I don’t like to pick on organizations that are no doubt providing valuable services. But I cringe when companies advertise that they provide a solution, which is one of the most overused words in selling and advertising. A solution is defined as the act of solving a problem.
Even Inc. Magazine got it wrong in an article entitled “How to Go From a Product Company to a Solution Company.”
“Solution” is Meaningless
Inc. cited IBM’s slogan from the 1990’s “Solutions for a Small Planet” as an outstanding example of a company that touts its prowess in providing solutions. But that slogan is meaningless. First of all, the company is not providing solutions for a planet but for individual companies.
When your client has a problem, he wants to know specifically how you are going to solve that problem. Most problems fall into these measures of performance:
- Quality: how the service is performed
- Quantity: how much is produced
- Time: how long it takes
- Price: what it costs
So you need to probe to determine where the problem is. Then you can provide a specific remedy, or solution, to that client’s particular problem.
Even McKinsey, the management consulting firm, has a separate unit called McKinsey Solutions (part of McKinsey & Company). Content on its website begins:
“Today’s winning organizations need a combination of strategic insight, domain expertise, data, and technology. That is why McKinsey complements its traditional consulting excellence with solutions: technologies and specialized teams that deliver McKinsey results.”
Why does McKinsey “complement” its traditional consultant services with solutions? Aren’t solutions intrinsic to the consulting services they provide to clients? Seems redundant to me.
Not to be outdone the ManpowerGroup claims to be “a world leader in innovative workforce solutions.” Then copy mentions that they place people in jobs. Why not come right out and say it?
I don’t mean to beat this issue into the ground, but words matter. You only have so much time on your website or in a personal meeting to make your case about why prospective clients should choose your company. My eyes roll when I hear someone say, “We can provide a solution to your problem.”
If I have a leaky faucet and call the plumber, he doesn’t say he has a solution. He tells me, “You need a new valve.”
I sure do understand what I get from these companies: CheapTickets for travel, Rock Bottom Golf for discounts on golf clothes and equipment, and Best Buy Liquors. I think I’ll give them a call when I need something that isn’t called a solution.