Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Sell Your Vision, Not Your Product

Why you should stop selling your products

You have a good product team, marketing team, and sales team. Your sales figures are okay, but they’re aren’t spectacular.

Why’s that?

What’s the difference between powerhouse brands and feeble ones?

According to Simon Sinek, it might be because you’re selling your “WHAT” (product) instead of your “WHY” (vision). Simon Sinek is an author and speaker, best known for the 2nd most-watched TED talk of all time regarding the Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek
The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

The golden circle explains how all the great leaders and organisations are able to inspire action in others.

Most companies communicate their ideas starting from the most concrete element: what they want to do. Then they explain how they’re going to achieve that. Finally, they try to explain why they actually do what they do.

Sinek explains that the greatest leaders and brands do it the opposite way: they start with explaining why they do what they do.

It is this reversal of order that allows these leaders to sell a vision instead of a product, and that’s what eventually makes their pitch so effective.

Here’s how you can apply the golden circle concept to your brand:

1. Rethink your vision statement, starting with ‘Why’.

Do you have an existing company vision statement? What does it look like?

Instead of merely describing what your company is already doing, start by asking yourself why do you do what you do. It might not be easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

Here’s a great example of a good vision statement by Asana:

Asana’s mission is to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly. We created Asana to help take that step; to improve the productivity of individuals and groups, to increase the potential output of every team’s effort.

Your company vision will shape everything you do.

A vision statement starting with “why” helps you adopt a broader view of what you ought to be focusing on.

It also forces you to look beyond the scope of what’s happening in the present, to see if what you’re doing is still in line with your goals.

2. Ensure that your employees share your vision.

Ideally, every single person within the company ought to be working towards the same goals. Employees who do not share your vision are just doing the bare minimum to get the paycheck. Employees who do share your vision will create more value than you can reasonably demand of them.

Discuss your vision with them, and get them to share theirs too. It is important to find a common ground. If there is none, it might be much better for everyone if they find somewhere else that shares their vision.

This applies to hiring as well. As Sinek puts it superbly,

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.

3. Attract and connect with customers who share the same belief

Too often, we make the mistake of leading our marketing messages with “what” we do: “Hey, here’s our latest range of waterproof boots. It comes in a variety of colors. Would you like one?”

Inspiring brands always lead their messages with an idea. A belief. Be it a belief to change the world and make it a better place, or to encourage social responsibilities, it is the belief that draws like-minded people to your brand.

It is this connection that drives fans to queue up for hours just to get the latest iPhone, or risk physical danger to promote a worthy cause.

Sinek mentions in his TED talk:

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And if you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.

So instead of selling waterproof boots, sell the idea of a world without soggy feet. A world where we can feel happy to be out in the rain. I’m sure many of us would love that.

Above all, having a clear company vision helps to build your brand.

It serves as a beacon that attracts like-minded employees and customers to you. Employees who share the same zeal will work for you with their blood and sweat; while customers who believe what you believe will always stand by your brand.

Your vision will help inspire you, your employees and your customers. That’s how the greatest brands are built.

So stop selling your product, and start selling your vision.

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Read next: Start With Why: 10 Mission Statements Simon Sinek Would Approve

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion ecommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior and social psychology.

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