Tangible products are goods that a buyer can see, touch and feel. Intangible products, or services, are solutions that offer benefits such as convenience, efficiency or expertise but no hard good. In many cases, salespeople promote broad solutions with both tangible and intangible elements. However, selling tangible and intangible benefits requires distinct strategies and different persuasive tools.

People vs. Product

An old selling adage "a good product sells itself" depicts the influence a tangible product has in a sale. While your abilities as a salespeople are important, a high-quality tangible product can often be witnessed directly by the buyer. An intangible solution relies more on people in the sale and in the follow through. The salesperson's level of trust, confidence and presentation abilities carry significant weight in a service sale. Additionally, the buyer is making a purchase more based on an expectation of value provided by the business or service employees.

Benefits vs. Experience

Selling is essentially the ability to persuade a prospect to buy because you have a high ratio of benefits to price. A tangible product usually has benefits that are more concrete. Your job in selling is to point out how the product can help a prospect who may have a functional need, such as a car for transportation or food for hunger. When selling a service, the benefits generally relate to the experience of the customer. If you provide lawn care, for instance, you are selling the value of not having to take the time and energy to mow your own lawn and instead paying experts. When you go to a restaurant, you buy food, a tangible good, but you also pay for the ambiance and service, for a total experience.

Demonstration Tools

A demonstration is typically your most effective selling tool if you have a high-quality solution. With a tangible good, you demonstrate by showing the buyer what your product can do. This can be a test drive of a car, or a trial experience with a software program, a food sample or a cooking demonstration. Since you don't have anything tangible to show with a service, you often rely on customer testimonials to lend credence to the value of your solution. Additionally, images, graphs, charts or portfolios can be used to showcase an experience that involves multiple benefits or elements, such as with a group event at a conference center.


Sellers often offer buyers assurances to offset the risk of purchase and to motivate them to buy. With products, satisfaction guarantees, replacements and warranties for parts and services are common assurances of quality. With service-based solutions, your recourse with a bad experience may include a refund, a free or comped service or another type of service for free. Ultimately, the objective is to show a firm commitment and belief in the quality of your solution -- tangible or not.