The Five Whys
The Five Whys were established as a technique to determine the root cause of a problem. I’d heard of the model as it relates to problem solving, but David is the first sales person that helped me realize how easily it applies to the concepts of sales and company values – so I’m giving him credit for that.
The concept is very simple – when you want to get the the root of an issue (including the problem a prospect is trying to solve), you have to ask “Why?” five times until you get to the real answer.
Me: Why did you hide my car keys? (#1)
The 8 y/o child: Because I wanted to
Me: Why did you want to? (#2)
Her: Because I didn’t want you to drive anywhere
Me: Why didn’t you want me to drive anywhere? (#3)
Her: If you drive somewhere then you will be gone at night
Me: Why do you care if I’m gone at night? (#4)
Her: Because I want you to help get me ready for bed and I don’t want mama to do it
Me: Why do you want me to help get you ready for bed? (#5)
Her: Because I can get away with more stuff with you than I can with mama
Me: Are you sure you didn’t hide my keys because you’ll miss me too much if I go away?
Her: Nope that’s not the reason. I’m sure of it.
As you can see with that example, by asking “Why?” five times I was able to uncover the root of the issue: I am a bad parent and, as such, my child will maneuver in order to walk all over me.
Had I only asked why one, two, three or four times, I would’ve mistakenly assumed that I was a good parent and she hid my keys because she’d miss me.
Five Whys sounds like a lot, but this has been studied for over 100 years and, though not foolproof, it is guaranteed to get the person on the other end really thinking about the reasons they are doing what they are doing.