“What We Sell” Versus “Why We Sell”

August 12, 2014 Brian Beattie

In a TED talk by Simon Sinek, he discusses how great leaders inspire change. Sinek explains the different mentalities of two types of business leaders - the “leaders, and “those who lead”. He provides insight to what these different mentalities are, and their affects on a company as a whole.

“What we sell”

The first mentality comes from the “leaders”. Leaders promote their company with the knowledge of “what we sell”. Their company strategy is to inform customers of their company’s products and solutions.

“Why we sell”

Comparatively, “those who lead” promote their company through their beliefs. They also inspire others to view their company not from the perspective of what they sell, but why they sell it. They start with “why” questions and promote their business from this knowledge. Such questions include: why does our company exist? Why do we sell what we sell? Why should it matter?

The effects of the mentality shift from “what we sell” to “why we sell” can be measured not only through revenue, but also through the levels of originality and creativity operating in the company. Companies that are innovative on a consistent basis tend to think differently from other companies; they understand that buyer motives are about more than just the product or service. As Sinek states: “people do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Our beliefs

Volaris provides an alternative solution to private equity firms and venture capitalists for owners of companies looking to sell their businesses. We offer a long-term commitment to our acquisitions; our buy-and-hold mentality is what drives us to implement new strategies and leverage our capital and expertise to see our acquisitions prosper. We want our companies to grow and reach out to new customers and markets.

The difference

Most private equity firms are thinking about an exit strategy even before their initial investment. For many of these companies, the “why” mentality is focused solely on the profit they will generate by selling the business.

At Volaris, we commit to keeping the businesses we acquire in our group and to not sell them, which changes the acquisition process drastically because our end goal is very different. We care about what happens to our companies and we implement strategies which will benefit them in the long-term.

Furthermore, we believe in the importance of having a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) which is not related to revenue or profit, but rather is based on the core of what we strive to do. For example, in our transportation vertical we are focused on helping people travel to where they need to be: getting to and from work, visiting family, or attending social gatherings. People matter, and at Volaris we recognize that it’s about more than just software.


Applying the same “why” principals can provide inspiration within your own company. Take the time to remind everyone of your purpose, your beliefs, and your “why we sell”. Knowing that the sole purpose of your company is about more than simply generating profit will encourage your team to invest in your company’s beliefs and philosophies, while also inspiring them to be innovative and creative.

Your Turn

What do you think of the difference between “what we sell” and “why we sell” mentalities? Will a change be beneficial for companies? Let us know in the comments below, and like and share with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

About the Author

Brian Beattie

Brian Beattie is the Chief Financial Officer at Volaris Group. Besides overseeing the financial health of the company, he works closely with Volaris’ legal and M&A team on all new acquisitions. Brian is an expert on every stage of the M&A process – from sending out the non-disclosure agreement to executing the sales purchase agreement.

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