Unique Selling Propositions – USP – are often presented as the strongest benefit for a given product or service within a targeted segment of accounts. Many sales consultations “yak” about how you must have a USP and without it you will rapidly move into the commodity sales trap.
Well, that is find and dandy if you only sell one product or service to this targeted group of accounts. The truth is often the product is not unique or different from your competition. Now that is a dilemma. If we are selling the same things, how do you separate yourself from the competition?
Okay, first let me clarify my position on unique selling propositions. It is an excellent exercise to uncover any real or perceived uniqueness for your product or service. You can use this learning exercise to gain a greater understanding of the issues faced by your customer segments and how to leverage your solution to fix, eliminate or contain their issue.
Second, price is not an USP or it should not be yours. It is true there are some customer groups who state that price is the only issue in their minds. Here you have a commodity buyer who is looking for a low ball commodity price. The problem with this scenario is simple – someone will always beat your price!
Third, if your USP is pushed on a customer you run the risk of sharing information that is not important to this customer. All the work to figure out an USP and it falls on deaf ears due to the fact this customer does not have the problem or issue you are assuming to be in place. Here is where you lose the attention of the customer by pushing the wrong focal point for success.
Finally, a fixed or series of USPs is a difficult sale to a person who sees your USP as meaningless – a dead duck, to use a hunting analogy. USP’s fail to take into account a buyer or decision makers particular circumstances. They can miss the point on the detailed needs of your particular account. Remember, buyers are more interested in buying what they need rather than being sold something they may not actually need or want.
The USP is not some silver bullet leading you to the holy grail of sales success. It helps to figure out if you do have a unique differentiator to justify your competitive edge and value added solutions. However, must of the b2b sales people I know are in reality are selling very similar products or services that are hard to differentiate from the competition.
This usually leads to YOU – the sales person – making the difference. You must be on a continuous development process, upgrading your skill sets, communication effectiveness, questioning skills and your research skills for learning about your customers and customer industries.