The Power of Intent
John drove onto the lot, and even before he was able to get out of the car and look around at the various vehicles, the salesman pounced.
“Hi, my name is Robert. I’d like to open your car door; I’d like to be your friend,” he said as he reached for the handle. The plaid short sleeves (with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the left one), oil-slicked hair and too-short tie, combined with his mirrored aviator glasses spoke volumes about what was important to him.
John could practically smell Robert’s commission breath. Needless to say, he left as quickly as his car would carry him.
I’m a good salesperson. Indeed, I’m a great salesperson. But what makes me so great? Is it because I have more degrees than a thermometer? Is it because I know all the latest sales and marketing techniques? Is it because I am a master of the English language who can weave a hypnotic presentation that mere mortals can’t refuse?
No, no, and nope. It’s none of that.
My success in sales all boils down to one thing: my intent. In fact, for me, that is the true definition of what selling is… pure service with pure intent.
One of the biggest discoveries in psychology — and thus applicable to sales — was made by Italian scientist, Giacomo Rizzolatti. While researching brain functions in primates, his team found that when monkeys merely observed researchers eating peanuts, the exact same neurons fired in their brains as when they were eating nuts themselves.
This lead Rizzolatti to consider what he referred to as “mirror neurons”. These particular neurons respond and mimic the actions and emotions of others around them. Keep this in mind as we move along…
Psychologist Paul Ekman’s research was in the area of non-verbal communication. He discovered that tiny, nearly imperceptible, muscular movements — micro-expressions — are capable of forming more than 10,000 facial expressions, the majority of which we have no conscious control over. These micro-expressions are often responsible for how others perceive us whether we want it or not. It’s how they are able to “read” us.
You also put out signals with your voice. The words you use are one thing, but you also communicate with your volume, pitch, intonation, and even the speed at which you speak. Such factors are collectively known as paralanguage.
The combination of mirror neurons, micro-expressions, and paralanguage create signals that you’re putting out. It’s the reason in our story John immediately recognized Robert’s “commission breath”. Any time you are interacting with another human being, your body is presenting a message that they pick up on whether you like it or not. In fact, research shows that kids as young as 18 months have the ability to pick up on the messages you're delivering.
You can’t control it; it’s all done subconsciously. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you don’t have to. It turns out that all three factors can deliver the message you want merely by determining your intent.
The Power of Intent
When you have the right intent, you really don’t have to worry about your message. Everything happens, well, automatically. With the right intent, your body forms positive expressions that help people like you and trust you.
When you come from a place of good intent, with a goal of being truly helpful, your sincerity and trustworthiness will shine through. The key to being great at sales is adopting a mindset that your job is to help, regardless of the outcome.
Going back to what I mentioned earlier, why am I such a successful salesperson? Intent.
You see, as strange as it seems, I really don’t care if I make the sale. My intent is not to make a huge commission. My intent is not even to make a sale. My intent is to help the customer… period. By focusing on how I can help them overcome their challenges and find a solution that works for them, I actually close even more sales. It's because I genuinely care about them.
And the customers pick up on that. They know that I will do anything to solve their problems. If I have to take less money in the deal, then so be it. As long as I don’t run in the red, I will take care of them.
I know that I don’t have to make a huge profit on this first deal, because that is not my goal. I know that the customer’s lifetime purchase cycle (a lesson for another day) means that, if I treat them right, in the future whenever they or someone they know needs what I’m offering, they will come back to me. And THAT is far more powerful (and profitable!) than taking them to the cleaners on the first deal, regardless of how big my commission might be.
This principle applies to online sales as well. True, the customer is not physically there to feel your mirror-neurons, see your micro-expressions, or hear your paralanguage. But just like none of that matters when you are face-to-face with a customer if you have right intent, it doesn’t matter online either.
With every piece of content you write, every product you review, and every affiliate link you post, do so with the intent to help your audience. At the end of the day, it’s not about you; it's about them.
If you are doing this just so you can make money, your readers will pick up on that. If your website is loaded with banner ads and flippy, flashy links, and your articles have affiliate links in every other sentence, your readers will know your intent is all about you. And they won’t like it. There is no trust and, thus, there are no sales.
You don’t need to be a master salesperson. You don’t need to be a master blogger. You don’t even need to be a great writer. You just need to care. Intent trumps all.