For much of my sales career, I had it all wrong. I spent far too much time pursuing outcomes during initial prospect appointments. I was taught that the purpose and intent of a sales call included the five following objectives: to build rapport, find pain, prove capabilities, collect data, and get a second meeting. I thought these flawed intentions were working well because they made me feel busy and would generate a win twenty percent of the time.

The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

Looking back now, I see why these good intentions fell short of the mark. The same outcome is pursued by almost everyone you compete with. Over time, the prospect develops a certain expectation when they agree to a conversation. They often have their bills, financials, insurance, and other data ready for your perusal when you walk through the door. Why? Because they believe—based on prior experience—this will be the focus of all your questions and conversation.

Many of you would consider this to be a successful first appointment, especially if there was rapport wrapped around it and some pain was uncovered.

But here’s the problem – you’ve done nothing to change the prospect’s experience, so his or her beliefs and expectations remain the same. If the prospect’s beliefs haven’t changed, their actions don’t change. They know you want the data; they know you want their time, and they already know you have plenty to tell them about the greatness of your company. There’s often not a lot of exclusivity in your ideas because your competition works within the same conversational parameters and outcomes. None of this changes their beliefs or expectations about what they expect in return from working with you.

This isn’t just about your prospects. In life, we don’t change or take new action until our beliefs and outcome expectations change. We all abide by the same rules of change – our experiences inform and determine our beliefs. Our beliefs decide which actions we will or won’t take, and these actions determine the results we create. This universal truth applies to all human experience, including that of your prospects.

If you believe prospecting and cold-calling are humiliating and arduous, there’s little chance you’ll make them part of your professional practice. This causes your results to be inconsistent and elevates your stress level. You learn to accept it as part of doing your job. This flawed thinking won’t change until you change your beliefs about prospecting.

Why It’s Time to Change Your Intent

What if you challenged your prospect to improve their business—challenged them to think and create differently? What if you put aside your need to be liked, and your need to achieve any of the five flawed intents?

The decisive advantage is in front of you. Challenge your prospects and change their sales experience. First, determine how and if you can help, and if they are even ready for your help. Your mindset must be focused on improving their business, instead of your need to achieve one of the five flawed intents. It’s a powerful and disruptive strategy because no one else is doing it.

Your intentions to achieve drive everything you say and do personally and professionally. If you intend to help your prospect take new action then you’re going to have to change their experience. Leave it to your competition to keep banging their head against the wall, pursuing the same five flawed first conversation outcomes. Taken individually, none of them will change the prospect’s actions.