By Rich Lindblom

It’s a simple question when you get right down to it.

The problem is, I’m not sure everyone actually knows — or better yet understands — the correct answer. Because believe it or not, you are not selling appliances, furniture, bedding or electronics! Sure, that might be what your customers are buying from your store, but that’s not what you are selling.

Confused yet? Just hear me out.

The thing is, those products are nothing more than commodities.  Today’s consumer can go to any number of stores or websites and buy the exact same merchandise you are selling, and quite often at the exact same price. And since consumers can find the same commodities in any number of places, it’s become more about where to buy than what to buy.

And that’s why, when you get right down to it, what you are really selling is yourself and your company

But here’s the good news: That is precisely every BrandSource member’s secret weapon!

Whether you know it or not, you are the only store that has everything today’s consumer really wants.  Think about it — an independent retailer is the only game in town if a customer wants a true full-service experience.  And people are finally starting to realize that. Even some national publications are telling people that the best place to make a major purchase is at an independent retailer.

See: BrandSource Dealers Dominate Consumer Reports Retail Rankings

Where else can a customer get a wide selection of readily available (at least compared to the box stores) quality merchandise, presented by a true sales professional who knows the product inside and out, and then have it delivered by best-in-class installers and, if service is needed, have the same company that sold it to them send factory-trained technicians to repair it?

The answer to that long-winded question is … nowhere

Do you think the person in a blue or orange apron is selling the advantages of buying from a home improvement store?  The answer is no, and that’s because they can’t. 

Big box and home improvement stores simply don’t have all the selling advantages (and they are advantages) that you do.  They compete on two things and two things only: Size and perception, nothing else.  Once the customer realizes that you sell the same commodities they do for a similar price, but that you also offer essential services that those other guys don’t, the buying decision gets pretty simple.

As BrandSource members, you have the biggest and best horn on the block. Why not toot it loudly for all to hear?  Put it on your website and in every ad you run, regardless of the format.  Let your customers know exactly why you are the best place to buy.

Here’s an idea: How about adding a 30-second spiel to the front of every sales presentation you make? Something along the lines of, “Mrs. Jones, we both know that there are a whole lot of places in town where you can buy this washer. But let me tell you why Joe’s Appliance is the best place to buy…” And then go into the advantages your company has over those home improvement or box stores down the street. 

The bottom line is that you aren’t selling merchandise, you are selling yourself. And the sooner you realize it, the faster you will start growing your sales!

I have three goals in mind with my columns: To motivate, educate and entertain.  If I have achieved at least one of those, then I’ve done my job. Don’t be shy about letting me know if you agree. Write me at