In 2011, author and speaker Simon Sinek started a global movement that inspired millions to ask a simple question: Why? His book and Ted Talk series, titled START WITH WHY, seeks to answer why some organizations and individuals are more influential, innovative, and persuasive than others. Why some drive higher loyalty from employees, followers, or customers. Most reviews found Sinek’s book quite repetitive, but nearly all agree the concepts were inspiring. Sinek reveals that while Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, they all started with the concept of WHY. They all came to the same realization: persuading someone to buy into a concept, ideal, solution, or movement must start with an understanding of WHY.
START WITH WHY examines how certain leaders have exerted influence by thinking, acting, and communicating in similar fashion to define the reasons WHY someone should care about something. Sinek shows how successful firms and individuals start with this concept and then move on to explore the HOW and WHAT. Many sales and marketing professionals have embraced this concept and now begin by communicating WHY customers should care about a solution before explaining HOW it works and WHAT it does. However, every top sales and marketing pro knows that the reasons WHY one person might be motivated to buy could be quite different from the reasons WHY someone else buys.
Also in 2011, authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson published The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation. They based this groundbreaking book on research initiated in 2009 by Corporate Executive Board (CEB), later acquired by Gartner, Inc. The book quickly became a “selling bible” used by millions of sales professionals and referenced by almost as many marketers and corporate executives. In fact, it practically became required reading for anyone involved in customer conversations.
The information and recommendations presented by Dixon and Brent in the book did not necessarily dispel the research completed by Professor Neil Rackham two decades earlier that led to his book, SPIN Selling. In fact, Rackham wrote the Foreword to The Challenger Sale and conceded that while the research and findings he documented in SPIN Selling were still valid, “purchasing has gone through a major revolution.” In other words, things have changed a lot since Rackham, Sandler, Miller, and Heiman wrote their books in an era predating the internet, social selling, remote work, or modern neuroscience. Likewise, more than a decade has passed since CEB conducted its research on thousands of salespersons and almost 100 companies. Rackham praised this body of work and said the “research has all the initial signs that it may be game-changing.” Indeed, by all appearances, it has been. Salespersons around the world are more often teaching, tailoring, and taking control of the sale. This thought-provoking body of research has had a profound impact on the world of selling.
START WITH WHO does not necessarily dispel the research in Start With Why or The Challenger Sale. Quite the contrary. Just as Rackham noted that his original research was sound but dated by 2009, Simon Sinek and the authors of The Challenger Sale will hopefully be as gracious in conceding that dramatic changes to the business, sales, and marketing landscape over the past dozen or more years have made many of their conclusions and recommendations potentially obsolete.
In this book, you will learn why you can’t start with WHY. You must first start with WHO.
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