This HBR blog post from Heidi Grant Halvorson has some great advice on sales. While the post focuses on selling yourself in an interview situation, the advice could probably be used in any sales situation. In short, novelty wins over experience, provided that evidence of quality accompanies the novelty.
Tormala, Jia, and Norton found the same pattern when they looked at evaluations of job candidates. In this case, they compared perceptions of someone with two years of relevant experience who scored highly on a test of leadership achievement, versus someone with no relevant experience who scored highly on a test of leadership potential. (Both candidates had equally impressive backgrounds in every other way). Evaluators believed the candidate with leadership potential would be more successful at the new company than the candidate with a proven record of leadership ability. (Incidentally, if you ask the evaluators to tell you whose resume is more impressive, they agree that it’s the one with experience. They still prefer the other guy anyway.)
I can see a lot of situations in which this could be useful in framing your solution vs. your competitors’. Based on this research, it seems that people naturally gravitate toward something new, so finding a way to position your product that way could give you a leg up. Of course, you need to have accompanying evidence of quality to reassure your buyers. That’s where relevant customer references, case studies, etc. come into play.
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