Crafting the Beacon in Sales: The Art of Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
The challenge in the modern B2B marketplace isn’t merely about getting noticed but about leaving an indelible mark. For businesses navigating this complex market, the guiding light—their Unique Selling Proposition (USP)—is the deciding factor. But why is a USP so quintessential, and how does one etch it masterfully?
Picture, if you will, an animated marketplace: myriad sellers, each echoing their offerings. Amidst this cacophony, it’s not the loudest but the most distinct voice that captures attention. Here lies the sublime difference between mere visibility and impactful distinction, a difference the USP embodies. Drawing from historical insights, companies that have adeptly sculpted a lucid USP not only differentiated themselves but also witnessed significant enhancement in sales. Consider a brand that doesn’t just sell a product but an ethos—for every purchase, there’s a contribution to a larger cause. Such compelling USPs have been demonstrated to escalate sales metrics impressively.
However, the journey of crafting a USP isn’t always smooth sailing. Companies often grapple with the challenge:
The Quest for Distinctiveness: Especially pertinent to sprawling enterprises, there exists an often-arduous search for that unique element. It’s like a ship amidst crosswinds, grappling for a definitive direction.
The Illusion of Resonance: A USP might be alluring, but if it fails to resonate with its core audience, it’s a misstep—a beacon that misguides rather than leads.
Navigating these challenges to etch a resonating USP is where the analytical marries the artistic. First, there’s the introspective dive—a company must be deeply attuned to its ethos, its foundational promises. Only when a company is profoundly aware of its essence can it then articulate that message to its prospects. Subsequent to this is the empirical phase, where understanding the audience becomes pivotal. What are their aspirations? Their values? Drawing upon robust market research facilitates the alignment of a USP with these consumer insights. The final stretch of this journey is iterative refinement. Much like an artist refining his masterpiece, a compelling USP emerges from continuous honing, molded by feedback and real-world resonances.
Yet, one must remember—a USP transcends being a mere slogan. In this information-rich epoch, consumers have a heightened sense of discernment. They can swiftly sieve out authentic commitments from hollow echoes. Thus, at the core of a compelling USP is the pulse of authenticity. It isn’t just what you profess; it’s what you consistently manifest.
The Unique Selling Proposition stands as a sentinel in the marketplace’s panorama. It’s not just a strategy or a tagline—it’s an assertion of identity, a clarion call proclaiming, “This is our essence. This is why we’re unparalleled.” For the architects of business strategy, CEOs, and sales visionaries, this isn’t just a task—it’s a craft. A melding of introspection, market acumen, creativity, and authenticity. In the sales narrative’s vast tapestry, a well-woven USP isn’t just a strand—it’s the golden thread that binds the story together, making it both memorable and mesmerizing.
Bob Robinson, Jr., and his mechanical-engineer father, Bob Robinson, Sr., came up with the idea for a product the world truly needed 25 years ago: a “no-touch” restroom cleaning machine. Their company, Kaivac, is a Hamilton, OH-based manufacturer of cleaning machines. Hamilton is a suburb of Cincinnati, OH.
“We were on our hands and knees, crawling around the bathroom,” recalls Bob, Jr. “It was disgusting. We said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.'”
Through hard work and dedication, the Robinsons created the KaiVac to help solve that initial problem in public restrooms. Over the years, they grew the idea to create dedicated machines to clean kitchen floors, hallway floors, and grocery displays. Beyond its bathroom cleaning technology, it has expanded into floor cleaning and spill response machines and has 18 patents with 16 pending.
Along with growing their manufacturing capabilities, they also grew their sales capabilities. They adopted a hybrid strategy of selling through distribution and selling directly to key customers. Their direct team, under the leadership of Bob Robinson, Jr., who had taken on the role of VP of Sales, closed many enviable customers with massive deals, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target.
They realized that they needed to step up their sales professionalism after having a down year during COVID after having a record-breaking year the year before. They wanted to grow to $75 million in annual revenue within three years and a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of $1 billion in annual revenue within 20 years.
Bob Jr. says Kaivac is just getting started. “At 20 to 25 years in business, you’re at an inflection point where you’ve got resources, tenure, and history and have been through ‘adolescence,'” he says. “Now is the chance to build a professionalized organization.”
