The Question Should be WHY – Not WHAT!

by | Jul 15, 2014 | Emotional Intelligence

What Customers Really Buy

Think about the last time you made a major purchase. How would you describe the experience? Did the sales person satisfy your needs and articulate the benefits you desired? Meeting the needs of customers begins with great communication and good probing questions.

Often you are asked, “What are you looking for?”

Even good ‘what’ questions, such as “What are your needs, what are you trying to accomplish, and what are your expectations in making this purchase will only get you so far.

So, a better question that might be asked is “how.” How do you see this solution fulfilling your goals and objectives?  Asking ‘how’ reveals more of the details but still might not make the sale.

There’s an excellent book out by Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”, that I highly recommend not just for sales but for every aspect of life.

The central theme?  You need to be asking your questions, why!

Simon says, “When most organizations or people think, act or communicate, they do it from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason- they go from clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do. But not the inspired companies. Not the inspired leaders. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out.”

Simon uses Apple Inc. as a great example. Apple starts with the WHY. This is how they position their company. “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, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers.”

This is a big difference from those who start with what they do. People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. WHAT is a logical approach. WHY is an emotional approach. People buy emotionally and then back their decision with logic. Emotion trumps logic every time.

Simon goes on to say, “When our decisions feel right, we’re willing to pay a premium or suffer an inconvenience for those products or services. This has nothing to do with price or quality.” He also says, “Loyalty, real emotional value, exists in the brain of the buyer, not the seller.”

Therefore, if it’s all about the buyer, then the questions to ask should be centered around WHY. WHY have you decided to buy a new computer now? WHY starts from the inside out which is much more powerful than starting from the outside in. Why asks for the reasons and the motive for taking action in making a decision for a purchase. Why helps us to create a deeper understanding which helps to build trust-based relationships – the most important aspect of selling!

WHY drives us emotionally which impacts our behavior. Our behavior will impact our attitude towards a person or a solution. A positive attitude will help us to take action towards that purchase.

The next time you’re with a prospect, instead of asking the usual opening questions of what do you do and what are you trying to accomplish – start with the WHY question.

Why are you considering this solution? Why have you decided to make a change at this point in time? Why does your organization support the changes you’re trying to make today?

Begin your questions with WHY so their answers can be deeper. Then, you increase your chances of solving their problem in a way that creates a sale for you.

Good selling!