As a sales person, 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.
With that in mind, how can you speak confidently about your company and product? A well-crafted and rehearsed unique selling proposition.
In this post, we’ll explain what a unique selling proposition is, how to write one (with data and expert advice), and examples from real businesses.
Table of Contents:
- What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
- How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition
- Examples of Unique Selling Propositions
What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
A unique selling proposition, or USP, is a tool salespeople use to communicate the key factors that separate your product from the competition and why you’re the best possible solution for your prospects based on their unique needs.
A unique selling proposition, or USP, is a tool used by salespeople to communicate the key factors that separate your product from the competition.
An effective USP communicates your brand’s values and differentiates what your company offers through what you stand for and how this benefits your customers. It’s used in the early stages of the sales process, and the guiding question for creating it is asking yourself, “What does my business offer that’s different from the competition?”
It’s best used as a verbal tool in conversation with a prospect, and it’s exclusive to the exact prospect you’re talking to and should be created with them in mind.
Below we'll go over how to write your company's USP. (Psst: This video can also teach you how to create a value proposition, which is helpful to keep in mind when thinking about your selling proposition.)
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 what you offer that’s most valuable to them. You’ll want to touch on the following elements:
- The products or services you offer your customers
- Your offerings benefit to customers that they can't get from the competition
- Who your target customer is
- The problem you're solving for customers
More than a quarter of salespeople who responded to our Sales Strategy & Trends survey reported that the change in sales between 2021 to 2022 is that personalization is more important than ever. So, you can create a general USP for your business that you customize to each prospect and what they’re looking for.
Here are a few other things to remember when creating a USP.
1. Make sure you’re targeting the right audience.
Writing a unique selling proposition first means focusing on the right audience because the truth is, you won’t appeal to everyone's needs. Make sure you have a robust buyer persona and focus on the markets more likely to benefit from your offer.
With this, you’ll have a unique selling proposition that will likely drive deals because it matches your ideal customer profile.
Trish Saemann, the founder of True North, told a colleague, "When you focus your energy on targeting a narrower audience, your message can be more customized. Customized messages are the ones that get the real engagement, and when that happens, there is a higher chance they will trust you to understand their needs. They will know you are a good fit for them."
2. Lead with your differentiating qualities.
If you create a unique selling proposition that a competitor could use for their product, it's time to return to the drawing board. Your unique selling proposition should be entirely unique to you, your company, and the product or service you're selling.
Your USP should include the strengths and benefits of your product that distinguish it from the competition.
For example, one of Hoffman's unique selling points is live practice plays. Salespeople learn how to engage with prospects, then test their skills by live cold-calling prospects and customers as an in-class exercise. It separates it from normal training programs and is the type of distinguishing factor to include in a unique selling proposition.
3. Present your talking points clearly and confidently.
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.
4. Include hyperbole.
Your unique selling proposition can be rich with hyperbole.
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.
You might hesitate to use hyperbole because you don’t want to seem too sales-y, but using it in your USP communicates the price you have in telling it. And it’s an appropriate communication device because you can back it up with your product.
5. Focus on the benefit to the customer and sell a solution.
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.
B2B salespeople responding to our survey also said that selling prospects on a solution is the most effective strategy for converting new customers. Dan Tyre, Inbound Fellow at HubSpot, supports this point and said, “Prospects are less interested in seeing ‘how it works’ and more interested in making sure you understand their needs, have a comprehensive idea of their requirements, and that the product will work.”
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 knows this and can help the customer see the benefits and values that come after the sale goes through.
You’ll know if your unique selling proposition works based on the prospect's reaction because they’ll engage with the USP, believe in what you’re selling, and be eager to learn more.
Let’s put this all together using HubSpot as an example.
6. Share your unique selling proposition verbally.
Remember: the unique selling proposition loses its punch if you communicate it via email. Deliver it over the phone or in-person, where they can hear the strength of your words, tone, and confidence of what you're saying.
Below we'll go over a few real-life unique selling propositions to inspire you.
Examples of Unique Selling Propositions
- 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.
- Yokel Local: It's impossible for one person to do it all.
- Page Eleven Paper Goods: This is not your ordinary datebook.
- Away: Built for modern travel.
