The Long Forgotten Unique Selling Proposition

I have made a most interesting discovery. Most salespeople don’t really know what a unique selling proposition is. In fact, most companies don’t seem to know. This sounds incredible but it appears to be true.

Since the unique selling proposition is a critical aspect of selling not to mention selling on the phone, I though I would share some information on unique selling propositions that will help you sell more.

Before I begin let me recommend a book that I recommend all the time and in my book lists to salespeople. (See the recommended reading section of my free sales resources page.). The book is called “Monopolize Your Marketplace” by Richard Harshaw. In this book, as well as Jay Abraham’s “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got,” you can learn all about unique selling propositions and how to tell a powerful story that will hook prospects.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition?

Before I reveal the secrets of the unique selling proposition let me ask you to write yours down on a piece of paper. Then you can go through the exercise with me as I lay this out.

A unique selling proposition according to Hershaw should make the prospect feel, and I quote from page 21 of his book:

“I would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you – regardless of price.”

As you can see a good unique selling proposition has to be pretty darn powerful. Most of the propositions you hear aren’t propositions at all but platitudes.

What’s a platitude? A platitude is something that is stated as if it were important or unique when in fact it is not. Here are some examples.

“We fix your car right the first time.”

Why is this a platitude? Because anyone getting their car fixed would expect this to be the case. No one is going to the guy who says – “We fix it right the second time.” This is a “Well I would hope so” platitude.

And that is the first test of a good unique selling proposition – Would a normal person looking for your product or service simply expect as common what you claim.

Here’s another example of “I would hope so.”

“We give you a free consultation visit.”

This is a common benefit stated in ads for lawyers – but everyone does it so it is expected anyway. It’s a platitude.

Look at your selling proposition, is it a “Well I would hope so?”

The second platitude is “Who else can say that?” If someone else can say what you said, then it’s not and unique selling proposition as it’s not unique.

If you say “Were the best in town.” you very well might be, but any other company could simply make the same claim. If your competition can say with confidence based on their belief what you are saying, it’s not a unique selling proposition.

It’s not about who can do what you do, but about who can say what you say.

A great example of all of this is found by looking in the phone book at say lawyers. In most cases you could switch the names and phone numbers between the ads (as long as you kept with in the specialties) and the claims would be true or at least legitimate. There are very few unique selling propositions in the phone book, most of the ads contain platitudes instead.


Now that you have a better understanding of what a unique selling proposition really is you can see why having one will likely generate call backs to your messages in your cold calling efforts and get the attention of those you engage on the phone.

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