Techniques for Using Voice and Tone in Sales

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Way of the Wolf" by Jordan Belfort. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is Jordan Belfort’s advice on using voice and tone while making a sale? How can the right tone help you connect emotionally and increase the chance of a sale?

In his sales book, Way of the Wolf, Jordan Belfort discusses voice and tone at length. He asserts that doing things like modulating your voice, using upspeak, sounding sympathetic, and more will help you connect with your prospect and increase the odds of closing a sale.

Learn how to sell with your voice and tone below.

Using Voice and Tone in Sales

In Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort, he recommends changing up both your voice and tone (as teachers or speakers do) to hold a prospect’s attention. To borrow a term from music, modulate your tone by raising or lowering your voice to punctuate a point or draw someone closer. You can move a client toward certainty by using your tone to convey enthusiasm for the product.

Chapter 11 explains how to combine words, tonality, and body language into an effective sales script. But first, in this chapter, Belfort presents a set of selling principles (he calls them tonalities) intended to incorporate the most influential tones in the human repertoire. Again borrowing terminology from music, your tonality is your arrangement of vocal tones and pitches.

Befort claims that applying his tonalities with even minimal competency will generate significant results—most people who use them see at least a 50% increase in sales.


Belfort’s tonalities actually use both tone and questioning techniques. We’ve extracted the main themes and synthesized the concepts into seven principles below. Tonalities don’t guarantee a sale, but by connecting emotionally, they help you move the prospect toward certainty. 

(Shortform note: Belfort argues that connecting emotionally via tonality allows the seller to control or redirect the prospect’s thought processes or internal monologue. He doesn’t explain how this works, but as a possible example, if you connect with empathy, it might eliminate the prospect’s suspicions that you’re trying to trick her, which relates to the first tonality below.) 

1) Sound like you care: Convey that you care by using a tone that’s both upbeat and sympathetic, so that the prospect feels as if you know him and have his best interests at heart. Adopt this tone at the beginning of the call to create familiarity. Greet the prospect pleasantly—don’t overdo it but sound as though you really want to speak to him and truly care about how he’s doing. Later in the conversation, when the client raises concerns or a problem, return to your caring tone. Emphasize it while asking questions to determine what might keep him from committing to your product or solution. You’ll learn his certainty level as well as his action and pain thresholds so you can move him efficiently toward a sale.

How to Develop Empathy

Like salespeople, those whose jobs require interacting with others—for example, medical professionals, therapists, managers, politicians, and coaches—are more effective if they convey genuine warmth and empathy. While empathy is difficult and risky to fake (most people can detect insincerity), empathy is a fundamental social skill that you need and can develop. In Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman defines empathy as recognizing emotions in others—one of five skills comprising emotional intelligence. To develop empathy, therapists recommend strategies including being curious about other people, stepping out of your comfort zone to interact with others, getting feedback from family and friends on improving your listening skills, examining your biases, and putting yourself in others’ shoes.

2) Phrase statements as questions: Belfort says this makes you sound agreeable and familiar. It can be as simple as saying your name or company name with an inflection: “I’m Roger Ward? From Adonis Autos? In Detroit?” You’re really asking for a micro-agreement (which leads to further agreement): “You’ve heard of me, right?” People tend to say yes because they don’t want to sound out of the loop or as though they’ve forgotten something.

(Shortform note: Communication experts refer to this inflection style as upspeak, and they note that it can make the speaker, particularly a woman, sound tentative or uncertain in some circumstances.)

3) Create a sense of mystery: When you introduce your product, create a sense of mystery and anticipation. Lower your voice to sound as though you’re letting the prospect in on a secret. Then introduce an appealing new deal—for example, “I have something amazing for you today. I haven’t seen a deal like this since …”

4) Speak with certainty: While this point might seem to contradict the inflection speaking style advised in point 2, you must sound certain about your product or service in order to sell it. Speak firmly and confidently, to convey your belief in your product or brand: “Besides all these great features, you’re getting a Honda. You can’t do better than that for reliability.”

5) Convey sincerity: Adopt a calm, sincere tone that lets the prospect know she can trust you. You’re on her side: “I want to put you in a vehicle that makes you happy and that has everything you need for your family.” 

6) Create a feeling or sense of scarcity: Lowering your voice, tell the prospect in an urgent tone that they need to act now. This gets the prospect thinking about making an immediate decision. You can create a sense of scarcity with:

  • Words: “We only have one of this model left!” 
  • Tone: Lower your voice and add intensity. Layer this tone with the above verbal statement to increase the prospect’s urgency to act.
  • Information: Give the impression that the information you’re sharing is scarce, as if no one else knows that there’s only one of this model left.

(Shortform note: Creating an urgency to “act now” due to scarcity is a common closing technique—it appears on numerous “top closing techniques” lists—but in B2B sales, many experts believe such tactics are ineffective.)

7) Seem eminently reasonable: Say something like, “Got a minute?” to start your pitch, or “How’s that sound?” to wrap it up, using inflection at the end of the sentence. These statements convey that you’re not asking for much, you’re reasonable and the client can work with you.

(Shortform note: Mike Weinberg also mentions this idea in his book on prospecting, New Sales. Simplified. As an introductory phrase conveying reasonableness, he likes to say, “Let me steal a minute,” which acknowledges that you’re interrupting without apologizing.)

Lessons From Customer Service

Another way to think about connecting emotionally with tone comes from the world of “inside” sales or customer service. A communication systems provider suggests starting with a big-picture view of tone: Create a consistent tone of voice for your organization based on your brand personality: How do you want to come across as a company—sincere, energized, competent, sophisticated? To help establish this tone, answer questions such as: What attitude do we want to convey to customers? How do we want them to feel when speaking with us? What specific language or phrases will we use with customers? 

Establishing a consistent overall tone is useful for “outside” salespeople as well.
Techniques for Using Voice and Tone in Sales

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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