Overpromised and Underdelivered Exasperate Buyers

Elizabeth Holmes the new face of overpromised and underdelivered
Picture of Tony Zambito

Tony Zambito

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Buyers, consumers, audiences, investors, and voters have all faced, at one time or another, hyperbole.  Where something is hyped, and an overpromised outcome is touted.  That something, underdelivered, can be a product, service, performance, technology, or program.

The tolerance level for accepting underdelivered outcomes has been getting lower.  In buyer insights research interviews during the pandemic, I have seen this tolerance level become more stated. Often with exasperation and frustration.

The landmark case against Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, represents a significant shift.  A shift that echoes the sentiment against hyperbole, overpromising, and underdelivering.  Buyers and consumers collectively are saying enough is enough.  If we see right through it, we will call you out on it. Sadly, rightly or wrongly is some minds, Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos have become the face of hyperbole and overpromising.

The sales function of businesses has always been looked at with some degree of healthy skepticism regarding hyperbole.  Pushing against a line that can be crossed over into the land of overpromising.  Sales functions are no longer alone.  The rise of marketing in the past couple of decades shows this same tendency to hype and push against overpromising boundaries. 

Perhaps what the Theranos case signal is this – the society of buyers, consumers, investors, etc. is putting on notice those who subject us to overpromising and underdelivering.  Technology and information have produced greater transparency and the ability to see through hyperbole.

Marketing and sales will need to reduce the exclamation point.  All buyers, consumers, investors, audiences, etc. want is the truth…