As a salesperson, you need to have the utmost confidence and belief in the product or service you're selling. If you don't believe in your product, it's likely the prospect won't believe in it either.
One of the greatest football coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi, said, "Most people fail not because of a lack of desire but because of a lack of commitment." In order to find success, salespeople need to be committed to what they're selling.
So, how can you speak confidently about your company and product?
The answer: a well-crafted and rehearsed unique selling proposition.
What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
A unique selling proposition, or USP, is a tool used by salespeople to communicate the key factors that separate your product from the competition. It's used in the early stages of the sales process (e.g., prospecting, cold calls, and trade shows) when prospects ask questions like, "What company are you with?" and "What do you do?".
What's its purpose? It's to inspire some level of curiosity in your prospect and to bridge the gap between "I've never heard of you before" to "Okay, let's hop on a quick call."
In sales, a USP should be used as a verbal tool -- the unique selling proposition is best used in conversation with a prospect. The unique selling proposition is an exclusive value proposition to the prospect you're talking to, and it should be created with that specific person in mind.
How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition
So, you're ready to create a unique selling proposition. The first step is to think about your audience and which of the product's benefits are most valuable to them. I recommend creating a variety of unique selling propositions depending on who you're talking to and what they're looking for.
Since the unique selling proposition is a verbal tool, it should only be written when you're getting ready to rehearse it. Here are a few other things to keep in mind when creating a USP.
1. Be unique.
If you create a unique selling proposition that a competitor could use for their product, it's time to go back to the drawing board. Your unique selling proposition should be entirely unique to you, your company, and the product or service you're selling.
The USP will include the strengths and benefits of the product that distinguishes it from the competition. For example, at Hoffman, one of our unique selling points, as a sales training program, is live practice plays. Salespeople learn how to engage with prospects, then test their skills by live cold-calling to prospects and customers as an in-class exercise. This separates us from normal training programs and it's the type of distinguishing factor to include in a unique selling proposition.
2. Be 100% committed and rehearsed.
Unique selling propositions should not only be unique to the company, but they should also be unique to you. You're showcasing yourself and your product or service. And your enthusiasm and authenticity should shine through during your USP.
The unique selling proposition will fail if it doesn't seem to come across as if it's unique to you. Rehearse the unique selling proposition. It gives you confidence and, in turn, the prospect will be confident in you. They'll walk away from a successful USP excited to work with you and to learn more about your product.
3. Include hyperbole.
Your unique selling proposition should be rich with hyperbole. For the USP, the hyperbole is a hyper-exaggeration where all parties, yourself and the prospect, know it's an exaggeration.
Use words like, only, greatest, best, first, favorite, etc. to describe your product. When used appropriately, it's a tool that communicates your enthusiasm and belief in the product.
For example, instead of saying, "We help customers," say "Our customers demand the best and that's why they hire us" instead. The second phrase says more about what you're offering.
Salespeople are often hesitant to use hyperbole because they're fearful it'll be too sales-y. But when you give your unique selling proposition you need to communicate the pride you have in telling it. Hyperbole is an appropriate communication device in this situation. Don't be afraid of it.
4. Sell the post-sale environment.
Great salespeople don't sell just a product or service -- they sell the post sales environment.
What does this mean? It means your unique selling proposition should be about the world your customer enjoys or the reality they'll see after they purchase.
For instance, the process of buying a new car can be tedious and less than enjoyable. But, people like the experience of driving a brand-new car. A successful salesperson communicates the benefits and value the prospect realizes once they buy the product or service.
You'll know if your unique selling proposition worked well if the prospect laughs, smiles, or asks a question. This often means they engaged with the USP and believe in what you're selling.
If the prospect says something along the lines of, "Oh, I see" or "I understand" and they don't express their interest in what you're selling, then the unique selling proposition wasn't effective.
Unique Selling Proposition Examples
Hoffman: I got you live on the first call. When you hire us, we'll teach your sales reps how to do the same thing.
Ben & Jerry's: We make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way.
Away: Thoughtful luggage for modern travel.
Death Wish Coffee Co.: The world's strongest coffee.
TOMS: Pick your style. Pick your stand.
Here are a few unique selling propositions to inspire you. Remember: the unique selling proposition loses its punch if you communicate it via email. It should be delivered to your prospect over the phone or in-person. And it should be developed with your specific audience in mind.
1. Hoffman: I got you live on the first call. When you hire us, we'll teach your sales reps how to do the same thing.
Hoffman is an industry leader in sales training and a leading consultant for industry executives. This unique selling proposition was used when talking to a Vice President on the first outreach call.
2. Ben & Jerry's: We make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way.
What's the unique selling proposition for this ice cream company? Ben & Jerry's stands out from the competition by providing, "the best possible ice cream in the best possible way."
The mission of the company is to create high-quality ice cream in a sustainable way and have a positive impact on its employees and surrounding communities. If you're a salesperson for Ben & Jerry's, these are the key differentiating factors that would help you create your USP.
"Our pieces aren’t "smart," they're thoughtful, with features that solve real travel problems and premium materials chosen to be resilient and beautiful."
Not only does Away offer high-quality luggage options at reasonable prices, but it also believes that "to be a great business, you have to be a good one too." And the company strives to have a positive impact on its customers and their communities. This sets them apart from other high-end, luggage companies.
4. Death Wish Coffee Co.: The world's strongest coffee.
Death Wish Coffee Co. uses hyperbole to make a point about its product. It's the world's strongest coffee.
This shoe company does things differently from its competitors. When you purchase a pair of shoes from TOMS, you can pick an issue area that you'd like to stand for.
The mission of the company is to change lives for the better. And since 2006, TOMS has given shoes, safe water, and vision to more than 94 million people. It's a business that's creating change for a better tomorrow -- for its customers and the people they're helping.
With a carefully crafted, unique selling proposition you have a greater chance of moving forward with the prospect.