The dictionary meaning of “why” is this…for what reason or purpose. As in..”why did he do it?”
There are valid reasons for asking questions when we are in the business of helping people realize their goals and dreams. The adverbs that have traditionally been the basis of sales inquiry are Who, What, When, Where, Why, and my personal favorite, HOW. Be aware, however, when you use a why question, it can create instant resistance toward you from a client. Below are some reasons that you may be alienating people with this one little word.
People don’t always know the real reason “why” they do anything.
Why do you bite your fingernails? Why do you want to get your friend’s opinion on the house? Why didn’t you prospect today? Why didn’t you call me? Why did you ask me to reduce my commission? Why did you eat the cake? Even just reading these questions, you can see how confrontational they might sound to a prospect. The question “why”activates what we call Monkey Mind which is always trying to protect us during conflict. A client may seem alright with a “why” question but then drop you the next day once the question has simmered for a while.
The question “why” invites a superficial response.
Teacher: “Why didn’t you finish your homework?” Student “The dog ate my homework”. In NLP ( Neurolinguistic Programming) we learn that it is normal for humans to distort, delete, and generalize information when telling a story or replying to someone. A threatened seller may simply answer the commission question with an generalized answer like, “because I can sell it myself” which doesn’t really give you anything to work with. (See my blog on clean questions for a better way to build relationship and trust).
Our relationship with clients should not be one that makes them feel smaller.
A “why” question can make us seem like we are being authoritative and challenging instead of receptive and trusting. Why is something a parent will often ask a child which can bring up memories and create a relationship that was challenging in the past.
Knowing your own why is important!
Some of you may have seen or heard about Simon Sinek’s Ted talk about knowing your personal “why”. Selling, he says, is a human experience. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” When you know your own reason why you do what you do, you show up differently for people. This compelling video example by comedian Michael Jr. illustrates it better than anything I have ever seen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZe5y2D60YU.
“When you know your ‘why’ then your ‘what’ has more impact, because you’re working towards your purpose.”