A Unique Selling Proposition is what every Sales Person wants – that killer argument that makes your proposition irresistible. Trouble is, even if you have one it won’t be for long, competitors will find a way to match your prices or copy your technical innovation and then where is your competitive advantage?
We can’t win new business without a USP
I was running a training session this week and the Sales People in the room complained about their lack of USPs. They are in the wholesale business and supply restaurants and hotels with everything they need from ingredients to cleaning materials. In their business there is really no scope for a USP, multinational suppliers define product pricing, the costs of distribution are pretty much the same for everyone, all suppliers have good IT and friendly staff so the chance of doing something really different is pretty slim.
The MD listened to the moaning. He stood up and told his Sales Team what the USP for their company was – them. The Sales Professionals in the room were the main reason customers chose to do business with them, rather than the competition. He went on to ask me what the USP of Infoteam was and I had to admit that we had few, if any. But he said there was a clear differentiator between us and the other Sales Training companies he had spoken to. It was the initial meeting where we had challenged the way they work that made us stand out.
In that meeting we had been told that all their competitors offered a similar level of products, services, IT support and personal service. All their new business was won by responding to tender processes and they won around 1 in 8 – which seemed low to me. I asked them to show me an example and what they intended to do in this case and he said the same thing – hoping for a better outcome. I suggested they write to the person who issued the tender asking for a meeting to discuss his needs and scoped out the email there and then.
How you sell is why you win
In industries where there aren’t any USPs, having a good Sales Process and using it in the best possible way is what it takes to improve your hit rate. Without going into every aspect of the Sales Process, here are a few things that can make you stand out and help you to become the USP.
Be an expert in your customers business
When we interview our customer’s customers we are told repeatedly that they expect Sales Professionals to know about their business and industry and that they become very impatient when they have to explain what they do. The research you do before an initial meeting and the way you ask questions will make you stand out.
If, as in the meeting I described above, the customer is clearly doing something that doesn’t work – challenge them. But make sure you can offer an alternative way of working that will deliver results.
Help the customer sell internally
It’s rare you can meet all the final decision makers and influencers so you will have to depend on your customer to sell internally. The more support you can give them the more you will distinguish yourself.
Don’t claim – demonstrate
Samples of deliverables or doing a piece of work make far more impact than an empty claim.
Possibly the single most important thing you can do. It gives your prospect a preview of what it will be like working with you in the future.
You are the USP
The tighter the competition in the marketplace the more important the Sales Professional becomes. Conversations with you earn the prospect’s trust – it becomes like driving a prestige car or sitting in business class on a prestige airline. Expectations of you will be high, but customers will want to work with you.
Questions to ask yourself
- Does the product or service you sell have a clear USP?
- Are you doing the same thing as usual but hoping for better results?
- Have you thought of all the ways you can use your Sales Process to differentiate yourself from the competition?