Sometimes I read a blog that I think must be re-posted in order for me to best articulate a topic I am passionate about. Such is the case with the topic of a unique value proposition (UVP). This recent blog from Sales Leader Todd Duncan hits the mark for a great message!
In a world full of commodity choices, sales professionals must work harder than ever to communicate their UVP. Read this blog and ask yourself: have I truly defined my UVP?
By Todd Duncan
Unique value propositions are market driven. You must constantly compare what most of your competition does and then resolve to develop unique solutions that make you different. Most importantly: You must have a strategy for implementing your solutions.
If your unique value proposition is good, it will be copied.
Demonstrate the delivery of your unique value proposition.
Execute your unique value proposition better than those who copy you.
You must always be willing to upgrade and ultimately change your unique value proposition so you remain unique.
Your market drives the creation of your unique value proposition. You must determine your prospects’ and clients’ greatest needs by asking them the right questions.
Once your UVP is in place remember that your unique value proposition gets your business going but the execution of your unique value proposition keeps your business flowing.
Remember: The time to develop a unique value proposition is NOT while you’re qualifying a client. Develop your unique value propositions ahead of time and create a one-page summary sheet or an explanatory power point presentation for each of your unique value propositions.
Remember: A unique value proposition is unique because not everyone uses it. Make sure you add your own stamp to your unique value proposition so it remains unique.
Ask your clients for their top five needs for which you could develop unique solutions.
All of us deal with problems at work – in fact, some of you feel like that’s all you ever do!
Whether you are a leader for a team within a business or a small business owner, here are the four most effective ways I have experienced to solve problems in the workplace.
1. Transparent Communication
If you can accomplish this, you are already further than you think. A problem properly defined is a problem half solved, and for most of us – the limiting factor is often transparent communication.
Is your environment a place where everyone’s concerns and points of view are freely expressed? If not, why is that? We’ve all seen how difficult it is to get to the root of the matter in a timely manner when people do not speak-up… make sure they are free to do so.
Effective communication towards problem solving happens because of a leader’s ability to facilitate an open dialogue between people who trust her intentions. If your people don’t feel that they are in a safe environment to share why they believe the problem happened they won’t feel free to be a part of the solution either.
We sometimes use the Six Thinking Hats to help us address a strategy to make sure all voices are heard and all points of view are accounted for. Once that happens, most leaders can easily map out a path toward a viable solution.
Don’t ever assume people are free to share what they really think… look for the evidence.
2. Break Down Silos
Transparent communication requires you to break down silos and enable a boundary-less organization whose culture is focused on the betterment of a healthier whole. Unnecessary silos invite hidden agendas rather than welcoming efficient collaboration and problem solving.
Organizational silos are often the root cause of workplace problems and are why many of them never get resolved. Your workplace must embrace an entrepreneurial spirit where employees can freely navigate and cross-collaborate to connect the problem solving dots; the alternative is similar to our Federal Government gridlock… a lot of finger-pointing.
If silos exist in your workplace, start by looking for self-promoters and/or self-protectors. They tend to be the root of many accidental silos that get built without anyone realizing it. Your best solution for this dilemma is to add team-centered players and remove self-centered performers. And don’t think there aren’t people in your organization wishing you would step in and correct this issue in your business – they feel trapped in these silos. Help them get out!
Don’t ever assume that everyone on your team is a team player… look for the evidence.
3. Open-minded People
Breaking down silos and communication barriers requires people to be open-minded. Is your team filled with open-minded people? I call them abundant thinkers. If you are not sure who they are, look for the opposite… scarcity thinkers.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for your people to express concerns – even fears. But close-minded people refuse to take action and do anything to address those concerns and fears. In the end, problem solving is about people working together to make the organization and the people it serves better. Therefore, if you are stuck working with people who are closed-minded, effective problem solving becomes a long and winding road of misery.
Don’t ever assume the actions of your team are open-minded… look for the evidence.
4. A Solid Foundational Strategy
Without strategy, change is merely substitution if not the lessor of two evils. No one will get excited about that. A solid strategy must be implemented in order to solve any problem. Many leaders attempt to dissect a problem rather than identify the strategy for change that lies within the problem itself.
Effective leaders that are comfortable with problem solving always know how to gather the right people, resources, budget and knowledge from past experiences. They inspire people to lift their game by making the problem solving process highly collaborative; for them, it’s an opportunity to bring people closer together. I’ve always believed that you don’t know the true potential and character of a leader until you see the way they solve problems.
And here is a final tip: Never shoot from the hip when problem solving. Avoid guessing. Take enough time to step back and assess the situation and the opportunities that each problem represents. You will make the problem solving process more efficient by recognizing that each problem has its own nuances that may require a distinct strategy towards a viable resolution.
