In 2009, author Simon Sinek gave a TED talk called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Sinek’s talk focused on good leadership and motivating people, and called on leaders to “start with why.” His talk reminds me of a very simple, similar framework that works great for Sales which I use every day.
How I think about the “Why” at a high level
To successfully start with “Why”, you must care about the prospect’s agenda more than your own. You need to understand:
- Why (specifically) should this person buy this?
- Why should they buy from me?
- Why should they buy at a particular time?
This conversation needs to happen first, before you talk about anyone else. Above all, remember that this discovery process is a two-way dialogue. The “Why” is the context, and context is everything.
To start with “Why,” slow down
In order to understand the “Why” in any sales conversation, you need to take time first to ask questions and understand the wants, needs, and motivations of the person you are working with. In each conversation, you should be coming from a place of trying to understand and help versus trying to sell.
1) Why should this person want to purchase your product or service?
Ask open-ended questions about desired outcomes and existing problems that are unique to your prospect, and understand the exact problem they are trying to solve.
2) How will your product or service matter to this person?
Ask open-ended questions about the positive impact of reaching an outcome. How would that be meaningful? Then ask about other negative outcomes that could happen if nothing changes. In other words, should it be a priority? Why not just stay with the status quo? There are sometimes personal impacts as well as business-level impacts. Explore both so you can gain a full picture of your prospect’s situation.
3) How can I help them?
Ask open-ended questions about their current state. Be sure you fully understand the environment, why do they need the help.
Connect the dots using the “Why” in the prospect’s context
Once you’ve taken time to understand their situation, and you are sure you can effectively help them, you’ll be able to simply and clearly show how they’ll get what they want by working with you. This is really part of any sales process, but starting with this framework allows the prospect to reach their own conclusions with you guiding them as opposed to you “selling” them.
- Explain their specific outcome of buying the product or service, comparing their specific current state to the ideal future state
- Illustrate the longer-term outcome of sticking with the status quo and maintaining the same strategy
- Illustrate how implementation will work in practice, as simply and logically as possible
- Reconnect all the dots clearly and succinctly, and revisit the “why” to tie the prospect’s purchasing decision together
This framework is fairly simple. Ask relevant questions early, understand your prospects’ context, and make sure you can effectively help them with their “Why.” Then, as simply as possible, connect the dots to show what you can do to help your prospects reach their goals.