Sell What You Have – Sales eXchange 1932

by Tibor Shanto –


At the risk of stating the obvious, the job of a sales person is to sell their company’s offering in order to deliver revenue AND Profits for their company.  This can be a challenge at times, but should not be so as a result of our doing.  Some sales people seem to want to sell things they don’t have, at times they do this on their own, other times they let their prospects lead them down a dead end path.

How many times have you heard sales people say that they could sell their product, or more of their product “If Only…..”.  All too many times we allow ourselves to be distracted from what we can sell, and end up losing sales for all the wrong reason.  I am always surprised how many sales people act as though they were in product development rather than sales, sadly some would be better at that than sales; but until they do officially transfer, they need to focus on selling what they have, not what they or the buyer wish they had.

Don’t get me wrong, sales people play a crucial role in the feedback loop that helps your company develop and market your offering better.  But that should not be at the expense of selling what they have now, that is job one.

Part of this comes down to knowledge not only of your own product, you’d be surprised how many sales people know little more than what’s in the brochure or on their websites, but also that of the competition.  It is hard to sell what you have if you don’t know, it is harder to sell if you don’t know how what you have can help the buyer, and harder still if you can’t discuss how what you have applies to the buyer’s world.  You quickly go from an exercise in creative selling to being on your heels in a defensive posture.

The challenge is that with an 80% overlap between most leading products, it mostly comes down to how you sell that will determine the difference.  Your ability to align the attributes of your “solution” to the real requirements of the buyer, based on their objectives, and their obligations to their organizations.  For example, last week I was out with a rep I am tasked with helping, during a routine sales call, the buyer kept interjecting “can your product do this?”, “can your product do that?”  Each time the seller apologizing for the products inability to do some of the things the buyer raised.

The seller clearly had not prepared for the meeting by knowing what his competitors offered and did not offer.  Most of the things the buyer put on the table with their questions were not available from any of the products in the market.  Had he established that this was a wish list, not a requirement, the issue could have resolved.  I finally had to ask the buyer, “I am just curious which product that you currently use allows you to do that?”  A long pause, and a shrug allowed us to move forward.  By asking that simple question we were able to get back to what was required, available and affordable.

Sell what you have, if they are not the right buyer, prospect another, but sell what you have, or you may find that you have all prospects for what you don’t have, and no buyers for what you do.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


  1. The Irreverent Sales Girl

    Tibor, THANK YOU for saying this.

    I preach this a lot. You can ONLY sell what you have. If you don’t believe that what you have is a good solution, you are either with the wrong buyer or selling the wrong product.

    The more subtle part of this equation is that your DEVELOPMENT team will appreciate you for selling what they have developed. Salespeople often create an unnecessarily adversarial relationship with the the product team by trying to sell other stuff.

    When you demonstrate to your company that you can sell what they offer, it builds trust, and your product team will start to bend over backwards for you. I promise!

    Excellent post.

    Love what you’ve got UP!

    The Irreverent Sales Girl

  2. Randy

    The dark side of this is when the development team is clueless about your market and/or doesn’t care enough about the feedback loop to accept the feedback that’s given. In my experience, markets tend to be somewhat regional, and like a cool high school fad, what is considered to be of value in one area is perceived to be a joke in another. And I’m talking selling tools and materials to contractors, not teenagers’ shoes. One you’ve been asked for the same things by several different customers over time with the same pat on the the back and the advice to “sell what we have” from the development team, this idea grows a little stale. I agree with the premise, but I’m thinking you’re making it a more black and white issue than it can at times be.

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