10 Dec The Next Person Who Says “Add Value”……
The next person who says “add value” or “value add”, whichever order, is at risk of me snapping. Consider this your warning.
At some point in history, the term was logical for legitimate purposes. For example, “if you spend $10,000 remodeling your kitchen, it will add $15,000 to the value of your house”. That usage of the phrase makes sense. It is even a part of the Institute of Internal Auditors official definition of internal auditing. But unfortunately when it becomes a buzzword that is overused by the general public, it loses meaning or gets used inappropriately. Then it will make your skin crawl every time you hear it. To throwback to the ’80s – “Like, oh my God. Gag me with a spoon. That sounds so cheesy. Like, I’m totally over it, for sure.” Sounds kinda ridiculous to hear someone talk like that now doesn’t it? “Add value” is just a modern version of colloquial expression and its overuse has become equally absurd.
Here’s the thing, marketers don’t seem to understand what it sounds like to the customer in a one on one conversation. Anytime a salesperson is making a presentation and they use this phrase, they have lost my trust. I check out of the conversation. It feels like another sleazy sales pitch and from that point forward, you sound like a Charlie Brown telephone conversation to me. Wah, wa, wah, wa, wah. Now I feel like you are no different from the guy who called yesterday to sell me the exact same thing using the exact same shtick. Don’t tell me your product or services are going to “add value”, that doesn’t have any substance. Tell me exactly how it’s going to help in language that normal people use. Break it down into simple terms and concepts I can relate to.
I am not impressed by the use of slick language. The people who make the greatest impact on me are the ones who speak honestly and are down to earth. I don’t know, I’m originally from the Midwest and maybe my Orville Redenbacher sensibility just can’t handle it. I like people who “keep it real”. As Einstein said “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. If you can’t give a straightforward explanation of the benefits of your offer, why the heck should your customer want to give you money for it? I’m not saying they won’t because there are plenty of questionable products that sell well, but there is a high incidence of buyer remorse.
Good products and services don’t need fluff to sell their merit. If you are dealing with a complex subject, then you need to find a way to make it easy for the customer to grasp. Paint a clear picture of how it can be used and what actual difference it can make for them. Honest people have nothing to hide. No smoke and mirrors or aggressive sales tactics are necessary if the customer can quickly see the advantages based on the fundamentals. The buying decision should feel natural and secure. Ever had a pushy salesperson talk you into buying something and then you find out after the purchase it really didn’t “add value”. They don’t care because you can’t hold them accountable for some abstract notion they sold you. If they made a concrete promise, they would have to back it up.
I think ultimately the disconnect is the consequence of how companies choose their sales force. They hire employees who they think will be high performers instead of training someone with knowledge of the product and the customer. The sales person’s background has nothing to do with the target industry. The result is high turnover and a highly scripted sales process that does not serve the customer well.
So, the next time someone says “add value” or “value add” to you, check your gut. Are they being upfront and honest, explaining it in unpretentious terms because it is important to them that you are comfortable with what you are getting yourself into? Or are they trying to distract you by acting cool and trendy when they really don’t care about what happens to you, the customer, after the sale?
Listen to your instinct because it’s normally right.