Lead with Why and They’ll Line Up to Buy

March 11, 2011
Lead with Why and They’ll Line Up to Buy

When looking to grow your rate of success, Simon Sinek points out that it is crucial to lead with why.

Simon Sinek’s presentation “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” from this year’s TED Conference caught my interest.

He has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership, all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers and, as a counterpoint, Tivo which appeared to be struggling until a recent court victory tripled its stock price.

Lead with Why: Challenge Traditional Models

Simon challenges the traditional sales model by pointing out why the why is more important than the how or the what. Most of us are pretty familiar with the how’s and what’s: “What do we do as an organization? How do we do what we do? How do we make what you do better/easier/more profitable?” I know I hear reps time and time again introducing themselves by saying “We make the best widget and we accomplish this by using only the finest materials.” Blah, blah, blah – who cares!

Simon turns conventional wisdom of how to introduce yourself and your company completely on its head. Most companies lead with features and benefits. They tell prospects what they do and how they do it. Those select few that have gained widespread appeal lead with why rather than how or what.

His example about Apple really drove it home for me. At Apple they say “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, easy to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers, want to buy one?” Sounds pretty different right? All they did was switch the conventional order.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with the people that need what you have – the goal is to do business with people who believe in what you believe.

He goes on further to describe why hiring the right people is so important. If you hire people that can do what you need them to do, they will work for your money. But if you hire people who believe in what you believe, they will work for you gladly through blood, sweat, and tears.

I invite you all to check out the TED talk and let me know what you think.

My key takeaway – lead with why and your customers will line up to buy.

Do you have any ways you lead with why? Let us know in the comments!

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