Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 1, 2007

Personal Marketing is Dead: The Death of the Unique Selling Proposition (one of a series on personal marketing)

Filed under: prospecting,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 11:25 am

There was a time, not really that long ago, when salespeople tried to differentiate themselves through the way they introduced themselves to prospects.  Taken from Madison Avenue, the USP or Unique Selling Proposition was brought to sales as a way the individual salesperson could quickly and succinctly describe the benefits they brought to clients.  Rather than simply stating their title, they concentrated their introduction on what they actually did for a client.  This mini advertisement—sometimes called an elevator speech–found not only acceptance within the sales community, it worked to generate interest and set the salesperson apart from his or her competition. 

As time passed, more and more salespeople picked up on the concept and began creating their own USP.  The results were the same—they were unique in their approach and prospects remembered them.  More importantly, prospects invited the salesperson to describe more fully what is they did and how they accomplished the benefits they described.

And the USP passed into the marketing lexicon of most every serious salesperson.  Today, it’s hard to find an experienced salesperson that hasn’t developed their own USP.  In fact, it’s hard to find any salesperson, experienced or not, who doesn’t have some type of mini advertisement on the tip of their tongue.

Just how many ways can you say that you solve financial problems?  Or that you create wealth?  Or that you match transportation needs and dreams to automobiles?  Or that you reduce the expense of and improve office communication?  Or that you reduce corporate risk and exposure, saving your clients tens of thousands, possibly millions of dollars annually?  Or that you enhance corporate image and reach, increasing revenue through increased sales?

There are only so many ways any one profession can be described.  Now, there may be dozens of ways to do it—there may even be hundreds of ways, but, nevertheless, there is a finite number of descriptions, no matter how creative one is.  And, so comes the problem with the USP.  It is no longer unique.  It is no longer capable of setting apart one salesperson from the crowd.  What was once a useful and powerful tool has become just another trinket to jangle before a prospect.

Unfortunately, trinkets don’t impress prospects—especially when everyone else has one just like it.  Do you junk your USP then?  No.  Simply recognize it for what it is—a useful tidbit of information that has limited impact and no longer works to set you apart from your competition.

Understanding that traditional marketing is dead is the first step in understanding how to market in this new era of sales.  If you want to get to the top of your industry, you must entirely rethink what marketing is and how you do it.


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