The Difference Between a Selling Product or Selling a Service | A Sales Guy's Sales Blog Copy & Close
February 8, 2016 Keenan

The Difference Between a Selling Product or Selling a Service

product-vs-service_imageWhat’s the difference between selling a product and selling a service?

I get this question a lot.

Here’s the answer and I’ll make it as simple and as clear as possible. I think it’s important, very important, people understand the difference between selling a product and selling a service. Knowing the difference can affect how you sell AND how one hires, evaluates and assess salespeople.

The difference between how you sell a product verse how you sell a product is . . .

There is no difference!  Period.

Let me be perfectly frinkin’ clear here.

There is no difference between selling a product and selling a service — absolutely NONE!

Those of you who think there is a difference, need to evaluate how you sell because you’re selling wrong. The sales people who focus on their service or product as their selling approach are missing the point.  Good selling doesn’t sell a product or a service. Good selling focuses on identifying problems, then offers a solution to solve the problem and if it’s a kickass solution, no one cares if it’s a product or a service.

When we start with the customer and their problems, there is no difference whether the solution is a product or service. It’s what the product or service delivers that matters. The impact of a solution, product or service, is still a vision, an intangible. It’s not something you can touch or feel and it’s custom to EVERY customer.

The argument I hear most often is, you can see and feel a product, where a service is harder to sell because it’s an intangible. Are fucking kidding me?  When someone tells me this, I just want to jump out of my skin. When someone argues a tangible product is easier to sell than an intangible service, it tells me they are a horrible sales person or worse yet, a terrible sales manager. It tells me their sales approach is to lead with their offer (the product or the service) and that they don’t look to understand their customers issues and problems. It tells me they sell feature/function. This is terrible selling.

If we’re selling correctly, we’re ultimately anchored in the customers “gap.”  The gap between where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow. We’re selling based on solving, measurable, tangible, urgent, business problems. We’re not selling our service or our product, but what our product or service can deliver for our customers in terms of their business value. When we’re selling like this, it’s all intangible. It’s always different for each client, customer. When we’re selling like this, there is no cookie-cutter approach. It doesn’t matter if you have a tangible, tactile, visual product or an intangible, nontactile service. It’s all intangible if you’re selling incorrectly.

There is no difference between selling a product or a service.

If you believe, there is a difference between selling a tangible product or an intangible service you have a bigger problem than you realize. You need to re-evaluate your sales skills. Start here with these books.

If you’re selling correctly, there is no difference between selling a product and selling a service. In the case that there is, it means your not selling, you’re pitching a product and it’s time to start over, read this.

Anyone disagree?

If so, how do you sell a product differently than a service?

I’m all ears.

  • Andrea Tyrones

    Spot on. Agree. It is disappointing that there is such focus on the “thing,” and not the solution. We need to listen. We need to ask questions. We need to probe. We need to listen more and ask more questions. Clients will tell you what they need and how to sell to them if we shut up and listen. I hate coined phrases, however, if “solutions based selling” is not only our “best practice,” but our only practice, then we do the profession a grave injustice. Thanks for writing another powerful blog.

  • rnottingham

    Keenan. So true. I sell a service and I’ve said…and heard the “bullsh*t”. “selling a service is so much harder than selling a product” is French for “I suck at my chosen job”. You are one of the only ones that look at a pile and says…”that’s a pile”

  • Good on you brother, I have no idea why people try to make the distinction. Hope u r good my man.