I am a huge believer that failure is an important part of the process of success. Our ability to embrace problems with transparent communication, as we break down silos, with open-minded people, following a solid foundational strategy will certainly improve your results.
I love weeks like I just experienced at the 20th anniversary of Sales Mastery in Palm Springs, CA. First, I love being in an environment with 1,500 people who are there to get better at what they do professionally. I also love being there with my team from Building Champions talking about coaching with a small percentage of these elite performers.
But probably my favorite thing about the week is the opportunity to step away from my routine, reflect, connect, and plan for where my business is aimed. I love thinking about coaching for the next 20 years of my life and I also love thinking about 5 years from now when my girls will be out of high school and Max will be on his way. But my best vision casting works in 3 year windows and my best business planning is created every 90 days.
As I enter the process of drafting my first quarter 2014 planning, I thought I’d share a few questions I think about to get me thinking before I just dive into goals and tasks. I should tell you that some of these may seem soft to you… Even ambiguous. But if you can ask these of yourself, and truly think about the depth of the answers you give, you can get in a really clear space in which you then can dial in a killer 90 day simple business plan.
1. What kind of story are you writing, and who is reading it?
2. Who are you created to be?
3. What do you want most?
4. What do you love doing?
5. What are the clear steps you should be taking?
6. What right now is unacceptable to you?
7. Are you willing to break a bad habit?
8. Who is holding you accountable?
9. Am I being too careful?
There are many other questions I need to ask myself, but these are some very important ones. When I let myself get honest with the answers, guess what… I don’t start planning out things that don’t really matter. I keep my main ammunition for my primary targets. I don’t sweat the small stuff. And the less distracted I am in my daily & weekly routines.
I should mention… This strategy is rarely valuable to people who have everything together, don’t need help, and always do the right thing. I wish that we’re me, but I have to face my limitations.
Not convinced? Try it this fall and build your 90 day simple business plan for Q1. I’m happy to help you if you need it.
As I prepare this week to spend four days with many of my clients and former colleagues from the mortgage lending industry I find myself most interested in one question: How many lenders today are helping to aim their clients at a financial freedom point?
This is such an important topic. We have already entered another long, slow run of appreciation in real estate values and the cost of borrowing is as historically low as it has been since the 1950′s. Couple that with the short term memory loss that most Americans experience with our recent financial crisis that included record bankruptcies, foreclosures, and short sales.
Markets like we are now in tend to attract three kinds of greedy people – buyers, sellers, and those who get paid by the transactional activities. I say this knowing that there are still many people who learned great lessons and chose to live differently, but it is shocking to watch how quickly the general marketplace shifts back to the same short cuts that got many people in trouble less than five years ago!
My hope this week is to be refreshed by many professionals who subscribe to the Trusted Advisor perspective. I’m also looking forward to hearing from Rachel Cruze (the daughter of Dave Ramsey) who is my favorite young voice preaching “NOT so common sense.”
To set the table, let me ask four basic questions I hope to hear this week from lenders who are aiming clients at financial freedom:
1. Are you living on less than you make every month?
2. Are you giving & saving consistently before you pay your bills?
3. Are you using credit cards to support your lifestyle?
4. Are you using auto loans or leases to buy your cars?
I look forward to reporting back on what I find. I’d also love to hear from you – how do these questions land in your personal financial picture?
Wouldn’t it be great if success was something that you could achieve by simply learning to do things differently? What if I told you that while success is often defined by amazing achievement that success can also be recognized in being incredibly reliable and consistent.
Not sure about that? Let’s look more closely at a few habits I see from highly productive people every week who are often call successful by their clients, peers and the public.
Ready for the shocker of #1?
GET UP INSANELY EARLY
I’m sure that sounds too obvious, but consider what would happen if instead of watching Netflix on your iPad late at night, you went to bed at 10pm, allowing yourself to wake up by 5am and be SUPER productive?
Waking up early allows you read while your brain is fresh, iron out the logistics of the day, prioritize your time up front, and (most importantly) unplug for a few hours later in the day.
My friend and CEO of BillingTree, David Roberts gets up daily at 4am (yes, you heard that right) for maximum productivity. He uses this time to read, think, prepare and exercise before most of us have even opened our eye lids.
Try waking up early for two weeks before you dismiss this one – and come back here to post any efficiency you found from this simple adjustment to be more personally successful.
KEEP PROMISES, NO MATTER HOW SMALL
You must be thinking… really? This is what successful people do? Well, look at it this way – people who do what they say they will do earn confidence and trust, and over time, these are people who are given greater responsibilities. Talk is cheap and most people see right thru a talker who is not perceived as a doer.
Success is built on mutually trusting relationships with just about everybody. Do yourself a favor and accelerate your success – if you say you will do something, do it.
