Value (noun): Estimated or assigned worth; valuation
Proposition (noun): a thing, matter, or person considered as something to be dealt with or encountered
I am frequently the gate keeper between my employer and outside sales people. As such, I hear many sales pitches about how fantastic this widget is versus another widget. One term that drives me nuts and is part of the vocabulary of newly minted B-school graduates and sales trainees is, “value proposition.”
Why does it drive me nuts? It doesn’t mean anything and it’s rude.
But, Jen! I really do have a value proposition! Yes, I’m sure you think you do. You think that whatever you’re selling is better than something else. You don’t need to tell me you have a value proposition, you need to tell me what you’re selling – product, service, everything. Your “value proposition” doesn’t have value unless the recipient of the proposition deems it to have value. Therefore, you have a proposition to which I get to assign value. Not all value is good.
On to it just being rude… Like the phrase, “word-smithing,” “value proposition” is glossy wrapping paper on the mundane. People use it to sound smart and dumbfound their audience.
“Mr. Jones, I have a value proposition for you.”
“Gee! It must have value to me because you said it did!”
It assumes that the recipient of this great value is an idiot and can’t see through the gloss. To those who have never heard “word-smithing,” consider yourself lucky – it just means editing.
What’s wrong with being genuine in your goals and laying out the widget and demonstrating what it can and cannot do? If it’s really that great, the recipient will give it positive value. If you feel you need to use “value proposition,” the widget obviously needs glossy wrapping paper, and that, no one needs.
Guest Blogger – Jennifer Nicoles Porter
Jennifer Nicoles Porter is an Account Manager for an insurance company in Seattle. She’s also my sister, so you might note some similarities in voice, rant style, or belief systems.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Jennifer is an “SPHR and benefits professional with proven history of group benefits expertise including experience analysis, plan management, and communication to integrate benefit design and cost into overall corporate goals.” This means nothing to her younger sister. She specializes in big picture thinking, benefits consulting, benefits experience analysis, HR/benefits communications, and presentations. She is also an excellent sister and friend. Although I’m not sure I agree with her definition of “word-smithing.”