The Difference Between Selling Services and Products

5 Mins

Do you distinguish your selling strategy? Discover Pareto's differing approach between selling a service and selling a product.

When we think about sales, traditionally it’s an industry that has had, at its heart, a product-centric focus, where a company looks to sell something physical to its target market. Over the past decade especially, sales has developed with the advancement of digital services and growth of the IT and tech sectors. This shift has introduced many less tangible assets to the world of sales. 

Today, sales roles require selling both products and services, whether that’s office equipment and hardware or cloud solutions and analytical tools. 

Whether your business sells products or services, you need to know that you have the right people with the right skills to make those sales happen. So, when it comes to recruiting a salesperson, it’s vital to consider that selling requires varied skills. 

Discover more about the differences between selling products and services with Pareto and learn how to find the right salesperson for your company. Whether you’re looking to bring on board a graduate sales recruit with a real flair for selling products or an IT sales apprentice with a deep understanding of digital services, at Pareto, we have the industry expertise to find the right candidate for your role. 

Selling products vs services 

When it comes to selling, the primary difference between products and services is that the former is more often than not something the customer can see, a tangible item with defined qualities and limitations. Services, on the other hand, can be more difficult to showcase as there is nothing physical to present. For this reason, services require a demystifying explanation of how they work and how they will add value. However, they often also allow a sales person to be more flexible, adapting the parameters to meet the specific needs of the consumer.

Each type of sales comes with its own challenges and it’s important to consider the skills of candidates to evaluate who is best placed to overcome these and make that all-important sale, as well as taking the time to plan and define specific sales strategies that lend themselves effectively to the type of sales your company is looking to make.  

Sales strategies

Strategy is an integral part of any sales operation. An effective and impactful strategy will outline the team’s objectives clearly and give them the tools and direction they need to achieve these goals – as well as hiring the right salespeople, it’s important to craft the right strategy to meet your company’s specific sales goals.

Strategies in product sales will often encompass a more visual approach, where the sales person can make use of email marketing, adverts and campaigns, as well as demos, to show off the product and its benefits.

Strategies in service sales, on the other hand, will put more emphasis on understanding the customer. There’s often a greater focus here on building relationships to identify the right time to approach customers and solve a specific problem they may be facing. This means strategies are often more hands on, relying more heavily on selling skills such as networking events and cold calls to build rapport with the prospect.

Selling techniques

Every sales person will have their own unique way to achieve their sales goals, but the core approach tends to be universal – offering a solution to the customer’s problems. Despite the fundamental core techniques, there are some that prove more impactful for selling either products or services. These can include:

  • Visual-led techniques: Product-focused sales teams will often use visual aids in a presentation as a way of displaying what a product is and does.
  • Detail-led techniques: Service-focused teams may rely more on potential results in their sales techniques, as a service isn’t as tangible. This includes showing how that service tackles customer-specific problems effectively. 

Required skills

When it comes to selling skills to look out for in potential sales recruits, many are universal, regardless of the specific sales role, including effective communication, confidence, negotiation and adaptability, as outlined in our 7 skills needed for maximising sales success guide. However, there are some specific skills that are more beneficial to the individual areas of sales.

Product skills: To sell a product, your sales staff need to have a full understanding of its benefits and features. They also need strong presentation skills, as visuals play a big part in product sales, as well as strong communication.

Service skills: Service sales people also need a strong understanding of what they’re selling, but they also need to be able to adapt this to meet specific needs. In the case of tech sales like cloud services and FinTech, this can mean being able to succinctly explain what something does and how it will add value to someone who doesn’t understand the product. People in services sales need to be able to be flexible and adaptable, answering difficult questions without delay.

While there are differences between product and service sales, many sales roles will require the same strong skillsets and strategies at their core.

Explore sales training courses with Pareto, including negotiation training and bespoke courses, and give your team all the tools they need to find success.

To further enhance your team and drive success download our guide 10 steps to building a successful sales team.

Looking to strengthen your Business?

Let's Talk