If you take a good look at any business that has been successful in the last couple of years. There is a very strong possibility that you will see a clear Unique Selling Point or USP.
Your Unique Selling Point is essential to building your business and continuing growth. That’s why we’ve put together some ways you can work on your USP and help draw even more customers to your business.
So much more than just a way of selling your business, your USP needs to be part of your company’s culture, the foundation even.
What on earth is a USP?
It’s the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. It gives your business it’s edge in the mind of your clients and potential clients and makes you stand out.
If you break it down; unique means that no one else does it yet. Selling point means the reason your clients spend their money on you or your service. These aren’t just gimmicks, they’re the reason to buy from you.
If you’re a marketing automation company that offers a full brand review with every sign-up, that’s a USP.
What isn’t a USP is price. Don’t get sucked into the belief that being the cheapest is a USP, neither being the cheapest or the best is unique. Most businesses think they offer the best service for the most competitive price. Equally, for most of them, it isn’t true.
With a strong enough USP, your pricing will be worth it- no need to try and offer bargains if your service is worth so much more!
Developing a strong USP ensures your customers focus less on price.
If you can develop a strong and genuine USP, the prices you charge become secondary to the service you provide. Clients will pick your business because of the USP and will be willing to pay the extra for it. These are the types of clients you want to attract, those that choose you for price will always be looking for a cheaper deal elsewhere.
Many companies develop or build their company around a USP. If you’ve been trading for a while and still aren’t sure what yours is – speak to your clients, their reasons for using you may not be what you expect.
Reach out to your clients and ask them why they chose you and keep track of the answers. You’ll probably start to see a trend appear in their answers, that’s your USP.
It’s absolutely vital to identify your true USP, the one that exists in the minds of your clients. You may set out to have the best quality service within your industry, but if your clients actually choose you because you have friendly, knowledgeable staff then that’s your USP.
Helping focus your marketing efforts.
Knowing your USP and having it tried and tested with your clients suddenly makes marketing your business a lot easier. Sticking to your USP and avoiding anything that deviates from it builds consistency and integrity for your brand.
Take Krispy Kreme for example, their USP is that their donuts are baked fresh in store throughout the day, guaranteeing the best customer experience. They even went so far as integrating a unique sign that illuminated when the ovens were on, notifying customers that hot, fresh donuts were imminent.
When Krispy Kreme then started allowing cold, off-site baked donuts to be sold in supermarkets to gain an extra revenue stream, they damaged the brand integrity and lost touch with their client base which nearly cost them their business.
Keep it simple.
The best USPs are simple and easy to maintain. This also helps to keep your business easy to market, because the reason to work with you and your company message is clear.
Without a USP, you may find marketing your company and services a struggle. When such a simple concept can make it far easier to generate new business and boost your success, you’d be crazy not to!
Published: 1st February 2021
In general, 2020 is regarded as a year that no-one would want to revisit.
Sure, there have been worse years in history. But nearly all of us alive have seen nothing even remotely close to last year.
To give a little context:
- You would need to be over 100 years old to remember the devastation of World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic.
- You’d need to be about 90 to have a sense of the true deprivation caused by the Great Depression.
- Finally, you’d have to be in your 80s to have any memory of World War II and the horrors it brought with it.
The rest of us had no frame of reference and no training for what occurred. The natural disasters, the civil unrest and of course the virus that turned the whole world upside down and to date, has ended the lives of around 1.5 million people globally.
If 2020 were a dystopian movie, you’d probably turn it off.
It wasn’t the thrilling, action-packed apocalypse we were conditioned to expect. It was, despite being woven with immense pain, maddeningly mundane for most, the average every day turned against us all.
Businesses that could, worked out how to set up their operations remotely. Many didn’t have that privilege and were led to making redundancies or closing up completely. Meanwhile, we realised just how essential our NHS heroes, supermarket workers and logistics staff really are.
But we’re not talking about ‘history’ here, not how you’d normally think of it. This was last year; you don’t need reminding what happened, you were there.
