I spoke at a recent event in Toronto, and one of the audience members asked me the question, “What happens when everyone is selling transparently? How do we compete then?”
I believe buyers will be making much better decisions, seeing sellers as a huge asset versus a necessary evil. The belief that sales is going to be a dying profession because of AI will be laughed at.
I believe that the entire economy will be flourishing because those buyers won’t need to over-evaluate, saving time and getting to needle-moving results considerably faster.
But here's the bad news. As you might imagine, I’m highly attuned to transparency. As a result, I also don’t think that dude has to worry, regardless - we (sadly) have a long way to go before everyone gets there.
When you open your eyes to it, you will quickly realize we are surrounded by methods and sales outreach approaches specifically intended to trick potential customers into engagement. Built on a foundation of mistrust, relationships with customers will never be one of strength. Think about it - if you meet someone, and the first interaction is a lie, can you ever trust them?
Here are two examples that happened to me...TODAY. One from a company in the home equity business, and another from The Motley Fool, and investment website.
I just received this letter in the mail this morning.
To start, keep in mind that with every touch you have with a potential buyer, you are either building trust or eroding trust. There is no in-between.
What do you see here? It looks like an official letter. No company name, but in bold capital letters you see "FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED" and "PROPERTY VALUE ASSESSMENT". Would you open it? I felt like I had to.
Upon looking inside, the feeling of being duped was immediate and noticable. This was clearly an attempt to sell me. I was tricked into opening the envelope. There is zero question that they have eroded trust immediately with me.
“Your home value may have increased”. Then, under the fold, it pretends to be customized...but the numbers are clearly incorrect, and in one case, wildly. The document is filled with lofty, too-good-to-be-true statements, coupled with 11 paragraphs on the back of fine print / disclaimers.
Then there's an insert...and my brain exploded.
As you know, we are subconsciously wired to resist influence. We are inherently wired to resist perfection, which is why 96% of us read reviews before making a purchase, but most importantly, 82% of specifically seek out the negative reviews first. Our brains read PAST the 5's, and go directly to the negative reviews first. 5's are simply another form of marketing to the buying brain. When there are no 5's, we do not trust it, and as a result, do homework on our own, which is what I did...of course :)
Now, they might be a great home equity loan provider. There are some glowing reviews that appear to be legit. However, their lack of transparency has eroded trust with me immediately.
And, this isn't an old-school company and leadership team. Go figure.
The Motley Fool
On my Facebook timeline, a Motley Fool post drew me in. It became instantly clear to me that they are using click-bait and trickery to draw in potential subscribers. Upon clicking on the ad claiming insight into a company that has all of the makings of the next Apple or Google, they have a landing page describing the metrics of the company - but not telling you who it is. Near the bottom, there's a sign up which says, "Simply enter your email address below for immediate access to our exclusive report today." Enter the email address, get the report. Got it.
However, in small print under the box it reads, "Report is only available to subscribers of Rule Breakers", which is a paid subscription. I put in my email address to see what happened...and it's so a page to subscribe.
It's clear to me that we have a long way to go to teach the world that transparency sells better than perfection. Too many reputable companies still use trickery and manipulation to engage you.
Common sense tells us that building a relationship foundation on trust wins. The brain science tells us that leading with transparency speeds decision cycles, increases win rates, focuses our time on opportunities with the highest odds of conversion, and makes it very hard for competitors to message against you. Until those core concepts are pervasively understood, we'll have to hope that the proliferation of reviews and feedback on everything we do, buy and experience will eventually make these practices obsolete.