Planning to Hold Your Price - Using a U.S.P. to Differentiate You

Want to close more deals at a price that really reflects the true value of you and your product?

This is the fourth of a series of articles on how to increase the recognition of your value. Use it to improve your margins and your take home pay. The price support series will follow the 7-Step process we discussed in January. Each article will take a step and explore it in depth.

You've figured out who to talk to (see SalesDoctors June 23.) You know that you do not want to focus on you. How do you get the conversation started?

Talking about ourselves is easy, but often uninteresting to others. Have you ever been subjected to the "Enough about you, lets get back to me syndrome?" by a salesperson? Did it make you want to jump up and buy?

If you want to avoid the same thing, you need to plan what you will say to get the focus off you and onto the customer. You can use a Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.) to do this.

U.S.P.s are short (between three words and two sentences) statements that highlight the benefit of working with you. Following the Benefit first model (SalesDoctors August 25) they lead with the focus on your customer. A good U.S.P. does not talk about you. It talks about your customer. The best U.S.P.s earn you the right to continue with your customer.

Want some examples? Look at the business pages in this morning's Wall Street Journal. Most of them talk about the vendor. A few, however, reach straight out to the reader. The same is true with slogans. Two that work:

"When you need it absolutely, positively, overnight."

"Delivered to your door in 30 minutes or its free"

These two U.S.P.s have a couple of things in common. At the time they appeared, they clearly differentiated the supplier (would you have relied on the Postal Service for overnight delivery?) More important, they talk about the user. Both focus on solving a problem for "you" instead of Federal Express or Dominos. After all, are you buying a pizza company or a hot pizza? A delivery method or a package delivered on time?

Both these U.S.P.s took a long time to develop. They went through a variety of iterations, were tested multiple times, and showed up in these and similar words until the companies were satisfied. Expect your own U.S.P. to take much work and change often.

Another thing that these U.S.P.s have in common is how complete they are. They could both be shorter, but that would remove key elements. The focus on "you" and the differentiation both require at least this many words.

What if your story takes more than 7 words to tell? Try this model:

To create a U.S.P. that really works, start with the problem. Then provide the solution. A natural way to start would be to say, "You know how . . ." Then describe the problem in a few words. This is your problem statement.

Now resolve it with, "Well, I help you to . . . ," and describe what your prospect gets. Not what he or she does, or what you do. Describe what value he or she will get from your service.

For example:

"You know how hard it is to get a hot pizza delivered? Well we'll get it to you hot in 30 minutes or you don't pay for it."


"You know how hard it is to get a consistently great return on your money? Well I have tools to help you to do exactly that."

Look at those two examples. Are they focused on the salesperson or the customer? Try counting the number of times to which each is referred. We say 'you' 3 times, the word 'we' or 'I' only once.

Example number one is really a wordy version of the pizza U.S.P. If you didn't have a month to create a great U.S.P., would the longer, 28 word, version work? Probably just as well in a live conversation.

Notice that the two U.S.P.s do not explain the how. They only explain the what. Only when you get a buy-in to the what do you earn the right to move on.

However, don't move on to how you deliver. Move on to understanding the problem and showing that you understand it. You are much more likely to get paid well to solve a problem if your customer thinks you really do understand it.

How do you do that? Check out "Success Criteria - Ask So That You Can Sell." in the October 27 SalesDoctors.

For more on U.S.P.s, check out Peter's articles in this site, or drop a note to Peter asking for a copy of the Selling Services article. It has information on using U.S.P.s on the net.