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5 Tips for Using People’s Names Gracefully
You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of dealing with a pushy salesperson who inserts your name into almost every sentence, and your natural reaction was probably to pull back and feel irritated or resistant. Here’s a guide to building rapport with your sales leads by using their names gracefully and organically in your phone conversations.
1. Write Down the Person’s Name
When you’re making a sales call, you have a lot on your mind. You’re trying to learn more about your prospect and keep the conversation moving while you also develop a strategy for explaining how your product can solve their pain points. These verbal tasks can be distracting, so it’s helpful to have the name of your sales lead directly in front of your eyes as you talk.
2. If Necessary, Ask for Pronunciation Help
Business is global these days, and voice technology has made B2B phone calls global as well. If you’re contacting a list of people from your lead management system and you encounter a name you aren’t familiar with, be sure to ask, "Can you tell me how to say your name?" This question conveys a sense of respect to the person you’re speaking with, according to Leadership Development expert Joyce E.A. Russell (Note: paywalled). It also heads off the possibility of causing your prospect offence by mispronouncing their name.
3. Don’t Be Too Casual
If the name on your sales lead software list says, "Thomas," you should not unilaterally decide it will sound friendlier if you say "Tom." People have very strong feelings about whether they like to be called by a nickname, so you should always check. A good way to acquire this information is to ask at the beginning of the conversation, "Do you go by Thomas, or do you have a nickname you prefer?" It’s also worth mentioning here that if you’re speaking with a person who belongs to a more traditional culture, you should always find out whether they would prefer that you address them by their surname. You can ask, "Do you prefer to be called Ms. Smith or Mary?"
4. Link the Person’s Name with your Product
Since people find the sound of their own names pleasing, you can build your sales lead’s identification with your product if you link it in a sentence with the person’s name. This can be a bit tricky to do spontaneously, so you can write down a few possible sentences before you make your call. For example, you can ask, "Can you imagine yourself, Lee, enjoying the benefits of this subscription?"
5. Don’t Say the Person’s Name Too Often
Hearing one’s name is a powerful sensation, and if you get carried away with the idea of using someone’s name in a phone call, it’s easy to overdo it. Saying your prospect’s name too often will give the impression that you’re manipulative and disrespectful, and you’ll erase the trust that you’ve worked so hard to build. It’s important to call someone by name at the beginning and end of the conversation. Once in the middle of the conversation can also be helpful, in order to link their name (as mentioned above) with the product or service you’re offering. Three occasions in one phone call is probably plenty, unless you happen to be on the phone for a very long time.
"Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language."—Dale Carnegie
You can optimize the power of every sales call you make by using people’s names in a pleasing, sensitive manner.
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