Here is the thing… In today’s market, there isn’t a lot of difference between products and services in a similar category — especially when you see it from your prospects perspective. For instance:
- Your competitors’ websites and brochures certainly look different than yours, but the content is filled with similar buzz words and similar claims
- All the solutions on the market have the same core functionality; the only differences are around certain bells and whistles
- Both you and your competitors have an equally impressive list of reference customers
- When it comes to the cost of the solution, one solution might be slightly cheaper or expensive than the other, but the difference isn’t significant
Therefore, one could say that you have a selling proposition — but it might not be exactly unique.
If you still don’t agree, and you think that you have something that your competitors don’t, then don’t forget to consider that your competitors will be leveraging something as their USP that you don’t currently have. Furthermore, even if there was some product feature or service offering that your competitors can’t match today, you can safely assume that they are working on it and will give the prospect the ‘coming soon’ pitch, or they will simply undercut your price and outweigh the value of your USP.
You see… you might be passionate about your offering and your USP, but to a prospect, all the different solutions (after deducting the sales hype) seem to offer similar benefits.
Ladies and Gentlemen… the USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, as we know it is DEAD; just like the proclamation ‘The King is Dead.’
However, just like ‘The King is Dead’ is followed by ‘Long Live the King,’ I am here to tell you ‘Long Live the USP.’
Let me explain: when the difference between solutions is not clear or not significant, the prospect will resort to their gut feeling i.e., what feels right for them and their organisation. In other words, the prospect’s ‘gut feeling’ becomes a decision criteria! In my view, this ‘gut feeling’ is not as woolly as it sounds; it is actually how the prospect is left feeling after their interaction or experience of dealing with the different salespeople. For instance:
- The salesperson whose online presence (LinkedIn/Twitter/etc.) positions them as a subject matter expert;
- The salesperson who appears to understand more about what affects the prospect’s industry, their challenges, and even the trend of the prospect’s customers;
- The salesperson who comes armed with relevant insights and even information about what the prospects’ competitors are up to;
- The salesperson who can support their proposition with stories from existing customers in order to help the prospect reset their vision;
- The salesperson who gets the prospect comfortably talking about the existing setup and the resulting consequences on the company systems, processes, workflows, operations, resources and people;
- The salesperson who works with the prospect to uncover the financial implications of the current situation, and do it in a way that adds value to the prospects’ thinking;
- The salesperson who communicates the value of a potential solution in the language of metrics and KPIs that are important to the prospect, their team, their department, their business unit and the whole company;
- The salesperson who presents a strong business case and can credibly substantiate the ROI analysis;
- The salesperson whose financial understanding, commercial awareness and business acumen allows them to easily connect with the senior decision makers and hold a conversation beyond their products and services;
When the salesperson operates with this level of expertise and professionalism… (drum roll)… that’s when the sales person becomes the USP.
The prospect will choose this sales person’s solution not only because their products and services can benefit the prospect’s business, but in addition, the salesperson’s interaction throughout the sales process makes him/her stand out as the professional who can bring more value to the table compared to their competitor.
To end in the spirit of Al Pacino’s “Inches” speech…
That’s professional selling,
That’s all it is.