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Why Why Matters

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Why Why Matters

Why Why Matters in B2B

In June 1776, brave Betsy Ross was a widow struggling to run her own upholstery business. Upholsterers in colonial America not only worked on furniture but did all manner of sewing work, which for some included making flags. According to Betsy, General Washington showed her a rough design of the flag that included a six-pointed star. Betsy, a standout with the scissors, demonstrated how to cut a five-pointed star in a single snip, so impressing her audience with this feat of seamstress magic that they readily agreed to her suggestion.

Betsy Ross was gifted with a craft. She lost two husbands to the Revolutionary War. Her craft and passion for this country is responsible for the “brand” of our amazing country. While there is much debate as to whether Betsy Ross actually sewed the first flag, her innovation, talent and passion was a huge contribution to the flag we now have.

What’s your organization’s Why? And, why does it matter?

Quoting Simon Sineck’s famous Ted Talk on Why: “It’s how great leaders inspire action.”

To understand why Why matters, we need to look at what the B2B buyer values. This was brilliantly researched and detailed by Bain & Company’s B2B buyer hierarchy of values (similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.) You might find it surprising that the majority of the 40 values are subjective and highly emotional.

The innovative organization/sales person recognizes this and communicates the Why – not price, compliance (Table Stakes) or even product performance (Functional Value).

B2B Buyer Hierarchy of Needs


Table Stakes – Very basic, meeting specs, acceptable price, compliance, ethical standards


Functional Value: Where most B2B sellers still focus most of their energy– Economic or product performance needs  i.e., cost reduction and scalability


Ease of Doing Business Value –  Increasing customer productivity, improving operational performance AND first set of subjective judgments:

  • Good cultural fit?
  • Seller’s commitment?
  • Can product reduce anxiety?


Individual Value – Highly emotional concerns

  • Career related – Fear of failure nags at buyers, purchase affects revenues
  • Reputational Assurance
  • Individual Marketability


Inspirational Value Improve customers vision of the future

  • Helping a firm anticipate changes in the market
  • Provide hope for the future of the org or the individual buyer (move to next generation in digital transformation easily, affordable)
  • Vision, Hope, Social responsibility


Subjective, personal concerns of the prospect are increasingly important in an age of products becoming more and more commoditized in a VERY crowded market.

Bringing it Home

Tie the two together – matching your “Why” i.e., your organization’s true value/differentiator with a prospect’s subjective and highly emotional values is imperative for success in today’s very competitive landscape.

Why – Best Practices

The majority of websites, if there is a why communicated, it is buried at the bottom of the about page. If you want to connect / resonate with your buyer, LEAD with the why! The only way to differentiate in a very crowded market.

People don’t want to know how great your product is until they trust you understand them. And, they DO NOT want you to say “You Can Trust Us”, or “Your Trusted Advisors”. Really? Just because you said it? It communicates the opposite. Teach them how they can trust you in your Why.

This doesn’t only apply to prospective buyers. One of the tech industries biggest hurdles in 2018 and beyond is attracting talent, especially technical skills. The limited talent pool can cherry pick where they want to work – your brand – especially online – needs to make them stop and notice – it must resonate with their gut, inspire. Lead with your Why.

Developing Your Why

“Do know your company’s why? If not, you aren’t alone, most businesses don’t take the time to fine tune it, and communicate it to employees. It takes time, thought, and refining.”

Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research

Here is a helpful outline in developing your company’s Why:

  1. Summarize Your Story – Why did you get into business to start? What makes you want to get up in the morning and offer your intelligence/talent to the world?
  2. Cut It – Cut out all the marketing/business jargon from the summary above and tell it again.
  3. 250 Words – Use less words, cut it more
  4. Pull out three words – that truly communicate your purpose.
  5. Purpose Statement – Rewrite your story as a purpose statement with special attention to those three words


Have your Why well defined? Now, what do you do with it?


NEXT BLOG:  With Why as the Foundation –  Be the Maverick

Contact Heidi O’Leska, CMO, Branding & Marketing Practice Lead for a 30-Minute complimentary brand and marketing assessment.

Want to learn more? View our various assessments and case studies. We welcome the opportunity to explore how we can help you.