sales team will probably need help from marketing. It can be too easy, in sales roles, to attempt to bash together emails, presentations and proposals without thought to the overall message and voice of the company.
Why brand voice inconsistency is a problem in sales?
Now more than ever, sales teams are relying on emails and messages to set up appointments with prospects. This applies to outbound business development, or lead (or demand) generation teams; but equally this issue is just as important to inbound teams too.
In an outbound lead generation scenario, if your buyers aren’t in the office, because they’re working from home (as many are across the UK, Europe and US) then calling a prospects office number won’t get you through to a buyer easily. A secretary or gatekeeper could be off work, or even more reluctant to give out a personal cell (mobile) number; making the usual route for outbound teams difficult, if not impossible.
Instead, you need to go the direct route. Which means sending emails and LinkedIn messages, as part of a direct outbound campaign.
At the same time, inbound teams and those in account management roles are also sending more messages and emails than before the pandemic.
Whether you are doing outbound or inbound, what you say in emails and messages is as important as how you say it. It all comes down to tone of voice (TOV).
Sales teams let themselves down when it comes to tone of voice in several ways:
- Poorly written emails and messages make them sound unprofessional, and therefore the company they’re representing a bad choice as a potential supplier. You only have one chance to make a first impression, and if your message lets you down straight away, you aren’t likely to have another chance;
- Inconsistent messaging, or talking about things not mentioned on a website, can make a company look unprofessional;
- Badly or quickly put together presentations, proposals, case studies and emails will give a potential client pause for thought on working with a new supplier. Again, it makes a company look unprofessional, and as if they can’t put the effort in to create proposals and emails that represent a new potential supplier well.
All of the above results in missed opportunities. Whether that’s at the top of the funnel, when a prospect ignores an outbound message; or further down the sales funnel, when a proposal doesn’t hit the mark.
Putting it simply: Badly written sales emails, messages, presentations, case studies and other materials cost your company money. Sales targets can be missed as a result.
What can be done to fix the tone of voice in sales?
Tone of voice, alongside the actual messaging, and way of wording (also known as the content or copy) of sales emails and messages, alongside other materials, is crucial. It can make all the difference between a prospect wanting a call/demo, or not. It can make the difference between winning or losing a potential sale.
So if your emails, messages and pitches have been missing more targets than hitting them, it could be a tone of voice and content-related problem.
Don’t worry, this is fixable. You might need marketing, or an external agency or freelancer to come in and do the work, but it can be fixed. Here is what can be done to solve this problem:
- Pull together a folder of everything a sales team is sending out and using. Such as emails, messages (including replies to prospects), presentations, slideshare, case studies, and any other materials;
- Look at where wording and branding is inconsistent, and compare that to the website, and other marketing activity (you are likely to find even more inconsistency between sales and marketing);
- Can you spot where messaging is inconsistent, and even the tone of how this is all coming across sounds?
- Can you, or marketing, or a third-party (such as an external content, copy or marketing agency) identify areas that can/should be improved?
The aim, upon identifying the problem areas, is coming across professionally, consistently across every channel and medium, and friendly/approachable. Where a product or service is particularly technical, or difficult to understand, too many companies overload marketing, sales materials, and websites, with jargon.
It’s absolutely crucial that a brand voice/message comes across as approachable, friendly, and ultimately, human. Not full of buzzwords, acronyms, too many hyphenated-phrases, or jargon. And equally, you need to ensure that the message, whether in outbound emails, in proposals or presentations, is consistent.
At the same time, this messaging needs to put the audience, potential customers at the centre of what you say. Think about your customers, all of the time. Because if it doesn’t resonate with them, if it doesn’t meet their needs, or explain why they need your product or service, then it won’t be selling anything. If copy isn’t selling, and contributing to the sales process, then it isn’t working.
Once you’ve identified areas that need improving, then one of the team, or a professional from marketing or an external agency, can do the work. This is also something a suitable professional can manage from start to finish, such as a copywriter or content writer. With the right help, everything you need can be crafted and made ready for a sales team to use. Which means no one on the team will ever struggle having to write emails, presentations or proposals, and they should help your company improve the success rate of every sales conversation.