<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=577820730604200&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

As a new sales rep, you might want to sell a product that is unique and special. You might believe it would be even better to sell something with no available alternatives. While selling a differentiated product or service might bring you easy success and commissions, it will stunt your development as a salesperson.

The best way to learn how to sell is by selling a commodity, or a product that your contacts treat like a commodity. By selling something with little or no differentiation, you speed your development in sales. This is because the only vehicle you have to create value and win your client’s business is the sales conversation. Mastering that is the most important variable to success in sales, and selling a commodity is the best way to learn how to do that.

You will never win all the clients you want, but you will win every client that wants to buy from you. This fact isn’t acknowledged often enough.

How Sales Organizations Ruin Salespeople

I want you to believe that your company is exceptional, that your solution is the top of the stack, and that your client is better off buying from you than that rat Jimmy, who works at that unethical company you compete with on big deals. You and Jimmy have a similar mindset, although his is a mirror image of yours. Jimmy believes that his company and solutions are so much better than yours that he is embarrassed for you.

Because both you and Jimmy were told that you sell something special, you both believe that your company and your solution provide you with an advantage. This is the first thing you learn in sales onboarding, even though it isn’t true. You both have the same problem, namely not recognizing that the sales conversation dominates decisions.

Those who teach salespeople that their company creates an advantage and that their solution is the best make it more difficult for salespeople to win deals. In reality, both you and Jimmy work for fine companies that offer solutions that will work well enough for your clients.

Even when your company creates something unique, in a few days or weeks, someone will have built something close enough to be called an alternative. Everything eventually becomes a commodity.

You Want to Sell a Commodity

There are a lot of reasons you should want to sell a commodity. First, it means people are buying what you sell, the market is already made. You can find clients and displace your competitors following the guidance in Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition. Second, without relying on a conversation about your company, your clients, and your solution, you are left with your ability to create value for your prospective clients.

While your company and your solution may not be enough to provide meaningful differentiation, the sales conversation can when a salesperson uses value creation strategies. For over two decades, the discovery call has been completely commoditized. Almost every salesperson that sits across from buyers and decision-makers provides a conversation so predictable that people try to avoid it altogether.


You Are the Value Proposition

You are the value proposition. You are solely responsible for creating the value that would cause your contacts to prefer to buy from you instead of your many competitors. This idea can give salespeople heartburn because it forces them to own their results.

The order in which value is created is important. When you believe the solution is the value and begin the conversation here, you pitch your solution without first creating value around the problem, opportunity, and the buyer’s future decision. The salesperson who skips past creating value in the sales conversation will likely lose to a salesperson who created that value.

First, you create value in the sales conversation, then you build the value of your solution. From there you might add value and sweeten the pot before delivering the value. After which, you create the new value that allows you to retain and grow your clients.

Beating the Competition

When I was a field salesperson, I worked for a small company. I had the experience of working in a large company, so I knew their playbook. As I pursued my strategic clients, I had difficulty competing against salespeople who worked for gigantic companies that had all the advantages that come with size and scale.

Over time, I recognized that a lot of my competition knew little about the companies we were all pursuing. I had two advantages. First, I worked for a great salesperson. Second, I had an advantage having worked in operations for five years. I spoke fluent client; it is my second language.

At first, I lost large deals, but it didn’t take long to realize my large competitors used that as a crutch, counting on the size of their company to win the day. In large contests, I said little about my company or our solution. Instead, I worked with the decision-makers to understand their needs and answer the questions from the people I would work with after winning their business.

You don’t beat your competitor’s company or solution. You beat the salespeople competing against you. Or, if you don’t know how to create the level of value that causes your contacts to buy from you, you may lose to a One-Up Salesperson who speaks fluent client and knows how to create value.

See Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative for more on One-Up and how to differentiate yourself and your company.

Stripped of differentiation and any advantage, you are left to learn how to create value and differentiate yourself and the sales conversation you offer. Most salespeople aren’t concerned about value creation, caring more about positioning their company and its products and services.

The advantage you can only get from selling a commodity is that you and your competition have parity when it comes to your company and offerings. If you have the chance to sell a commodity do so. It will speed your development.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 16, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

ai-cold-calling-video-sidebar-offer-1 Sales-Accelerator-Virtual-Event-Bundle-ad-square

Are You Ready To Solve Your Sales Challenges?


Hi, I’m Anthony. I help sales teams make the changes needed to create more opportunities & crush their sales targets. What we’re doing right now is working, even in this challenging economy. Would you like some help?

Solve for Sales

Join my Weekly Newsletter for Sales Tips

Join 100,000+ sales professionals in my weekly newsletter and get my Guide to Becoming a Sales Hustler eBook for FREE!