Sell Your Idea, Not Your Product

Even if you have the best product ever made, your sales will be disappointing if all you offer is your product. What's missing is the idea of your product. Sell the idea, not the product.

The Problem I Created

For two decades, I sold and implemented Sage MAS 90 accounting software. I had installations in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Singapore.

I was impressed with MAS 90. I wanted to tell the world about it. In the early years, my sales conversations were all about the software features. It was fast. Its data entry screens were neatly laid out. Its reports were understandable.  

Big deal. My prospects didn't jump up and cheer just because MAS 90 was easy to navigate.

How I Solved It

I asked for feedback from my customers. They taught me an important lesson. They did not choose me because I sold MAS 90. Each customer chose me because all I talked about was helping them take their business to the next level.

I was selling ideas about taking their business to the next level. That's what they bought from me. My products were merely the incidental tools needed to reach that level.

You Can, Too

Get out a blank sheet of paper. Make two columns. Label the left column "Product." Label the right column "Idea."

In the left column, write down your primary product. It looks great, doesn't it? Now, assume that none of your customers care about that product.

In the right column, write down the way that your product makes your customers better off. What need does it meet. What goals does it help achieve?

Skip a line, and write the idea that you are selling.



  • Sage MAS 90 accounting software.
  • Great data entry screens, menus and reports.
  • (I love it. My customers couldn't care less about it.)

How My Product Makes My Customers Better Off:

  • Spend less outside bookkeeping dollars, because financial reports are easy to read.
  • Spend less on inventory by turning inventory faster, because of easy-to-read inventory status reports.
  • My software implementation focuses on your business processes, so you spend less time and money on future support.

The Idea Offered Through My Products and Services:

  • A greater return-on-investment, with a faster payback.
  • Achieving your business objectives faster and easier.
  • Tools to take your business to the next level.
  • Tools to achieve your dreams.

A Challenge

There is an idea of customer enrichment behind each of your products. It's up to you to find them. I've offered ideas instead of products to sell software, elevators, computers and consulting engagements. I even offered an idea to a judge, to take $100 off of a speeding ticket.

The next time you speak with a prospect, sell them your idea, not your product, and watch your sales soar!