A List of Intangibles

We tend to think of sales being won and lost on things that are tangible, the things you can see and count and measure. Certainly, the tangible things are important, but the intangibles are even so.

  • Likability and Rapport: If you have a choice of doing business with someone who is likable and with whom you have rapport, all other things being equal, you choose the person you want to work with, especially if it is over a longer term. Rapport matters because relationships matter.
  • Attitude: A good, positive, optimistic, empowered attitude is an intangible that provides a competitive advantage. Who you are matters more than what you do, and your attitude is a big part of that equation.
  • Business Acumen: This intangible will make or break you if you sell B2B. You either know things that can help your prospective client produce better results, or you do not. You either have the advice that makes you a trusted advisor, or you lack it. The weight given this intangible is great now, and you can expect it to grow in importance.
  • Caring: This is the “trust” part of “trusted advisor.” Are you other-oriented? Do you care about me, my outcomes, my company, my customers? If you are self-oriented, your motives prove that my results are secondary to yours. This intangible is one that most of us don’t think enough about, nor do we make sure that our clients can feel it.
  • Presence: In an age where everyone lives behind a screen, a physical presence is going to create an advantage. I know, you are thinking that showing up is tangible, and you’re mostly right. But it doesn’t show up on any purchasing agent’s spreadsheet, and the result it produces isn’t easily measured, even when the impact is felt.
  • Your Process: Knowing how to help your client move from their current state to the better future state they are capable of is an intangible. The sales process is perceived as being linear, but that isn’t a very accurate depiction of how we help people change. Your process can differentiate you in ways that are hard to measure, but that massively tilt things in your favor.
  • Ability to Lead: The ability to help other people take action, people on your team, and people on your client’s team, is an intangible. It creates a preference for you and your company.
  • Resourcefulness: If there is one thing that we do in sales, it is help solve problems. A lot of the time, we are solving problems that others have been unable to address. This makes your creativity and imagination an intangible that provides an immeasurable difference in a decision as to who to buy from.
  • Initiative: The idea that you should take action without needing to be nudged to do so is something that will make you look very different to your clients and prospective clients. It shows that you are thinking about acting on their needs as if you are part of their team—and you are.
  • Thoughtfulness: Little things are the big things. Cards. Notes. Following up. Asking to help outside of where it might be expected. Want to create an impenetrable preference? Start here.
  • Intelligence: Being smart is an intangible. Knowing things is beneficial, even when those things seem to be outside of business acumen.
  • A sense of humor: Having a good sense of humor, especially humor of the self-deprecating kind, can help you create greater engagement, and it can help you handle difficult situations with a sense of levity. This can sometimes make you the most valuable person in the room.

I know sales is supposed to be science, but it isn’t. Much of what matters is invisible, is felt and not easily seen or easily subjected to measurement.

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