March 2017

Intangibles are vague and indefinable events or occurrences we all experience. You know the ‘just can’t put my finger on it’ part of life. They are part of our daily lives.

Most articles written about the sales process as well as sales training programs deal with the tangible portion, i.e. the ‘how to’ sell something. But little is said about those other areas. Sales is not a black and white profession. There are many intangible components that are a critical and driving force of the sales process. In our last edition of Smarter Selling we discussed one of these components, the trust factor.  Other intangible components are likeability and value. 

Value means the importance and worth of something: worth, usefulness, advantage, benefit, gain, profit, merit. For example, ‘Your time spent with me during my time of need was of great value’, or “I value your opinion’, or ‘Real estate prices have doubled in value over the last decade’.

Value can also mean a person’s principles or standards of behavior. This usually applies to a person’s ethics and morals. For example, ‘Religious values played an important role in his upbringing’.

Each referenced intangible is somewhat reliant on the others but in different ways. As buyers of a product or service, we tend to rely on our instinct or gut feelings. We will subconsciously ask ourselves, ‘If I like you do I automatically trust you? If I trust you, do you create sufficient value to justify my decision to purchase your product or service’?  I think we have all come across agents that are technically very proficient. They score high on mystery shop reports. They say and do the right things. But they are not necessarily your top performers. Conversely, there are agents that do not score well on their evaluation reports but sell like crazy. There are many agents we would enjoy having a drink with but not necessarily purchase a major ticket item from them. Such is the relationship between intangibles and our reasoning to move forward with a purchase decision.

Intangibles also come into play to motivate your sales team. I ran across an article written by Mike Schultz who contributes to RAIN Group which is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Schultz addressed the essential need of Value to motivate a sales team. (The Value-Driving Difference: How to Grow Revenue, Improve Win Rates, and Retain Top Sellers through Value). He states that most companies rely only on the financial aspect to motivate their sales teams. I think we can all agree that money is a great motivator in sales. But Schultz suggests that compensation is not the only or even the main factor that drives sales motivation. He adds that the missing link for most companies when thinking about motivating their sales force is Value. We can earn a lot of money in sales. But that does not mean we are happy with the total work package.
Top producing agents need to bring their own core motivation to their jobs. If an agent does not possess that self motivating gene, then there is nothing any company can do to overcome their lack of desire to succeed. However Schultz notes that when agents do have that inherent motivation to excel at what they do, it is the company’s responsibility to tap into the agents’ motivation and then sustain it. 

Do agents value their company’s product, services and ideas that they are selling to? In short if the agent does not value or believe in what they are selling, how are they to convey that value to the buyer? If they truly believe in what they are selling and who they are selling for, then agents will succeed both financially as well as being happy at what they do. They will also succeed in creating loyal and happy buyers. Too few agents present any credible builder story and what that means for a buyer. Companies can only survive by being profitable. If a prospective buyer does not know the worth of a company in terms of its history and its quality product, then the company’s bottom line will be affected. Reputation, referrals and word of mouth is an invaluable asset for any company.

Being on the front line requires a lot of energy. As a sales professional, multi-tasking is an underestimated component of the sales profession. Not to mention dealing with unreasonable buyers and numerous situations beyond an agents control. Despite the many challenges faced on a daily basis, the agent must always be ‘on’, have a smile on their face and treat their prospective buyers with respect. All of this is necessary but emotionally draining at the same time. So when addressing sales agent training programs, beyond learning different sales skills (the tangible ‘how to’ component), a value component should be included. For product value, stating you have granite counter tops does not create value for a buyer. Since all your competition also has granite counter tops, it becomes a ‘so what’ response. Each company must focus on what makes their product of greater value to a buyer. What would that value list be comprised of? Construction features that are different than your competition? Unique floor plans? Warranties above and beyond the industry standard? Included features that would be a costly upgrade elsewhere with comparable sales prices?  Included landscaping and fencing? Your comprehensive customer service policy, i.e. will you be there for your buyer post sale? Unique energy saving features that will save money over the years? I am sure each sales team can create their own list of product values if they have done their homework on their competition.

Then there is the value component of an agent. Is that agent honest, sincere, knowledgeable, and trustworthy? Is the agent there to help me find the right home or just there to make a sale?  Earlier we listed synonyms for value: worth, usefulness, advantage, benefit, gain, profit, merit. Sales professionals have an indelible worth for any company. They are that connecting bridge that benefits both the company and their buyers. And if they succeed, they merit continual rewards.

No one can truly succeed by being average. Sales organizations that focus on creating and delivering value, aligning their organizational processes to do so, and investing in their agents’ abilities to be more skilled, knowledgeable, and valuable will succeed. It is a ‘win-win’ environment. Success grows a company, minimizes turnover, and creates a highly motivated attitude for the entire organization. It might require some changes in how you do business and we all understand change is not always an easy process. However never leave your sales teams out there to flounder on their own. You hired them for a reason. Invest in their training.

Whether you need to evaluate your sales team before and post training, pre-evaluate a potential hire, or need to know what makes your competition sell better than you, give us a call! Allow LeBlanc & Associates to be your partner in creating sales success. We will help you confirm those necessary ‘how to’ sales tangibles and assess those critical intangibles. Our Video Profiles and reports will provide you with the information you need to achieve your sales goals. Email, call or go online to get started. It’s easy!

Top 10 Fastest Growing/Shrinking US Cities
Measured over a 5-year period (2010-2015) this list shows which cities grew and shrank the most during that span.
10. Raleigh, NC +11.97%
9. Greeley, CO +12.20%
8. Bismarck, ND +12.34%
7. St. George, UT +12.41%
6. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL +13.13%
5. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC +14.01%
4. Austin-Round Rock, TX +15.82%
3. Odessa, TX +16.31%
2. Midland, TX +17.57%
1. The Villages, FL +26.11%
And the ones that shrank the most:
10. Rocky Mount, NC -2.87%
9. Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH -3.03%
8. Decatur, IL -3.14%
7. Cumberland, MD-WV -3.17%
6. Saginaw, MI -3.31%
5. Flint, MI -3.34%
4. Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ -4.08%
3. Johnstown, PA -4.92%
2. Pine Bluff, AR -6.38%
1. Farmington, NM -8.76%