Gaining rapport is perhaps the single most important element to selling with success. Without rapport your chances at making a sale are slim to none. Rapport is created from your first point of contact with a potential client and so one easy way to gain rapport is through the use of your client’s name. Hence:
- Get to know your clients name,
- Use your client’s name,
- Remember your clients name, and
- Use your client’s correct title
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet how often is this done in practice? I once accompanied my sister-in-law in Barbados to a new gym she wanted to check-out with a view to perhaps joining it. I’m a qualified Personal Trainer and so she, or rather my brother, wanted my expert opinion. I introduced myself to the Manager who then proceeded to spend the next minute or so asking me if I was called anything other than ‘Nickolove’ even though I had indicated that was the name I preferred to be called. I wasn’t even the main client! So you can imagine how impressed I was with her sales skills. (The gym didn’t pass muster with me either.)
There are exceptions to using a person?s real name. One of my friends is called ‘Tifsihit’. She is a beautiful individual and I wanted to honour her by using her full name and I tried to do so. However, she politely informed me that my efforts resulted in saying something rude and that she was happy to be called ‘T’ – an abbreviation used by most of her friends.
Sometimes we meet individuals whose names we later or promptly forget. How many times has this happened to you? Do you ask the person their name again? In many cases people are reluctant to ask a person’s name the second or third time around. However, the irony is, people don?t mind being asked their name. It shows that you are interested in them and people generally respond favourably to this.
When you are talking to a customer, address them by name and use their name during the conversation. You don’t have to overdo it but when people hear their names mentioned it helps to make them feel that they are being spoken to as an individual rather then just anyone or everyone. It helps to give them confidence that you are seeking to address their individual needs.
Many people say that they can’t remember names. Just saying this helps to reinforce this negative and false belief. The truth is, unless you have a medical condition that affects your memory, you have a perfect memory and, with a little effort, you can remember the names of a roomful of people if you so desired.
One technique that helps me to remember a person?s name is for me to ask a person to spell their name for me, especially if it is somewhat unusual. When a person spells their name I can actually see the letters and this makes it easier for me to recall.
I am also unashamed at repeating a person?s name a few times until I get the pronunciation right (or not as in the case of Tifsihit!). This repetition also helps me to remember their name.
I also like to discover the meaning of names. I meet many people with exquisite sounding names and I’m always curious as to their meaning. Even common names have interesting meanings. Take the name ‘Stephen’. I discovered only this weekend that the name Stephen is of Greek origin and means ‘crown’. Knowing what someone’s name means is another way of engraving that person?s name into my memory. It also creates a natural focal point for light conversation which adds to building rapport.
There are many excellent resources on the market to help you develop your memory. I highly recommend choosing one of these resources if you want to dramatically improve your memory and your ability for remembering names. It’s too lengthy a discussion for this article.
Finally, use a client’s correct title. Many times I receive correspondence addressed to ‘Mr Nickolove Lovemore’ or sometimes I receive calls asking to speak to ‘Mr’ What is really irritating about this is that, in many cases I have actually spoken to the person sending the correspondence and there is no way you could mistake the sound of my voice for that of a man.
I remember a situation where I received a letter from a real estate agent I had been dealing with who fell foul to this error. When I pointed out that my title should be ‘Ms’ and not ‘Mr’ I was told that they assumed ‘Mr Lovemore’ was the decision-maker and so had addressed the letter accordingly. That went down like the proverbial lead weight. How chauvinistic! I was the individual to whom they always spoken to and yet it was assumed that I, a lowly female, was incapable of making a decision about a financial contraction of this magnitude even when a ‘Mr Lovemore’ had never been mentioned.
Getting a client’s title wrong is a sure way to alienate them so if you are unsure about a client’s title simply ask them. If this is not possible then circumvent this problem by not using a title at all.
There are many hurdles to overcome with regards to building rapport. Get your client?s name right and you will sail over the first hurdle and be one step closer to selling with success.
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