What is wrong with a Unique Sales Proposition (USP)?

A sales manager I worked with used to say “If you are in a discussion in the company and realize you haven’t heard the word “customer” at all during the past ten minutes, stand up and yell “Stop!”, because the discussion is about the wrong thing.”

Taking that literally might get you a reputation as a troublemaker after a while, but if bringing customer perspectives into your organization is considered troublesome, that may be just what it needs!

Choosing the right perspective is important, and it is why I have a problem with the concept of a Unique Sales Proposition (USP). The idea of having a concise phrase about what sets your product apart from others is great, but in a B2B setting where clients own their buying journey, I feel it is better to shift the perspective and instead think of it as a UBR – Unique Buying Reason.

The point of this is to nudge your team from thinking “How will we sell our product?” to “Why will customers be happy for having bought our product?”. Get some more inspiration in this blog post about using Value Storytelling

Ideally, your UBR should be phrased as a customer would say it: with their language and tone of voice, and preferably in the first person. Imagine a customer of yours getting asked by a peer about why they like your product. Their response starts: “What I find is really great about it is …”

Complete that sentence, and you have a UBR!


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About Henrik Johnssson

As a Senior Catalyst, I help improving the efficiency of marketing and product management organizations through education programs, customer-focused processes and decision support tools, always with the customer in focus.

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