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Salespeople that sell products can get all wrapped up in believing that because their product is the very best that they have only to sell its superiority over its competitors to win. They believe that because their product is so clearly the best, it will make the sale for them.

The biggest problem with this line of thinking is that their product doesn’t solve their prospective client’s problem:

Your client’s problem is not that they don’t have your product.

Your Client’s Real Problem

Think about your offering. Is the problem that your clients struggle with that they don’t have your product? Couldn’t they easily buy something like your product from someone else?

There are problems with selling product, even when you sell what is clearly the very best product. The biggest of these is that by focusing on selling the product itself, you can disconnect the product from your client’s business objectives. This is why you see so many salespeople that sell a superior product lose to salespeople that sell an inferior product.

The salespeople with an inferior product win because they shift the decision to something more important than the produce itself. Salespeople with an inferior product tie the value they create to business objectives, values, and to a better overall offering.

They simply outsell their competitors who believe they will win with product superiority alone.

Different In a Way That Makes a Difference

Differentiation means selling the differences that make a difference. You make a difference for your clients by helping them achieve their goals and their business outcomes.

You have to be the difference that makes a difference.

If you have product superiority and you are part of the difference that makes a difference, that’s all the better. But you don’t have to have product superiority to win.

A Review of the Levels of Value Creation

The lowest level of value you can create in business-to-business sales is to sell product. It’s not enough. Selling product alone is a long slow death march to being commoditized.

You can sell exceptional service and you can create a relationship with your brand. This is up a level from simply selling product, but it still isn’t enough for business-to-business salespeople and sales organizations.

The next level up is to produce measurable, meaningful business outcomes. This is where most of us in business try to live (some more successfully than others). Most of the time, this is enough. It’s always enough when you are competing against someone that sells something less.

The highest level of value creation is impervious to attacks by product superiority alone. Divorced from a real strategic partnership, the best product won’t even get your dream client’s attention.

+ Product Superiority

This doesn’t mean you can’t have—and sell—product superiority. You just have to sell that and something more. By itself, it isn’t enough.

You have to couple your superior product with a superior salesperson (namely, you) if you want to win and retain your dream clients.


Does product superiority always ensure that you will win?

Why do salespeople and sales organizations with product superiority lose to competitors with inferior products?

How much does the salesperson matter in the outcome of an opportunity?

What do you really sell? If you sell a product, is it really the produce you sell, or is it something else?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on October 31, 2011

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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