• James Purvis

Presenting Your Company Overview? Start with Why


There you are, super excited because after several failed attempts at getting a meeting with one of your key prospects, the person finally responds that he or she will meet with you to learn more about your product or service. Like a good rep, you call the person back to find out who will be in the meeting, find out the key challenges they are facing, and ask what they specifically would like to cover so you can make the best use of everyone's time. The prospect responds with, "Let's start with a background on what your company does and then if you could share how you've helped other companies like us, we can go from there." Awesome! You got this, because you know everything your company does and know all the bells and whistles of your product and can rattle these off in your sleep! You are the "market leader" and have the "best product" and have the "most customers," there's is no way you can lose. Wrong.

The truth is, most of us in this situation go in with this mindset and we do what I like to call, "show up and throw up." We come in and start the presentation by presenting WHAT our product does and back it up with statements about, how we are the biggest company in the industry, have the leading solution, largest customer-base, most this, most that, etc. According to New York Times best selling author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, this is completely ass backwards and he is absolutely right. We should be starting with WHY.

Starting With Why

In 2009, Simon Sinek gave his famous TED Talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Others where he set out to discover why companies like Apple have been able to achieve such extraordinary success while others with the same resources available, fail.

"Why do some companies achieve things that completely exceed our expectations, defying all of our assumptions for what's possible?" - Simon Sinek

He answers this question thru his idea called, "Start With Why" which he illustrates through his "Golden Circle." The Golden Circle has 3 layers:

  1. Why - Very few organizations know WHY they do what they do. WHY is not about making money. That's a result. It's a purpose, cause or belief. It's the very reason your organization exists.

  2. How - Some organizations know HOW they do it. These are the things that make them special or set the apart from their competition.

  3. What - Every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. These are the products they sell or the services they offer.


Sinek found that most companies out there start their marketing with WHAT they do which is also how most sales people start their sales presentations. We go in pitching all about the different products we sell and the services we offer and HOW great they are. More often than not, we don't even attempt to talk about WHY we do what we do which is completely backwards.

In Sinek's TED Talk, he gives a perfect example of this. If you think of all the top brands out there in the world, Apple almost always comes to mind. They are some of the best marketers in the world. So what makes them so good? According to Sinek, they start with WHY. If they started with WHAT like most organizations do, they would be just like everyone else. Here is an example of what their marketing would look like if they started with WHAT:

"We make great computers. They're user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?"

Meh. I may or may not buy one. This sounds like every computer brand out there and I'm not exactly convinced. Now, let's take a look at Apple and their marketing which instead starts with WHY:

"With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?"

Ok, now I'm interested. The reason? Apple defines their company by their beliefs and targets customers who share the same values as them. Like Sinek says, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." This makes Apple more than a company who just sells features and is a big reason why they have dominated for so many years.


As salespeople, we need to take Apple's lead when we present. If you have ever watched the hit TV show, Silicon Valley, you might recall an episode where they do a parody of TechCrunch's famous startup conference called Disrupt where bunch of startups are "pitching" to an audience of investors and enthusiasts. The theme throughout each of the pitches is how their company is going to "make the world a better place." It's absolutely hilarious and does have some truth behind it. "Making the world a better place" is essentially Apple's mission as a company and their marketing does a great job messaging how they make this happen. When we are giving a pitch, we should start thinking along the same lines. Leading with our product's features, speeds, and feeds is not going to compel anyone to buy anything. Sell why you do what you do, not what it is you do.

Find this article interesting? Check out more blog posts by James Purvis @www.jameswpurvis.com

#startwithwhy #simonsinek #salespitch

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James Purvis

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