alt text image of measuring tape against a red background

Difficult to Measure and Important

In sales (and in business generally) we love to measure things. We want scientific proof that things are working, something we can rely on. So we measure everything. Well, mostly we just count things. But some things that directly impact your results in sales and business are difficult to measure—even though they’re critically important.

Meaningful Interactions: Have you ever had an exceptional interaction with a business? Has someone demonstrated that they cared about you so much that you’ll never forget the incident and forever share it? You may have received a survey of some kind, but there is no real measurement for meaningful interactions, the interactions that change your relationship with the business or salesperson. But they’re critically important.

Rapport: Some people (and many salespeople) have the ability to generate rapport with their clients and prospective clients. They are able to create an immediate connection, and that connection allows them to ask for information and access that someone without rapport would struggle to obtain. If you’ve seen someone with this kind of rapport-building abilities, you know it looks like voodoo or black magic. They have the “know, like, and trust” thing in minutes. But it can’t be measured.

Mindshare: You’ve been nurturing your dream clients. You’ve sent them ideas, case studies, and white papers. You know that they’ve viewed the videos you’ve sent them. You hope that you’re gaining mindshare. But how do you know that you are gaining mindshare over your competitors? How do you measure how much your mindshare is being eroded by the efforts of your competitors? Mindshare matters, but it’s difficult to measure (and clicking links is a measure of clicked links, not mindshare).

Culture and Unit Cohesion: You know it when you’ve got it. Your team runs like a well-oiled machine, you fight above your weight class, and you produce ridiculously terrific results. You know when you don’t have a healthy culture or unit cohesion, too. Things are jammed up. People play politics. Negativity spreads throughout the organization or team. But you can’t measure it; there’s nothing to count. There’s also not too many thing more important to success. (I could easily add leadership or commitment here, but you can’t count either, although I am certain some will try.)

Just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean that it is important. And because something is difficult to measure doesn’t mean that it’s not. In fact, most of the things that are most important in business and life are hard to measure.


What are the most important factors in your life or business that are difficult to measure?

What do you pretend is important just because it’s easy to measure?

How do you determine how you’re doing on factors that are difficult—or impossible—to measure?

Join my weekly Newsletter or apply for membership in my exclusive Inner Circle Mastermind Group.

Subscribe to my weekly podcast In the Arena.



  • Tamara Schenk

    Excellent blog post!
    “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Albert Einstein)

    Even more important in the connection economy, because we create more and more intangible things to achieve measurable results.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Well, Albert said it better than I did. And it’s true, so much of how we create value is intangible. But we’re still coming to grips with this idea, aren’t we?


  • Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Anthony,

    I keep this idea in mind: No matter how things appear to be it is all simply energy. Sales, like life, is an energy game, and it is kinda tough to measure the energy of interactions, or the examples you note about methinks ;)

    By simply holding your pure intent and letting your ego call fewer shots you can get down to what is really important and be less concerned with metrics.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Jacques Werth

    The most important thing I have learned in sales is the value of mutual trust and mutual respect. I have watched hundreds of the best salespeople on 3 continents establish mutual trust and respect, with most of their prospects, in 20 to 30 minutes. It’s not magical and it’s not a secret – it’s a process that can be learned.

    It can be measured within 80 to 90 percent accuracy.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Do share more, Jacques. What measurement do you use? Commitments?

    • Jacques Werth

      Anthony, since you asked, this a very brief description – of
      how we measure Trust. Respect is not covered in this response.

      The trust and respect inquiry is a highly structured, question by question, conversation based on the fact that everyone over 13
      years old wants to be deeply understood. However, over 99% of all people don’t feel that they are even mildly understood by anyone. When they meet someone who wants to know “what makes them tick,” hardly anyone can resist answering the (sales) person’s questions, no matter how personal.

      The trust and respect inquiry delves into a person’s most
      important relationships, and whether they have had trusting relationships with most of the people in their lives. We also find out with whom, when, and under what circumstances, they have had out-of-trust situations and/or relationships.

      On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), for each out-of-trust relationship, that has not been rectified, 1 point is deducted. Thus, someone who scores a 9 is very trustworthy and below a 7 is cause for concern. When prospects are asked to rate a salesperson, who has done the inquiry with them, most often their ratings are the both same.

      It’s unrealistic that anyone can actually score a 10 with (perhaps)
      the exception of a Saint. It’s likely that if a person scores a 10 they have been exposed to the process through psychology
      courses or therapy. Someone who really knows the process would score a 9. That’s one of the reasons the process is not fool-proof.

      The bottom line is that most prospects want to buy from someone they trust and respect. If your were the prospect, and the feeling is mutual, what would you do?

  • Keenan

    Love it Anthony, great insight. These are hugely important and very difficult to measure. Similar to mortar, in a brick wall, they keep it all together.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, Jim. Mortar is a good analogy. Without it, nothing stands.

  • johncousineau

    Anthony: as ever, great points. To wit I’d add this: some of the hardest problems to solve are hard to solve because it’s so difficult to get a read on the underlying condition. Some of the greatest medical breakthroughs have occurred when the diagnostics available to medical practitioners improved. IMO, one simple way to help Reps learn how to make their efforts count is to give them better diagnostics with which to understand the effectiveness of their efforts. It’s hard, but not impossible. When done well, it’s game changing. As any doctor will attest. Trust this adds some value. – John

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      It does, John. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Difficult to Measure and Important - Content Marketing & Sales Alignment

  • Ian A.

    I think there are so many things in life, not just in the business or corporate world that has to be measured, but are difficult to gauge their magnitude. But you just can’t stop moving forward just because you have to measure everything to ensure efficient output. You learn as you go.