Naming Names: Matching Customers’ Words

GollumTolkien created wonderful character names like Gollum, Gandalf, and Gimli. These names belong to a unique world. When you hear them you know where you are.

Same is true for customers. They use specific names in their worlds. Here’s the problem. If you use the wrong name with a customer, they think you’re from another world.

They’re thinking you:

a) don’t know their business -or-
b) don’t care to (which is even worse)

Obviously this is not how you want customers thinking about you.

Getting it Wrong in Speech

You might get away with mismatching customers names for a little while when speaking with them. Although they’ll look at you sideways when you call their “employees”, “tenants”.

Watchout in Proposals

Beware when mismatching names in your proposals. It’s as obvious to customers as a black widow spider on an angel food cake. And as jarring.

Get it wrong on paper and you’ve seriously hurt your chances of winning the bid.

Names: The Short List

Here are a few names customers use for:

  • Structure -aka- building, facility, property, plant, etc.
  • Structure user -aka- employee, tenant, staff, etc.
  • Your service worker (Janitorial) -aka- cleaner, custodian, janitor, etc.
  • Your service worker (Security) -aka- guard, officer, security guard, etc.

Which Names to Use

Typically, names are specific to a vertical market. Customers use the names everyone in their industry does. For example, in the commercial office market it’s “property”, “tenant”, “janitor”, and “officer”.

Preparing for 1st Customer Meeting?

Scan their website, and look for the names they use. If not found on the web, use market specific names in the meeting. And keep your ears open. Catch the names they use, and align. Now you’re bonding.

Writing Proposals

Always scan the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the names they use. Always match those names exactly in your responses.

Names in Schizophrenic RFPs

In some RFPs, customers start by using one name, then switch to another later on, i.e. going from “guard” to “officer”.

What do you do?

Use the name that’s most frequently used in the RFP, and commonly used in the vertical market.

Names with Different Decision Makers

What if different decision makers, in the same company, use different names?

What do you do?

Match names with the decision maker who will manage your service. They’re the one who is seen as the expert within their company. So all your written (and verbal) communication had better match the names that person uses.

What customer names do you use?

~~~~~~
Chris Arlen
President, Service Performance

Technorati: proposal writing, RFP, selling

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