Lead with Why: Notes on Simon Sinek

January 13, 2021
Lead with Why: Notes on Simon Sinek

As salespeople, we come across a myriad of ways to sell, but one method always rings true: lead with the ‘why' and folks will line up to buy.

As a country, we are overwhelmed with work, family life, the pandemic, the news–the list goes on! As sellers, it's important to be on the same page as your buyer. There's no time to waste. In other words, assume that a buyer's time is precious and start with the important stuff: the why.

Back in 2009, author Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and in that presentation he said, “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.” If you are looking to grow your rate of success, consider Sinek's ideas as you sell.

The following outlines Simon Sinek's timeless observations and applies it to today's sales climate.

Lead with Why: Challenge Traditional Models

Most of us are familiar with the how’s and what’s. Examples of these would be:

  • What do we do as an organization?
  • How do we do what we do?
  • What can we provide you as partners?
  • How do we can we make what you do better, easier, and more profitable?

Sinek challenges the traditional sales model by believing that the why is more important than the how or the what, and sets out to turn conventional wisdom of how to introduce yourself and your company completely on its head.

Most companies lead with features and benefits. In fact, I hear sales reps time and time again introducing themselves by saying “We make the best widget and we accomplish this by using only the finest materials.” Good for you, but how does that relate to the buyer?

Sinek offers Apple as an example, saying: “Here's how Apple actually communicates. ‘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?' Totally different, right? … I just reversed the order of the information.”

If people don’t buy what you do and instead buy why you do it, you are able to rethink and expand your goals. Perhaps the goal is to no longer to do business with the people that need what you have, but rather to do business with people who believe in what you believe.

If they believe in your company, your philosophy, your ideas—if they believe in you, then they will support your endeavors. This is what opens up a world of opportunity.

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The Right Team

Sinek also goes on to describe why hiring the right people is so important. Of course, this is not a novel idea, but Sinek frames it insightfully. He asserts that 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 and support your life's work.

Figure Out Your ‘Why'

As a sales rep, you probably already have your ‘why' figured out. But if you want to hone in more on your pitch, try to be as concise as possible.

We suggest that you start by thinking big picture; where does your business fit in in the world and what is it exactly that you hope to accomplish? Be honest with yourself and about your business!

Then, draw connections between your company and our human experience. After all, buyers are just people.

Lastly, consider this final quote from Sinek: We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves.” Ask yourself, what inspires you? This will help you form your own idea of the ‘why' and how you want to lead.

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How do you draw in buyers? Tell us in the comments. We love hearing from our readers!

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