Full disclosure: I’m still very new to the sales game. I graduated college in 2013 and my first job out of college was at a small digital marketing agency. My role was a unique hybrid marketing position that ended up morphing into a BDR role. After a year and a half at my previous job, I was lucky enough to join the Seismic team, in that same BDR role. The big difference is instead of selling a service, I’m now selling enterprise software. While I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to sales experience, in my few years in the job force I have learn and gained appreciation for different selling situations. From my perspective, the difference between selling a service and selling a product comes down to dream versus reality.
When it comes to selling services you’re selling something intangible. The options are truly endless and you have few limitations because you’re working with a client’s vision. We often compared building a website and digital marketing strategy to building a house: you lay the foundation and framework, and from there can make it your own. Everything is customized and the majority of your effort goes into the many ways you’ll meet clients’ needs, use certain tools and how you predict it will perform. While this “anything is possible” ideology leads to great conversations and client relationships, gaining momentum and buy-in is incredibly difficult. It’s almost impossible to nail down a price until the project is complete and the buyer is locked in. Unfortunately, that often doesn’t sit well with some.
On the other hand, a product offers a concrete solution to the client’s problem. In consultative product sales, reps address the pain points that prospects are feeling within specific verticals, but the product typically stays the same. Reps are free to focus more on selling and solving tangible problems rather than customizing a product or idea for every single potential prospect. While it is still important to understand a client’s needs in order to build a positive relationship and have a meaningful conversation, the solution you’re offering is typically the same; it all depends on how you frame the solution based on the customer’s needs.
Selling a service and selling a product both have pros and cons. In the end, it comes down to your personal strengths and weaknesses and what you’re passionate about. I’m lucky to have experienced both sides at the beginning of my career, and am excited to continue to learn at Seismic!