By V. Berba Velasco Jr., Ph.D.
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In the course of my career, I've had to deal with a lot of vendors-software companies, sensor manufacturers, electronics distributors and more. Some of them have left lasting impressions on me, whereas others have been eminently forgettable. I'd like to talk about two of the more memorable vendors, and the simple technique that they used (perhaps unknowingly) which made them stand out in my memory.
As my byline shows, I have the letters "Ph.D." after my name; however, I seldom use that title, except in my various writings and official correspondence. For professional reasons, I do have these initials on my business cards and my e-mail signature; however, I never expect people to call me "Doctor," and if they do, I almost invariably insist that they call me by my first name instead. For most of my daily affairs, this title simply isn't very important.
Most salespeople don't mention this title either, which suits me just fine; after all, I've always been a fairly informal fellow. On two occasions though, a vendor actually took notice of my degree, and chose to address me using the "Doctor" honorific. Even though I normally eschew that title, this was still a pleasant surprise. It was nice to see a prospective vendor take notice of such details, however unnecessary they may be.
Any good salesman knows that building rapport and making yourself pleasantly memorable are key elements in developing customer loyalty. This simple, trivial act made these particular salesmen stand out prominently in my memory, and in a pleasant way. I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I found that I almost wanted to send these people some of my business-perhaps because such deference is noticeably rare.
This simple tactic can be especially helpful when dealing with prospective customers of foreign descent. Remember that some cultures are more title-conscious than American society is. The failure to mention this title may prove offensive to some of these individuals-or at the very least, it may suggest a lack of attentiveness. Better to err on the side of caution, I would say.
This simple technique is exceedingly trivial to use, requiring no additional investment of time or effort. At the very least, it can be one way to make yourself stand out from the crowd of other vendors who are vying for someone's attention. So why not try it? It costs nothing, it can't possibly hurt, and it may just land you some new customers.
About the Author:
V. Berba Velasco Jr., Ph.D. is a senior electrical and software engineer at Cellular Technology Ltd (http://www.immunospot.com,