Creating and communicating value –by Andy Brough
If you aim to survive In the modern world of business, determining competitive advantage is a non-negotiable. This week as I worked with two different sales teams to define their competitive advantage , I was struck by how quickly they responded to the question, “Why should I buy from you?” with a somewhat vanilla “because of my personal service.” Whilst service is to be commended, Dixon, Freeman, and Toman, (2010) observed that customers tend to punish bad service more readily than they reward delightful service. Delighting customers doesn’t build loyalty, rather reducing their effort –the work they must do to get their problem solved- does.
So this brings us the question of competitive advantage and the concept first developed by Bates Advertising group- the notion of the unique selling proposition (USP). If you can answer the “what’s in it for me?” question then you move your sales offering from features-based to benefits-based selling.
Product knowledge is crucial, but customer understanding and comprehensive needs analysis is even more so. Completing differentiating statements such as “many customers are particularly impressed with. . . “, “our difference lies in. . .” and “unlike others in the market we…” can go a long way to helping you clarify and crystallize not just how to communicate value, but also to create it.
Andy Brough is a Chartered Marketer and Sales and Negotiation skills trainer. He can be emailed on andyb[at]andrewbrough[dot]com
Reeves, R. (1961). Reality in Advertising, New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
Dixon, Mathew. Freeman, Karen and Toman, Nicholas, “STOP trying to delight your customers”, Harvard Business Review, July-August, 2010, p116