What Do You Actually Sell?


In my Training & Development business I focus primarily on b2b (business to business) sales. One of the reasons I find it interesting is in most cases your competition is not only another supplier or vendor, but the status quo. It’s always easier not to change suppliers than it is to change—no matter what the circumstances.

When working with salespeople in these fields I always ask them, “What do you actually sell?” Invariably they answer with their product or service (paper goods, copier supplies, cleaning services, fuel, water, beer, etc.)

That’s not true.

The customer BUYS those things—nobody sells them.

Want proof?

If you are selling copier supplies, that customer AGREED to BUY copier supplies…when he bought the copier. Without the supplies, he’s out of business. So, nobody is selling him copier supplies—he’s buying them. There is a HUGE difference.

So, again: “What do you actually sell?”

Answer: You sell yourself and what your company can provide better, faster, more efficient or cheaper than your supplier (I left cheaper until last on purpose.)

Your job is to supplant a current supplier who has a relationship with that customer. Forget about selling the product—sell yourself and what your company can do to make that customer’s job easier and allow them to serve their customers better.

Remember in most b2b sales, your customer HAS customers. How can you and your company allow your customer to better serve theirs? How can you help your customers distinguish themselves from their competition? How can your product or service give your customer a competitive edge?

Start thinking in these terms and you’ll begin to ask the right questions, find unique opportunities and begin to develop programs and processes to separate you from your competition.

That’s what you really sell.