- Death Wish Coffee Co.: We rebel against blah beans—and a boring, lackluster life.
- TOMS: Pick your style. Wear TOMS. WEAR GOOD.
- ClassPass: The world's best classes and experiences into one app.
- Thrive Market: Healthy groceries shouldn't break the bank.
- SheaMoisture: A better way to beautiful.
- Anchor: Powerful tools for beginners, pros, and everyone in between—all for free.
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.
I've created a quick recording of the USP so you can hear it from the perspective of a prospect.
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 sustainable, high-quality ice cream that has 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.
3. Yokel Local: We become the digital marketing extension of your team because it's impossible for one person to do it all.
Yokel Local intimately knows its buyer persona: marketing managers who are overwhelmed with everything that they have to learn, execute on, and manage. That's where the benefit of hiring an agency lies. Yokel Local is able to offer a team of experts in an array of disciplines to take that stress away. Their website goes on to say:
"We're a full service marketing agency that helps frustrated or stressed business owners and marketing experts with developing demand generation and growth strategies to increase conversions and get you the results you need."
- Yokel Local
4. Page Eleven Paper Goods: This is not your ordinary datebook.
When someone is buying a planner or datebook, they may be thinking about the size, layout, and price. However, Page Eleven stops website visitors in their tracks and reframes the buying process by asserting their product is more than that. It's designed to be a tool for setting and achieving goals. Here's what it has to say about its product:
"It is a reflection of where you have come, the direction you are thriving towards and the path where purpose meets intent."
- Page Eleven
5. Away: Built for modern travel.
Away provides its customers with premium luggage for the modern traveler. The company says:
"hat’s why our travel essentials are designed to last (and last) for every trip to come, so you can get out there and explore."
- Away Luggage
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.
6. Death Wish Coffee Co.: We live to rebel against blah beans—and a boring, lackluster life.
Death Wish Coffee Co.'s goal is to fuel customers with the best tasting, highest quality, and strongest coffee. The company even goes as far as to say,
"This seemingly standard flavor is here to flip you on your head with rich, deep notes of vanilla brewed into the boldest medium roast you know."
- Death Wish Coffee Co.
7. TOMS: Wear TOMS. WEAR GOOD.
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.
"We’re in business to improve lives."
8. ClassPass: Bringing together the world’s best classes and experiences into one app.
ClassPass makes group fitness accessible for its customer base through partnerships with fitness studios all over the U.S. and virtual class offerings.
It changed consumers participate in group fitness by working with small businesses and studios to introduce them to a new market of consumers who want to get active.
"We lead people to live inspired lives every day by introducing and seamlessly connecting them to soul-nurturing experiences."
9. Thrive Market: Healthy groceries shouldn't break the bank.
Online grocery retailer Thrive Market's membership-based business model aims to make healthy food and household products affordable and accessible.
They offer premium and organic products for wholesale prices and for every annual membership purchased, they donate a membership to someone in need.
"We’re on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone."
- Thrive Market
10. SheaMoisture: A better way to beautiful.
Beauty brand SheaMoisture provides hair and body care products formulated without harmful ingredients at an accessible price point.
SheaMoisture invests proceeds from every sale towards their community commerce fund that supports small minority business owners.
"At SheaMoisture we invest proceeds from every purchase into the community. When you purchase SheaMoisture, you are investing in women globally. Our educational and entrepreneurial programs are designed to create an inclusive and thriving society."
11. Anchor: Powerful tools for beginners, pros, and everyone in between — all for free.
Podcasting is a growing fast-growing medium. As of April 2023, Podcast Index reports that there were 116,895 shows published in the last three days, and 379,448 in the last 30.
Podcast hosting platform Anchor (now part of Spotify for Podcasters) is up for the challenge, providing easy-to-use hosting and publishing software that makes launching a podcast easy, and cost-effective. Through its platform, users are able to create, distribute, and monetize their podcasts for free — a unique differentiator from other podcast hosting companies in the market.
"Our mission is to democratize audio. We believe everyone should be able to have their voice heard, regardless of background or experience level. Our goal is to make podcasting easy and fun, without sacrificing the quality every podcaster deserves."
With a carefully crafted, unique selling proposition, you have a greater chance of moving forward with the prospect.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.