No one knows for certain what the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be. And it will be quite some time before we do.
However, the history of previous calamities and disasters tells us two things; Firstly, even in severe economic crises, downturns, and recessions, some companies gain an advantage and are able to grow. Secondly, crises not only produce a multitude of short-term changes but also some lasting ones.
So, what’s already happened?
Businesses innovated to help the world cope with the pandemic.
As the pandemic worsened, it put global supply chains under an unprecedented amount of strain. Items needed most, medical equipment like masks and gloves, ironically, were often produced in locations such as Wuhan, China and these links were severed by the virus.
Companies of all sizes adjusted quickly and went into overdrive to help provide medical equipment and support.
Companies such as BrewDog utilised their distilleries to switch from producing alcohol to hand sanitiser. Ford collaborated with several other companies to build respirators and ventilators. Clothing companies switched to making medical gowns and masks. Tech giants IBM created the High-Performance Computing Consortium to offer high-class computing resources for the medical and science communities.
The business world said “Black Lives Matter”
The awareness of racial injustice took a huge leap forward in 2020. In some ways, CV-19 played a part in this as BAME communities were some of the worst hit by the virus and are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 in the UK. But the cold, undeniable video of American George Floyd’s murder was a tipping point.
Along with protests and marches across the globe, nearly every organisation felt a need to say or do their part in supporting Black Lives Matter, showing their commitment to justice.
Many companies did this by committing to raising the level of Black representation in management or buying from and supporting more Black-owned brands. There is a more comprehensive list of actions here.
Many symbolic statements were just as important. One that really stood out came from the most unexpected source of BabyNames.com. Usually a happy place for expecting parents to explore names for their newest family member, the site posted a black box with white lettering; listing dozens of names of black men and women who had been tragically killed by police or white supremacists. This was joined with a simple statement: “Each of these names was somebody’s baby.”
The definition of corporate responsibility has hugely expanded.
Companies are increasingly being held responsible for a much broader spectrum of their ‘impact’ on society outside of the usual physical aspects such as treatment of workers, land use or pollution.
This was made clear when Disney launched the live-action remake of Mulan last year. Part of the movie was filmed in areas of China that have detained at least 1 million Muslim Uighurs, one of the world’s biggest human rights disasters.
They received an enormous amount of criticism and push-back because of this decision and became a lesson in the new expectation of companies. How a company treats communities, social issues, and the natural world is increasingly under scrutiny and is now key to how the C-suite and business entity as a whole is judged.
Reassess your business growth.
Businesses now need to reassess their growth opportunities in the ‘new normal’ and adapt their business models to better understand and take advantage of new types of opportunities.
The pandemic has not only disrupted global business practice and consumption; it has forced and allowed people to unlearn old habits and adopt new ones.
Most studies show it takes between 21-66 days to fully form a habit, which means each lockdown has lasted long enough to significantly change habits that had previously been the foundation of your client relationships.
To emerge from the ongoing crisis in a stronger position, you must develop an understanding of the changing habits of your existing and prospective clients. For many, that will require new processes to detect and assess those changes before they happen.
Unless you sensitise yourself to these new habits and their ongoing effects on your client’s decision making, you’ll fail to identify upcoming problems and miss opportunities in new areas.
Take a new perspective.
By taking a new perspective outside of what you’re currently focusing on, you can identify potential blind-spots and further opportunities.
Who in your industry is doing well? What are they focusing on? What products are they pushing, or are they launching new ones?
The same goes for your clients too: Who has stayed loyal? Which are showing a change in behaviour or a withdrawal from your service? Are there any new needs emerging due to the crisis that you could provide support for?
Don’t forget your own teams: What workplace changes are being adopted by leading companies? What new challenges are your employees facing? What new methods are your employees responding well/badly to?
Once you’re armed with this new knowledge, you will know where your opportunities lie, and you can reshape your business to make the most of them.
Get comfortable with hybridisation.
Even pre-pandemic, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the traditional 9-5 office set up. When the age of COVID-19 dawned, the future of the office was thrown well and truly into limbo.
