03 Feb 2015

Ajax told me to sign up for Venmo last month. It seemed like just another PayPal to me, but since he recently spent some time working at a start-up in the banking industry, I figured I’d trust his security judgement. So I signed up, our friend Perl paid me back for a dress I bought her, and I forgot all about the site. That is until the other day when I receive a text message that read:

"Paulina LastName paid you $63.00 
For sex and drugs mostly 

Now I’ll admit, there’s an occasional night from the days I lived on the beach that I have a less than clear memory of, but I’m pretty sure I’ve neither ever hooked nor fronted someone drug money. And even if I had, it’s been six months since I moved off the island - surely by now all debts should have been repaid. But hey, I’ll take $63 bucks. 

I forwarded the message to Ajax to see if this kind of nonsense is a regular thing on that service. While I waited for his surely sarcastic response, I received another message from Paulina. 

“I accidentally sent you 63.00 thinking you were my roommate (you both have the same name) so I looked up how to cancel, and it said to request you the amount I accidentally sent you. If you could send it back to me, that would be amazing! I'm sorry for the inconvenience!”

As I contemplated whether or not to be a good Samaritan, I got to thinking about branding. Since I changed my name back to my maiden, my Google-ability has taken quite the hit, but this is the first time I’ve experienced blatant mistaken identity. Sharing the experience with Perl revealed that this kind of confusion is more common than I thought. Perl, the early adopter that she is, secured the firstName.lastName gmail address and apparently she now frequently receives messages intended for one of the half dozen other Perl’s floating about the Internets. 

In a day and age when most people won’t decide whether or not to meet you until after they’ve Googled you, how can you protect yourself from mistaken identity? And when you are mistaken, how long can you safely play along before you’re in too deep to dig out of the tale? Probably not long. But what about professionally? In sales, when a customer confuses you with the competition, is that the Universe smiling on your pipeline or is it just an invitation for trouble?

Despite what you’ve learned from the movies - and from me - most ‘clash of noun’ situations don’t end in with a cash bonus. Assuming you hope to foster a future with the other party - generally speaking - the sooner you come clean the better. But if it keeps happening, it might be time to add a photo to that profile of yours.

So this week, better your branding. Take some time to spruce up your profiles and ensure your contact information is accurate and complete. When your customers can trust you are who you say you are, they’ll be far more likely to trust what you’re selling. 

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Last modified on Tuesday, 03 February 2015 17:41
Erin Wilson

I find great amusement in everyday absurdities and am constantly surprised by how my bar-ventures, my travels, and even my food-qusitions relate to the shenanigans that is software sales. I am grateful for the opportunity to leverage the Sapient Salesman as an outlet to share with you my follies, and I hope you can enjoy the schadenfreude.

Website: ebullienterin.com/

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

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