Winning By Accident or Intention

A lot of salespeople win deals by accident. Many of the sales organizations they work for also win by accident. But better salespeople—and better sales organizations—win intentionally.


  • Accidental Targets: It is possible to win without being thoughtful about choosing who you call. You can bump into new business by accident. If you make enough calls and see enough prospects, you can win some new business.
  • Intentional Targets: You win new business faster when you intentionally choose your targets. By choosing to call on the companies and people who value what you do, you win better clients at a much higher rate.

Sales Process

  • Accidental Process: You can win new business without having a real sales process. I know this for sure; I’ve done it. But you will lose more business by failing to acquire the outcomes and commitments that increase your chances of winning. Some salespeople (and sales organizations) aren’t winning as much as they should be because they don’t know how and why they lose. They accidentally win enough to make them believe they are successful.
  • Intentional Process: There isn’t any reason not to do the best work possible when it comes to competing for new business. It’s difficult enough to win. You win by intention when you have a sales process that creates a competitive advantage. Knowing what outcomes you need and how to get them allows you to make selling intentional. The same is true of the commitments you need to gain.


  • Accidental Differentiation: I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a salesperson describe the difference between their company and their competitor by suggesting that their company has better people. By saying this, they are saying that their company has all of the best people available, something very difficult to believe. I’ve also heard salespeople say that they were personally the differentiation, that there was nothing else different. And, sometimes these salespeople have won business in spite of their poor answer.
  • Intentional Differentiation: Most companies need to use many factors to describe their differentiation. Some of it may be “what” they offer. But most of the time the difference is in “how” they deliver the value they create. The need for multiple factors to differentiate themselves is especially true for service firms. To win by intention, every salesperson should be able to explain quickly and accurately why your dream client should buy from you over your competitors.

Perfect Timing

  • Accidental Perfect Timing: You can win new business just by being in the right place at the right time. You may happen to call a prospective client right when they are experiencing a challenge that you can help them solve. Because you happen to be there, it’s easy to buy from you. But it is still accidental.
  • Intentional Perfect Timing: If you are going to win intentionally, you need to be known as someone who creates value before your prospective client has a need to change. Your intention is to be known and trusted before an opportunity ever exists. You also want to be the very first person that the contacts within your dream client think of when they need help.


  • Accidental Competitors: Some salespeople when by accident because many of their competitors are also winning by accident. But these salespeople mostly lose when they compete against salespeople who are winning by intention.
  • Intentional Competitors: The best salespeople know that they are competing against other intentional salespeople. They work hard, study their craft, and refine their approach to try to gain a competitive advantage. And these intentional competitors almost always beat the salesperson who is only in the process by accident.

Imagine an American football team that doesn’t have a set of plays designed to score points. Imagine a team with no strategy, no tactics, no training, no leadership, and no accountability. They may win accidentally from time to time. But over the long run, they won’t fare well over teams who are intentional.

  • Are you mostly winning by accident or by intention?
  • What processes do you need to create to be even more intentional and rely less on good fortune?
  • In what area could you intentionally create a competitive advantage?

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Filed under: Sales

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