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The Transparency Sale with Todd Caponi

Liston Witherill
Liston Witherill
3 min read

About This Talk

This talk is by Todd Caponi, author of The Transparency Sale, and was recorded on October 22, 2020. You can learn more about Todd by:


00:00 Intro
06:35 The Transparency Sale Imperative
08:00 Lessons From IKEA
10:38 B2B Transparency Examples
23:10 Start Thinking Like a Buyer
31:06 Wrap Up
34:00 Q+A

The Transparency Sale Imperative

You may think you need the perfect product or service to make your sales and marketing have explosive growth, but research says otherwise. Todd points out that the optimal product rating online is not a perfect 5-star score, but rather it’s 4.2-4.5 stars. The reason is that it’s more believable.

You can no longer hide your flaws and expect to get away with it. People know that every product has flaws and comes with tradeoffs, and it’s what they look for when they read online reviews.

The same is true when you sell. You can pretend like your product or service is perfect, but everyone knows it’s not true. Instead, tell them specifically about the choices you made and how that leaves some flaws or holes in your product, then highlight what’s great and different about what you do.

This allows you to:

  • Build credibility with your prospects by saying something that can potentially hurt you
  • Maintain control of the conversation and be there to respond to questions
  • Invite your prospect to tell you what’s most important to them
  • Further narrow your focus by admitting the flaws in what you do, and therefore who your product or service is best suited for (or not)

Lessons From IKEA

IKEA is the #1 furniture retailer in the world, not because they have “the best” furniture. What they offer is modern-designed furniture of average build quality and great prices.

When you go to an IKEA store, the experience isn’t great – you don’t get help on the floor, you have to pick up all of your furniture physically, load it into your car, and then put it all together. But they don’t hide any of that. Everyone who goes to IKEA knows exactly what they’re getting into.

At IKEA, they’re clear about what you don’t get in exchange for what you do.

B2B Transparency Sales Example

When Todd worked at PowerReviews, he got a lead from Calvin Klein. They were going to issue an RFP and have Todd’s team fly out to New York to discuss it. Instead, Todd told the Head of Ecommerce that he happened to be in New York and asked if he wanted to have coffee.

Todd showed up and the Calvin Klein team had 7 people in a conference room. After some conversation, they asked Todd about a particular feature. Todd admitted they weren’t focused on that feature, and asked how important it was, and then presented what he thought his product excelled at.

The Head of Ecommerce dismissed everyone in the conference room so he could talk to Todd one-on-one, showed Todd his budget, and decided to work with PowerReviews.

That’s the power of transparency in action.

Start Thinking Like a Buyer

Ready to be more transparent? Go out and act like a buyer – find reviews, ecommerce sites, whatever. Find all the places your customers would go to see what they’re saying. Understand everyone you talk to will find out your flaws.

Todd recommends you be “flawsome,” a term coined by the model Tyra Banks. Just own your flaws and know that you’re awesome already, and also know that no one else is perfect.

how did you do a book report in high school?

look at the book list and choose one that:

  • you’ve read already
  • has a movie you can watch
  • has cliff’s notes