To Sell More, Differentiate Your Claims

Everyone starts a sales pitch by stating they are different, but are you really?

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Everyone starts a sales pitch by stating they are different, but are you really?


To Sell More, Differentiate Your Claims

Everyone starts a sales pitch by stating they are different, but are you really?

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If you want your prospects to see the difference between your solution and your competitors’ solution, then you need to clearly differentiate by highlighting your claims. The primal brain of your audience seeks a variance in its environment as a prompt for action.

If you are not selling something unique, you are selling as much for your competitors as you are selling for yourself.

Most likely, you have many competitors who all offer products or services very similar to yours. Look at your home page; are you saying, “We are a leading provider of . . .”? Now look at your competitors’

homepages; are they using the same “we are the leading provider of . . .”? If so, how much contrast does this provide? How will that help the primal brain of your audience see, understand, and remember why they should choose your apple in a stack of identical apples unless of course you offer the biggest apple!

To differentiate your claims, you need to use the Von Restorff effect to your advantage. First discovered in 1933, and later confirmed by many researchers, this cognitive bias states that an item that sticks out is more likely to be remembered.

To make your solution stand out, you need to say: “We are the first/only/best provider of claim 1, claim 2, claim 3.” Researcher Erin MacDonald at Stanford wrote: “Generally, product differences prove to attract more attention than commonalities” [1].

Also note that most messages focus on what the vendor does rather than why the customers should buy. To stand out and construct a message that is friendly to the primal brain you need a clear set of claims, emphasizing why they should choose your product.

Simply imagine that you are writing a book entitled Why Buy from Us? We recommend that the book should have no more than three chapters.

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel, fashion designer.

Your claims are the titles of the three chapters in your book (three is the maximum). Researchers have found that working memory can only hold and manipulate between three and five items, hence our recommendation to select no more than three claims [2].

Later, we will also insist that you maximize both the understanding and the memorization of your message by repeating the claims consistently throughout your communication [3].

Claims represent a critical concept at the center of NeuroMap. When companies talk about who they are and what they do, it creates little or no interest because of the self-centered nature of the primal brain.

Therefore, you should translate the who you are and what you do into a clear, concise, and convincing story about why your prospects should choose you. The following are a few examples of well-known companies who have used a strong and consistent claim.

Well-known claims

Consider Volvo. Why would people want to buy a Volvo? Most people will say “safety” in just a few seconds. If we had to write a book titled “Why Buy a Volvo?” there would be only one chapter in that book – although we might then see three subchapters under the main chapter on safety.

Think now about Apple. The company started in April 1976, and they have historically used few claims. Why would people choose to buy a Macintosh in the 1980s and 1990s? Back then, you could either buy a PC, notorious for its complexity, or you could buy an Apple.

Apple’s claim for the first 30 years of its existence was “easy to use.” More recently, as Apple expanded into the cellular phone business and most computers and phones became easier to use, their main claim became: “cool to use.”

Apple is not sparing any efforts to make their phones aesthetically and technologically pleasing; from the rounded edges, the slimness of the body, to face detection features, and even the shipping boxes, everything is meant to communicate coolness.

That includes the price of the Apple X which broke the $1,000 threshold once believed to be the price beyond which a smartphone would never sell, . . . except to people who really want to be cool!

In the long list of possible smartphones to choose from, including Samsung, Microsoft, Acer, Alcatel, and many more, notice how Apple stands out as the coolest one to use!

More examples of known brands with strong claims include the following:

• We’re number 1 by Hertz car rental

Nobody else can be number 1, so indeed this is unique, and the suggested value is that since they rent the same cars at the same airport counters for the same price, you will most likely get a better service.

• We try harder by Avis car rental

That means they confess to being number 2 – which is unique – but which also implies that you will get better service, even better than if you were renting from the number 1 (Hertz) because, fueled by Avis’s ambition to become number one, they will try harder.

• You got 30 minutes? by Domino’s Pizza

In December 2007 Domino’s changed their claim from “30 minutes or less or it’s free” to “You got 30 minutes?” Note that the “or it’s free” offered a great proof, but Dominos dropped it to avoid the public perception of reckless driving.

• The ultimate driving machine by BMW.

How to select your claims

Defining your claims is a rather simple theoretical process, but it can be challenging. Here are three critical steps:

1. Make sure each claim is a TOP claim; TOP is an acronym for:

• Therapeutic: Your claims should provide a cure for a pain experienced by your prospects.

• Original: Your claims should provide enough differentiation between you and any of your competitors. To ensure your claims display enough contrast, you need to know intimately the reason your prospects would want to buy from your competitors.

• Provable: You need to support your claims with strong proofs.

2. You should wordsmith your claim(s), so they become mnemonic, that is, they become easily memorable; one of the six stimuli!

3. When they are put together in one sentence, your claims should support your mission statement: “We are the first/best/only company to offer claim 1, claim 2, and claim 3.” At SalesBrain, we coach many companies to make sure their mission statement includes their three claims and nothing else!

By using clear claims, you will eliminate the confusion your customers may experience when they need to decide if they should choose you!


1. Du, P. and MacDonald, E.F. (2015). Products’ shared visual features do not cancel in consumer decisions. Journal of Mechanical Design 137 (7): 071409-071409–411.

2. Cowan, N. (2010). The magical mystery four: How is working memory capacity limited, and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science 19 (1): 51–57.

3. Bromage, B.K. and Mayer, R. (1986). Quantitative and qualitative effects of repetition on learning from technical text. Journal of Educational Psychology 78 (4): 271–278.

This is an edited extract from The Persuasion Code: How Neuromarketing Can Help You Persuade Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime by Christophe Morin, Ph.D and Patrick Renvoise (Wiley, November 2018)

About the authors:

Christophe Morin, PH.D. is an expert on the effect of advertising on the brain. He is an adjunct faculty member of Fielding Graduate University, where he teaches courses in Media Neuroscience. He is the recipient of multiple speaking and research awards. He co-founded SalesBrain in 2002.

Patrick Renvoise, an expert in complex sales, teaches new messaging strategies based on brain science. By using the latest discoveries in cognitive biases, he has helped hundreds of companies and thousands of professionals close complex deals worth billions of dollars. Patrick co-founded SalesBrain and has received numerous marketing and speaking awards.

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To Sell More, Differentiate Your Claims

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