Do you make this common mistake in your sales presentations and business communications?

A very common mistake in sales presentations and business communications is to take the viewpoint of “I” or “we” (the company), instead of “you” (the customer.)

A very common mistake in sales presentations and business communications is to take the viewpoint of “I” or “we” (the company), instead of “you” (the customer.)

“We have been in business for 50 years!” (Why should I care? I need someone who can help me today! Why are you a better choice than another company?)

“We make the best pizzas in the county!” (Every other pizza parlor in the county says the same thing about themselves. Why should I believe you?)

“We offer the best engineered cars in the marketplace.” (What does that mean to me? I think your cars are ugly and I wouldn’t want to be seen driving one of them!)

Because we are in our line of business, we tend to think about the features and “quality” of our products and services. We tend to be self absorbed, including being obsessed with our “brand”. We can’t understand why our customers can’t see why our products or services are the logical choice to buy.

But our customers, clients and patients (for this discussion, “customers”) don’t think about our businesses, products and services like we do. Our businesses aren’t the center of their lives. They are concerned about their own lives — their problems, their desires, their loved ones, their pet interests/causes. This is a natural survival trait of all living things, including human beings.

This means that almost all business communications, especially sales and marketing communications, should be phrased from the concerns of the customer.

“If you have any questions or issues with the product or service, you can rely on our being here to serve you. We have a 50-year track record of excellent customer service. Here are some testimonials from several customers that had great experiences with us when they needed us.”

“Your family will love enjoying our delicious award-winning pizza. It’s made with loving care with the freshest cheese and toppings from the farmer’s market and hand-tossed crust made the traditional way. And it’s guaranteed to be hot when we deliver it to your door, or it’s FREE.”

“You can be confident that your family will enjoy comfortable, safe and reliable transportation in our fine automobiles that have been engineered with the latest technical innovations. You’ll love the way it handles turns on mountain roads when traveling on family vacations. Your children will love the surround-sound system and having wi-fi included so they can use their smart-phones and tablets when traveling. (And you can relax because you won’t have bored, whining children in the car when traveling.) You’ll also be proud to be seen driving an automobile designed with style that will impress your neighbors, while enjoying the economy of great gas mileage and durability for years of trouble-free service.”

In any sales presentation or business communication, count the number of times “I” or “we” is used and then count the number of times “you” is used. Then think about how to rephrase “I” or “we” sentences into “you” sentences.

Would you like our help putting “you” (the customer) into your businesses communications? Send an email to to schedule an initial consultation.

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These words will always get a reader’s attention

A reader’s name will always get their attention

A reader’s name will always get their attention, if only for a moment.

The reader thinks, “Is this message for me?” and looks or listens to find out if it is.

We are so attuned to our name, we can hear it whispered in a crowd.

One of the most valuable skills that a salesperson or business leader can have is to remember names, associate them with faces, and use them in conversations. Wouldn’t you rather hear your name from a salesperson than “Sir”, “Ma’am” or “Miss”? Are you offended when an acquaintance can’t remember your name? Aren’t you embarrassed when you can’t remember someone’s name when you meet them on another occasion?

One of the great things we can do with technology is to be able to pull a name from a database and insert it into a document or an email. This capability isn’t used as much as it should be.

If you receive two letters without other writing on the envelope, one addressed to “Occupant” or “Business Owner” and the other hand addressed with your name, what will you do with them? Wouldn’t the envelope without your name go in the trash, and won’t you probably open the one addressed with your name to see if there’s an important message inside?

According to copywriting guru John Carlton, who has created thousands of marketing messages, his clients have experienced a 30% increase in response in letters just by personalizing the salutation. Instead of reading “Dear Friend”, Jane Smith reads “Dear Jane Smith.”

I read a story about two advertising writers. Let’s call the younger writer John Smith and the older, more experienced writer Susan Smart.

John says to Susan, “Nobody reads long sales letters anymore. They are too impatient.”

Susan replies, “I can write a long letter that I can guarantee you will read from beginning to end.”

John says, “You’re on! I bet $100 you can’t!”

Susan says, “The headline for the letter is, ‘This letter is all about John Smith.'”

John, defeated, says, “You win!”

As you write or review a marketing communication to a prospective customer, ask the question, “How can I make what I am writing (or this message) all about the customer?”

The customer doesn’t care about your products, services or company, except how what you offer helps them solve their problems, achieve their desires, or improve the lives of themselves and their loved ones.

Would you like our help writing messages that get the attention of your customers or prospective customers? To arrange an initial consultation, write Michael Gray at

Bookmark this page and watch for more business-building ideas!

(c) 2019 by Michael Gray

Six ways to create a Unique Selling Proposition

A Unique Selling Proposition or can stop qualified customers in their tracks.

