Apr 222024

If you live in fear of forgetting prospects’
names, sometimes within mere seconds of
being introduced to them, you’re not alone.
Surveys show that 83% of the population
worries about their inability to recall
people’s names. Ironically, while most of us
hate having our names forgotten or
mispronounced, the majority of us claim we
just “aren’t good at remembering names” or
putting faces together with names when we
meet people again. If you have difficulty
recalling names, you know that the two most
common scenarios are forgetting the name
instantaneously upon being introduced to
someone new, and failing to recall the name
of someone you’ve met and interacted with in
the past and should know but just can’t pull
up from your memory bank. Forgetting names
becomes more than just an embarrassing
social faux pas in sales. Straining to
recall a name can so preoccupy you that you
are unable to fully pay attention to your
client or prospect. He or she may perceive
you not only as unfocused and easily
distracted, but also as not very bright if
you’re unable to devote your full attention
to him or her. Even worse, if you forget the
name of a client with whom you’ve worked in
the past, he or she may view your memory
lapse as a betrayal of trust, which can cost
you a great deal of money if that client
severs the relationship.

Integrating Learning Styles to Improve Name

While common, this frustrating phenomenon
can be relatively easy to overcome when you
commit to taking steps to improve your
memory. The most important key to really
effective learning of any kind is
understanding that there are three learning
styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic
(physically interactive). The more you can
apply all three of these styles to a task,
the more quickly and solidly you will learn

Practice each of the following steps to
improve your name recollection in every
sales and social situation. 1. When you’re
first introduced to someone, look closely at
his or her face and try to find something
unique about it. Whether you find a
distinctive quality or not is irrelevant; by
really looking for a memorable
characteristic in a new face, you’re
incorporating the visual learning style. And
a word of advice: if you do find something
that really stands out about someone’s face,
don’t say anything! Within minutes of
meeting someone new, it’s generally a bad
idea to exclaim, “Whoa! That’s a huge nose!”

2. The next step utilizes both auditory and
kinesthetic learning styles. When you meet
someone, slow down for five seconds, and
concentrate on listening to him or her.
Focus on the prospect and repeat his or her
name back in a conversational manner, such
as “Susan. Nice to meet you, Susan.” Also
make sure to give a good firm handshake,
which establishes a physical connection with
the prospect.

3. Creating a mental picture of someone’s
name incorporates the visual sense again.
Many people have names that already are
pictures: consider Robin, Jay, Matt, or Dawn
to name just a few. Some names will require
you to play with them a bit to create a
picture. Ken, for example, may not bring an
immediate image to your mind, but a “can” is
very close. Or you might envision a Ken
doll. The point is not to create the best,
most creative mental image ever, so don’t
get caught up in your head during this step
of the process, thinking, “Oh, that’s not a
very good picture. What’s a better one?” The
worst thing you can do when learning is to
stress yourself out and overthink the
process. If an image doesn’t come to you
right away, skip it and do it later. You’ll
undo all of your good efforts if you’re
staring dumbly at your prospect, insisting,
“Hey. Hold still for a minute while I try to
turn your name into a picture!”

4. Once you’ve identified a mental image
that you associate with a person’s name, the
next step is to “glue” that image to the
person’s face or upper body. This bridges
that gap many people experience between
being able to recall faces but not the names
that belong to those faces. If you met a new
prospect named Rosalind, for example, you
might have broken her name down into the
memorable image of “rose on land.” Now you
must create a mental picture that will stick
with you as long as you need it and pop into
your head every time you meet her; this
should be something fun, even a little odd,
that will bring “rose on land” to mind when
you see her face. You might imagine her
buried up to her neck in earth, with roses
scattered around her, for example. Because
you created the image, it will come up next
time you see her and enable you to recall
her name.

5. At the end of the conversation,
integrate auditory learning by repeating the
prospect’s name one more time, but don’t
ever overuse someone’s name in an effort to
place it more firmly in your mind. Use the
prospect’s name only right at the beginning
of the conversation, and then again at the
end; if you feel like you can do so
naturally, you might insert someone’s name
once or twice in a natural fashion during
the course of the conversation, too. But if
you’ve ever had a stereotypically pushy
salesperson use your name a dozen times in a
five minute conversation, you know how
annoying, even weird, this can be, so don’t
overdo it.

6. Writing is a form of kinesthetic
learning – you’re getting a part of your
body involved in the learning process – so
if you’re really serious about wanting to
remember people’s names for the long term,
keep a name journal or a log of important
people you meet, and review it periodically.

Forget Me Not: It’s the Effort That Matters

The most important thing to know about this
memory process is that even when it doesn’t
work, it still works! For example, if you
get stuck trying to make a picture out of
someone’s name, skip it for now. The next
day, when you have a chance, give the matter
a few minutes of concentrated thought. If
you still can’t get a picture, stop and take
up the matter a week later. Even if you’re
still unsuccessful at creating a mental
image, you’ve thought about the prospect’s
name so much, there’s now no way you’ll ever
forget it! So you’ve actually accomplished
what you set to do in the first place.

People can’t remember names for one main
reason: they’re just not paying attention.
This process forces you to think. If, for
example, you struggle with the step of
creating a mental picture, the other steps -
looking at the prospect closely, shaking his
or her hand confidently and repeating the
name a few times – are easy to do, will
solidify the name in your memory, and will
ultimately convey a positive image of you to
clients and prospects. That positive image
will certainly make you memorable to
prospects, enabling you to close more deals
and increase your bottom line.

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