Embrace the Power of the ‘Why’ of It

Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) marketing whiz Marka showed savvy salesperson Zoot how to develop intelligent survey questions. This week, Marka tells Zoot how leading with “why” in company messaging can improve sales. Remember, fire = print.

One Saturday night, Marka and Zoot went bowling together at Nike Lanes in downtown Olympus. Marka was not a bad bowler, but—as intrepid in bowling as she is in business—she often pursued low-probability spares. Zoot was just bad. He usually avoided playing sports because whenever he participate, his hair would get mussed.

Zoot slumped back to the scoring table after tossing another gutter ball.

“Got a question for you, Zoot,” Marka said. “Say you’re stuck in an elevator with Dionysus of Dionysus’s Winemakers who is one of our top prospects. What’s your 30-second speech to convince him to use FEI?”

“I say ‘We’re FEI. We sell torches, matches and kilns to businesses and consumers. We provide a wide range of time-saving, money-saving and unbelievably durable fire products; responsive, reliable and friendly customer service; and crazy-fast delivery,’” Zoot replied.

“That was getting good near the end,” Marka said, “but you’ve got it upside-down. Like many salespeople, you focused on what we do, how we do it, and why we do it—if you get to the why at all. Let’s try it other way around.”

“What do you mean?” Zoot asked.

Marka pulled a pad of paper from her purse and scribbled on it:

  • Lead with the Why.—Everything FEI does is to help make you and your customers happy.
  • Explain the How.—We accomplish this by offering a wide range of time-saving, money-saving, and unbelievably durable fire products; providing responsive, reliable and friendly customer service; and being committed to crazy-fast delivery.
  • Close with the What.—We sell torches, matches, kilns to businesses and consumers.

“Our customers don’t buy what we do,” Marka explained. “They buy why we do it. They buy a good night’s sleep, a solution to their problems, and lots of other valuable, intangible stuff. These things have little to do with our ‘what,’ but they’re closely tied to our ‘why.’ Why-focused statements instill trust, confidence, warmth and other attributes that can overcome price, distance, or other so-called buying objections.”

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
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  • Linda S

    Lead with the "Why" — I love it!