As a small business, selling to another small business is a fairly straightforward process. You approach the owner or designated person within the business, make your pitch, explain why they need your product or service and (hopefully) make a sale.

But selling to mid-sized businesses requires a completely different tactic. That’s because the employee who will use your product or service is not ultimately the person who makes the executive decisions. Both of these people need to be convinced to invest in your product or service but they are approaching the situation from different points of view.

One person needs to understand that your business’s product or service will solve a problem; the other person needs to understand that your business’s product or service will save them or make them money.

As such, your selling tactics need two different approaches.

Unique value proposition vs. unique selling proposition

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the clear statement that describes how you solve your customer’s need and what distinguishes your business from your competition. It tells your business’s story at the highest level and it’s most effective when selling to a CEO. That person needs to truly understand why they should choose to spend money on your business rather than on someone else’s.

But your UVP isn’t enough to get through to a mid-level manager. That person is less concerned with the dollars and cents and more concerned with how your business’s offering will make their job simpler or solve a particular problem. This is where your unique selling proposition (USP) comes in.

Unlike your UVP, your business’s USP differs depending on the problem you are trying to solve. Your USP outline the factors that differentiate your product or service from your competitors and showcases what you can do that they can’t. This is what a mid-level manager needs to truly understand because he or she is often the person who first hears the pitch; and if that person isn’t convinced of your product or service’s worth, you likely won’t get a chance to pitch your UVP to the CEO.

A final note

When selling to a business that requires multi-level business development tactics, be sure to start by pitching your USP to the mid-level manager. Most business owners think that in order to make a sale, they must go directly to the top because that’s where decisions are made. While this is true, it’s much easier to convince the decision-maker with an ally on your side.

Selling in reverse may still land you the deal, but you’re more likely to be on the receiving end of passive aggressive resistance from the mid-level manager who has not yet been convinced of how you’ll solve the problem but has been informed by the higher ups to work with you anyway.

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