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The Paint Stick and product expertise

I was staging my house for sale and, after we moved my son’s stuff out, we discovered his room was desperately in need of a new paint job. He had scuffed the paint while moving his musical equipment in and out over the years. So I went to the paint store, selected a gallon of egg-shell white, and then added a few foam brushes of various sizes to my shopping cart.

Before too long a clerk came up to me and said, “Tell me about your project.”

I explained I was painting my son’s room—all four walls—and I was in a bit of a hurry as we were putting the house on the market.

He asked, “Which is more important to you—time or money?”

“Well, of course, money is always an issue but time is of the essence since we want to get this done this weekend.”

He said, “Then let me recommend this instead. Put all those terrible foam brushes away and get the Paint Stick instead.”


The Paint Stick is a remarkable paint roller with a thick tube for a handle; the handle holds a gallon of paint and you squeeze the trigger to get more paint on the roller. No roller pan. No drips. Just load the tube and start painting.

The clerk also recommended a plastic drip cloth plus a canvas one. I covered the carpet with the plastic and then moved the canvas cloth around the room as I painted. I didn’t get any paint on the carpet and I wasn’t continually tripping on the plastic.

The clerk wasn’t just a sales rep; he was an expert in the domain (painting) and also the products (the Paint Stick).

Domain experience is critical to selling.Domain experience is critical to selling. [Tweet this] It's why we keep going to hardware stores instead of buying from the big box stores. We go for advice, not just products. We go for product expertise—the clerk who knows why this product is better than that one for your project.

How about your clients? How much are they asking for advice rather than price?

I have a friend who has been selling to government agencies for years. His customers call him for advice all the time. Sometimes his answer is, “Yes, we have something that will help,” but sometimes his answer is, “My company doesn’t offer it but I know the product you need.”

(That reminds me of a scene in Miracle on 34th Street where the Macy’s Santa refers shoppers to other stores.)

Yes, some clients shop on price, believing that one product is as good as the next. But most don’t. A study on gas stations revealed that people were more inclined to choose a station based on convenience than price. In a world where almost everything is available on Amazon, why would anyone shop elsewhere? Answer: domain and product expertise.

Does your team have product and domain expertise? Read more in my free ebook "Expertise in Product Management" at

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