Many years ago when I ran my insurance loss adjusting business I enlisted the services of a local recruitment agency during times of overload.

Their temporary personnel consultant Ann was an absolute delight to deal with and she was so efficient.

One day Ann rang to say she was moving into permanent placements in the city and she was leaving me in the hands of her off-sider Liz, who she’d briefed with regard to my business needs.

I’d never met or spoken with Liz, but I remember Ann telling me she had a reputation of being a bit of a hard task-master with applicants.

Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing … at least for her clients.

Several days later Liz rang to introduce herself.

She called me “tuh-ray-suh” when my name, spelled Teresa, is pronounced “tuh-ree-suh”.

I corrected her but she kept tripping over it, explaining her best friend was “tuh-ray-suh” and perhaps it would be less confusing if she just called me “Terri”.

What a cheek!

I told her Terri was not my name.

I’d never been called Terri in my life.

And if she wanted to continue to do business with me she should show me the courtesy of addressing me by my correct name!

Now I’m not suggesting many people would dare to be as brazen as Liz.

But not getting somebody’s name correct is a personal sign of disrespect and laziness.

It screams out “I am a salesperson who doesn’t care enough.”

Don’t be that person.

The last thing you want to do is start off a sales conversation with the word “Sorry” and try to recover from that.


Get your client’s name right!


Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People) said that the sweetest sound a person can hear is his own name.

And it’s true, but only when it’s used appropriately by the right person at the right time.

Here are a few tips to make sure you never make this mistake:


  • Before you speak with the prospect, ask someone at the prospect’s office how to pronounce their name (if there’s any doubt) and write it down phonetically in your notes.
  • Better still, ask the receptionist, their executive assistant or someone else in the office how the prospect prefers to be addressed, for example, David, Dave, Mr. Jones, etc.
  • Do not rename your prospect. For example, one of my customers, Benjamin, said that people will often call him Ben even after he answers the phone with “This is Benjamin”.
  • Remember that not everyone likes their name abbreviated.
  • When all else fails, here is a website you can use where you can enter names and hear an audio with the pronunciation.