Remote working became the new normal instantly for most companies that could make the switch. Employees retreated to home offices, kitchen desk setups and other makeshift alternatives to complete their roles as best they could.
Many have thrived under these new circumstances. A recent study by Citrix found that 69% of employees working remotely reported to be more productive now than when they were working from the office. Others have found the switch incredibly difficult due to loneliness, poor conditions and declining mental health.
The only certainty through this pandemic is that things cannot stay the same as they were before.
We feel that the solution will lie in a middle-ground of flexible working. One that caters to each individual’s strengths and habits – the hybrid office.
In its most basic form, a hybrid office allows employees to work in the workplace and remotely. It is a versatile solution that can be adapted to suit the needs of almost all companies.
For some, it could mean a fixed office building with hot-desks available for ad hoc usage; for others, it could be more dynamic, allowing for alternating hours or a rota schedule.
Most importantly, it caters to flexibility, allowing employees to choose where and how they want to work.
When done right, this hybrid approach combines the use of a physical space and digital technology to create an innovative and agile workforce. Taking the best elements of the traditional setup and optimising them with remote working. Thus allowing the business to exist as successfully in the digital realm as it does in the physical.
Many larger companies have already adopted this approach. Implementing 2-3 remote days weekly with individuals working from the office the rest of the time. Although the hybrid solution does feel like the logical next step for most. It’s important to remember it isn’t a one-size-fits-all method and any decisions should be made with the input of all employees and with their best interest at its core.
What does this mean for sales?
With all of these changes coming and some that have already arrived, what’s next for sales? One thing we can be sure of is the gap between businesses and their clients has never been broader. Sales and business development must adapt to bridge that gap.
Technology is evolving, but research is still king.
Technology is always evolving; it has its place and it’s okay not to know the answer to all your client’s questions all the time. Learn to ask questions, actually listen and add value in your response – trust us, your prospects will thank you. To do this well, you have to do your research.
At Intelligent Talk, we’ve written numerous posts and shared templates on how important your research is and how to go about it. This hasn’t and won’t change – people buy from people they like; you get them to like you by getting to know them.
Efficiency will lead to a greater need for training.
To grow and be successful in a post-COVID landscape, salespeople will need to be efficient, technology-supported and effective. Those that aren’t will probably be replaced by technologies put in place by those that are.
This means there will be a much higher need for sales training. These will focus around navigating new and complex sales processes efficiently and around the ever-important conversational skills.
More sales = more specialised.
Sales will need to become more specialised in order to continue adding value to your clients. Expecting one person to specialise in research, prospecting, outreach, discovery, negotiation, closing and account management is simply unrealistic.
Now more than ever, it is important to have the right people doing the right jobs. Invest in your marketing efforts to generate leads and support your prospecting. Have project managers to research and conduct pre-sale activities. Develop your account executives, so they become fully comprehensive account managers, delivering the best service to each client.
Get more leverage by using technology.
Evolve your services to include data-driven automation. By accessing more data and expanding your sales stack, you facilitate your sales and business development reaching a higher level of success in spite of less-than-ideal circumstances.
Companies unafraid of expanding their use of technology will come head and shoulders above their competitors in the years to come.
In times of crises, it’s often the go-to to relapse back into old habits, to when things last felt secure.
But this is the time where new approaches are the most valuable and need to be embraced.
While preparing yourself or your company for the ‘new normal’ don’t allow yourself to be limited by traditional information or behaviour.
Challenge your own thought processes, revamp your business strategy and invest in the right areas to not only survive but thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Whatever the future of sales is, there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of it. It’s clear to see that the future still holds plenty of opportunities for those willing to innovate.
Published: 29th January 2021
A quick Google and you’ll find most Marketing degrees defined as a Bachelor of Arts (BA). Not a Bachelor of Science (BSc) as you would, say maths. However, I believe that Marketing IS a science and I’ll tell you why…
Far removed from any colouring-in department, I started my career in a sales department. As one of a team of two marketing assistants, who made up the finance sales and retention team’s whole marketing arm. I had a baptism of fire for 2 and a half years, learning the numbers behind the success. Our job was simple, get data that needed to be pulled out of the CRM and ensuring the targeting was correct and in line with the goal. Making sure that the team had enough people to call that meant they hit their sales figures.
