Jason Fried

March 16, 2021

Why should I buy yours vs. theirs?

Sometimes I get asked a direct A vs. B sales question. Like...

"Why should I buy HEY instead of Fastmail?"

My honest answer: "I don't know. You should try both and see which one you like best. And once you've made your choice, I'd love to hear which one you picked and why." I'm not selling, I'm learning.

I can surely point someone to my full video walkthrough, or link up comparison pages focused on a specific angle (like this Gmail vs HEY on privacy page), but when it's why A vs. B on the whole, it's ultimately about a set of feelings and a degree of comfort, it's not a head-to-head comparison chart of features. It's nuance, and nuance has to be experienced to be understood.

The less energy you put into trying to convince someone of something, the more energy they have to figure things out for themselves. And ultimately, when someone comes to their own conclusion, they're more bought-in than if you lead them into it.

Yes, you could argue your/our competitor might put in more effort to woo that customer, convince that customer, and sell that customer on their service. And you'd be right. And that might work for them. But I'm just not interested in trying to convince anyone of anything. I'm sure we lose some customers because of this approach, but that's ok — customers aren't trading cards (or NFTs), and we're not trying to collect the full set.

If you want to genuinely serve a customer who's on the fence, encourage them to try a few things so they can get direct experience. If they're buying something they're going to live with for a while — and email is typically one of those things — they'll be better off having toe dipped in a few ponds before deciding which one to dive into.

And then, maybe, you'll get the answer to the question you're curious about: "Why did you buy theirs instead of ours (or ours instead of theirs)?" That answer is likely more valuable than the sale itself.

About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.