Purchase Funnel

Authentic Selling – Oxymoron

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership


“Wait,” you ask, “Are you suggesting that a person can’t be authentic and also sell?” Well, yes. And I’m not alone:

“Of course, the idea of using authenticity to sell something is kind of self-contradictory and ironic, because the whole point of being authentic is not being strategic but instead behaving in a way consistent with true underlying identity and values.”
— Glenn Carol, Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business

I think this is more profound than merely parsing words. It is also about trust, not just authenticity.

Purchase Funnel

Purchase Funnel

I don’t care about sales funnels. I know them, and most of their variations, quite well. They are obsolete (or almost so, anyway). By definition, a sales funnel focuses on the salesperson and her company and their needs. That immediately destroys trust and calls authenticity into question. From the purchaser’s point of view, trusted sources are friends, family, and organic search results. Today, the savvy buyer pays no attention to purchased ads, sponsored search results, or salespersons. They do not have the purchaser’s best interest at heart. They are busy making quotas and earning commissions.

The “Purchase Funnel,” on the other hand, makes a lot of sense to me. That is a view of the process that has evolved with the continued growth of technology and the internet. The sales process is 60% completed by the purchaser before they make any contact with the vendor—regardless of price point. More accurately, according to this article, 57% of the sales process just disappeared!

Purchaser’s View

The “new” process is taking the purchaser’s view and understanding what is essential. That means making sure that the purchaser finds me, my product or service, and my company when the purchaser is taking care of the front end. I must build my brand as a trusted, go-to source for valid information that has the purchaser’s best interest at heart, not just my own. If you are “selling,” then you are automatically not to be trusted because you are putting your interests ahead of mine.

Sales Need Not Apply

So the bottom line, in my view, is that we need customer experience “experts,” not salespeople. We need to be focusing on providing value to our clients/prospects. If Wells Fargo, Mylan, and Pharmaceutical companies pushing opioids took this view, they would avoid a lot of ethics issues. One should, I believe, be thinking hard about the system we’ve built—one that rewards greed and meeting internal goals rather than running ethical, customer-focused businesses. I view this situation as a total failure of leadership.