Know Thy Name: Make Your Sales Call More Personal
At my father’s retirement party back in 1989, there were three people standing against the back wall, each dressed in work attire. When I first saw them, it struck me that they seemed out of place.
They were janitors.
I concluded that they were waiting for the party to be over in order to clean up the room. Why else would they be there, I thought?
But when dad’s boss finished his speech, these three men were the first to shake his hand. They left their spot along the wall and rushed forward with beaming smiles to congratulate and wish him luck, greeting my father as you would a close friend. Needless to say, I was bewildered.
Later, at dinner, I asked my father who those men were, expecting a simple answer. Instead, I learned something about dad that I will never forget, a skill that he passed on to me and to my children. For dad not only knew these men by face but he knew their names … and their country of origin … and their story … and even what kind of fruits and vegetables they liked.
Dad was like that. I guess I should not have been surprised.
My father believed in equality. He was first-generation American and he never forgot his roots; he never forgot what it felt like to be the little guy, the outsider. So, all his life he made it a point to learn the names of people in the service industries.
And they loved him for it.
What a sales lesson this is. Let’s say you call on a company blindly and the woman who picks up the phone says, “Perhaps you could try us again in the fall.” What a difference it would make to put a name to that suggestion so that the next attempt isn’t just, “Hi. I called a few months ago and was told to call back about now” but rather, “Hi, Allison. You and I spoke a few months ago and you suggested I try again in the fall.”
Which do you think has a better chance of succeeding? The difference between those two statements comes down to a question you asked when you first called: “Could I get your name?” and then adding it to your CRM.
Bringing a personal touch and taking the time to learn a name is such a basic human skill that you might think it doesn’t require mentioning. But I’ll make a sales tip out of it anyway in part to remind you to make it personal and in part to mark the three year anniversary of my dad’s passing, Aug. 1, 2016.
John Harold Desmond Farquharson was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1924 and came to America alone 10 years later on a banana boat. He died 92 years later as, to quote Harry Bailey, the richest man I ever knew.
Whether it’s using the name of the person who hands you your coffee or taking note when someone includes it while answering the phone, pay attention. It matters. It’s the right thing to do. It brings a personal touch to an otherwise sterile interaction. Then, write it down and study it prior to your next visit. There is simply no downside to this advice. It can only help.