Intent Trumps Authenticity: The Tao of Sales Training

January 21, 2013

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If I told you I’ve taken every possible personality test, management and sales training course in the free world, you would just have to trust me on that. In fifteen years of this I have learned two things:

1. I test remarkably consistently. I can tell what the outcome of my test ahead of taking it.
2. I have had TWO classes (or moments) in the endless time spent in courses that have stuck with me.

The first was a sales training class that was so challenging it literally shaped who I was as a sales executive and, really, who I was in business. I’ve never forgotten it.

The second was the following statement:

Intent counts more than technique.

I cannot tell you how many times and how many ways I’ve considered and applied that one simple statement.

You see, it’s not just for sales. Over time it has become something of a guiding approach. We all have these moments where right in front of us is this … something. An opportunity, a chance to be creative and push boundaries, a chance just to take a chance. But we get caught up in “I’m just not as good as [insert person here].” Comparison and self-doubt and fear just make us sit there.

In sales, sometimes it’s this need to feel polished and knowledgeable (good salespeople get past that with the right approach) – in blogging it’s the “my site isn’t designed well enough” or “I don’t have enough blog traffic” or “that blogger is so much more popular than I am” or “that brand/PR agency/conference” is out of my league.

In parenting it’s every damn day.

This past week I stood in a boardroom and led a team of ten people far more knowledgeable than I in a presentation that really was “dancing for our life” in front of a client. It was about bus fare collection systems.

You know what I know about fare collection systems? Well, more than I knew six months ago, but HOLY SHIT NOT MUCH AT ALL. But I knew how it could really help that agency – and beyond that how it could really help that city’s people and local businesses and I believed it was the single best decision they could make to choose us. I had a Jerry Maguire Manifesto moment and, at the end of the day, it may just have been okay.

Um, our room didn't look like this. BEST BOARDROOM EVER.

See that’s the thing. You have to just have enough faith in yourself for just one moment sometimes. You have to just leap. And it doesn’t matter if it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect and it really doesn’t matter if you stumble a little bit, because the person on the receiving end of that is smart enough to know when your INTENT is true. And they’re smart enough to know when it isn’t. Intent outweighs all of it. Always.

I hate the word “authenticity”. We, the Internet, have killed that one dead. I prefer “intent” to authenticity. You could authentically be an asshole.

And assholes lack good intent.

So, let’s put authenticity aside and go with intent. Just do it. Pick one thing you really, really want. ONE THING. Who cares what it is – just that you want it to happen and if you don’t try you’ll hate yourself and pick at your nails for the rest of your life for not at least ATTEMPTING it.

Go and make a run at it with your whole heart. Forget if it’s perfectly planned or if someone else is better or if it’s never been done before. Stop over-thinking it and just get down and dirty and passionate about it and LEAP.

Then tell me about it. Because I love these stories the most.

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