Sales and Marketing – “It’s Time to Ask Yourself What You Believe”

It’s been nearly three months since the Sales Insider’s last blog post.

I’ve been heavily involved with the new XANT Certified Administrator project, and various Dreamforce 2011-related projects, so other than an occasional tweet, and interacting with clients, time for our online presence has been in short supply.

However, a few weeks ago in a company meeting, we watched this presentation on And I was absolutely compelled to write a post on its contents.

It’s 18 minutes long. The ideas presented within it are simple and easy to comprehend.

And I cannot stop thinking about it.

(Having watched the presentation, as well as catching a recent replay of an action movie classic on AMC, the title of this post felt infinitely appropriate.)



People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

As Simon Sinek mentions, all of us are great at saying what we do.

“We provide consulting services to sales and marketing teams”; “We fabricate pin screws for construction and industrial design”; “We provide legal services to commercial real estate brokers.”


Very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result.

By “why” I mean: what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

The interior of our brains, the limbic region, is responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language.

When we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior.

People don’t buy what you DO, they buy WHY YOU DO IT.

Not Getting Lost in Our Own Museums

Simon Sinek says we talk about the “What” because we don’t know, or don’t understand our “Why.” As salespeople, when we don’t know the “Why,” the natural result is to talk about what we do know—our product.

The result? Endless streams of seller-oriented drivel. Useless “Just Checking In” emails and voicemails that do nothing but annoy the prospect. Over-long presentations that don’t address buyer needs.

As Dan Waldschmidt said on his blog several months ago, “Start every conversation with the word ‘YOU’ and stop communicating unless you are delivering new value.”

Understanding “Why” is a massive step forward in working from a buyer-centric, rather than seller-centric mode, because it naturally imbues conversations with purpose. Delivering your “Why” lets prospects know up front, with zero ambiguity, if you’re the type of organization they’d like to work with. Once they recognize that, your job is to be respectful of their time, their buying process, and deliver value.

If you understand your purpose, your conversations will more naturally turn to providing solutions that fit your prospect’s vision, and not simply rehashing benefit statement lists.

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