By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
We are all aware of the importance of “First Impressions”, not only in sales, job hunting, life, when meeting your girl friends dad, etc. There are plenty of experts that will teach us all manner of things to achieve the best first impression, from dress to languages both verbal and body, and any number of outward things you can do capitalize on that non-repeatable First.
But for sellers, there is something that can instantly undermine effort put into the best impression, and the fact that it is not external, limits the effect and or impact of the factors mentioned above or others. In fact if you do not master this one thing, it will not only undermine efforts, but scare buyers away no matter how well you do other things. If you do master it, it can more than make up for a bad hair day, encountering a herd of wildebeests on the way to the meeting or other things that may ruin a first impression. Further, unlike other factors, it is not a skill, and as such you can’t practice, train, or hire coaches; you need to master it on your own.
I am of course speaking about your intent or intentions.
Your intentions is where it all starts; they guide your planning, decisions, actions, attitude, execution and results. More than any other thing you bring to the game it is the key differentiator. Often when you are one of two equals from a product point of view, you intent will be what tips things your way. While buyers may not be able to see your intent like a snazzy Harvey Specter suit or hair cut, they are fully aware and in tune with your intent and will respond to it directly.
Truly having the intent of winning revenue by helping the buyer or client, helps you avoid the trap of cognitive dissonance , where you are saying one thing but feeling another. Buyers can sense this, don’t believe, just ask yourself how many times you did not believe what you were hearing from someone selling you something at a store or car dealership. In fact the if you look at the way better car sales people avoid the stigma of the stereo type is through their intention.
It can often be a challenge for sellers, they are wound up to go out there and “win” the revenue. People like me talk to them about hunting, and driving deals, play to win. The untrained assumption is that first impressions and everything we do after that is to win the deal. But in fact it is to win long lasting customers, and the best way to do that is to help them achieve their objectives, to deliver value throughout your work together. If you do that you will get the revenue that goes with it, if not, no revenue.
It may seem like a fine distinction, but if you set out to help your client overcome challenges between where they are and where they want or need to get to, not only do you approach the sale differently, but you are very much perceived differently by buyers and clients. When you set out to win the deal, you at times do, and at times you don’t. And I’ll bet that when you don’t win a deal, and you don’t understand why, it came down to what the buyer saw as your intent vs. the intent of the seller he awarded the deal to.
Intent even trumps skills. When working with outbound telesales people, They often want the secret words, the hooks that will get the prospect to say yes. Some practice their vocal delivery, trying to sound like the perfect radio voice in an effort to gain an edge. While intonation is important, it only goes so far, the intent you project and communicate goes further and deeper. While I am advocate of scripts, I define script not as a set of words delivered in a specific order, like the dinner interrupting window installers, but as a series of facts you want to communicate in a call, and bases you want to touch with them, thus demonstrating your intent. The problem with the old style scripts, is that as good as they are, they betray your intent, demonstrating to the buyer that you have a specific agenda, not the goal of helping them.
When you centre your sale around the proper intent of helping the buyer, you are able to engage with both near term and long term prospects, there by having an active and vibrant pipeline at all times. In planning, it allows you to draft better questions, which further demonstrate your intent, making the buyer more comfortable and confident in opening up more, building more trust, paving the way to more information, more trust, more information, etc. It creates greater alignment between buyer and seller, which in turn accelerates the velocity of the sales and shortens the cycle.
During the discovery stage, it drives you to come up with better questions, because you are not just going for the close. The right intentions allow you to fully explore buyers’ situation, needs, and requirements.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to win deal, drive revenue, but that is not my intent, it is the dividend.