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. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or tj@tjtedesco.com.
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  • Linda S

    Lead with the "Why" — I love it!