The golden circle

It’s Mobile World Congress time again. And although this is probably my busiest work week of the year, I’m taking some time, again, to write a post about my experiences at Barcelona’s mega(lomaniac) telecom event.

Two years ago, I reported on the many executive storytellers, storydoers and storymakers that meet here each February to evangelize and promote their companies, products and services, and last year about all the demonstrators and exhibitors at el meu circ a Barcelona that systematically use too many acronyms, show too many implementation details, and push their products instead of listening to their customers.

Here’s a probably shocking message for all those enthusiastic, booth duty doing engineers,  marketers and sales guys: most visitors don’t care about your products! (except for your Chinese competitors of course, but these aren’t exactly the people you don’t want to share too much information with, or do you?)

If you started wondering what “the golden circle” has to do with this (no, it is neither an opium-producing area or an obscure oriental sect,) watch this famous TED talk in which UK born author Simon Sinek discusses how great leaders inspire action.

I strongly believe that the golden circle is a key to successful storytelling, and as a consequence to a successful product demonstration, and hopefully also to a successful business transaction

Sinek’s message is simple: “Always build your story from the inside out, starting with the WHY.” Initiate a conversation with your audience by talking about what keeps them awake at night. Give them a reason for taking the time to listen to your exposition and watch your demonstration.

golden_circle

What I witness here on the MWC exhibition floor, however, is that most vendors communicate about the solutions they sell by starting with the “WHAT.” They elaborate in detail about the many features and implementation details of their products, and then eventually (if they haven’t run out of time, or lost their client’s attention by then) work their way back to talk about “HOW” and “WHY” their stuff does what it does.

So, here’s the – IMHO – right order for conducting a conversation with your customers in spe. Tell them consecutively:

  1. WHY they should listen to you. Start a conversation about what matters most to them, help them understand their problem, and create an urgency in decision-making.
  2. HOW your product/service/solution contributes to solving their problem. Talk about the process improvements, the cost savings, the revenue opportunities it may bring.
  3. WHAT scenario or features you will show them during the demo, and what they can actually buy from you.

Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” For similar reasons, most trade fair visitors don’t care about your products; they are looking for a solution to their problem or for opportunities to create new business.

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