More and more products in healthcare are being viewed by decision-makers as commodities.  In an era of accountable care, products that are good enoughare displacing those regarded as the “gold standard.”  Selling commodity-type products can be a challenge, but the bigger problem is when you, the sales professional, are a commodity yourself.

Hopefully, your value proposition is not explained by simply telling your customers that your product is the best.  For one thing, they don’t believe you and for another, they don’t want the best.  Most just want an acceptable product that produces acceptable outcomes at the lowest price.

Products that get the job done and are almost indistinguishable from competing products are, by definition, commodities.  If the only differentiator you offer for your product is price, then you’re a commodity too. Not good.

Let’s say you sell adhesive bandages—just the plain vanilla kind, no special coatings or proprietary secret formulas.  Just some sticky tape with a piece of gauze is all that you’re selling.  How do you differentiate such a hard-to-differentiate commodity so that a customer might feel like it’s worth more than a me-too product?

Offer more.

Buyers and sellers of commodities focus on price.  There is always more than price—there’s  you!  What additional value can you morally and legally offer the customer to make a difference?

Can you or an assistant help with inventory management?

Can you provide in-services to staff with accompanying CEUs or CMEs?

Can you provide just-in-time delivery to minimize inventory costs for the customer while providing the same level of dependability?

Can you bundle products together to give the customer even better pricing, reduce the cost of acquisition and win more business in return?

Does doing business with you and your company mean less mistakes, less stress, and less work?

Are you having best-practices conversations with procurement managers and financial personnel to help them make better buying decisions?  Do you share information and methodologies that help customers to be more efficient and competitive?  When you do, your value goes up.

Even if your product is seen as a commodity, you can be the differentiator that gets the sale.  Commodity sales reps sell price.  World class medical sales professionals differentiate themselves by revealing unseen opportunities and helping the customer to operate more efficiently and produce good patient outcomes at a lower cost.

You might sell a commodity, but you don’t have to be a commodity.


Mace Horoff has spent the last 28 years working with the medical device industry. He is an award-winning speaker, trainer, author and consultant focused on sales force effectiveness for

the medical device, pharmaceutical, dental, and other related healthcare industries. To learn how Mace can make your medical sales force more effective, please call (561) 333-8080 or

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