“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie.
Studies Show There’s A Lot to a Name
Names have a huge impact on our behaviors, choices, and attitudes throughout our lives. An article in New Scientist identified a process known as nominative determinism, which is the tendency for us to “fulfill” the social aspects of our names. A study by the State University of New York at Buffalo showed that names can influence where we live, what we do for work, and our self-image.
It’s not surprising that our personal sense of self is intrinsically connected to how people interact with our name. Because of this, knowing and remembering someone’s name plays a huge part in persuasion and in the sales process. By learning why this tactic works, as well as how to remember names better, you will be completely equipped to use the ‘power of a name’ to build your book of business.
Use Names to Connect and Influence
Although the power of the name isn’t one of the latest and greatest sales resources at your disposal, it is a tried and true method for instantly establishing rapport with potential clients. If used effectively, it can break down the communication barrier and create a friendly, less-stressful environment for both you and the client. Being able to remember their name also makes you seem more intelligent and interested in them as a person, not just as a sale.
Using your prospect’s name also allows you to emphasize certain parts of your presentation by simply including the topic they love most – themselves. And, that’s not just business-school mythology. In a 2006 study published in Brain Research, scientists observed a completely unique (and more elevated) brain response when participants heard their name in a short presentation. This means that learning how to remember peoples names and saying them during presentations can make them more engaged in your product or service and increase their chances of buying from you.
The Dos and Do Nots
There are several instances when you might need to employ the power of the name. But, with each instance, you need to be very aware of the impact using a prospect’s name might have on their subconscious impression of your presentation. A little Name Power goes a long way.
- Build Rapport. Using a first name appropriate helps your prospect feel more comfortable around you.
- Establish Authority. Calling a prospect by his or her first name is a subliminal signal that you are equals. This can be very helpful in a presentation where your authority might be in question.
- Gently Break Into the Conversation. If a client is not allowing you to share your perspective, saying his or her name is a good way to gently break into their monologue and steer the conversation back towards you. For example, “Susan, that’s a great point, and I’d love to add something important.”
- Remind Them of Details. One of the most interesting phenomena of the Power of the Name is that a person tends to remember more clearly things that are said right before and after their name is said. This can be an excellent reason to “sandwich” your client’s name between vital facts or ideas for your product or brand.
- Go Overboard. Using a client’s name too much can send up red flags that you’re trying to hard to dominate their way of thinking. A good rule of thumb is once every five minutes of your presentation, and in a natural manner. For example, avoid sentences like, “Now, Jim, I want you to think about how you, Jim, could gain from this. Jim, do you think it would work? If anyone could benefit, Jim, it will be you.”
- Assume You Can. Some people just don’t want to be called by their first name, especially in older demographics. It’s better to ask and have a prospect tell you not to use their first name than to assume you can and unknowingly lose the sale because they were offended.
- Be Afraid to Ask Them To Repeat It. Research from the University of Sussex says that we are more likely to forget a name right after we’ve heard it, due to the overload of information we face when meeting a new person. That being said, everyone has forgotten a name. Forgetting once is not going to destroy your changes of making the sale.
5 Tricks to Remembering Names
- Repeat it. For example, say, “Hi John. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Also, say the letters out loud while you write it down.
- Write it down. The act of writing the word down activates muscle memory and supports your ability to remember the name later.
- Make a Mental Image. Boris Konrad, the world title holder of Memory Sports, suggests create a strange mental image that reminds you of the name. For example, if you meet a man named “Phillip,” you imagine him with a huge, full lip. “Full-Lip” Phillip. It’s an image you will not be able to get out of your mind.
- Memory Dump Into Your CRM. When you go back to the office, input the information into your CRM along with any interesting comments or physical descriptions to help you remember.
- Turn Their Name Into an Acronym. Although it might take a little work, use their personality and personal appearance to create an acronym that fits. For example, the name Peter might become, “Party, Ears, Tight Pants, Ethical, Resistant to Change.”
What Do You Think?
Being able to effectively wield the power of the name is a skill of the best sales professionals. It’s one of the most important ways to make your prospects feel respected and to establish a connection that is vital to long-term business relationships.
If you liked this article, check out these fantastic insights on Generating Leads with LinkedIn and How to Use Email Marketing Campaigns To Grow Your Sales. Have a story where you accidentally botched up a name that led to a valuable learning experience? We’re always hungry for knowledge, so let us know in the comments!