Understand why negativity is never a great way to sell a product.

When trying to sell your product, it’s important to keep your emphasis on the positive. Negative attacks on another person’s product rarely go over well, particularly when unprompted. When considering whether it’s better to tell a prospect what they stand to gain or what they stand to lose, the answer is an emphatic gain.

Selling Your Product

When you’re selling your product, you’re selling your product. You aren’t out to run a smear campaign on competitors. Selling your product means emphasizing what your customers will gain from buying from you. Think about what you offer prospects that your competitors don’t. Maybe it’s a superior product and customer service. Maybe it’s a lower price point. Maybe it’s all of the above. The point is, you need to convince the client to buy from you, not to not buy from someone else.

Including Competitors Without Including Them

You can, of course, emphasize the areas where you feel your product is superior to your competitors without mentioning them. Think of areas where you feel you excel over your competitors. When talking to prospects, ask them who else they are thinking of buying from. Without explicitly mentioning your competitors, discuss the areas where you feel you are more suited to their needs. You get the same message across without any of the negativity. You’ll come off looking a lot better.

Don’t Think of an Elephant

Linguist George Lakoff has a book called Don’t Think of an Elephant. The book explains how when someone says “don’t think of an elephant,” the first thing you think of is an elephant. Thus, by invoking your competitors, you are making your clients think of them. This is the last thing you want to do when selling a product. Rather, you want the prospect thinking of your product through the entire proposal. This -- and a desire to not look petty -- is one of the main reasons not to go negative when selling a product.

Direct Questions

Of course, there inevitably comes a time when a prospect acts what you think of this or that product. You should answer honestly, but keep the focus on what your product does. It also never hurts to give some vague, generic praise to your competitors, such as “General Widgets makes a great product, but I feel that we provide a better customer service experience.” Your prospect will remember you as a classy businessman who didn’t need to resort to rancor to sell a product.

What They’ll Lose By Not Buying Your Product

Telling a customer what they stand to lose by not buying from you should be avoided at all times. It comes across as pushy at best and a veiled threat at worst. Again, emphasize what your product does and let the customer make his own decision.

It’s a myth that nice guys finish last. Bad businessmen finish last. The best businessmen know how to balance being good guys and good businessmen -- it’s part of why people buy from them. Emphasizing the positive aspects of your products pays dividends over time as you gain a reputation as an honest straight shooter.