The Differences Between Selling an Idea or Service Versus a Product

Selling An IdeaSales management teams may struggle to find an easily defined process for selling their idea or service, as a knowledge-based business may need a different approach than a company that offers a specific line of products.

When a salesperson is dealing with an idea or a service as opposed to a more defined product, they may be presented with an opportunity for both tangible and intangible value-adds, according to Barrett Riddleberger, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Resolution Systems, Inc., a sales training and consulting firm.

Products tend to be more replicable, as they can be considered a commodity. There is much less leeway in terms of creating and marketing, as there can only be one or two innovators with each improvement in the line of development, the executive noted.

“Smart phones and tablets are a great example,” explained Riddleberger. “You’ve got an innovator out there on the front line and then everyone else follows.”

Research and development designate who will be the innovators in the product-based world of sales, as the rest of the companies will simply fall in line and create their own version of the technology. This notion removes the idea of a long-term differentiator in that type of market, according to the executive.

For companies that want to distance themselves from the rest of the competition, implementing a certain service that comes with the product may be the easiest way to do so. Quality customer relations, speed of installation or experience of back-end support may all serve as differentiators within the industry, reported Riddleberger.

“When you’re selling an intangible there is so much more you can do with it,” said the executive. “You can talk about differences in the intellectual property that you have and infinite number of add-ons available.”

Customizing a service to the client may allow a management team to tailor its objectives in the correct way. This can convince a potential sale to consider the difference between your business and the competitors, according to Riddleberger.

Offering a preventative service may also be one of the ways to distance a company from the competition, as this may eliminate the need for the product of a competitor in the first place, reported