In my first ever marketing role, 18 and straight out of school. I learned the fundamental rules of what a funnel could look like and how to work backwards to ensure success. I learned the importance of these figures and how they gave you a good starting point to ensure that you could change the broken and capitalise on the success.
For anyone that has met me since and thinks I’m obsessed with data, I’m sorry!
I continued on from that job with my marketing fire ignited. The curtain lifted on what business could be like and how pivotal a marketing function is to business success. Its ever-evolving purpose and ties to all sorts of other departments in the business.
I was hooked!
I went on to work for retail in print marketing, hospitality marketing in brand, business to business marketing. Then, I moved on to working in client engagement and finally a 360 back to working directly in sales. But, this time, sales are the product and not just the team.
A trend appeared through all these roles. No matter how clever the caption, pretty the picture or engaging the video the key to every piece of success was tracing, testing, changing and learning. You needed big picture thinking, logic and process. You needed to understand what you were being told. How this aligned with success or failure – It started to remind me of science experiments at school.
Science is a subject I took all the way to A-level and loved, art I dropped in Year 9 due to misunderstandings with the teacher, although I am sure this doesn’t affect my summation of the two here! Science was always something that made sense; it had structure, could be broken down into sections and had no definitive outcome apart from the one you could prove via test and learn.
It was simple, change one thing and see what happens.
Always the same starting point, what is your aim, what are your variables, and which are you changing for testing. Look at many marketing briefs today and there is a very similar structure in place.
I have worked with some brilliant designers who are artists in their work, copywriters who could be acclaimed authors and production teams who are incredible at what they do, and we would not have marketing success without them! But, if you don’t know what you want, how it’s going or what you need to change to make it better you could have the greatest picture in the world, it makes no difference.
Creative, sound and visual media are often what we become in awe of when we see it as consumers. The clever Netflix campaigns on billboards or client engagement pieces by Spotify. Still, the unglamorous numbers drive marketing. That’s why I think marketing is arguably a science and should be looked at as one.
We are not the colouring-in department, but some of us can draw VERY pretty pictures!
Monet McGee – Head of Marketing & Operations at Intelligent Talk
If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy another of our recent pieces on aligning Sales & Marketing.
Published: 18th January 2021
When people think of New Year’s resolutions, productivity at work is usually pretty high up on the list. Alongside cutting out junk food, quitting certain vices and learning a new skill.
At Intelligent Talk, we like to think that any day is a good day to make positive changes and we don’t need a New Year to make it happen!
We understand the appeal, especially after the year we’ve all had (Even TIME magazine declared 2020 the “worst year ever”). We’re all looking to the new year as a way to make a positive change in our lives.
However, with 80% of resolutions being broken by February it seems like we could all use a helping hand to make meaningful change that last the year and beyond.
Although we may still be facing COVID-19, lockdowns and a lot of economic uncertainty, it’s still possible to create positive change.
So, if you’re looking to boost your productivity, here are our favourite ways to go about it.
1. Remove the need to be motivated in order to be productive.
Usually, when considering productivity, the first thing that comes to mind is motivation. We all tend to think that productivity needs to start with a rush of inspiration and energy in order to do things.
This isn’t necessarily the case. All productivity actually requires, is action.
Waiting to be motivated can cause a lot of frustration and friction as we wait for the ‘perfect’ time to work on something, we end up giving way to procrastination and guilt.
If instead you tell yourself, this will only take a few minutes, once you sit down and start the rest will flow easier.
2. Newton’s First Law of Motion.
It is more difficult to start than it is to continue. If you’ve ever started going to the gym, you’ll know how true this is. Once you have incorporated your new habits into your routine, you become more productive and they are much easier to maintain.
