October 21, 2017

Column from Florida Trend's Business Coach

Wow, How and Proof

Ron Stein | 2/13/2012

When a deal is lost, most people will look back at why it happened. All too often they come to the wrong conclusions. For instance, they’ll find out that the winning competitor had a lower price and believe that was why they lost the deal. Yet, more than likely, the real reason had little to do with who could do the job most cheaply.

Sure, the prospect may have told you that price was the deciding factor. Yet what they’re really saying is, “everyone who proposed a solution looked the same to us so we went with the least expensive offering.” Don’t let this happen to you!

In today’s world full of competitive noise, the inability to communicate value and differentiation will hinder sales more than any other factor. Set yourself and your company apart from everyone else with an approach that creates impact with wow, how, and proof.

» Start by focusing on where your product or service solves your prospect’s most important problems, but only in a way that is unique to you. The key here is to make sure that there is zero overlap between what you do and what your competitors do; otherwise you’ll be stuck in sameness limbo.

» Now you can create a message that will capture the attention your prospects. Your statement needs to include information that tells them what you do, how you uniquely solve their problems, and what it means to them.

Remember, it’s all based on what’s important to your prospects and what your competition cannot provide. Your messaging phrase will look something like this:

We are the only ____________ that solves ____________ uniquely by____________, helping our customers ____________.

Let’s break this down using a message framework, known as SUDS, to help you find your voice:

S - Segment: The market segment or category you have chosen to own, based on your perfect customer profile — because it’s all about them. It’s important to be crystal clear as to what sandbox you play in. This is a good time to share a key industry fact or ask a question that is important to an objective your prospects are trying to achieve. You’ll begin to wow them here.

U- Unmet Need: This is your target customer’s pain points. Just as importantly, it speaks to the challenges they have that you will uniquely help them with. If it’s important to your prospect, you’ll have their attention and demonstrate that have something of value. The wow builds.

D - Differentiated Outcome: Your advantage and the key distinction you have over your competition expressed as what prospects can expect. By now, your prospect is emotionally involved.

S - Story: The proof that demonstrates what your prospects can expect with a short story about the results one or more of your customer got by using your product or service. If you’re a startup with no success stories yet, statistics from a credible source can be very valuable, as long as they are about your company’s offering and the problems you solve.

The strength of your message will determine the number of sales you win. SUDS will help you nail your value message in a way that wows your audience.

Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing ( He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or

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