"Why should I buy from you?" is one of the most important, yet often unasked and unanswered questions the buyer has on her mind, and rightfully so. And with the inherent at-odds relationship between buyer and seller, this question can routinely be a deal determiner.
Accordingly, a salesperson must ensure that the prospect clearly understands the difference between similar offerings. In our training programs, salespeople regularly cite this question as one of their biggest hurdles.
We teach salespeople to resist their temptations to list the obvious (including price, quality, client list or company history) because they've become givens. If a salesperson's offering or company is short on any, getting sales will be a continuous struggle. We recommend that salespeople replace this temptation and answer with their own unique selling proposition. USPs differentiate a company in more breadth and depth than price, quality, etc., and are highly specific and unique making them powerful selling tools.
The following are a few of the most common USPs. I encourage you to consider developing those relevant to your company and offering, and then using them regularly.
- Knowing your customers' customers. The more vertical understanding you have of your client's business, the more you will sell. I recommend that you take a "big picture" approach to servicing your clients. Rather than narrowly focusing on only meeting your clients needs, broaden your outlook to include their business goals and objectives. If you can align your product or service with your clients overall business strategy, it will become more valuable and may differ greatly from solely a needs-focused recommendation.
- Prospect generation. By this I mean prospect/provider matchmaking. At every opportunity, move beyond only being a product or service provider by matching your client's needs with products and services offered by your other clients. If one of your clients is a specialized database software developer and another one of your clients has mentioned the problems she's having using her old, unstable database, why not introduce them? You'll be providing a valuable service to both and will gain more of their trust and confidence, further solidifying your position.
- Free training and support. A common complaint among many buyers is not understanding how to fully use a product or service they've purchased or inherited. Many salespeople fail to ask a client if she wants to be trained to use what she's purchased. This is perplexing and is not good business. Make it a practice to follow up with a client in person after she's received her order and run her through its use. Make it an informal, purely informational meeting and stay until she is completely comfortable using it. This will gain her respect and demonstrate that you're committed to meeting her needs, not just to earning a commission.
- ROI proof through case studies. ROI is the reason people buy and it must be proved. Third-party endorsements are a good way to prove ROI, with case studies being the most effective. Case studies outline a specific challenge one your client's was facing, shows how your product or service helped the client meet the challenge and quantifies the result (ROI). Their third-party status in combination with their real world application makes them a prized resource that should be used strategically, but liberally.
- Value adding through your personal knowledge, experience and expertise. This is the most important, unique and effective USP you have: you! The lines between price, quality and performance is becoming so blurred that your personal expertise must be used to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Position yourself as an expert, a consultant, a partner -- and you'll prove too valuable to lose.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.