I was a December graduate from college. This meant that I had a much smaller graduation ceremony than the rest of my classmates. So small in fact that our class president called us each up to the stage, by name, to get our diplomas. The spotlight was on.
Then I remember my name being called out, clear as a bell. Christopher WAH-Ray.
My last name is Ware. As in software, hardware, or as in kids in elementary school liked to remind me, underware. This guy kinda ruined my graduation moment by pronouncing my name wrong. And my last name isn’t really hard to pronounce!
And then there’s first name issues…..Try calling an “Ahn-DRAY –ah” instead “Ann-DREE-ah” and see how far that gets you on an ad sales call.
So what do you DO about all those people in your sales database with challenging, even crazy-sounding (to you) first and/or last names?
Our names are deeply personal. We pay attention when people say our names correctly. And we REALLY notice when people say them wrong. Getting it wrong the second, third, and fourth time you talk to a prospect is a surefire way to get under their skin.
Here’s a database tip: I have a field in my customer relationship database (I use ACT) specifically marked “Pronunciation.” In this field my staff and I spell out any unusual name phonetically. I consider this field just as important as the one for phone number and email address.
It matters when you are selling to pronounce a prospect’s name correctly.
It’s a sign of respect–that you’ve taken the time to get it right.
So remember to put some effort into perfecting your pronunciations. I bet you will see better sales results.
After all, if you are calling for a Mr. Wah-Ray…..…he’s not available.
P.S. Inspired by Chris’s post, we found a site that may help: Pronouncenames.com.
Chris Ware is Vice President of Business Development for NAIOP, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, based in the Washington DC metro area.
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