the transparency sale

The Transparency Sale

The Transparency Sale

When most salespeople think about the concept the transparency sale, I suppose Saint Augustine’s quote comes to mind, “Please God, make me good, but not just yet”. However, here’s the thing, been open and transparent in the sales process is a help, not a hindrance! We touched on the topic only recently

In the past I’ve drawn upon research from Harvard University about ‘integrity’ been the most important characteristic of a salesperson. However recently I came across work from Todd Caponi called The Transparency Sale where he exploits lessons from behavioural science and hard statistics.

Here’s two counterintuitive statistics:

The ideal average star rating for purchase probability is 4.2 to 4.5 – In other words products with an average 4.2 to 4.5 star rating sell better than products with a 5-star rating. And

82% of people go to negative reviews first

(research from Northwestern University Northwestern University Research)


imperfect sells better than perfect






It turns out that ‘Imperfect Sells Better Than Perfect’!

Imperfect Sells Better Than Perfect

What’s the behavioural science behind this? It turns out that this is true not only in eCommerce but also in B2B Consultative Selling. Our brain is wired to know that perfection does not exist but as salespeople we are taught to hide what’s negative and sell only perfection. As buyers, we need a true picture of what to expect, so we seek out the negative; because if we don’t get a true picture we don’t buy!

To further expand upon this, as human beings the trigger for purchase is when we can accurately predict what our experience is going to be like.

Transparency sells better than perfection, so if we sell by including the risks and flaws in our presentation, several things happen:

  1. It builds the relationship on a foundation of trust
  2. The sales cycle will shorten
  3. We’ll qualify out of the sales we shouldn’t win
  4. You make it harder on the competition, who don’t employ this technique

the 3 counter intuitive powers of transparency







The 3 Counter Intuitive Powers of Transparency

1. Transparency Sells Better Than Perfection:

Ryan Air is one of the world’s most profitable airlines, yet many people complain about its customer service. However, it’s a business with a good understanding of what’s important to the customer. A reliable and cost-effective service has a much higher weighting than free newspapers. The reason that Ryanair continually ‘please’ their customers is it has low customer expectations. delivering on the promise of your brand; the lowest fares, biggest choice of destinations and services that run on time.

2. Transparency Keeps Better Than Perfection:

Customer staying, buying more and advocating on your behalf! Despite constant bad press Ryan Air give up on the ‘peripheral’ and concentrate on the core, delivering accurate expectations to their customers.

3. Transparency Offers a Sales Differentiator

As a salesperson we all understand the importance of a differentiator. Traditionally a ‘differentiator’ has 3 pillars

  1. Product Differentiation – What does our product offer that the others don’t
  2. Company Differentiator – Size / culture
  3. Value Differentiator – We get better results or offer better value for money
  4. Buyer Experience Differentiator – The Transparency Sale offers a 4th differentiator, the Buyer Experience Differentiator. The experience you take buyers through on their interaction with you. There’s an opportunity to differentiate on the way you sell. By been upfront about the down sides you can shortcut the buying decision because your buyer doesn’t need to go digging for problems, you’ve already told them what they are.

Imperfect Sells Better Than Perfect

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David Doyle

David has spent 30 years in sales successfully building business from zero to acquisition. Having studied Electronics and Computer Science at DIT and Enterprise Ireland's Export Sales Development Programme, he has spent most of his time in selling technology. He is founder and Managing Director of B2B Sell and leads a small team of experienced business and technology trained sales professionals.

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