Interest vs Intent in Doing Laundry (and Making Sales)

By Erica Y Chen

Posted in Sales Tips

Reading a book. Going on a roadtrip. Doing your laundry.

Why are these things we always want to do but never seem to get around to doing? It's a matter of interest vs intent. Although we may be very interested in doing all these things, we lack intent for doing them. What’s the difference between the two?

As defined in the Oxford dictionary:

interest-v-intent-1--1024x473.pngThe difference between intent and interest is need and resolve. You experience this every time you reach into your underwear drawer and find it empty. When this happens, you’re no longer idly interested in doing laundry--that interest has converted to intent because of need. With need comes urgency that lends us motivation to do something. As a salesperson, being able to distinguish interest from intent will allow you to determine which has greater potential for closure. 80% of results come from 20% of your leads and knowing interest from intent will allow you to focus on the 20% that will give you 80% of your results. You’re not going to do laundry until you absolutely have to; likewise your clients aren’t going to close unless they see the need to.

Interest vs Intent:

Person A has signed up for a free trial, has read a few of your blogs, and downloaded a few white pages.

Person B has been looking at your pricing pages, has engaged in multiple calls and gone through a demo.

Both examples have expressed interest but only one has intent.


Interest comes from awareness. Awareness comes from your sales: cold calls, prospecting, etc.—these are all important sources that farm interest. From here, you hope people will eventually be directed to your product. It’s important to note and identify user interest because it’s very powerful to eventually frame your product within that area of interest.

As a salesperson, you should begin to engage a user at this point, but do so casually. Don’t begin to bombard them with links to trials or product pages. Remember, they’re at the very top of the funnel just beginning to work their way down.

It was your pitch that has captured them and they’re likely not even aware of your product yet. Ease them through the funnel, molding their interest so that when they finally encounter the product, they will see how well it aligns with their needs.

You want to focus on building rapport. Assume you’re working towards lasting long term relationship. Trust takes time to build, so being patient and spending the time to do so will pay off later.


Following the initial interest is the process of consideration. Your prospect is now aware of your business. At this point, you want to nurture the lead. Work your pitch to align with the interests of the user. This will encourage them to begin exploring your product. Unlike when your prospect was just interested, it’s time to talk about the sale.

At this point, your lead is primed and ready. All your hard work from before is paying off and now he has intent for what you’re selling. Nowadays in our product saturated market, you need to do more than offer a "better solution". This is rarely compelling to the modern buyer. Instead, propose a unique problem that you are the unique solution to. You’ve worked hard to identify his interest, now use this to craft a compelling reason why he needs your product.

Interest to Intent and the Sales Cycle:   

Interest alone can’t close sales. It needs to be converted into an intent to buy. Here’s a visual representation of how interest is converted to intent:

Sales-Cycle-Infograph--791x1024.pngRemember, confusing interest with intent is like assuming you’ll be doing your laundry before your underwear drawer is empty. Both are A) Not very realistic and B) don't ultimately get anything done. Work your way through the sales cycle; don’t skip steps. With necessity, the client is much less likely to walk away. Think empty underwear drawer and always craft your pitch around need and bring your target from interest to intent.

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