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What’s in a Name? Uh, a whole lot, actually…

September 10, 2010

I don’t like Connie.  Or Colleen, either, for that matter. 

No, I”m not referring to any particular person and it’s not that I dislike those NAMES, per se.  It’s that people call me by “Connie” or “Colleen” all too often.  It’s not just that they get my name wrong — heck, we all make mistakes, and I’ve long since gotten over mispronunciation (is it”Co-RINN” or “Co-REEN?”).  I even reconciled myself with the fact that my name was misspelled THREE different times in my High School yearbook when I was a senior…and not even misspelled the same way. THREE different mis-spellings.

But, there is a time when it’s strategically important to use my name correctly: when you are trying to sell me something.  Let me explain…

Recently, I’ve had the occasion where someone has responded to me in email after I reached out to then to accept an offer of a consultation or pre-sale call.  Both times, the consultant tried to use the personal touch…and in each case, the person opens the email with “Hi Connie…”

Ok, what does this tell me?  It tells me that the contact was more about making the sale than it was getting to know what I needed and how the consultant could help me. And this is crucial.

I don’t mind mistakes when you can’t remember my name..but if I send you an email, and my signature has my name, (properly spelled) in it, it’s a good practice to CHECK before you press “send.” 

If you’ve already read my latest book, you’ll know that you have 27 seconds to make a first impression — and that’s when you meet people face to face. When you are on the phone, that time is shortened to nearly half, and when you are working with written word — particularly email or other tech-based communication — you have about 10 seconds to the “make or break” point, which means, someone will give you about 10 seconds of read time before pressing the “Delete” key.

Now, think about this. If, in your first sentence — your “hello” even — you get your contact’s name wrong, chances are that the “Delete” key occurs in 2 seconds…particularly if it’s the email equivalent of a cold call or an initial contact.  Spell my name wrong..ok. I’m used to that. But if you can’t use my correct name, you convey the impression that you didn’t even make the effort to be sure you had my name right.

It may seem like a major thing, but if you put yourself in your “target’s” shoes, you’ll likely see what I mean.

In an age of auto-responders, of automated mailing lists, it’s not hard to “fake” the personal touch.  (It IS embarrassing, however, when your embed code goes awry and you get an email that says “Hey<Fname>!” and then in the next block you see your name listed, Fname/Lname  — it doesn’t matter how personal the following text sounds, it’s clearly not a personal email!)  But being truly personal is so rare that we notice when someone takes the time to be personal.  Just take an extra moment and double-check your correspondence before you press send; “Harry” might not appreciate your faux pas of calling him “Henry” and the best-written communication will find itself at the bottom of your trash folder faster than you can say, “My bad.”

I know…’cause “Dear Connie” doesn’t live here anymore. And neither does her email.

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