Just about everyone you’re selling to is already doing their job without the services or products you’re selling. And, unfortunately, every one of your competitors is also saying the same thing you are; “we deliver unique value blah, blah, blah”. Even worse, it’s probably true. Unless you have invented something that is not available from anyone else, there is most likely no real difference behind the distinctions you’re claiming; except one – YOU!
YOU are your company’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP). When everything else is pretty much the same, the difference behind the distinction has to be you. There is nothing left. How do “you” become the difference between you and your competitor?
- Begin the relationship discussing your prospect’s business, not “asking” about their business.
- Learn their culture and display empathy rather than sympathy.
- Talk about the challenges you know they face instead of being lame and “asking” about the challenges they face.
- Talk in terms of profit, not revenue or expense.
- Ask the hard questions early. The truth will set you free.
- Become comfortable with winning 51-49 instead of 100-0!
Discuss your prospect’s business; don’t go in asking questions about it. Why should they waste their time educating you about their business so you can sell them a solution to a problem you’ve already demonstrated you know nothing about? Do your homework and begin your relationship with a relevant discussion about their business. Take the problems you know you can solve and ask them how they are dealing with those problems. Be careful though. Anyone can ask canned, yet insightful questions. Where you become the UVP is in knowing what to do with the answers and where next to direct the conversation. The more you “know” or. memorize, the more unique you’ll become in your prospect’s eyes.
Ask questions about what their daily life is like. Make sure the questions are level 2, not level 1. A level 1 question goes something like this; “have you been impacted by the current economic crisis”? That’s a dumb question. Of course, they have been impacted! The real question (level 2) is “how” has their life changed in the last 6 months”. Listen carefully, because the answer to this question will assuredly tell you if they know they have pain, where it is and its level of acuity.
When you ask a prospect to share their challenges, you are either wasting their time or playing games. Go into the conversation already knowing their business challenges and asking questions that will help you determine the degree to which those challenges are debilitating or just minor. Remember, right now, people are not spending the precious budget on minor pain.
When you understand your prospect’s business, you understand how they make a profit; not just generate revenue or incur the expense. Ultimately, it is your impact on their profit that will guide their decision. If the person you’re speaking with can’t talk profit (especially if any aspect of your solution professes intangible benefits), find someone who can or you won’t make the sale (and you’ll waste a ton of time). Profit dollars pay for your solution, not top-line revenue.
The world is not perfect and neither is your product or service. You know it and so does your prospect. So, if a benefit is irrelevant or a feature is missing, don’t try to sell it; agree with it! The reality is you don’t care about winning every comparison or on every point; just those that make a difference in the buying decision. In fact, most often if you ask if the issue is important, they will most likely answer “no, I was just curious”. Try to win on every point, however, and you may win the battle, but you’ll lose the war.
If you’re not ready to be the new UVP in your company, you should probably look for another career. More and more aspects of services and products are becoming commoditized. Business acumen and creative are the new killer apps in selling. Apply them well and your winning percentage will increase!