Different Selling Skills for Tangible and Intangible Products

SJ (VP of Customer Engagement)

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Sales skills coaching involves guiding sales professionals and enthusiasts on a lot of things.

Usually “Selling” means to sell physical products like furniture or automobiles. Sometimes, salesperson offers intangible services that may hold less obvious advantages.

While sellers of these intangible and tangible things both seek the same result, the sales approach they take can be very different.

Sellers of intangible items may need to create the need for their service, and sales of this type are typically involved selling a service as opposed to tangible product prospects can see, touch, smell, or taste.

A basic example of an intangible item is like selling an insurance policy. The insurance policy consists merely of words on paper, which in itself means little to the policy owner. Instead, the policy proprietor receives intangible profits that are more challenging to estimate, such as security and safety for his family and greater peace of mind.

To sell an intangible item often needs a greater challenge for a company or salesperson than selling a physical product. Intangibles offer little opportunity to demonstrate how a product works. Unlike a vehicle, for example, a prospect cannot sit inside a service, take it for a test drive, experience the new car smell, or be dazzled by its style and color. As a result, it can be more difficult for the salesperson to illustrate how the prospect will benefit by purchasing an intangible item.

Appealing to the prospect’s emotions is important in all types of sales, but perhaps even more so when selling intangible items.

A shiny new car appeals strongly to the buyer’s emotions, as driving one arouses an array of pleasurable sensations.

A life insurance salesperson, on the other hand, must often create the emotional appeal of the purchase by explaining a scenario, whereby the prospect’s family falls on hard times if the prospect dies without carrying adequate coverage.

In this scenario, the salesperson might attempt to appeal to such emotions as fear, sadness, and even guilt.

In addition to creating an emotional appeal, a seller of intangible items may need to sell herself as much as her service. Since the service may not always provide immediate or visible benefits, the salesperson must focus on building trust with the prospect to assure him that she and her company will be there when needed.

Both the salesperson’s personality and appearance are very important in intangible sales to project an image of trustworthiness and professionalism. 

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