Business consultants and sales trainers talk about ‘Unique Selling Propositions’.  But what is one of those really – and do your business, your services and your products all need to have one?

We all have competition – there are few truly unique businesses.  That means that ‘unique’ is a hard thing to define for most business owners.  As the business environment is more and more based on networking, referrals and connectors, that hard sell is less likely to be a big issue, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be clear about what you’re offering.

Know your audience

I bang on at length about ideal customers – if you’re trying to help everybody, you’ll find growing your business an uphill struggle.  The most important part of your business plan is to have one or more detailed client avatars.  This gives you focus and makes finding your potential clients in the places they gather and then giving them exactly what they really need.

Know their challenges

Go and sit in your ideal client’s seat.  What are they having to deal with?  What are the challenges they face? What keeps them awake at night?  When you’ve got a clear idea of the answers you’ve got the gold nuggets that will help you to craft the offers that will have them falling gratefully into your hands.

Understand how you can help them

Look at each of your services or products and test it against how it helps your potential clients with their issues and problems.  Not what it DOES, but what they GET from having it.  Known in the sales business as ‘benefits’, these are really solutions to their problems. 

When you’re generating benefits, remember the key phrase ‘So what?’  If what you’ve listed as a benefit can be challenged by ‘So what?’ you have not yet arrived at the benefit, you’re still talking about advantages – keep going!

This is the foundation for your promotion.  When you’re talking to ideal clients (or people who might refer you to an ideal client) you should be focused on their problems and outcomes, not what you do (HINT: they don’t care what you do!).


When you’ve got your benefits clear, it’s time to talk about them.  When you go to networking events or meet business connections and you’re asked ‘what do you do?’ use these benefits to educate people.  I find it works well to tell a story about a (fictitious) client who experienced a typical problem, then got the service or product you’re offering and got all these amazing outcomes (the benefits).

If your listener either has similar problems or knows someone who does, they’ll join up the dots really quickly!

So your USP isn’t really about what you’re offering – it’s what the recipient gets in the way of results.