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My Most Important Sales Point

By Chuck Delaney

September 12, 2019

width=475In spite of the two complaints that I hear about salespeople (see July/August BoxScore, “Lessons From Software and Fast-Food Giants”), rarely are salespeople the core problem. Their performance is an outgrowth of how you have positioned your company in the market. Their performance is a result of how you craft and tell your story to your customers. You could wipe out your entire sales force and replace them with a whole new crew. If you don’t change the story you tell, if you don’t change what makes you different in the market, you’ll be right back in the same position with the same complaints in a very, very short time. (Please call or email me if you would like to discuss this point.)

In spite of what you might think, your most important job is not motivating your sales team. Your most important job is figuring out what problems you can most effectively solve for your customers and then working to get them (your customers and your sales team) to understand that you can solve them better than anybody else. Just as Microsoft and McDonald’s did—and continue to do!

But first, and most importantly, you need to decide what specific problems you are going to solve. (Hint: It’s not putting ink on board. That is not their problem; that is your problem.) You have to be able to tell your customers and potential customers quickly and concisely exactly what makes you different from the other four, or eight, or 10, or 100 boxmaking or graphic packaging firms with which you compete on a daily basis.

The process of developing this idea and this mindset takes time and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it is well worth it in the long run. The downside is that you won’t be able to take the easy way out and blame your salespeople, your management team, your customers, or even your competitors anymore. You’ll be the one really managing your own future. (Don’t underestimate this downside, as it is very easy to blame others for your problems.)

What you come up with is called a variety of fancy names—unique selling proposition (USP), value proposition, creating a brand, go-to-market plan, what do you want to be when you grow up?, etc. But the important thing is that you can explain to a customer in just a few seconds what it is that sets you apart.

By the way, most corrugated companies can’t do this. Instead they say things like “We’re a graphic packaging provider,” “We have an EFI press,” “We are a one-stop shop box manufacturer,” or “We serve the greater Chicago area.”


Your statement needs to be much better than that and really needs to set you apart. Otherwise you will be playing the me-too game, and that leads to meager profits and no fun.

Unfortunately, I can’t just “give” you a USP, nor can you just read a book or an article that will magically provide it for you. You need to work through it for yourself.

Everybody is the hero of their own story. Make an impact on your customers’ lives by looking at things from their perspective. Your customers will better understand your business and be more likely to give you theirs.

width=150Chuck Delaney is managing director of GROW Retail Technologies. He can be reached at 708-491-5090 or