The Intangibles Have It

The Intangibles Have It

The Intangibles Have It — Written by Paul M. Neuberger, your event speaker.

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek


I love Simon Sinek. He’s an unending font of wisdom, delivered in a disarming low-key manner almost tinged with a sly “I can’t believe you don’t already know this” wink.

Sinek is a master at tearing down concepts to their building blocks and reassembling them, somehow always in the most logical fashion. I constantly find myself asking “How’d he do that?”

One of my favorite talks is “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” It’s where Sinek introduces the concept of “why.” If this isn’t familiar, take a moment to familiarize yourself. It’s time very well spent.

The gist is that, in any interaction people have – whether with organizations or individuals – they want to know the deep, innate, relatable motives that drive the other party forward. In other words, their “why.”

Sinek offers sage counsel about sharing a “why”: Offer something personal. Be a bit vulnerable. Just open up … and the world can be your oyster.

I do so regularly in my presentations as a keynote speaker. Think this might work in sales?

People buy who, again?

My recent posts have focused on a basic principle: People buy people, not products or services. Their interaction with a seller matters most, not with what they’re selling. Humans react to emotions before logic. It’s how we’re wired.

If a prospect likes the salesperson, or relates to them on some level, their receptivity to buying grows dramatically. During my talks as an inspirational speaker, I witness audience members paying closer attention as they warm up to me.

The exception to this rule, of course, is commoditized products. Buying fertilizer at Lowe’s? Your choice will be decided by how a brand’s features match your lawn’s needs, plus price.

You might talk with a great employee during the selection process. Still, you’re unlikely to buy one item over another because you like them. Tell their manager, though. They deserve it.

Anyhow, Sinek’s guidance buttresses the notion of emotional selling. Learn how to touch people at an emotive level, and watch your sales numbers grow.

My last post detailed an immensely painful experience: the sudden passing of my father-in-law at age 60. I was crushed. A man I loved, and was really getting to know, was gone – just like that.

I was working in fund-raising for a university at the time. Not a bad job, and I was pretty good at it. It was my initial experience with cold calling (which, of course, led to other career adventures down the road).

The impact of my father-in-law’s death can hardly be overstated. Frankly, it shook me to the core. As a husband and father, I reassessed a lot of things.

This could happen to anyone, I realized. Anytime. Anywhere. What if they hadn’t prepared for this, the ultimate in unexpected outcomes? How would their family cope? Might they lose their home, and become destitute?

The “Why” of the matter

Suddenly, my “why” became clear: I didn’t want people to be crippled financially by a family member’s passing. I shifted career gears … and headed into financial services.

Now, in case you’re wondering, “hyper-competitive” understates the nature of this business. I did a lot of cold calling. It wasn’t easy.

Still, I was passionate. I believed I was helping others. The emotion came through in my voice. People picked up on this … and my sales career took off like never before.

I had discovered an intangible: a personal trait that people noticed, and responded to. If you’ve ever seen my work as an event speaker, you know the passion comes easily.

Everyone has intangibles. They aren’t really learned. Rather, they make you, you. Figure out yours, polish it (or them), and go to work.

Here are a few you might possess. Are you using them?

  • Humor: Who doesn’t like working with someone who is funny and light-hearted?
  • Integrity: You do what you say, and follow through on promises
  • Passion: You’re fully engaged, and welcome others to join you
  • Vision: You have a goal(s), and a plan to get there
  • Confidence: You know your stuff, and are glad to share with others
  • Problem-solving: When hurdles appear, you find a way to leap them

Notice how none of these involve a company, or academic degree, or product or service? Yet these intangibles are what intrigue sales prospects. So why are you leading with all those other things, that don’t?

See the contradiction?

Maybe you really don’t know your intangibles. If so, ask your spouse, family members, boss and co-workers. They’ll have no trouble defining your best qualities.

These are the intangibles that will help you in sales. People buy people. Almost sounds like something Simon Sinek would say, doesn’t it? Best of all, you don’t have to be famous to be someone whom people buy – and hence, buy from.

(Paul M. Neuberger is President of The Starr Group, Founder/CEO of The Cold Call Coach, and a globe-trotting inspirational keynote speaker. Don’t miss his three-part webinar series, Paul’s Emergency Sales Kit, filled with timely instruction and advice for salespeople during a challenging period. Or, for an even deeper dive, try Cold Call University. Contact Paul at 414-313-8338 or via e-mail at or


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