The Best Stuff vs. The Right Stuff
By The Brooks Group

Find out what quality has to do with getting your full price, rate, or fee. It's not what you think. If your customers are haggling with you over price, you need this advice.

If you want to earn a serious income as a salesperson, you must understand not only what "quality" really is, but what it has to do with how much your prospects are willing to pay for the products or services you sell. You need to know how viable the quality of your product or service is as a competitive advantage: In some cases, it may be the single most important reason your prospect buys.

"But I can't sell on quality…ours aren't really the best on the market."
Most salespeople believe that quality means "best." But quality does not really mean best. Quality means conformance to standards and expectations––your prospect's standards and expectations. Quality means the right stuff––not the best stuff. Quality is the correct stuff for your prospect's requirements and needs, not the best stuff made.

For example, what is a quality tire for your car? The only way to answer that question is to ask another question or a series of questions: What are you going to use the car for? Are you going to race it? Or drive to work in the snow? Go out and buy the best racing slicks you can get, put them on your power-traction wheels, and see how fast you can accelerate in six inches of snow. Or put racing slicks on your front wheels and see how fast you can stop on wet pavement, going downhill. You might say that you bought the "best tires money could buy," but you'll be disappointed in their performance under those conditions.

Avoiding the "Your price is too high" objection
If you want to avoid the "your price is too high," conversation with prospects, you'd better have "the right stuff." Selling certainly includes telling your prospects that your offering is the correct product (and why it's the right stuff) for them. But if your offering is not the right stuff –– if you're selling high quality walnut wood and your customer only needs cheap plywood, for example –– the only way you'll get your customer to buy the wrong stuff is to cut your price. If they're building fine furniture, they might buy your walnut. But if they're putting in subflooring, they won't: They don't need it, don't want it, and can't afford it. The only way you'll sell them high quality walnut for subflooring is to cut your price.

If you don't have the right stuff for your customer –– the quality of products or services that conform to his or her standards and expectations –– you have a problem. You will never get full price, rate or fee for products or services if you try to sell your prospect the wrong stuff for the specific application he or she needs it for…you'll be selling high quality walnut at the price of plywood!

"But I sell a commodity - and people buy commodities solely on price."
Many salespeople feel that they're in a commodity business, and they believe because of that, they absolutely must sell on price. But nothing is further from the truth. Selling a commodity doesn't mean that you automatically must sell it on price.

A commodity, by definition, is any item that cannot be easily distinguished from others in the marketplace – something that is in direct competition with a large number of other extremely similar products or services. For example, suppose we have two water glasses for sale that are identical in terms of size, shape, appearance, etc. If we tell you one sells for two pennies and the other sells for one penny (and you're buying water glasses - not wine glasses), which one are you going to buy? You're going to buy the one-penny glass, of course, because all other things being equal, people buy on price, right?

But that's just not true. Other things are seldom, if ever, really equal. What if you don't like the salesperson who is selling you the glass? What if the glass won't be shipped to you until next month? What if the vendor only has 8 glasses, and you need 12?

It is the salesperson's job to make sure the customer knows: (1) that other things are not equal, and (2) the he or she should buy the salesperson's (higher priced) commodity item because it's actually a better deal. And it's a better deal because the service is better, the delivery is better, the salesperson is better, and so on. The product or service may be identical to others in the marketplace, but all the things involved in getting the product or service to the customer differentiate one vendor from all the others.

There is ample evidence that even when the product is equal to another––identical product––people don't always buy on price. Think of your neighborhood convenience store. Typically, just about every item you'll find in a convenience store is more expensive than it is in a grocery store. The very fact that convenience stores exist proves that people will pay more for the exact same product (as long as there is some valuable differentiation – in this case, convenience). Milk is sometimes as much as $1.50 more a gallon at a convenience store. But If you get a craving for some cookies in the cupboard at 11:00 at night, but you don't have any milk, chances are very good that instead of driving all the way to your grocery store, you're just going to run up to the convenience store, pay more for the milk and get home so you can have cookies and milk while you watch Leno.

The final word
As a salesperson, you MUST differentiate your company's product and services from your competitor's some how, some way. That is what selling is all about. Otherwise, a computer could answer the phone, direct the customer to a price quote on the web, and all orders could be filled digitally as well.

Think about the last time a prospect told you they could get the same product or service at a lower price. Was it really the exact same thing? What were the differences between your product and the other guy's? The way you deliver it? The service you offer?

The facts are, other things are never equal––and even if the product or service is identical to another, prospects rarely buy only on price. Remember: consumers and corporate buyers say they do because they're trying to get you to cut your price. But their behavior belies their words!

Your goal with every prospect should be to find out what his or her standards and expectations are – and which of your products or services can best meet them. That way, you'll get the price, rate or fee you ask for, and you'll have customers who perceive you as a high-quality salesperson.

The Brooks Group is a Sales and Sales Management Screening, Development, and Retention company that has helped more than 2,000 organizations in 500 industries transform their businesses by focusing on building and sustaining top-performing sales, sales management and business development programs. Contact The Brooks Group at: or (800) 633-7762.