Inspiration for Sales Teams

Thursday, 28 May 2015

What is Your “Unique Selling Proposition”?

I once went to a workshop where the participants were required to stand up and pitch their product for three minutes. After the third or fourth try, the presenter stopped us; it was too painful for him to listen to us all botch it up. He patiently asked us to couch our pitch in terms of what problem our product solved. After 20 minutes of explanation, he stepped back and called another volunteer onto the stage.

Once again he heard the same thing: a long list of features describing the product did. I was amazed: not one of the fifty people in the room could describe why people actually bought their product. They could only tell us what their product did.

Businesses have simple drivers behind their buying decisions. They buy goods and services because
they are solving a problem within their own supply chain. It is unusual to see a call for tenders for a dysfunctional solution or one that the company doesn't really need.

To increase your chances of winning business through submitting proposals or tenders, you need to understand what the company is trying to achieve in solving their problem, and pitch your product accordingly. Here are some examples of purchasing objectives:
  1. Reduce costs
  2. Improve quality
  3. Get the job done
  4. Reduce risk
  5.  Improve brand/reputation
  6. Maintain/improve relationships
  7. Improve accessibility
  8. Improve safety
  9. Improve performance

There is little point in pitching your product to achieve an outcome in which the company is not interested. For example, if they are trying to reduce costs, don’t offer a premium product. If they don’t have a safety problem, don’t promote safety as a primary benefit.

This activity alone will help your proposal stand out from the crowd.

To further increase your chances of winning the bid make your solution to the problem appear unique. Being unique means nobody else offers it (or talks about it). This means that your “unique selling proposition” may be different depending on the buyer you are pitching to. It is “flexible”.
Road-test your “uniqueness” by comparing what you are offering with your competitors’ offers. 

What are they saying about their products? If everybody offers delivery, for example, then you are not unique. Maybe, however, you deliver for free, or to the desktop, or you will also unpack and setup the product. Do something that your competitors don’t do. Go the extra mile, add value, be different.

You need to get noticed. You won’t get the right kind of attention if you look and sound like everybody else in the market. In my experience, just about everybody else is selling features, not benefits.