They contacted New Sales Expert LLC as the nation was coming out of the global pandemic, but before all the supply chain problems had paused. New Sales Expert LLC is a fractional vice president of sales consultancy. Sean O’Shaughnessey, the CEO of New Sales Expert, is aligned with SalesXceleration and has 38 years of experience in sales and sales management.
According to Sean, “Kaivac is a joy to work with. They are the shining star of Hamilton, OH, and Butler County. They had so much raw potential when I walked in the door; all I had to do was to focus their energy and enthusiasm on working smarter and just a little harder.”
Building an organization with a heart
Kaivac had a great culture to build on to make a great sales culture. Before Sean showed up, the company leadership had already developed their One-Page Strategic Plan and their “Why?” statement that reflects the owners’ Christian faith: “To glorify God by using KAIVAC as an instrument for Good.”
In addition to the “Why?” statement, they had drafted an acronym called FIGS that conveys the “heart” of the company. FIGS—which appears on signs that hang on the factory floor and in break rooms—stands for
F: “First shall be last, last shall be first.”
I: Integrity—as in “The truth shall set you free.”
G: Golden Rule—meaning “treat others how you want to be treated.”
S: Servant’s Heart, as in “We are in a race to help people.”
The company uses the first three letters of its name–KAI–to inspire the team’s thinking and actions. These letters stand for inspiring phrases such as: “Keep At It,” “Keep Always Improving,” “Keep Attempting the Impossible,” and “(creates) Kick-Ass Inventions.”
Prioritizing net income and growth
Sean’s first change was to make a compensation plan that motivated the sales team to sell bigger deals and to sell them quickly. Kaivac implemented a 50/50 plan in concert with defined territories to keep the Key Account salespeople focused on the goal of more significant and profitable orders.
After the motivation component was in place, it was time to help the team learn how to sell big deals more repeatedly. The big deals of the past had been challenging to work on and, while very profitable, had been disruptive to close. Sean encouraged the company to read John McMahon’s book, “The Qualified Sales Leader,” and with that tome as inspiration, quickly deployed MEDDPICCC to help them qualify deals.
MEDDPICCC by itself is not enough. The company had already licensed Salesforce, one of the highest-rated CRMs on the market, but Sean put MEDDPICCC into the various stages of the sales process to ensure that the salespeople knew all the required information about a big deal. Sean also created dashboards within Salesforce to track deal progress at the management level. The company implemented Sales Plans for Key Accounts and the Power Matrix to document the most influential people in the customer’s decision-making process.
The very first big deals that the company found after Sean started to help them also benefited from the Decision Timeline. The Decision Timeline is a tool to allow the sales team to walk through the entire decision-making process of the customer to understand all of the steps required to make a significant investment decision. It allowed frank and honest conversations to take place with the prospect as the team worked to close the largest deal in the company’s history to date.
Time to run on their own
As with most of the assignments with New Sales Expert, LLC, the goal is to allow the company to run independently. Bob Robinson Jr. was the company’s VP of Sales. Still, he needed to shed those responsibilities to help run the entire company. To finish the transition, Bob and three of his leaders took SalesXceleration‘s Certified Sales Leadership course delivered by Sean O’Shaughnessey.
The Certified Sales Leader (CSL) designation is the country’s most comprehensive sales leadership certification program offered. CSL leadership training and certification will prepare you with the analytical, tactical, and strategic sales management skills needed to drive revenue growth now…and into the future. CSL training expands the skill set of a Sales Manager by providing coaching, techniques, and tools to lead a successful sales team.
All four Kaivac leaders passed the CSL test. One of them, Mike Perazzo, was tagged to take over as Executive Vice President of Sales. According to Mike, “Sean is a master coach for helping shape sales process and methodology. Following his methods will help grow sales faster, transactionally, and strategically. Often a couple of pieces of the puzzle are missing, and Sean helps quickly identify them.
You have everything to gain by having Sean look at your current approach. He is a change agent and disruptive to the status quo. Pushing the pace and flow of deals is his sweet spot. I am a better sales leader because of my time with him.”
Sean O’Shaughnessey of New Sales Expert, LLC states, “Kaivac is a wonderful company. They have created a line of machines that gives pride to the workers in one of the toughest jobs in America – keeping things clean. They are focused on the success of their customers and their employees. They had all of the raw skills within their sales team to be a great sales organization; they only needed me to focus them on activities and techniques that allowed them to close bigger deals faster and at a higher profit level.”
