It takes 7 seconds to make a first impression. When meeting someone in person, you immediately notice ethnicity, gender, outfit, gestures (or lack thereof), hairstyle, accessories, and grooming. Your computer brain then analyzes each characteristic and, in a nanosecond forms an impression based on past experience and association. Knowing this process, sales professionals often take care in their appearance so as to attract their ideal clients.

Does that same time span apply to telephone conversations? Yes!

However, all the visual clues disappear. You’re left with the vocal qualities and from these, you deduce ethnicity, gender, socio-economic level, intelligence, educational background, and mental status. It’s amazing how much information is processed unconsciously within the first 7 seconds of a conversation.

Just as you’re sizing up prospects, they’re also evaluating you. What kind of vocal tones do you bring to the telephone?

Auditory Clues

There are 2 characteristics that make a big difference in building rapport: speed and volume. Nothing creates a quicker disconnect between people than rate of speech. People who speak quickly turn off those who process information more deliberately. At the same time, people who speak slowly push away those who want the bottom line. The term, fast talker, carries negative connotations, while slow talkers are often judged as being dull-witted.

Volume is another crucial factor in starting a relationship. It can attract or repel prospects. People who are loud are judged, just as those individuals who are barely audible. That soft, weak voice infers lack of confidence and uncertainty.

Match Speed and Volume

Just like a good handshake requires practice, so do such vocal qualities as speed and volume. To maximize sales, listen to the prospect and shift appropriately. When you do, you’ll get past more gatekeepers and book more appointments.

About Dr. Nancy Zare

A retired professor and psychologist, Dr. Nancy Zare originated the AlikeAbility™ System to teach service-based sales professionals how to read buying styles and close more sales. She offers a complimentary video, “If the Shoe Fits” to identify your prospect’s buying style from the shoes they wear. Contact her at to receive your copy by email.