We all know that honesty in sales can go a long way. But what if we prefaced our pitch with what we do poorly?
How do you think prospects would respond to such radical transparency?
Todd shares his experiences with radical transparency in sales live from the B2BSMX stage.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Why transparency works in sales
- How to successfully present the entire picture to a B2B buyer
- How to embrace your flaws and look at your company from the perspective of the buyer
This post is based on a live session with Todd Caponi. You can hear the full session here and below.
Why transparency works in sales
An example of when transparency has worked in B2B sales:
Todd: This guy was New York in the best way possible meaning he said, “Let’s just get to it, Todd. We’re looking at your competitor and we’re looking at you. How are you better than them?”
So, I said, “Hey, before we dig into that, can I tell you what they’re better than us at first? Because if what they’re doing is more important to you and your evaluation, I want to get that out now and save everybody a ton of time.”
Our competitor was building an add-on that wasn’t ratings and reviews. It was an ad retargeting technology that plugged in. So, I explained it and actually tried to sell him on it.
Be honest about what you offer
I said, “Listen, it’s not on our roadmap and it’s not something we’ve contemplated. We want to be really good at our core, so if this is going to be super important, I’m going to save you 45 minutes and get out of your hair.”
The add-on was actually not very important to them. They hadn’t even contemplated it.
I told them for right now our focus is ratings and reviews.
This guy literally kicked the other seven people out of his office and did something I’ve never seen anybody do in the history of all my selling.
He pulled out a folder and opened it up to a sheet that said “e-commerce budget.” It had all the line items and how much money he was spending on each one. He asked if I could hit that number, pointing to the ratings and reviews.
Shorten up the sales cycle
Two weeks later, he called me and said, “A funny thing just happened. First of all, we’ve selected you. Second of all, I called your competitor to tell them we selected you and they went into a pitch on their ad retargeting technology.”
A sales cycle that should’ve been six months took six weeks. They made their decision in two and then we had four weeks of Ts and Cs.
Our sales cycle accelerated like crazy. Rapid win rates went up across the board. We qualified deals in faster that we should win. We qualified deals out faster that we’re going to lose.
Present the entire picture
That whole conversation he had with our competitor made it really hard for them to compete against us.
You need to present the whole picture — both what the competitor can do better than you and what you’re really focused on.
Why embracing your flaws works
Todd: I’m not telling you to go out into the world and say, “Hey everybody. This is why we suck.”
What Tyra Banks talks about is embracing your flaws but knowing you’re still awesome. We need to lead with our flaws but know that we’re still awesome because if we’re below that, we probably suck too much to have good sales anyway.
What B2B buyers are searching for
I want you to think about this study that Gartner came out with last year that looked at a B2B buyer going through their process.
So, they’re starting an evaluation and there’s a team associated with it. What does the team spend their time on? It turns out that only 39% of their time is spent talking to you, talking to your competitors, or talking to their internal buying groups.
The other 61% is doing other stuff like talking to references, back-channeling you, talking to peers, talking to analysts. Those buyers are looking because they’re not just buying your technology — they’re buying you.
They are trying to predict what their experience is going to be like. They’re going to find the flaws.
Looking at your company from the buyer’s perspective
Your homework as a marketer is to go act like a buyer. Search your company and take that to your sales team to create messaging around it.
Marketers need to own that dialogue with the sellers and make sure that you’re framing it right. But it starts with leading with your flaws.
82% of us as buyers look for the flaws first and we don’t believe anything until we see those. B2B is the exact same thing. As a B2B buyer, I want to know the whole picture before I’m going to believe your pitch.