Selling Products Vs. Services

Content Marketing
Industry Insights
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Brooke Miceli
Vice President
Published Mar 2014
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Selling products or services. Which is better?

Something tangible that a customer can touch and see? Or something intangible?

Actually, this isn’t the best question to ask when choosing what you will offer. The best question to ask first is, “What problem can I solve or solution can I offer?” Customers do not buy a product or a service. They buy a solution to a problem, a met need or desire, or a an improvement in an area of their lives. They buy the outcome. They buy the transformation.

Whether you’re selling a product, service or both, you must translate the features of your offering into a clear benefit for the consumer, by saying I offer {this product} that has {this feature} which will {meet this need or solve this problem}.

Advantages of Selling a Product

Goods have physical specifications and attributes, so customers can easily compare products to decide what’s best for them. Products offer a pretty concrete, visible solution to customers’ problems. When you sell products, you sell identical versions to your customer base, so you don’t have to come up with a big variety of different items. Even with advanced or improved models, the basic product remains the same. Because your offering is physical, you can describe the product, the features, and the benefits very easily. Your customers know exactly what they are getting, which minimizes risk. And because most products are returnable, customers are more willing to trade their money for your problem-solving product.

Disadvantages of Selling a Product

Selling products requires money and space up front. Storing your inventory can be a challenge, especially if you have a lot of product to sell. You also need to have enough product to fill orders and meet demands, which means in addition to space, you have to invest money on products before you can sell them. This is especially true if you manufacture goods or buy them for resale. When you sell physical products, you also encounter shipment costs, damage losses, and theft, so it is important that you expect to pay for these extra expenses.

Advantages of Selling a Service

When you sell a service, you sell something untouchable. The beauty of this is that you can customize your service to meet a variety of needs or solve problems that pertain to specific customers. You can also give trial offers, or easily offer discounts without losing money (such as money you may have invested in a product). If the customer does like the service or it doesn’t work for them, then you don’t have to deal with return shipment costs and re-storing items, as with a physical product. Services require little to no financial investment, and no inventory storage space.

Disadvantages of Selling a Service

It can be difficult to describe your service to prospects, especially if customers have a hard time visualizing what you do or how it can help them. You must counter this by being very specific in how you can help, and how you offer value. Customers may express more reluctance when buying a service, because unlike a product, they can’t evaluate it before they use it, and services can usually not be returned. Testimonials (as many as possible!), social proof, and word of mouth help ease potential customers’ minds that your service is worth the time or monetary investment.

Let’s Hear From You

What do you sell?
A product or service?
How do you maximize your advantages?
How do you counter the disadvantages of your offer?
How do you optimize your social proof and testimonials?

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