Intent and intention seems to be a hot topic these days. Wayne Dyer has a book on the power of intention, Brian Klemmer has a book on intent and I am sure there are more out there that I haven't read yet. Why is this such an important topic today? Is it more important than it was twenty years ago? Let's take a brief look at this critical area with a focus on the intentions of your customers.
What is intent? Is it goals, plans, dreams or hopes or is it something more, something deeper? Webster defines it as: firm, steadfast, fixed or directed. Having the attention sharply focused. I'd like to give you my definition: Intent is doing what you say you are going to do. You plan to lose twenty pounds and you do it. You plan to save 10% of your income and you do it.
What causes people to not do what they say they are going to do? Could be hundreds of reasons but here is one. They really don't mean what they say. Why? Are they fooling themselves? Are they not in touch with their own strengths and weaknesses? Here is the key. Whenever someone says they are going to do something and they don't, there is always an opposing intent involved that is stronger than the stated intent. It's that simple.
Let's look at the disconnect between what prospects and clients say vs. what they actually do.
-I'll call you on Tuesday afternoon. They don't call. Did they really not plan to call you when they said they would? Or, did some unforeseen project, activity, emergency or anything more important get in the way?
Often people who make promises or commitments can't always control the circumstances that may prevent their doing what they said they would. I'll send you the Purchase Order on Friday. The following Friday and still no PO. Maybe the person who made the commitment really didn't have the authority to make the commitment to you. Ah Ha! Here is the crux of dealing with intent in sales.
It is critical that you know whether the person making the promise to you has both the authority and the willingness to follow-through on their commitment. If not, don't act surprised when it doesn't happen.
Too often salespeople are willing to accept any promise or commitment a prospect or customer makes without probing further to ensure that there is both the authority and willingness behind the stated intention.
If a prospect doesn't follow through on a promise and you act surprised shame on you.
Why not look carefully at your reaction to commitments your prospects or customers make and your typical responses to these.
Do you just accept them at face value?
Do you challenge them?
Do you ask further probing questions to peel away the layers of the onion that may be protecting or hiding the truth?
Some people actually know that when they are making a commitment to you they have NO intentions of honoring it. Why? Maybe they are just subtly telling you that they are not really a prospect for you. Maybe they have an inflated view of their authority or power within their own organization. And maybe, they just lie a lot. Who knows. My point is, that every minute or hour that you spend wondering whether they are really going to call or you spend hoping they will is time spent in La La land.
Here are a couple of examples of follow-up questions you can ask when someone makes a promise of action to you.
- What could prevent you from calling me back? Getting the PO out on Friday? Whatever.
- On a scale of 1-10 where would you place your commitment to (either of the above). Why did you
choose that number?
-If I don't hear from you or get the PO what action would you like me to take on your
This is just a start. Develop some questions or strategies of your own that you are comfortable with and will work at getting to the real intent.
If you don't have the skill, courage or willingness to take follow-up action on a stated intention from a prospect or customer then I suggest you may as well just get comfortable with wasting time and energy.
Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, relationship, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That's Life, Peace Of Mind and The Male Gift Giving Survival Guide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 704-895-1230 or visit his website at http://www.timconnor.com.