Are You An Intentional Salesperson

There is a big difference between salespeople who “tell” and those who are “intentional.”

By Julie Hansen

“I’m sorry.”

Have you ever had someone apologize to you . . . and you know darn well they’re not sorry?

But if they said all the right words, how do you know? Perhaps it’s evident in their tone, their expression, or even their actions. But ultimately it has to do with their intention.

Did they intend to truly right a wrong? Or did they intend to just say the words so you would get off their back and they could go right on doing what they were doing? There’s a distinct difference between those intentions, and like you, most people can quickly pick up on it.

An “intentional” salesperson understands the words they use are just part of their communication tool set. Much of what is communicated to another person comes from the meaning—the intention or the subtext—riding underneath those words.

Your intention influences how you say something and, therefore, how people will respond to you. Often intentions speak louder than the words themselves, and when people’s intentions don’t match their words—we sense something is off and we don’t trust those people.

One of the most empowering things I learned as an actor I come back to time and time again as a sales coach is the power of intention. To really make an impact on an audience, actors need to learn to do more than recite their lines. They need to understand why they are saying what they’re saying
and how they hope to affect the other actor and the audience with those words. It’s no different in sales.

As a salesperson, it can be easy to go into “autopilot”—repeating the same lines from one prospect to the next, disconnected from why we’re saying what we’re saying, and what impact we want to have on our listener.

Leveraging the hidden power of intention can be your secret weapon to having authentic, engaged conversations that create emotional connections with customers and inspire changes in behavior.

“Telling” is a weak intention

Most people don’t consciously think about what their intention is and therefore often fall into the default intention of “telling” or “informing” when they start talking about their product or service.

For example, I have heard salespeople say, “This can reduce your monthly electrical bill by 50% and pay for itself within 18 months” with the same enthusiasm as if they were telling me what time it was.

There is a big difference between salespeople who “tell” and those who are “intentional.”
Wouldn’t it be better to have your customer feel excited? How about engaged or motivated?

“Telling” is what is called a weak intention because it has no particular passion or energy that can be transferred to your listener. It’s simply a delivery of information and it relies on the words to do all the heavy lifting.

There is a much more effective way and that is choosing and “acting” upon a strong intention.

The power of a strong intention

A strong, specific intention behind those same words will have a much stronger impact on your customer. Think about how you want your prospect to feel after you’re done speaking. Is it enough for him to feel informed or educated? Not in a competitive market, it’s not! Those outcomes will rarely get
a buyer emotionally committed.

Wouldn’t it be better to have your customer feel excited? How about engaged or motivated? You can use a strong, specific intention to help make that outcome a reality.

Examples of strong intentions you want to shoot for are to: excite, motivate, challenge, reassure, convince, prove, engage, urge, emphasize, inspire—you get the idea?

How to leverage the power of intention

Here are examples of strong intentions and how to use them in your conversation to get results.

  1. Decide what impact you want to have on your prospect. Do you want to excite or motivate him? Do you need to convince or reassure her? Get clear on your intention before you start your conversation.
  2. Practice delivering your message while focusing on communicating the intention you’ve selected. This can be a bit like scratching your head and rubbing your stomach, but keep at it until you notice a shift in how you’re delivering your message.
  3. Before your meeting or conversation, focus on your intention and notice the difference in your energy level and how your prospect responds to you when you are intentional.
  4. Want proof? Record yourself as you practice—once before you use an intention, and again after. Like most people, you will likely be struck by how much more connected you are to your words when you consciously choose and use a strong intention.

Being an “intentional” salesperson can produce a dramatic and authentic change in your energy level and bring passion and enthusiasm back into your sales conversations. This can’t help but have a “dramatic” impact on your customer—and your results.


Julie Hansen is a professional sales trainer, speaker, and author. She authored the book ACT Like a Sales Pro in 2011 and has been featured in Selling Power, Entrepreneur, and Sales and Service Excellence magazines. She can be reached at julie@actingforsales.com and www.actingforsales.com.