Creating Preference in a Commodity Business

Creating Preference in a Commodity BusinessI was asked recently how to successfully sell value in a commodity business. When your product or service is virtually identical to what is available elsewhere, how do you create differentiation, preference, value and market share acceleration?

It’s not easy, but there are ways. Here are five to start:

Service: How well you treat your customers can make a big difference, especially if you want to be a premium-priced commodity seller. Customers who don’t value service will always buy on price, and if you want to be the low-cost leader, that’s fine too. But if you want to sell value with a commodity, provide excellent, remarkable service at every level and every interaction with your customers and prospects.

Trust: What’s your reputation? What are you known for? Do customers trust you, and why? Know what your customers value, and establish a tight bond between those values and the trust you create and strengthen in the way you do business, every day.

The Little Things: There are countless ways to do little, remarkable things for your customers. Unexpected things that make you stand out, thoughtful gestures that show you’re different, and that you care. Real estate agents who bring new buyers a pizza or sandwiches on moving day, that’s special. Auto dealerships that offer free car wash service for life. Things like that can be huge for differentiation and preference, not to mention word-of-mouth for your business to new prospective customers.

A Consultative Approach to Selling: Are you just selling the commodity, or are you providing additional value in the sale? Are you teaching customers more about the industry they work in, the environment in which they need that commodity. Are you helping them be more successful in the process of buying? Provide that kind of value-added service as part of the sale, and you’re creating immediate value & differentiation.

Results: A commodity market doesn’t necessarily mean that every option is the same, and will deliver the same results. How are you able to transcend what you’re selling, and deliver differentiation and value in how that commodity impacts your customers? Is the end-result better through you? How? And how effectively can you communicate that results-based differentiation? Let your happy customers tell that story for you. Use their enthusiasm and success in the market to drive preference and value.

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Matt HeinzMatt Heinz is principal at Heinz Marketing, a sales & marketing consulting firm helping businesses increase customers and revenue. Contact Matt at or visit

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Matt Heinz




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