“If anyone works in a clean building with clean restrooms and hard surface floors, they are either cleaning it with Kaivac technology or paying too much for that cleanliness,” Sean explains.
Revenue and profitability have grown since Sean helped Kaivac develop a higher level of sales professionalism. Recent results have shown a dramatic increase in revenue and profitability. The sales and revenue growth have allowed the entire family of Kaivac to prosper. The Robinsons have always considered their employees an extension of their family. The company’s prosperity is passed along to team members through a bonus structure for the whole company. It all fits into the spirit of Kaivac. Bob Jr. says, “Our organization was built to have heart.”
In this episode of Two Tall Guys Talking Sales, hosts Sean O’Shaughnessey and Kevin Lawson delve into the crucial difference between a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). They explain how the two require different types of messaging and engagement and highlight the importance of refining the process of transitioning leads from one category to another.
Key Topics Discussed
Differences between MQLs and SQLs: Kevin begins the episode by comparing the difference in approach between MQLs and SQLs to the difference in speaking to a large group vs. one-on-one conversations. The messaging and engagement are distinct, and as an MQL transitions into an SQL, the engagement becomes more personalized and directed.
Avoiding Pipeline Clutter: Sean reflects on instances when leads aren’t adequately transitioned from marketing to sales, causing clutter and inefficiency in the sales pipeline. He emphasizes the importance of discerning when a prospect needs more time to be ready to progress in the sales process and re-engaging them through marketing efforts.
Sales-Marketing Synergy: Kevin stresses the need for sales and marketing teams to collaborate efficiently. Sales leaders should be grateful for the groundwork done by marketing teams as they set the stage for more specific conversations with leads.
Understanding Lead Progression: Kevin and Sean recommend salespeople understand a lead’s journey from an MQL to an SQL. Knowing how a lead has interacted with the brand helps salespeople improve lead quality and engagement.
The Importance of Problem Identification: Sean insists on the importance of early identification of the problem you’re solving for the lead. If the salesperson is convinced they can solve a specific issue, the lead becomes an SQL, and the task shifts to convincing the customer of the solution.
Sean: “Sales brings in revenue. Customers get a product in return, and that keeps everybody employed and going forward.”
Kevin: “Marketing and sales all have the same goal, sell more. It’s how we stay employed.”
‘The Sales Acceleration Formula’ by Mark Roberge, mentioned by Kevin as a recommended read.
This episode is a must-listen for those looking to understand the crucial transition from MQLs to SQLs, how to avoid pipeline clutter, and the importance of a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing. Whether you’re in B2B sales, a startup, or an established company, you’ll find invaluable insights to apply to your sales processes.
We are almost done tabulating the results for the grading of small businesses. Every year, Sales Xceleration asks the CEOs and owners of small businesses to grade themselves on how well their company is running its sales operations.
Like last year, 95% of all companies couldn’t get to the “average” level of execution.
But 2022 was worse than last year since more companies graded themselves as “Poor” rather than just “Below Average.”
It is okay that small business owners or executives at small businesses do not know how to create a great sales organization, however …
… it is not okay for them not to fix it.
The reality is that most small business owners excel at many things. That is why they started their business. Perhaps, they are experts at:
Or any of the hundreds of essential skills required to create a great company. But even though the small business owner is best-in-class in one or many of these disciplines, they still need to be better-in-class in producing or managing a sales organization.
It may be okay that the small business leader cannot create an excellent revenue generation machine. Still, it is not okay that they don’t address the problem. The company and all of the people working for the company (along with their families) depend on that company. The owner needs to fix this problem.
But it is very hard for the small business owner to fix this problem.
They may not be able to find or afford an executive to at least get the “Excellent” rating. Let’s face it, that type of executive is in very high demand by companies that are much larger than small businesses.
The solution, of course, is to look for a Fractional Sales Vice President to help them. I am here to help. I help company owners realize the maximum value of their company by improving their revenue generation capability. To accomplish this, I help owners enhance their sales management, methodologies, processes, teams, and messaging.
You can learn more about how small businesses are doing in generating revenue for their companies at two upcoming events.
The company owner may be unable to make a best-in-class revenue generation engine within the company personally, but that doesn’t mean the owner shouldn’t create one. Fractional executives are available to fill in the gaps in the expertise that exists within the company.