"The Navigator" News Blog

Success in Selling is Intentional

I had an interesting moment a few weeks ago.  I had just done a training program with a client’s sales team.  A few days later, the sales manager reached out to me because one of his sales reps had just done the exact opposite of what he was trained to do on a big issue.  I told the sales manager to ask him why he did what he did, and the rep responded as I expected:  “I dunno.”

I’m often asked what separates top-performing salespeople from the rest. People think that it’s a combination of natural charisma, an extensive network, that vague characteristic called “drive,” or just plain luck.  In my opinion, it’s none of those things. The real key to sales success lies in the cumulative impact of intentional, daily decisions. As a sales professional, every choice you make throughout your day – from how you respond to leads to how you manage your time – can significantly influence your overall performance and results.  In other words – successful salespeople are intentional about what they do throughout the day.

The Power of Intentionality in Sales

Being intentional means approaching each aspect of your sales role with purpose and deliberation. It’s about making conscious choices rather than simply reacting to situations or going through the motions. It’s about knowing why you do things, instead of saying, “Gosh, I dunno.”  This mindset is crucial in sales, where the difference between success and failure often comes down to small details and persistent effort.

Consider two salespeople: Alex and Sam. Alex starts each day with a clear plan, prioritizing high-value activities and making deliberate choices about how to approach each task. Sam, on the other hand, tends to react to whatever comes up, often getting distracted by low-priority tasks or falling into unproductive habits. Over time, the difference in their results becomes stark, with Alex consistently outperforming Sam.  I’ve managed a ton of Alexes and a ton of Sams, and over the long run, Alex always wins out.  Sam might hit a hot streak every now and then, but Alex puts up the numbers week in and week out.

Think About the Key Decision Points in a Salesperson’s Day

Let’s examine some critical moments where intentional decisions can make a significant impact:

  1. Responding to Leads: When a new lead comes in, do you immediately pick up the phone or default to sending an email? Studies show that contacting leads within the first hour increases the likelihood of qualifying that lead by seven times. Choosing to make that call, even when it feels uncomfortable, can be a game-changer.  I’ve written about this before – treating incoming leads lightly is one of the dumbest things a salesperson can do.
  2. Customer Interactions: Do you launch into your pitch at the first opportunity, or do you take the time to ask thoughtful questions and truly understand the customer’s needs? Salespeople who prioritize needs assessment over immediate pitching are 73% more successful in closing deals.  I honestly thought salespeople pretty much agreed on this, but I recently went to a national sales convention and discovered that this is still a revolutionary concept to many salespeople.
  3. Time Management: When you have a free moment, do you use it to prospect for new opportunities, or do you find yourself scrolling through social media? Dedicating just one extra hour per day to proactive prospecting can increase your sales pipeline by up to 30%.  If you are going to scroll social media, it should be LinkedIn, rather than Facebook or Instagram.

The Compounding Effect of Good Decisions

Much like compound interest in finance, the effects of these daily decisions compound over time. Each positive choice builds upon the last, creating a momentum that drives long-term success. It’s not about making one perfect decision, but rather about consistently making good choices that add up to significant results.  You’re going to make mistakes – but if you are intentional about your actions, you can do a much better job of learning from those mistakes.  The “I dunno” guys are simply going to repeat them time after time.

For instance, if choosing to make calls instead of sending emails leads to just one additional meaningful conversation per day, that could translate to 20 more quality interactions per month. Over a year, that’s 240 additional opportunities to move deals forward or uncover new prospects.  Now, put those 240 opportunities into your own funnel ratios.  How many additional wins do you get per year?

Strategies for Being Intentional

Developing an intentional approach to sales requires effort and practice. Here are some strategies to help:

  1. Set Daily Goals: Start each day by identifying your top priorities and the specific actions you’ll take to address them.  Better yet, end the previous day by doing that, so when you walk into the office, you already know the priorities.
  2. Develop Productive Routines: Create habits that support your sales goals, such as dedicating the first hour of each day to prospecting or blocking out time for follow-ups.
  3. Regular Self-Reflection: Take time each week to review your performance. What worked well? Where could you have made better choices?  I know, I know, on Friday afternoon everyone wants to start the weekend.  Take a few minutes and do a postmortem.  Then, create your goals for Monday as in #1 above.
  4. Continuous Learning: Stay updated on industry trends and sales techniques. The more knowledge you have, the more intentional you can be in your approach.  Sales training and education never stops.  I’ve been in this wonderful profession for 35 years.  I’m still learning.

Overcoming Challenges to Intentional Selling

Of course, maintaining this level of intentionality isn’t always easy. Distractions, stress, and the sheer volume of daily tasks can all derail even the best intentions. To stay on track:

  1. Minimize Distractions: Use tools and techniques to manage notifications and create focused work periods.  Let friends and family know that “between the lines,” you’re working – and you’ll be delighted to talk to them after work hours.
  2. Seek Accountability: Partner with a colleague or mentor who can help keep you focused on your intentional practices.  I spoke at a small meeting last week where two members had created a point system between themselves to compete at workouts – which helped them stay on track with their fitness goals.  You can do the same with other salespeople.
  3. Celebrate Small Wins: Recognize and reward yourself for making good decisions, even when the results aren’t immediately apparent.

The Path to Sales Success

Remember, success in selling isn’t about a single big win or stroke of luck. It’s the result of hundreds of small, intentional decisions made day after day. Each time you choose to make that extra call, ask that insightful question, or spend time improving your skills, you’re laying another brick in the foundation of your success.

As you move forward, challenge yourself to approach each day with intention. Ask yourself: “What decisions can I make today that will move me closer to my goals?” By cultivating this mindset and consistently making choices that align with your objectives, you’ll find yourself not just meeting your targets, but exceeding them.

In the world of sales, success is a choice – a choice you make with every decision, every day. So, what will you choose today?