Updated March 29 at 6:25am

The most misused word in the world of sales?

The most misused word in sales will surprise you. It’s “value.”

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The most misused word in the world of sales?


The most misused word in sales will surprise you. It’s “value.”

Value is a misguided, misused, maligned word, whose meaning has gone fallow. It is used without meaning, understanding and implication. It’s bantered about in a way that customers (including yours) are becoming numb to anything related to the word.

Value has become an empty buzzword – it’s like the word paradigm, only dumber, because you can’t define value in terms of the customer if your life depended on it.

When you print or speak the word value, it’s usually from your perspective. Your self-defined value. The value you put on your product or service, your value statement, your value proposition, youradded-value, or worse (the slang that no one can define), your “value-add.”

Whether implied, given, added, printed, or spoken, the key word that makes “value” both misused and misunderstood is PERCEIVED. If the customer or prospect does not perceive value, no matter what you say, there is none. The customer’s perception of value is your reality and the customer’s perception is all that matters. Your sales hang in the balance.

When a salesperson says, “The value-add is: and whatever they say implies yougotta buy before you get any value” – not good. It sounds insincere, and is usually somewhere close to bogus. It’s not value – it’s JACK – and “jack,” in case you’re not from Philly, is half of a word.

Ask yourself these questions to discover if there’s any real value in your value offering:

• Do I have to buy something to get the value offered?

• Is there a pitch at the end of the free valuable information?

• Am I required to do something in exchange for the value?

• Am I stating value in terms of me, my company or my products?

If any of these questions are answered in the affirmative, then the value you’re offering is perceived as negative.

If you have a Value Proposition (most companies do), and you talk about it as your “value prop,” it’s probably self-serving. My advice is: get rid of it and create a new one. A value proposition is NOT about who you are, what you do, or what your benefits are – rather it’s how the customer wins. Value must be expressed in terms of them.

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