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Transaction vs. Transformation: What Are You Really Selling?

There is one golden question that upleveled how I do business, and I want to share it with you: what are you really selling? This simple question will give you a new and improved outlook on your sales process. Instead of focusing on the transaction, you’ll be focusing on the transformation. Learn about the differences between transaction vs. transformation and how focusing on the transformation can attract more clients and grow your revenue.  

Transaction vs. Transformation


The formal definition of a transaction is the action of someone buying or selling something. In your sales process, your transaction is the offer, service, or product you’re extending to your client. For example, the transaction a banker is selling may be a mutual fund; the transaction a business coach is selling may be a business strategy.  


A transformation is an instance of someone or something changing or taking on a new form. The transformation in your sales process is the impact your transaction (offer) has on your customers. What does your offer help them do and become? So, the transformation of a banker’s customer may be financial stability, and the transformation of a business coach’s customer may be revenue growth.  

What You're Actually Selling: The Transformation

Traditional, dated sales tactics focus on the bells and whistles of your offer: prices, features, benefits, etc. Meanwhile, modern, transformational sales tactics focus on the transformational journey your client will go through after partnering with you. Transformational sales tactics reap many benefits for your business (more on that to come). But let’s give you a tangible example of what it looks like to go beyond the transaction of your offer to find the true value.  

Drills and Holes

I came across a quote from Theodore Levitt, a marketing professor at Harvard, and he said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.” 

When a customer goes to a hardware store to buy a drill, what they’re really buying is their need for a hole in the wall. Beyond that, the holes in the wall will be a basis for shelf placement, adding a décor feature to their home. To go a step further, those shelves will hold family photographs, books, keepsakes, etc.  

The drill is just a feature. That’s not what the customer actually bought. The customer bought what the drill gives them: holes in walls to put shelves on to celebrate and validate their life. 

Now think about your own offer in this way and determine what your customers are actually buying.  

Benefits of Transformational Selling™

There are three key benefits to using your customer’s transformation as the value of your offer, or what I like to call transformational selling™.  

Empathetic Client Experiences

Like the story of the drill and holes, write out a small story of what your customer actually gets from your offer. By writing it out, or even discussing it with your colleagues, not only will you uncover the true value of your offer, but you’ll also discover your customer’s deepest pains and desires. You can then speak to these pains and desires in your client conversations and marketing and sales materials. By knowing the minute problems and aspirations your client faces, you can create more empathetic conversations, as you thoroughly understand where they’re coming from. 

Attract More Ideal Clients

And when you generate empathetic conversations and a client feels understood, they’re more likely to work with you. Injecting empathy into your sales process will help you create a consistent sales pipeline that will thrive for years to come. Once your customer is in your pipeline, don’t stop nurturing them with empathy. Keep it going.  

Create Confident Business Invitations

Another benefit to using transformational selling is becoming more confident with extending your business opportunity. Why? Because you now thoroughly understand your ideal customer profile (ICP). Your ICP is anyone who possesses the attributes of being a valuable customer for your business. Knowing your ICP can save you time from connecting with people who aren’t a good fit for your services so that you can spend more time with those who need your solution. When you know you’re communicating with people who need and would benefit from your solution, you can more confidently invite them to your business.  

Transform the Outlook of Your Sales Process

What transformation are you facilitating for your clients through your product, service, or expertise? This is the question to ask yourself as you uplevel your sales outlook. When you focus on the transformation of your client as the value of your offer instead of its benefits and prices, the transformation of your sales and revenue will follow. People don’t buy things. They buy what things do for them.  

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