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A-Z of Business: U – USP – Why You Need One

Unique Selling Point

Do you really need a Unique Selling Point?  What happens if you don’t have one?  Well, unless you are in an industry with no competitors then your USP is what will set you apart.  It will give your prospects a reason to go with you instead of someone else.

In a struggling economy, you need all the competitive advantage you can get.  And if you are looking for a job, you need that competitive edge too. 

So, why should someone buy your product?  It is no longer enough to say “we are the best”, you need to say how.  And it needs to be based on reality rather than an aspiration that you are working towards. 

There was a wonderful sign displayed which went like this:

“We offer three kinds of service – Good, Cheap or Fast.  You can pick any two.  Good and cheap won’t be fast.  Good and fast won’t be cheap.  Cheap and fast won’t be good.  ”

At the gym yesterday, my personal trainer said the best advice he was given is to always think of yourself as number two so that you would still strive to do better.  This reminded me of the Avis USP which is “We are number two – we try harder.”  What a great USP which succeeds in turning a negative into a massive positive.

Apple’s USP is to think differently – they are the company best known for their innovation, having broken many technological boundaries.  They can be relied upon to be innovative, fun and customer-focused.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your USP, go back to testimonials you have been given by your customers.  It is easy to forget these but hopefully you have kept a log of them.  Also, consider what your competitors are doing and what they are promising.  How are you different to them?  What are the problems you are solving for your customers?

Let’s take an example.  For an IT support company, their customers may suffer from not being terribly IT literate, having to wait a long time before an engineer can fix their problem, or their technology is stopping them from getting on with their work

Let’s look at the customers’problem, potential USPs and their corresponding straplines:

  1. Waiting a long time for an engineer
    • USP – getting their IT problems solved quickly
    • Strapline – Your IT Support within 24 hours or quicker
  2. Not very IT literate
    • USP – use jargon free communication so that the problem is easier to understand
    • Strapline – Taking the Jargon out of IT Support
  3. Technology stopping them from working
    • USP – getting you up and running quickly
    • Strapline –Helping you to work when your computer doesn’t
  4. Frustrated that every problem seems to mean a new computer
    • USP – providing the simplest, most cost effective solutions
    • Strapline – Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Whatever your USP, do make sure that you live and breathe it.  You don’t want your USP to be “tried and failed” – it should enhance your reputation, not undermine it. 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: S – Selling: Your 6 Steps to Success

Sales

Sales are the lifeblood of any business and the ability to sell is an art-form.  That’s why sales people get paid so well.

It’s also inextricably linked to reputation.  So, whatever commitments you make in the sales process, it’s important to be sure that you can meet them.  It can be tempting, especially if you are chasing targets, to make a sale at any cost.  Promising impossible delivery terms, or unworkable modifications, just to get them to sign the order, can be an expensive mistake.

Conversely, being honest with a prospect if you feel your product isn’t right for them, increases your credibility, your reputation and the potential for future sales and ongoing referrals.  Your prospect understands that you have their best interests at heart so they will trust you should their needs change in the future.

Selling requires a variety of skills, from the ability to build rapport, to excellent listening and communication skills.  The ability to handle objections is possibly the most difficult component and was the subject of a previous article (view).  It requires the ability to influence effectively (view) and to negotiate well (view).

Following is a simple sales process.  To illustrate it in action, let’s suppose you are selling a printer:

  1. Build rapport
  2. Background information
    • How long have you had your existing printer?  What features are you looking for?  What kind of volume do you need it to produce?
  3. What problem are you trying to solve?
    • “We’d like to save money on ink; We’d like to improve reliability and print quality and we’d like to increase the number of functions – ie print on A3, collate reports and staple”
  4. What effect is the problem having on you?  This helps the prospect to identify with the pain of the problem.
    • “The current printer is slow, unreliable and often breaks down – last time it meant that the reports weren’t ready for the board meeting.”
  5. Suggest a positive outcome to their problem.  This will move them from the pain of the problem to the pleasure of the solution, making them more open to saying “yes”.
    • “Our model XYZ123 will produce high quality print, 50% faster than your current printer at a 20% saving on your current cartridges.  Not only that, it will collate and staple your reports for you.”
  6. Ask for the sale – the most important part!
    • There are various closing techniques, the simplest of which are:
      • Direct – “This seems to address all your needs whilst making savings for you.  Would you like to buy this model?”
      • Assumptive – “When would you like it delivered?”

It is easy to blame the product or the price for lack of sales, but often the issue is more about not having aligned your solution to the client’s needs.  Remember that selling is an art-form.  Do read the objection-handling and negotiating articles mentioned above for more information.  Also, why not call for some 1:1 coaching so that you can have a personalised input on how to improve your sales success?  Call me on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: P – Product: Ten Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Products and Services

If you don’t have a product or service which delivers value to your customers and prospects, it makes building a profitable business almost impossible.  Having an inferior product isn’t something you want to risk your business or reputation.  In this day and age, competition is very tough, consumers are fickle and markets are constantly changing, so it’s important to make sure you are delivering what your customers want.

Having the best product or service isn’t enough in itself if you don’t have everything else right.  However, it is an essential component.  When looking at your products, consider what are you offering and how does it benefit your customers?  What need is it fulfilling?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of the product or service?  This is where you really need to listen to your customers.  It’s easy to acknowledge compliments – they make you feel good.  It takes a lot of strength to be open to negative feedback.  However unreasonable it may seem, there is always at least a grain of truth in in it.  Be gracious in receiving negative feedback because you can really turn around a negative situation and create a raving fan out of a disenchanted customer if you handle it right.

Customers can fulfil a need in a number of ways.  For example, if your business sells washing machine repairs, then your customer has the option of either repairing their washing machine, getting someone else to do their laundry, buying a new washing machine or resort to hand-washing.  So it’s important that you get your product right so that you become the obvious choice.

If you want your product to be a best-seller, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What need is your product (or service) designed to fulfil?
  2. What are the strengths of your product (or service)?
  3. What are the weaknesses?  If your customers were being really picky, what would they be saying?
  4. What are you doing to address those weaknesses?
  5. Who are your top 5 competitors?
  6. What do they offer that you don’t and how can you address this?
  7. What is another way your prospects might fulfil the need?
  8. How can you make your product a better option?
  9. What feedback about your product (or service) have you been ignoring and what are you going to do to address it?
  10. What processes do you have in place to make sure your product (or service) is the best?

Steve Jobs, one of the greatest innovators of our time, talked about surprising and delighting the customer by looking at how to excel, not just meet the competition.  He thought in terms of simplicity, elegance and sexiness (of the product, of course!).  By contrast, I know of a man whose business failed because he insisted on providing his service using old, outdated technology and old, outdated principles.  You have to constantly re-invent and improve if you want to thrive.

 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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