INTENT forms the basis of any relationship.

If I am unsure of your intent in dealing with me, then it is impossible to really trust you.

In personal relationships, wealthy individuals often doubt the intent of those being nice to them — even their partners.

In business relationships, it is the primary factor in determining other people’s impression of you.

Research has shown that first impressions are made by an assessment of two factors:

•   Your intent, and

•   Your competence.

But these are done in order and it is always intent that is assessed first.

The power of intent is evident in networking, negotiating, sales and customer service.



In this hyper-connected world, your ability to be successful in the long term is largely dependent on the strength of your network.

Smart people are always building their network — not necessarily by attending formal functions — but by continuously making sure that those around them know what they do and are keen to refer business to them. 

And whether this happens or not will all depend on your intent.

If people sense that your intent is to simply get what business you can for yourself, they will promptly forget about you.

If they sense that your intent is to be of genuine service — without looking for a return — they will willingly refer business your way.



Old-style negotiators had the intent of getting the best deal for themselves.

New-style negotiators have the intent of finding a deal that is just as good for the other side as it is for them. This is the style of negotiation that creates real value for both sides.


Sales and customer service

People always remember the worst sales staff, which is why they are hypersensitive to those whose only intent is to sell them something.

Nowadays, customers want sales staff to play a different role. Rather than be a source of information, they want them to be a sorter of information — helping them make sense of the myriad of claims, counter-claims, specifications and special offers. 

If a customer perceives that the salesman’s intent is to help him make a confident buying decision, he is more likely to trust the salesman and, eventually, buy from him.

If the customer perceives that your intent is to help him, he will become loyal for life and, perhaps, even a raving fan.


‘I wanted you to get the best deal’

A great example of this happened recently to a friend who needed to buy a hospital bed for his elderly mother.

After visiting a rehabilitation mart where hospital beds were sold, he made his choice.

Now, because he is a businessman, and because these beds are very expensive, he asked the store owner if there was a better price possible.

Her answer surprised him: “You know, I am sure there would be a government subsidy for purchase of hospital beds for the elderly.”

She then gave him the contact details of where he could find out more information about the subsidy.

While he was elated to find out that he was eligible for a 90 per cent subsidy, this was only possible if he purchased the bed from a particular outlet — not the one he had visited.

Feeling guilty, he returned to the store. To his amazement, the store owner said she knew that the subsidised bed would not be sold by her store.

“But I wanted you to get the best deal,” she said.

Now, some might say that she should have kept quiet and made the sale and he probably would never have known about the subsidy.

As it turns out, he is a very well-connected businessman with wide community contacts. Her action has now turned him into an advocate for her store.

What the store receives in referral business — not to mention how its brand is enhanced every time he talks about it and the story is repeated — will repay the owner many times over whatever profit she may have lost on the sale of one bed. 

All because of the power of intent. If your intent is always to be of service, to help others make good decisions and to help them get the best deal, then your success is assured.


Article by Kevin Ryan, managing director of Training Edge Australia and an international speaker, workshop leader and author with Training Edge International. He is a business communication expert specialising in the areas of employee and client engagement, sales, humour intelligence and presentation skills. For details, e-mail or visit