A Person’s Name Really Isn’t the Sweetest Thing They’ll Hear

by Chad Perry on 28 Nov 2013 42 comments

Sales Listening SkillsNearly twelve years ago today (November 24, 2001), Toby Keith hit the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with “I Wanna Talk About Me”.

It’s an anthem for relationships where one of the parties dominates more than their fair share of conversations.  In one simple chorus, it describes the challenges of one-sided relationships:

I wanna talk about me,

Wanna talk about I,

Wanna talk about number one,

Oh my me my,

What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see,

I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally,

I wanna talk about me.

Deep within this chorus is a sales prospecting principle to be learned.

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When it comes to prospecting for new business, we all know the first step is to get noticed by potential buyers.

There are many snake oil sales trainers and ebook sellers out there that will reveal their secret elixir for getting noticed for just $19.95 (and a whole bunch of daily spam to get you to buy a whole course of secrets for just $199.95).

But take note: gimmicks are just that – gimmicks.

Prospecting is a process.  It can be pretty simple, when done effectively.  Let me share some real life examples.

Great LinkedIn Profile!

This was a recent email subject line I received that stopped me in my tracks.

Why?  Like all professionals out there – I’ve spent a fair amount of time in putting together an online presence (and I have so far still to go).  However, clear recognition of something that I have accomplished made me stop and take a second look (more on that later).

The simple email body was even better.

“Hey Chad.  Great profile!  Your story about how you… was…  I can see why you have accomplished… “

You see what’s going on here?

This seller was taking an active interest in the prospect.  The email wasn’t being sent as part of a massive email marketing campaign.  It was being generated by a real person, with a real interest in connecting.

It continued.

“You probably didn’t accomplish… without… that is evident from your profile.  Clearly I’m a sales professional that would like to have a conversation with you.  If I could help you personally accomplish more of… would it be worth 10 minutes of your time?”

Done.  You just earned 10 minutes.

The reason? Anyone who will go to the effort of doing their homework on me, what I’ve accomplished, what I care about, and how they can help me continue my career progression – will most likely not waste my time going forward.

Now let’s contrast that with a sales rep’s attempt – that was close – but still way off the mark in engaging me to connect.

How To Win Friends and Influence People… Maybe?

I once had the opportunity to attend a Dale Carnegie training.  Fantastic experience.  And no – I’m not affiliated with Dale Carnegie, or serving up a referral link.

One of the key tenets of the training is the belief that a person’s name – to them – is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

For the most part, it make sense.  However, you can take that to an extreme and then it just becomes uncomfortable.

Compare the first email, to the following actual email whose sender had clearly read the book, or attend the Dale Carnegie training.

“Hi Chad… Did you know that… Chad, I’m sure that… Remember Chad… Another startling statistic Chad is… Good thing Chad! It’s really easy to…”

The problem?  This is nothing more than a marketing email with my name sprinkled throughout the content.  Clearly a mass email, trying to mask itself as a personal email.

In the end, my name didn’t sound so sweet.  It didn’t work – and it won’t work for you either.

Don’t confuse using a name repetitively with showing interest and getting to know your prospect.  They won’t buy it.

Hey, Look At Me!

The following example should stand out clearly as the example of what not to do when prospecting.

“Hi Chad,”

OK.  Using my name.  Let’s see how the rest goes.

“My name is… and I am the CEO of…, an… organization. I would like to introduce myself and see if a brief discussion about one of our highest impact methodologies called:… would be appropriate…”

Not even close.  The only reason I read the email is because I have a keen interest in prospecting efforts.  On an ordinary day – it would have been marked spam.  End of story.

What’s in a N.A.M.E.?

So what’s the best way to prospect?  To get the attention of a potential buyer?

Let’s actually use N.A.M.E. as a mnemonic device:

N (ame): Use a person’s name appropriately, but sparingly.

A (ccomplishments):  Research and recall what a person has accomplished.

M (essage):  Relate your message back to your prospect and his accomplishments.

E (ngage):  Then, and only then, seek to engage your prospect.

Would love to hear how it goes!

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