How many times have you stood between two seemingly identical coffee shops, unsure of which you should go to for your morning fix? It’d be easier to decide if one had a distinctive edge. Your choice here will be based on that coffee shop’s "unique selling proposition", or USP. What is a USP? A USP is a statement of the central features that differentiate your product from homogenous competitors, and pulls clients in.
In saturated markets, prospects will likely have a hard time deciding between options. Your job is to assist them by having an obvious, distinct, and memorable USP. At its core, a USP should effectively answer a buyer’s most immediate question: “What makes you different from the rest?”
Think of each USP as a "pin" that your sales strategy can be anchored on. These can be developed around many aspects, some examples include:
Product options (size, color, add-ons, etc.)
Customer premium, or status
Why Are USPs Important?
Developing an USP is key to your selling strategy because during its creation process, you will ask and answer critical questions about your product and its marketplace. These insights will give you a better understanding of how to appeal to customers, and help pinpoint any unaddressed gaps in the market that your product can offer solutions to. When done right, a strong USP will increase sales, boost conversion rates, increase customer retention, and ultimately, keep you top of mind with your prospects.
How To Develop An USP?
To develop a compelling, effective USP, consider the following:
1) What do your consumers want?
The easiest way to figure this out is by studying what’s sold. Pull out your sales records and really examine what clients are buying, or trends that suggest what they would like to buy. Are there unfulfilled “gaps” that you can tap into?
This information will help you make sure your product caters to a demand, because if you’re not meeting your customers’ needs, a competitor will.
2) Why do consumers want it?
Understanding what motivates your customers’ purchasing decisions and behavior saves massive time and effort, because you can focus on delivering what really matters to them.
However, these factors can be surprising. Apart from price, consider attributes like reputation, product reliability, customer service, etc. that can be just as important. Try getting into your clients' headspace!
Remember, it’s always helpful to talk directly to customers and prospects for candid insight.
3) How do you rank amongst competitors?
Based on what you’ve brainstormed about your customers, how well do you meet their needs? What about your competitors? Analyze the different criteria buyers may use to decide which product to buy, and rank you and your competitors against it.
Not only will this give you a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses, but it’ll also highlight who your main competitors are, and why they get so many sales.
4) Define your USP
Here’s where all your research comes together. You’ve analyzed your market and understood your customers. Now, you need to find a way to offer a fresh stance that your competitors don’t have, with an added value your clients can’t find elsewhere. It's not about having a unique product, but making your product stand out in a market filled with the same thing.
For inspiration, FedEx isn’t the only shipping service, but it is the only one you think of “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
5) Make it clear, concise, and convincing
Condense your USP into one simple sentence. This is what buyers will remember your product for, so make it compelling! Be assertive and let them know exactly why you’re better than competitors, but be sure that you can deliver what you promise.
6) Integrate your USP into your pitches
Now that you’ve got your USP, let it be the soul of your pitches! Make it a part of everything, from elevator pitch to presentations and phone calls. If a prospect leaves retaining one thing, let it be your competitive edge.
Some examples of good product USPs for inspiration:
Avis’ “We’re only number two. We try harder.”
Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance.”
M&M's “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
How To Sell An USP?
Even a phenomenal USP won’t sell itself. Prospects may not immediately see, or be convinced of its value. So it's your job to break it down for them. Will your USP increase productivity? Improve workplace safety? Reduce costs? Whatever it is, make it obvious to your prospects what your USP can do for them, and how it’ll do it better than competitors.
Case studies are an extremely powerful and effective sales strategy. Buyers want to know that you can back up your USP, so give proof whenever possible. Convincing testimonials like how Anchor Packaging increased revenue by 900K with Badger Maps showcase why your customers are not only satisfied, but advocates.
Pair with scalable performance comparison data to frame your product as a long-term partner that prospects can grow with, and you’ll be turning potential clients into loyal customers in no time.
Believe in your USP
Before you sell a prospect on your business’ USP, sell it to yourself. Nothing is more difficult than trying to defend something you don’t have faith in.
Conversely, if you truly believe in the value your USP brings, your enthusiasm and conviction will be infectious.
Offer a post-sale vision
Great salespeople don’t just sell a product, they sell a vision. The negotiation process can be hard work for both parties, so speed it up by painting prospects a vision of all the saved time, energy, and costs your USP will bring.
There’s a sea of similar businesses out there, so cut down your consumers’ decision process by offering a clear, convincing statement of your product’s value to direct them to your business.
Developing a successful Unique Selling Proposition takes time, research and creativity, but the easiest way to get the ball rolling is to take action now! It’s never too early to highlight your distinctive edge.