Avoiding the ‘what’ and embracing the ‘why’

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – Simon Sinek

Why do some people and companies rise to the top of our consciousness and others don’t? It comes down to being able to explain the ‘why’ of what we do more than the how or what. Our potential customers want to understand more than the facts…they want to understand the passion that drives us. When we spend our time thinking about what we do or how we do it, we get lost in the details, and so does our audience. When what we do and how we talk about it starts with the ‘why’, it all makes sense. It has context.

Sorry, I didn’t have the time

As Simon Sinek says in his TED talk (below), “What we do just proves what we believe.” Few truer words have been spoken. How many times has someone said, “Sorry, I just didn’t have time to do <fill in the blank> for you. I really wanted to.” That person had time to do what they believed in. They ate, they slept and they did took care of the things that mattered, just not your thing.

We make great computers

Lots of companies make decent products or perform top shelf services. The ones that consistently rise above the others go further. They help their customers understand their guiding principles and motivations. They don’t simply say, “We make great ____ and we do it better than anyone else. Simon, in a great TED talk, uses Apple as an example: “In everything we do we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” A powerful statement of ‘why’.

We’re comfortably buying anything from Apple because we believe the same things they believe. At the personal level, we buy from authentic people that we connect with.

We’re wired this way

If Simon is to be believed, the need to know the ‘why’ has its root in something deeper than facts delivered through language. It comes from a visceral part of the brain that is deeper than emotion and stronger than reason. We agree with someone’s motivations and beliefs because it feels right and not necessarily for reasons that language can explain. No one can say it better than Simon does…enjoy the video:

Categories: Selling

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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One Comment on “Avoiding the ‘what’ and embracing the ‘why’”

  1. June 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    The Golden Triangle and the Law of Diffusion of Innovation explain how success is achieved after it happens. Is it possible to apply these principles by hundreds and thousands of businesses to succeed? Does success favour only one business / team or all those who follow the principles well enough?

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