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Get Their Name

Furniture World Magazine


It's the most important word in the English Language

Everyone loves to hear the sound of his or her own name. Is it difficult to develop rapport if you do not know "who" you are talking to, or to "whom" you are speaking? Absolutely!

Countless times in my seminars I've been asked, "Cathy, how do I get their name, address, and phone number?"

The key is to obtain their name as soon as humanly possible in the selling relationship! If you've been calling her "Harriet" for the last thirty minutes or twelve minutes for that matter, you're on your way to establishing a professional rapport with her. She is no longer the "lady in the black coat and red hat," the dreaded "rude one," or your next "UP!"

  • She Is "Harriet."
  • Now you know.
  • Now you can find out why she's here, and how you can assist her.


I have had some consultants tell me that they feel as if it is too pushy to ask the customer their name. Pushy? Unless they're in the Witness Protection Program, their name is not a federal secret that needs to be kept under wraps!

There is nothing pushy about introducing yourself to someone, and then finding out who they are. You can't relate stranger to stranger. This must be done person to person. Human to human ~ "Cathy" to "Louise." Especially today. It's become high tech vs. high touch! I don't know about you but I become ecstatic when I get to talk to a "human" on the phone! Pushing buttons, and listening to a "zillion" menu options is not my idea of "servicing" anyone!

Something as simple as finding out the name of this person turns an "encounter" into a friendly, professional experience for this consumer.
Getting their name shows that you care about them as an individual.

Have you ever watched the show "ER?" George Clooney and company are saving lives every Thursday night in the Emergency Room. What's the very first question they ask the patients as they are being wheeled in? "What's your name?"

Why do they ask for the patient's name? Why is that their first question?

1. They need to establish a BOND with this person.
2. They need this person to feel comfortable with them AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
3. When they call them by name, they are a PERSON, NOT a number, NOT an unknown human!
4. They are immediately building RAPPORT.
5. They are making this person COMFORTABLE.
6. By doing this rapid "BONDING" they are letting them know that THEY ARE IN GOOD HANDS
7. I know who YOU are. "I" am here to take care of "YOU," and YOUR NEEDS.

Isn't that what you need to do with each and every person you meet? No wonder your name is the most important word in the English language.

How do I get their name? Use what I call the "V-8 approach." We've all seen the commercial. "Oh, I should have had a V-8." Do it "off the cuff."

You can do this when you re-approach them or during the "People Questions" (Refer to the previous issue of FURNITURE WORLD or search the "Sales Skills Index" on www.furninfo.com for these questions if you missed them!) Either one of these situations is in excellent opportunity to accomplish this. "I'm sorry, I didn't even introduce myself to you." (How rude of me). "And what is your name?"

It sounds more professional. Especially today. You go out for dinner. What do you hear? "Hi, I'm Cathy. I'll be your server for this evening." See what I mean! Does it sound professional?

Please note that this is not a criticism of waiters & waitresses. In fact, having been a waitress in college I believe that every human on the planet should be a waiter/ waitress for just twenty minutes! That's all it takes to know what a tough job it is! I also think that same principle applies to the world of retail. It takes a very "special person" to "meet and greet" humans!).

Giving your full name sets you apart. You sound professional. I've had people tell me over the years, "Cathy, forget it! My last name is too long and too hard to pronounce!" Guess what? The L-O-N-G-E-R it is and the harder it is, the easier it is for them to remember it. It gives them a handle!

One of my clients, who was Irish, could not remember my name. All she could remember was that I was Irish too. As I was flying by the office one day I heard the manager on the phone saying, "I'm sorry, we don't have a Katie O'Grady here."
"No wait!" I shrieked. "It's for me! It's for me!" I helped this woman furnish her entire home. If she wanted to call me "Katy" it was okay with me! If I had not given her my full name, she never would have known that I was Irish!

Give them your title whatever your title is. If you are the design consultant or a sales associate, let them know. If you do not have a title, pick one. Get one now!

Remember they do not know who you are and what you do. So tell them up front why you're here. This sets you apart from every other "clerk" they've come in contact with who is just trying to "sell them!"

When you get their name, repeat it back to them. "Mary, it's great to meet you." Don't just say, "Oh, it's nice to meet you." They have given you their name. They have given you a gift. Treat it as if it is very special to you.

They have announced who they are. What is the proper way to address them? Today in our "politically correct" society this can become extremely "tricky!" Is she Mrs., Miss, or a Ms?

The best rule to remember is that most people will introduce themselves the way they want to be addressed.

  • Dr. Jonas Salk - Dr. Salk
  • Mrs. Fred Mertz - Mrs. Mertz
  • Catherine Anderson - Catherine (Don't shorten it to "Cathy!")

