Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) (elevator pitch)

Elevator Pitch

Your unique selling proposition, (USP) is the bedrock of how you present your personal brand, your organization and your solutions. Your USP should also be condensed into an abridged version of what you do, how you do it, why it’s unique and how it benefits people.

We also use the slang terminology, “elevator pitch” to describe this shortened version. The term comes from the thought that a well crafted—but abbreviated—USP can be delivered to a person you meet on an elevator between the 8th floor and the lobby. It’s a very handy skill and should be one of the first things you script for yourself and commit to personalization. It will be used whenever you have an opportunity to network, create a direct or indirect lead or anytime you are put on the spot and asked to describe what you do.

USPs aren’t new. They’ve been used in successful advertising campaigns since the early 1940s. As you are probably aware, advertisers create unique propositions that convince customers to switch brands. These advertisers create a differentiation between themselves and their competition. Theodore Levitt, a professor at Harvard Business School, stated that:

Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.
Levitt’s statement is important because you want to be remembered in a jam-packed marketplace, it helps if you or your brand has a trait that is worth remembering. While great products are vital in growing your sales, there’s still an opportunity to use differentiation as a competitive advantage so that you can “stand out like a sore thumb.”

So, bottom line on this, you need to strive to position yourself, your band and products, in a prospect’s mind in a way that sets you apart from others. You want to occupy a piece of mindshare with your contact or prospect, one that connects your brand’s trademark with a clear benefit claim. It’s also important to remember that consumers don’t want to buy products—they want to solve problems. Your USP or elevator pitch should make your business irresistible to your contacts.

The challenge I see with most people’s elevator pitch is that they’ll answer the question, “So, what do you do?” too literally. They will answer or introduce what they do in such a way that it doesn’t engage or provoke thought with the person they’re talking with. That dreary answer certainly doesn’t prolong the conversation productively.

Here’s a personal example…I’m an author and sales trainer and somebody asks me what I do. I could say:

“I write books on sales and also coach and train salespeople.”

This of course would be a truthful and forthright answer. It would also be a response that wouldn’t accomplish anything or further my objectives. The person on the other end is likely to answer, ‘Oh, that’s nice,” and then change the subject, fall asleep, or walk away.

Let’s change this up a little bit. Let’s take a few minutes and walk through the pieces of a well-crafted and abridged USP, your elevator pitch. I will use the business I’m in as an example. Please note that everything in parentheses can be altered to suit the particulars of your products or organization, and also note that this structure applies to B2B as well as individual product sales.

Our, (coaching and training programs) are…

FOR (professional salespeople and sales leaders)
WHO (have a burning desire to jump to the next level of income, but need solid guidance in order to get there)
(The CAP Equation©)
IS (a set of proven methods and resources)
THAT (produce SOLID results for sales professionals)
UNLIKE (other programs that may offer complex theories that haven’t been proven out in the real world)
WE ARE (one of the few focused sales and leadership training organizations led by a person with 35 years of hands-on field experience)
Do you see the difference? There is a clear benefit claim. I think you can see that it’s pretty easy to craft an elevator pitch once you use this type of foolproof template. This tool provides you with a way to articulate your offer in a concise way to your business contacts.

When you are face to face with a person that has a direct or indirect center of influence, one that can benefit you, you need to be ready…you need to know how to engage them, cause a differentiation in their mind between you and all others in your industry. These are golden opportunities that can propel your career forward. Work up your USP, your elevator pitch. Get good at it fast.

Give this a try…copy this template onto a blank sheet of paper and create your own USP:

Our programs are FOR: __________________________________________________________


WHO: ________________________________________________________________________


(Name of your organization) _______________________________________________________

IS: ___________________________________________________________________________

THAT: ________________________________________________________________________


UNLIKE: ______________________________________________________________________


WE ARE: _____________________________________________________________________


I hope this blog article was helpful. Do me a favor and let me know if it was…leave a COMMENT…tell me how you used this.

Also, remember to sign up on the CAP Equation site.

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4 comments on “Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) (elevator pitch)”

  1. Anna


    This is a great formula to help someone deliver their value proposition. The only thing I would add to it is the put “why” at the beginning of it. Love the article! Keep it coming!


      Anna…thanks so much for shouting out…great thought. Ya know…It seems you can flip flop this and it’s effective either way. The big thing is to get a new salesperson to Script – Memorize – Internalize and Personalize their rap as quickly as possible. (Regardless of its format) There are so many informal selling and networking opportunities that are lost because the new person doesn’t know what to say or how to respond to, “So what do you do?”

      Great feedback…you rock!

  2. Short Selling Your Home

    Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments.

    But so what, it was still worth it!


      Burt, You are very welcome and thanks so much for leaving a comment. It’s not a waste of time for two reasons; #1 I read them and learn from them. #2 The simple act of writing some thoughts down creates positive energy for us and reinforces good ideas and practices. Have a great week!

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