At Technology Marketing Toolkit’s Rapid Implementation Workshop, we cover the USP, or unique selling proposition, in detail: what it is, what it is not, how to develop it, and how to use it in your sales and marketing to unseat incumbent providers, close more business, and fight price sensitivity.
More often than not, most IT services businesses do NOT have a USP and are largely a “me too” business that appears to be just like every other MSP they compete against. Because of this, they start from a weak position with no authority, which leads to difficulty in selling their services at prices even slightly higher than the competition’s. After all, if Joe’s Computer Shack appears to be delivering managed services for $20 a seat less than you, why SHOULD prospects pay you more? While I understand there IS a legitimate difference in service, quality of delivery, etc., your PROSPECT doesn’t know.
You can’t be half in
Not too surprisingly, “fast response” is very often brought up as one of the key differentiators many have over their competition, and it IS a good one. “Slow” to no response, dropped balls, and poor communication are all top reasons why businesses fire their IT company and look elsewhere. But if you’re going to claim THAT as all or part of your USP, you can’t be half in. Someone who is trained and managed needs to answer the phone LIVE, ideally 24/7, but definitely between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
“A #USP should be difficult to deliver. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and then it’s not a USP anymore.” @robinrobins @smartermsp
You cannot claim to be the “most responsive” or even “highly responsive” and have clients get voice mail or even be greeted by an auto attendant. It doesn’t work because it’s horribly incongruent. That would be like Walmart* using: “Sometimes lowest prices. It depends. But come on in, today might be your lucky day!”
Of course, when I say this, everyone starts negotiating. “Can I get an answering service to handle the calls? Can I force them to just submit tickets instead of calling? How about if I call them back within five to 10 minutes?” What that tells me is that YOU are not fully, 1,000-percent committed to developing that USP. If you were, there’d be no bargaining. You’d figure it out, then measure it, and manage it to ensure you NEVER skip a beat.
Difficult to deliver
Look, a USP should be difficult to deliver. If it were easy, everyone would do it, and then it’s not a USP anymore. It has to have real TEETH and be genuinely so far ahead of what everyone else does that it makes it impossible to compete. The easier it is for your competition to copy, the less powerful your USP is.
*In case you didn’t know, Walmart changed their slogan from “Always Low Prices” to “Save Money, Live Better” now that Amazon and Jet came to town, and they realized customers don’t ALWAYS buy on price alone, as evidenced by the number of consumers who shop at Target. “Lowest prices” IS a tough promise to uphold, and it attracts a very unsavory, disloyal group of clients. But being second-cheapest buys you no benefit. I urge you to be selective when choosing a market and to develop a USP where price becomes a NON-ISSUE.