If they're elderly, and they've introduced themselves to you as Sam and Mary Smith ask their permission. "May I call you Sam and Mary?" This is a very nice way of showing them respect. It will also make you feel more comfortable.

Everyone's name is important, especially if there is a title involved. They worked hard enough to achieve it. They want it acknowledged, some more so than others do! I greeted a gentleman one day and he proclaimed that he was Attorney Lance Brief. (The name has been changed to protect the guilty!) I worked with this gentleman for months, doing room by room, and I always referred to him as Attorney Brief! If it was that important to him, it became that important to me. He had an "ego thing" going here! That was his problem! I was not about to make it mine!
When you get their name, use it, but don't overuse it. I call using a name too often phony, pushy and patronizing (the 3 P's).

A lot of sales professionals have told me that they do not get names because they can't remember them once they get them. Guess what? You can write their names down right in front of them! I'll repeat. It's okay to write down their name in front of them. It really is okay!

When I started, I would get her name and race back to "the fort" chanting as I ran, "Mary Murphy, Mary Murphy, Mary Murphy!" You don't have to do that! Write it down! Write it down! After all, it's hard to remember when you use invisible ink.

At my seminars I have people asking me all the time, "You just met us. How do you remember everyone's name? How do you do that?"
My formula for remembering names:

  • Shake their hand, look them directly in the eye and focus on just their name.
  • When you hear their name, repeat it back to them. "Mary it's great to meet you." This helps to reinforce their name.
  • Use their name.
  • Make it a top priority. "Focus" on only them and their name. You can't "connect" with them if you can't remember their name. You must build rapport quickly!

If you are still thinking, "I am just not good at remembering names." Remember what Henry Ford said, "If you think you can or you think you can't - You're right!"

Power point!
The more effort you are making to remember their name, the more effort they'll make to remember yours. Now you're bonding. You're building rapport. You can't do this if you don't know to whom you are talking!

Never give them your name until you can get their name. Your name, just like theirs, is a gift. Don't throw it away!
Don't say, "I'm Cathy. I'll check back with you," or "I'm Cathy. Let me know if you need anything." That's what every other clerk in town is saying!

Now you're done! You can't go back later and say, "I'm so sorry, I didn't even introduce myself." (see what I mean? It won't work. Be careful here. R-e-a-l careful!)

I cannot stress this enough. I hear this all the time on the retail selling floor. We know we are not supposed to do this. It's like we can't help ourselves! We get in this rut and we can't climb out!

Are you waiting until the end to get their name? Are you using the "mailing list gimmick?" You know what I mean. You didn't get their name and now they're ready to walk out the door! So you ask them, "may I have your name, address and phone number to put on our mailing list. This way you will be notified of any sales promotions or special events that we'll be having."

Sound familiar? Do I have those words down? You bet! I used them all the time!

Then you look at the card that you had them fill out, read it and say, "oh, Sandra, it's great to meet you" if it was so great, why did you not find out who she was before!

Be careful here! Most people today do not want to be put on another mailing list. They get enough junk mail, thank you.
It's extremely difficult to bond in the last 10 seconds as she is bolting for the door!

The customer is on their way out, and those "infamous words" are bouncing off the walls of showrooms across the country, "I'm Cathy, please ask for me if you decide to come back." Or "I'm Cathy. What's your name? I've enjoyed meeting you, Sid and Roberta. Have a nice day. Thanks for stopping in." (if it was so great to meet them, why didn't you find out who they were before?)

Sound familiar? Sound too familiar? "your" company, "Me, Inc." is going bankrupt and all of your opportunities to build your client base are riding off into the sunset!

You want to get their name as soon as you can in the "selling relationship." But what does that mean, as soon as you can? What is crucial here is the timing. It is when you are comfortable and you are sensing the consumer is starting to "open up" and become more comfortable with you. It will be different with everyone. As we discussed earlier, when you "re-approach them or during the "people questions." Either situation is a natural time to introduce yourself.

Just please make sure that after you read this you go on a "mission:" With every new "up" ~ you will (repeat after me . . )
Get their name & introduce yourself to them when you feel the timing is right.

When you get the name in the beginning of the "selling relationship" it is much easier to get their address and phone number at the end. She is much more comfortable volunteering this information when you've been calling her "Louise" for the past twenty minutes.

The kiss of death is when you wait until the end and say, "now, can I have your name, address, and phone number?" Would you give it to you? Nope, you're done!

  • If you don't relate ~ you can't motivate!
  • Motivate them to buy "you" ~ the professional
  • To assist them to "own" what they need and want.

That's how you separate yourself from the competition and take your company into the next millennium!

Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Her latest audio tape series on follow-up is called "The Marketing of "Me, Inc." -Taking Your Company Into the Next Millennium--10 audio tapes plus a comprehensive "how-to" manual that helps your people turn all the customers into "clients!" Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at finney@furninfo.com.