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Start with the Why

February 05, 20243 min read

The word "why" is defined as a reason or explanation. I have been asked "what is my why?" and maybe you have, too? Years ago, the word "why" became famous from a Ted Talk and a You-Tube video "Start with Why" (Simon Sinek). In the world of sales and business development we live in, the word "why" is one of the most important focuses - and the mantra "start with why and begin with the end in mind" is a guiding principle for success. What it really means is "what problem am I here to solve?" for this person, business, etc. To truly connect with customers and drive meaningful change, we must recognize the existence of two worlds – the outer, dominated by products and services, and the inner, driven by the customer's pain points and motivations. Speaking from experience, 20 years of sales and 10 in training: this is the most often missed step, as we talk about ourself, our products, our services first - instead of leading to it.

The mistake in sales involves staying in the outer world, bombarding potential clients with product features and service details without understanding the underlying reasons or pain points driving their needs. As the best seller book (and on my personal top 10 book list) "The Challenger Sale" (Adamson, Dixon) focused on "commercial insights and teaching," and emphasizes, "It's not about what you sell, but how you sell it." In other words, help businesses and individuals see the "blind spots" that they are missing. This resonates with the idea that success in sales lies not just in the product or service but in the manner in which it addresses the customer's unique challenges or their "why now."

To build a genuine partnership and connection with customers, we must first uncover the business or customer's pain – the why behind their needs. This requires discovery below the surface level and the courage to move into the inner world of the customer. It's not merely about presenting a product; it's about understanding and empathizing with the customer's motivations, challenges, and aspirations.

Critically, the decision to change, to adopt a new product or service, hinges on the balance between the pain of staying the same and the pain of change. To drive change and transformation, we in business development and sales must make the pain of the status quo "the same" unbearable compared to the potential discomfort of change. Helping the other person or business see the "problem behind the problem" is critical. This strategic approach demands a deep understanding of the customer's inner world - no matter what product or service we are selling or promoting.

For those embracing Challenger selling, consider these top tips:

1. Redefine the Conversation: Shift the focus from product features to the customer's needs and challenges. Provide insights that reshape their perspective.

2. Tailor Solutions: Customize your approach to align with the unique pain points and aspirations of each customer. One size does not fit all in Challenger selling.

3. Build Credibility: Demonstrate expertise and industry knowledge. Customers are more likely to trust a salesperson who brings valuable insights to the table.

Amid the challenges of sales and business development, maintaining mental toughness is paramount. Here are key strategies:

  • Resilience: View setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity stronger than before.

  • Positive Mindset: Cultivate a positive outlook, focusing on solutions rather than problems. A positive mindset can be contagious and inspiring.

  • Adaptability:Embrace change and stay flexible in your approach. The ability to adapt is a crucial asset in the ever-evolving world of sales.

Starting with the "why" and "the why now" is the key that guides successful sales and business development. By understanding both the outer and inner worlds, customer pain, and adopting insight-driven principles, we can drive meaningful change. Staying mentally tough in challenging times requires resilience, a positive mindset, and adaptability – traits that set the stage for enduring success.


Amy Lemire CSP

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