LEARN HOW TO TELL STORIES
As a coach, we often help people articulate a clear vision of their personal and professional futures. Equally as important is helping them track the details of their action plans so that later when they reflect they can start to see the story that is created in their daily lives.
“Big companies know storytelling is the secret weapon to ‘branding.’ Why? Because people don’t fall in love with data dumps and PowerPoint slides–they are moved by emotions.”
If you are aiming for leadership success, then get in tune quickly with your story-telling ability. As you get better at telling short, memorable stories you will want to use stories as illustrations to help other people see your vision and get on board with where you are going.
LEAD, DON’T DICTATE
I’ve posted this ideographic before, but it is important to remember is you want to be a successful leader: There’s a BIG difference between being a leader and being a boss.
DON’T BE EMBARRASSED OF YOUR FAILURES – EMBRACE THEM
We have all heard the story of Thomas Edison, but have you considered the story of Sir James Dyson, creator of the famous Dyson vacuum? Like Edison, he shows no fear in his failure. In fact, he embraces it:
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.
Dyson’s point: If you want to discover something new, you’re bound to fail a few times (or in his case, 5,126 times) – successful people fail all of the time because they are so committed to getting things done right. Dream big, work hard… and never give up!
ASK QUESTIONS, A LOT OF THEM
It turns out Albert Einstein would have made a great entrepreneur:
“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”
I like to think of it this way… Successful people seek to understand people before they spend time trying to make themselves understood. They also ask really great questions, most of which they probably came up with at 5am while you were still sleeping.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF… AND OTHERS
Think you are an honest person? Try being honest with your yourself answering this question:
Delusion is a double-edged sword and many people seeking success slip into it without meaning to or even realizing it. As coaches, we see leaders trip on this all the time.
If your career is hurting other (more important) aspects of your life it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities. This is a practice we take very seriously as coaches – we help identify the blind spots and bring them back to their passion and priorities.
You think I’m dealing with soft skills here, but its true – successful people take breaks. Here at Building Champions we devote an entire week to reflect, connect, and plan with our clients every year – we call if the Building Champions Experience.
But breaks aren’t just annual retreats or vacations… successful people unplug consistently and experience the benefits of removing themselves for a few days, hours, or even weeks.
My favorite example if this was Steve Jobs taking daily walks away from the Apple Headquarters. It did wonders for his sanity and enabled him to refocus aspirations or meet with someone in a setting that removed the distractions of the daily grind.
TAKE NOTES AND STAY ORGANIZED
Ready to the last one? Grab your keyboard and take note of this: If you’re trying to aim higher than surface level engagement, try taking notes.
It might sound obvious, but note-taking is an important key to keeping your mind organized, and understanding better what it is you’re after. It will also help you follow thru with doing what you said you would do (see above).
Successful people today are meeting with people and taking notes – don’t be left behind.
I recently joined Building Champions as an Executive Coach to answer my professional calling to help more influencers, leaders, and highly motivated sales professionals to aim higher and achieve more with less stress. I just wrapped up a week in Lake Tahoe with 200+ of these kind of people from my previous career as a Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist and once again… I am very excited to help more of my clients go from good to great!
Many associates and friends have asked me about my decision to coach professionally. Specifically they want to know, “what is coaching?” and “why do you do it?” I recently spent four days in Sunriver, Oregon with my team and a host of our top coaching clients where we answered both questions:
What is coaching? Coaching is often described as a teaching, training and development process via which an individual is supported while achieving a specific personal or professional result or goal. Building Champions has specific tracks designed for the unique needs of sales professionals, managers, executives and entrepreneurs. Our single purpose as coaches is to help these clients succeed… but we are set apart by why we do it.
Why do you do it? Coaching helps our clients achieve greater results at work while maintaining a balance with faith, family, finances, health, and relationships. Many have come to realize that while they have already experienced great success in business without a coach, that they can not sustain that success without balance and outside influence.
Our clients are held accountable to four key areas – these coaching tracks are:
Life Plan – this is the living document created to manage life’s most important accounts.
Business Vision – this is the detailed document of the true convictions and purpose behind why people belong to a business. It includes the future view of what a business will become and the compelling ambitions behind what a business will build with its clients and team.
Business Plan – this simple one-page document directs a vision into clear outcomes, executable disciplines, and projects needed to reach a company’s goals.
Priority Management Plan – this is the tool that helps clients manage responsibilities and schedule according to their clearly stated priorities.
These make up what we call the Core Four®. While every client experiences a customized coaching plan, they all start within the framework of the Core Four®.
I’ll spend some time breaking down each of these in future posts and I’ll explain in greater detail how I have applied each value to my life and business.
Does this help you answer the question: what is coaching?