When I was younger and people would ask me what I did for a living – my typical answer would be – I get out of the house on my rounds and sell whatever I have been asked to sell that day – some times its potato chips, sometimes its computers. That was in a lighter vein but over the years I have been involved in selling so many different products and services that I don’t actually see too many differences.
I fundamentally believe that selling is selling. Irrespective of what you are selling and to whom you are selling. Whether you are selling a product or a service, at the end of the day, the customer is buying a result that the purchase will give her/him. So you need to figure out the result that the customer is looking for and how you can get them the result. However there’s a lot of academic discussions which talk about why they are different.
My two cents on this topic are as follow
- Every thing that you sell has a nuance to it. Even within products – different products would have different kind of audiences , different price points, different results, same would be the case with different kinds of services
- The orientation of the consumer sale would be different from the business sale, in terms of the complexity involved in the business to business sale (i.e. number of people and steps) and the time involved.
- The way you showcase the result could be different – in consumer products you use advertising, while in B2B you might use a direct sales team.
- The way you solicit the business may vary – but some consumer products are also sold to businesses and what was once considered a business product (like computers) could soon become a consumer product.
Inspite of all the above points – one distinct difference is that , generally, products have well defined boundaries while it is tougher to put boundaries on what is constituted as a service because humans are involved in the delivery. So standardisation is much tougher.
In most cases today, the product and service get intertwined – do you go to a restaurant because the food is good or because the ambience and service is excellent or all of them.
Till next time then – it doesn’t matter what you are selling as long as you know the result you get for the customer – rest of the things can be managed.