What will make qualified customers stop in their tracks to pay attention to what you are offering?

This is the purpose of a Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.

It’s intended to answer the question, “Why should I buy what you are offering from you instead of from your competitors or doing nothing?”

The first characteristic is “unique.”  What distinguishes your business or your offering from anything else in the marketplace?

The second characteristic is “selling.”  What about your business or your offering appeals to a desire of the customer?

The third characteristic is “proposition.”  This is a description of what you are offering that the customer must respond to.

An early example is a campaign created by advertising legend Claude Hopkins for Schlitz beer.  Hopkins visited the Schlitz factory and was fascinated by the process of how beer is made.  By sharing romanced parts of the story in advertisements, he persuaded the public that Schlitz beer was special.  For example, he talked about how the bottles were “cleaned with live steam” and the beer was made from pure water from artesian wells.  Every beer was made the same way, but Schlitz beer told the story first, and dominated its market for many years.

Another classic USP is Federal Express’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”  It communicates a clear benefit to the customer.  Customers were willing to pay a premium to assure their deliveries were made the next day.

Domino’s Pizza built its business on its USP, “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or it’s free.”  This promise initially appealed to college students who ordered pizza when they were studying late at night.  Notice there is no promise of delicious pizza made from an old family recipe!  (Domino’s had to discontinue the campaign because its drivers were having automobile accidents when rushing to deliver pizzas to customers.)

It’s nice to talk about these examples, but developing USP ideas isn’t easy.  Some products and services seem to be commodities – like everyone else’s.  How can you create a USP to distinguish a “commodity” product or service?

  1. Say the product or service is “for” a particular group.  For example, “Time management training especially for surgeons.”  Surgeons believe the time pressures of their profession are unique.  By slanting a time management system to them in their language and their job description, such a course should appeal to them, and demand a fee premium compared to generic time management systems.
  2. Create a unique offer that others in your industry don’t offer.  “Send no money now.  Only pay when you see the service works.”  “Just make a $100 deposit now and then additional deposits of $500 for three months.”  “No surprises!  Your fee is stated when you hire us.”
  3. State an extraordinary guarantee not commonly stated or offered.  “Your satisfaction is guaranteed.  Return within 90 days for a full refund.”  “Lifetime guarantee.  Even your grandchildren can return the product for a full refund with no questions asked.”  “If you aren’t delighted with the product, return it for a refund of double your money back with no questions asked.”  “Try our beauty cream.  If your friends don’t ask you if you’ve had cosmetic surgery, return the empty jar for a full refund.”
  4. Research for an interesting story.  How is the product made?  Where did the ingredients come from?  How was it developed/invented?  What is the history of the people involved?  Was the product or service created to solve the problem of an inventor, family member or friend?
  5. Find an interesting personality associated with the product.  Although Jared Fogle later got in trouble, his story of losing weight when eating Subway sandwiches had a great appeal and moved Subway into the weight loss market.  An owner or spokesperson can become a celebrity by authoring books and making public appearances.  Is there an interesting story in their background?  Were they an adventurer, mercenary or scientist?  Hiring a celebrity as a spokesperson can create an appeal for your product, just be sure it’s your product and not the celebrity spokesperson that customers are impressed with.
  6. Promote performance standards that address a key frustration.  “Your appliance will be delivered within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, or you will receive a $100 prepaid VISA card.”  “When we repair your bathroom sink, we will leave your bathroom as clean or cleaner as when we arrived, or we will waive the charges for the service call.”  “Unless there is an emergency, a doctor will see you within 15 minutes of your scheduled appointment, or you’ll receive a $100 gift certificate for Maxim’s restaurant.”

As you develop your USP, remember your customer, client or patient doesn’t care about you or your product or service.  They care about solving their problems and improving the lives of themselves and their loved ones.  A good question to ask about your USP is, “Who cares?”  If the only person who cares is you, it won’t sell.  Try another one.

A USP can also focus a company’s employees to deliver on their company’s promises.  Remember the Domino’s delivery persons rushing to meet the 30 minute delivery promise.  Don’t you think Federal Express employees moved just a little faster because customers were expecting their deliveries “absolutely, positively overnight?”

The USP also functions as a mission for the company – a statement of the company’s position in the marketplace, so it’s essential that the promises of the USP be delivered.  With social media these days, customers will find out almost instantly if they aren’t and it can be very expensive to repair the reputation of a company that has broken the public’s trust.

As you can see, this is serious business that requires serious thought.  How confident are you about what you sell?  Do you have an organization that can deliver outstanding customer service?  Do your employees have the resources, training and scripts that they need?  Are your promises impressive and realistic?

Would you like help developing a USP for your business?  Send an email to to schedule an initial consultation.

Bookmark this page and watch for more business-building ideas!

(c) 2019 by Michael Gray