3. Incentivise completing your to-do lists.
Human beings work with impulses. And much like Skinner’s rats, you can become more productive by adding more pleasure to the action you want to do, or painful consequences if you don’t do it. For example, you can listen to your favourite music whilst completing a task or reward yourself once certain objectives are complete.
This can also work on the flip side, set yourself forfeits like doing 10 push-ups if you don’t hit certain deadlines or targets you’ve set yourself.
4. Follow the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule essentially means that 20% of your actions produce 80% of your results.
For example, if you have 10 things to do, identify the 2 goals that will bring you closer to your overall goal and which can wait a little longer. It’s essentially prioritising in it’s most basic form.
5. Substitute old habits with new habits.
When dealing with habits it is much easier to substitute an old habit than to create a new one or break an old one completely. For instance, if you are trying to cut down on caffeine – instead of stopping from drinking coffee completely, replace each cup you would normally have with a cup of tea or water instead.
6. Use the Pomodoro technique.
This time management technique uses a timer to break up your work into intervals with a short break in between.
Traditionally using blocks of 25 minutes, this can be adapted to suit your needs with the idea being that you focus solely on one task during that block and nothing else, once the timer rings you take a short break to refresh yourself before starting another timer and block of activity. Once you have completed four blocks, you take a longer break. You can find more about this technique here.
7. The 2-minute rule.
If something takes less than two minutes, do it now. A simple, yet effective way to clear those smaller tasks that often get put to the side.
8. Stop multitasking.
As our lives continue to get busier and busier, most of us have looked for ways to get more done by multitasking.
Technology has made it easier than ever to multitask, but constantly multitasking can lead to a reduction in overall brainpower and memory problems.
9. Track your time online.
If you work online, or from home, it can be incredibly easy to get distracted and off-track.
Social media and other distractions are only a click away. Making it all too easy to check Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or other apps and websites that time can be wasted on for hours.
Apps such as Rescuetime can help you audit your day to tell you where you’re really spending your time.
It may feel like you’re putting in 8 hours of work but after a closer look, you may notice that’s not the case at all.
Keeping on top of your distractions can be a great way to ensure your time is spent more productively.
10. Procrastination happens – make the most of it.
Procrastination is natural, sometimes the harder we try to be productive, the harder it becomes.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is embrace it. Embracing it doesn’t necessarily mean giving in to it completely though. Instead of being sucked into a Netflix show, watch a TED Talk. Instead of reading inane Facebook updates for 20 minutes, read a blog post (we’ve got plenty here).
Being gentle with yourself reduces the pressure that can cause burnout and a decline in mental health. Allow yourself a few minutes of distraction then refocus and get back to the task at hand.
Applying even one of these tips will help you become more productive, save you time and allow you to focus on the things that really matter to you in 2021.
We’d love to hear if any of these tips help you, or if there are any you would add!
Published: 11th January 2021
The right book can change your perspective, boost your sales prowess and unlock more potential than you ever thought possible.
For many salespeople around the world right now, we’re starting the year as we ended it – working from home. It’s a lot more difficult to get motivated without the buzz of the office or sales meetings with your colleagues to get you going. So, whether its motivation, new techniques or inspiration you need – we’ve got you covered!
“Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Manifesto”
Author Jeffrey Gitomer reveals some of the most out-dated sales tactics, then shows you how to replace them with modern sales strategy. Helping every salesperson reach the top and stay there – this is a straightforward, no-nonsense masterclass in the art of selling.
“Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play”
Sales culture has long since moved past just getting new customers and demands a new kind of sales book. Co-authors Mahan Khalsa & Randy Illig show how focusing your efforts on helping your clients succeed is the key to closing deals and generating repeat business.
Although originally published in 2013, “Smart Calling” remains one of the highest-rated books on selling by phone. With all-new examples from the world of sales, the 2020 updated version brings with it even more advice for turning the act of cold calling into a lucrative sales tool.
“Eat Their Lunch”
If you want to solidify your company’s advantage against its competitors, Anthony Iannarino’s “Eat Their Lunch” is the book for you. A step-by-step playbook that explains enabling growth and increasing your company’s market share by winning over your competitors’ clients.
