Just last month I was invited to a supplier meeting by a client. They're a small business in the tech space. These guys and girls are very smart, very focused and very purpose driven.
The invitation was only to 8 suppliers they use that they currently spend the most time with. It was an opportunity for them to give joint updates on their business, open up for questions and get to know us better.
It then turned into a bit of networking then a round table where each supplier was asked a series of questions openly. Now I thrive in these environments and was ready for any question to come. Many of the questions were straightforward warm up questions mainly for suppliers to know other suppliers.
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Whats something interesting about you?
Then the question none of the suppliers nor I showed up was expecting.
WHAT do you want most to accomplish with the relationship with us?
How does that reflect WHY you do what you do?
Say what! for one these are probably the best questions I've ever heard a customer ask a supplier or in fact a supplier ask a customer.
You could immediately see the faces of people trying to figure out an answer to the first one. Many gave answers like:
"To make you more successful and because we believe changing the way people do X so they can achieve X"
OK answers but you could tell it somehow wasn't what they were looking for.
Then a woman named Deborah from an outsource company stood up and blew me and everyone away.
"What they want most from the relationship is for them to feel they could achieve more with them than without them"
"It lined up for them because they believed outsourcing was their way of empowering the small business to grow by alleviating the burden of fixed costs and enabling them to impact more people and achieve the goals they want for their business"
I was very impressed, so was my client and everyone else. After that my answer sounded like I got it out of a fortune cookie - I'm being too tough on myself as it was pretty solid :)
Its strange when you ask people WHY they do what they do in life or business very few have a clear answer for this.
Is it because we never ask ourselves the question? or do we assume the answer of WHAT we do would be obvious to WHY?
That was me as early as 7 months ago sitting down with a coach/friend named Daniel. We sat down and reviewed the book 'Start with Why' by Simon Sinek
“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
― Simon Sinek
I thought I was on my way somewhere. It turned out I was really heading to a place that had no name. A place so vague I'm not sure if' I'd know I arrived. Importantly, Why would I want to be there?
We all experience times in our life where we may have to pivot. Where the unexpected happens or we discover the road we're on is not the right one for this season. In those moments of the day to day, in the good and hard times we can forget WHY. We become motivated for the momentary successes rather than the long term outcomes that should drive the day to day behaviour, culture and activity of our businesses.
When Deborah stood up she stood out because she knew her WHY. In fact every supplier was drawn to her afterward and wanted to know more. She probably made more additional business from other suppliers than the actual client that day. That's the power of knowing WHY.
I can't say I've fully grasped my story but its becoming clearer to me everyday. I was encouraged to challenge myself with a selection of questions once a quarter to deepen my understanding of my WHY. These are sample of the questions this month.
- Why do you care about the audience and customers you want to serve?
- What result would you most like your audience and customers to see, have, feel and experience? Why is that important to you and them?
- How does the business reflect the care and results you want for your audience and customers? What would need to be true for it to fully represent this?
- How will you and your family be changed by this? Why is that important?
Do you know your WHY? Share a question you ask yourself or a statement of why you do what you do. Would love to hear it, learn from it and share it.
If you resonate with what I write Send me a LinkedIn request. If you're a key account manager, sales leader of consultant responsible for and concerned with existing customer retention and growth get connected to my customer growth email series and mailing list HERE. You can start the process of learning a new framework of thinking to growth. www.jermaineedwards.com
Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.