An idea on how to answer 'Why you?'

An idea on how to answer ‘Why you?’

Many years ago, when I was at business school, I used to joke to my classmates about our lecturer giving us yet another SOTBO – a ‘Statement Of The Blindingly Obvious’. For example, marketers will consistently state that it is important to define why your customers should buy from you. Well, that’s something I think we could all agree on! Websites, marketing brochures and answers to bids all need to have the ‘why us?’ message running through them, so that customers can easily decide in your favour.

However, having been in business for over 30 years, I realise that, for many, the answer to the question ‘why us?’ is not blindingly obvious at all. In our highly competitive world, where it is so easy to find suppliers on the internet, it can be hard to come up with something which makes you stand out from the rest. The chances are that many of your competitors offer a similar service or similar products, so what sets you apart?

There is one part of your business that is truly unique and that is your people. They will all have their own distinctive backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. It does not matter what part of the business they work in, many will have a view on what makes, or what could make your business different. I recommend that you start by asking all of them for their input.

It’s probably not possible to get them all in a room or on a conference call – especially in the current scenario, and even if you could, you’d be hard pressed to involve everybody in a productive meeting.

However, there is a way to engage large groups constructively, enabling them to contribute. It’s called a 1,2 .. 4 engagement and it goes like this.

  • Pose a single question to everybody and allow them to think about it on their own.
  • Then pair them up with somebody else to explain what they have come up with and get them to work together to refine each other’s ideas and thoughts.
  • Then get two pairs to work together to share their ideas and create a short presentation which they can give to the group.
  • Then ask one representative from each group to give this presentation and share their thinking with everybody else.
  • Make sure that somebody collects all the ideas.
  • Review the findings and see what comes out.

No matter what the outcome is, I guarantee that it will be of value and will at least provide you with a basis to work on the fundamental question of ‘why you?’ – as well as being a useful team building event. Plus, with online conference calling, a 1,2 .. 4 works rather well when you use breakout rooms.  If you can get your customers involved, that’s even better.

The 1,2 .. 4 approach is just one example of a liberating structure which you can use to engage with your organisation in new ways. I therefore recommend that you to have a look at ‘The Power of Liberating Structures’ by Lipmanowicz and McCandless – it’s powerful stuff!

In my experience, uniqueness comes from your people and they way they are able to work together for the benefit of customers. Liberating structures provide new ways of achieving this.

If you want more information and advice on getting ‘contract-ready’ or advice on winning more work from tenders, contact Mike Coveney, Head of Business Transformation at Augmentas on +44 (0)203 918 8550 or email