Is The Transparency Sale a sales methodology?
“True salesmanship is the science of service. Grasp that thought firmly and never let go.”
- Arthur Sheldon, The Art of Selling, 1911
“If the truth won’t sell it, don’t sell it.”
- Arthur Dunn, 1919
The modern sales profession was developed back in the late 1800s. By “modern”, I’m referring to organizations hiring their own salespeople, versus the previous approach of hiring independent sellers (aka, “drummers” or “bagmen” to travel town-to-town, representing multiple manufacturers’ goods. Modern sales organizations trained their own sellers, paid them a salary with their commission, had sales meetings, contests, and all of the other elements we still see today.
The original design of sales? To be a service to customers. And as such, sales was a trusted, respected, and often admired profession. Between 1900-1920, the sales profession was taught in most colleges, and even some high schools. The demand was high, both as a profession, but as an aid to those making purchases.
Sales as a service profession…what does that mean?
“Buyers know more nowadays”
- Thomas Herbert Russell, Salesmanship, 1912
Even back in the early 1900s, the pervasiveness of information was perceived as a threat to the sales profession. Back then it was the rise of advertising, marketing and the ease at which catalog shopping was becoming. Fast forward to 2015, when Forrester declared that, by 2020, one million B2B sales jobs would disappear, and hundreds of thousands of college graduates wouldn’t enter the sales profession. Why? Because essentially “buyers know more nowadays” due to the rise of ecommerce.
In each case, the opposite happened. The profession flourished. Why?
Because more information availability and self-service have not made it easier for buyers, it’s made it harder.
The Transparency Sale‘s philosophy is based on the premise that transparency sells better than perfection. It’s a philosophy supported by specific actions that guide every step of the buyer’s journey – from top-of-funnel marketing, sales prospecting, messaging and positioning, formal messaging/the presentation choreography, negotiations, account management, and client success. The applications and structures don’t end there. The Transparent Sales Leader then provides a structure for revenue leadership, optimized by science, all on a bed of transparency.
Before we dig deeper, let’s explore whether The Transparency Sale is a sales methodology.
What is a sales methodology?
Definition #1: A sales methodology is a broader philosophy or set of practices that can inform how a sales process is built and conducted.¹ (Hubspot)
Definition #2: A sales methodology is a framework that outlines how your sellers approach each phase of the sales process. While a sales process maps out a sequence of stages required for success, a sales methodology introduces discipline through a system of principles and best practices that translate into seller actions.² (Korn Ferry)
In every definition, it starts with a philosophy. That philosophy informs the lens by which the customer-facing organization triggers actions.
Where must be careful when considering sales “methodology”?
1) The term “sales process”: If the sales process is viewed as an assembly line of seller actions, we need to bump up the lens by which we view sales by about forty years. It must be through the lens of the buying journey. Recognizing buyer behavior. Every endorphin rush of progress must be through that lens, with activities to support it.
2) Where sales methodology ends: Through my research and experience, the sales methodology and process can’t stop when it’s time to negotiate. Negotiation has traditionally required a different skillset – even a different personality. We built trust through to the point of decision, then we subconsciously change. Trust erodes – in our honesty, and the confidence in our pricing model. Methodology can’t stop there!
3) Where is the Sales Leadership methodology?: While leadership is traditionally enabled to support the methodology, is there a specific sales leadership methodology to couple with the sales methodology?
The Transparency Sale Sales Methodology
When a website is serving as a salesperson, say on an eCommerce site selling anything of substance, reviews matter. More importantly, negative reviews play a very important role. 85% of us skip the 5-star reviews and go right to the negatives. A product with nothing but perfect 5-star reviews doesn’t convert as well as a product with negative reviews right alongside it. As a matter of fact, purchase likelihood peaks when the average star rating of a product is between 4.2 and 4.5.
I couldn’t let this go. Why do negatives help products sell? Does the same concept apply to when a human being is acting as a salesperson, in a business-to-business environment?
The answer was emphatically YES!
Transparency sells better than perfection. We have been taught to sell perfection, but perfection does not sell. We, as human beings, don’t buy when we’re convinced to buy (or, if we are, we’re not happy about it soon after). We buy when we can predict. Leading with downsides, risks, something a competitor does better, or even a negative experience another client has potentially had sounds crazy, but it builts trust, disarms the buying brain’s resistance to influence, and speeds time to prediction.
And in the words of Arthur Dunn in 1919, “If the truth won’t sell it, don’t sell it!” It’s the foundation of what sales was designed to be – a service. And due to the proliferation of feedback, reviews and access to the truth today, we now have to do it anyway! It’s time to embrace transparency as a sales methodology – not just a company value.
When taking this concept to my company’s messaging and positioning, magic happened. Cycle lengths shortened. Win rates went up. We qualified out faster, recapturing our most valuable inventory of time. We made it hard for competitors to message against us. Trust was built – leading to customers who stayed, bought more, and advocated.
These concepts were applied to the entire cycle – from the first touch all the way to the way we negotiated.
I, like a lunatic, quit my job and wrote the book, The Transparency Sale, to help sellers embrace an understanding of how we, as human beings engage, prioritize, decide, and ultimately buy and apply it throughout their buyers’ journeys.
But what about the leaders? As sales professionals, we have methods, processes, and structures. Leadership hasn’t had a structure or process. So, I wrote The Transparent Sales Leader; the structure for sales leadership, optimized with the science of intrinsic inspiration, on a bed of transparency.
As I dug into other selling systems, I realized that the two together are a methodology.
“A broader philosophy or set of practices that can inform how a sales process is built and conducted”
It’s not that hard.
It doesn’t have to be.
And, I’m sure I’m doing myself a disservice for saying this, but it doesn’t have to cost that much, either.
If you believe that sales is the science of service, if transparency is a value you and your organization embrace, if you want to play the long game with your clients, differentiating in the way you sell, and you want to optimize for the way our brains engage, prioritize, decide, and ultimately buy, The Transparency Sale is a sales methodology.
“True salesmanship is the science of service. Grasp that thought firmly and never let go.” – The profession lost its grip. Reach out if you’d like to grasp this thought firmly and never let go.
Reach out if you want to discuss The Transparency Sale sales methodology, or really…anything else (sales kickoffs, workshops, keynotes, the economy, etc.)! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-999-0420. I’d love to help you figure things out! Not ready, but want to be informed of more of my nonsense, you can sign up for the newsletter at http://transparentnewsletter.com/.