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In 1967 Barclays Bank installed the world's first successful automated teller machine. It's been a sales blockbuster for banks. People are three times more likely to withdraw money from an ATM vs. a human teller. And, according to National Cash Systems, ATM users spend more (20-25% more from convenience stores as an example). 

But additional ATM sales have come with a cost. According to Ryan Buell, in his Harvard Business Review article titled "Operational Transparency," the overall customer satisfaction level for banks goes down when customers choose automation vs. a human teller. Buell shares, "It turns out that when customers can't see the work that's being done to serve them, their perception is that less effort went into delivering the service. They don't appreciate it or value it as much." 

Buell's investigations have led to the introduction of "operational transparency - the deliberate design of windows into and out of the organization's operations to help customers and employees alike understand and appreciate the value being created." 

His research around "operational transparency" has found that consumers are willing to pay more for products from companies that have been transparent. In some cases, 25% more. 

New York Times best-selling author Daniel Pink, in his book To Sell is Human, states that "the balance of power has shifted in sales. We've moved from caveat emptor (buyer beware) to caveat venditor (seller beware) - where honesty, fairness, and transparency are often the only viable path." 

The profession and pursuit of sales have changed. Forever. Transparency and trust now more than ever trump sales tactics and techniques.

There is great value in "pausing" personally and professionally during this pandemic. Daniel Pink suggests that we move more toward two principles that are essential if sales are to have any meaning: Make it personal and make it purposeful." In other words, be transparent. 

Transparency is the currency best used in crises. It's the only currency worth trusting or trading. 


Topics: sales coaching, Sales, sales leadership

Dan Whitfield

Written by Dan Whitfield

Dan is dedicated to "coaching up" small business owners and leaders of growth-oriented sales organizations. His goal is to help you get where you want to go. Faster.