“Go for No!”
Learning how to use failure to find success is key to keeping motivated in sales. Unlike most sales books, this book features a fictional character who jumps ahead 10 years to meet a more successful version of himself. The trick is that his “future self” will only come about if he overcomes his self-limiting belief system and fear or failure. A truly intriguing read, you can find out more by watching this video.
“The Most Important Question”
This book is perfect if you have trouble defining your goals. With so many possibilities and others’ expectations, it can be difficult to get what you want and even harder to enjoy it. Peep Vain gives a simple, easy to follow method for maintaining balance so that more urgent demands don’t detract from your bigger goals.
Dr Carol Dweck has written more than just a sales book. “Mindset” explores a groundbreaking, yet simple concept: those who believe their abilities can grow are more likely to succeed than those who believe their abilities are limited.
“To Sell Is Human”
Daniel Pink shows you how serving customers first and selling to them second, is a natural extension of our ability to move the people we care about to do the things we want. This is a must-read if you’re looking for a more organic approach to selling.
“Sell It Like Serhant”
For those of you new to selling, Ryan Serhant’s guide is one of the best books to start with. It talks you through negotiating tips, finding your USP and guides you through managing and closing multiple deals.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of sales, then look no further than co-authors Bob Burg & John David Mann. This book contains valuable sales and life lessons through the tale of a go-getting executive who meets a legendary sales consultant and goes on to learn the secrets of success.
There are many more books out there teeming with knowledge; these are just a few of our favourites. What would you recommend?
If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not check out our others here.
And remember, if you are tempted to purchase any of these books, there are plenty of independent booksellers who would really appreciate your custom in these trying times.
Published: 4th January 2021
For those of you that have been in sales a long time, it can be an uncomfortable thought that you need to change your approach.
These sales statistics reflect the cold hard truth of what you’re coming across every day but may not have noticed.
These statistics we’ve put together will help you get on track to boost your sales in 2021.
- Nearly all customer interactions happen over the phone. Email is a wonderful and powerful tool, but nothing compares to the real-life human connection.
- 15% of a salespersons time at work is spent leaving voicemails. Sometimes leaving a voicemail is necessary. But 15% of your total time at work is a big chunk of time that could be better spent elsewhere. So, if you must do it, make sure it’s getting results.
- Around 40% of salespeople don’t feel prepared for their calls. Having enough information in front of you before a call is essential. It builds confidence and makes for much more successful calls to both new and existing clients.
- 92% of salespeople give up after being told ‘no’ four times; however, 80% of prospects say ‘no’ four times before saying ‘yes’. It would be best if you got comfortable with the feeling of rejection. The more times you hear ‘no’, the closer you are to a ‘yes’ – persistence is key.
- Almost 50% of prospects contacted by email will mark it as spam. You may be sending your emails from a legitimate source, but if you don’t do your research and catch their attention, chances are you’re going into the spam folder next time.
- 35% of prospects will access your emails on their phone. Keep your emails short and to the point and avoid including too many graphics.
- Increasing your client retention by 5% can improve your profits by as much as 95%. Focusing on constantly improving your service offering and continue building rapport with your regular clients can boost sales as much as new business.
- 80% of potential clients can be reached through social media. We live in the digital age, utilise it when trying to reach your prospects, and you will maximise your success.
- 85% of prospects are not satisfied with their experience from salespeople over the phone. Make sure your calls are productive and professional by being prepared for every possible outcome that may take place on the call. Researching your prospects not only helps build rapport but also trust and credibility.
- 3 out of 4 managers will take action from a cold call or email. When you give your prospects the information and successfully create a value proposition, they will want to follow up with the next stage of the process.
Data and information are only as good as the action you take as a result of it. These stats aren’t hard and fast rules for every situation, but if you allow them to help you think about solving problems in different and more creative ways, then they’ve done their job.
Another great way to ensure sales success is knowing your audience, if you’re not working from customer personas already – you should be!
Published: 28th December 2020