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Don't Fall Prey To "Terminal Uniqueness"

"Our market is different."

"Our customers only buy on price."

"Our geography is unlike any other."

These are the types of comments that leaders in any organization must be hyper focused on eradicating. They are statements that imply you/your situation is far different than the rest of the market. You are essentially saying that you are terminally unique. And for the record, we hear these types of comments from at least one person in any training engagement we take on.

So what exactly is “Terminal Uniqueness” and why is it so important that we eliminate it from our common company language?

Anyone who has been to a Butler Street training, or has been following our blog for any amount of time, knows about the Four Cornerstones of Success®. The second cornerstone, and possibly the hardest to master, is Personal Accountability. It states very simply:

“People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially acceptable excuses for failure.”

- Steven. W. Brown

Think about that for a minute…what does it really mean? In essence, what you are saying is “don’t judge me by the same criteria as you judge others, because if you do, then I am to blame”. However, if I can blame the market, the customer, the pricing, etc., then my hands are clean and those things are to blame. If that were the case, then no one would be having success in a particular industry or market, and the solution would no longer be viable.

Terminal uniqueness is when you define your situation as being unique to the market or the solutions it sells. This predisposes you to view the customer base as unique in some way, whether through its buying habits (price buyer), decision attributes (our customers only care about X or Y), or perhaps specific industry biases.

In essence, people like to view their business as more uniquely complex than other businesses, thus allowing the idea of socially acceptable excuses to be leveraged if performance targets go unmet. When these things become socially acceptable excuses, performance expectations are lowered. And then, so is performance.

Unique is something that can only be defined by the customer from their viewpoint, or operating reality (See related blog: Tired of Being in the Commodity Swap? ). Essentially, if you want the uniqueness that matters, be the company to uniquely solve your customers’ challenges, accelerate or maximize THEIR outcomes and position them with a competitive advantage in THEIR unique market.

This means helping customers think in new and different ways that would be unique to the market that serves them. Fundamentally, you must be communicating value in a way that captivates their attention, demonstrates differentiation in how our solution solves specific challenges in that industry and can be validated by success with very similar type customers, thus dispelling the entire “terminal uniqueness” argument.

Terminal uniqueness is a dangerous trap that must be avoided if we want cultures that are measured by performance outcomes, and where personal accountability is highly valued. If you or your organization would benefit from learning more about how Butler Street is helping its customers leverage skills that avoid these pitfalls and growing 4x market, contact us for more information and to set up a discussion.

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