Are you curious about what has “never killed a salesperson?” Are you curious, period? I hope so. It's one of the best traits a salesperson can carry into the field. Perhaps curiosity killed the cat, but it’s as healthy as a 60-minute workout for those of us who sell.
Curious people have knowledge on their side, and knowledge is power. Curious salespeople:
- Read a lot, on a wide range of subjects, so they can carry on a conversation with all sorts of people, topics, and interests.
- Are always probing for more information, and because they’re genuinely interested, they retain more and learn more.
- Approach a new subject or a new prospect, already having a store of knowledge on which to draw.
- Know at least a little—sometimes a lot—about a broad range of subjects, industries, businesses, trends, etc.
- Are more likely to dig deeper when researching a prospect (e.g., they click on more links).
- Don't stop until they know (and because they never know enough, they never stop seeking and learning).
- Seek additional education, training, and expertise on their own… not for recognition, but for their own satisfaction and benefit.
Curious people make the best questioners. They:
- Ask more questions and more insightful questions.
- Ask questions that are genuine and natural, not forced.
- Are sincerely interested in the answers—and it shows.
- Are more likely to ask follow-up questions, not simply accepting the prospect's response as the complete answer.
- Are more likely to seek clarification when they don’t fully understand something, rather than just nodding and smiling.
- Are more likely to discover more of the prospect’s needs, challenges, and opportunities— not stop at the first mention of a simple and convenient need.
- Are more likely to probe in more diverse areas, so they’re more likely to unearth needs, especially unconventional ones.
- Are more likely to get to the root cause of problems, simply because they won’t stop until they do.
- Are natural-born investigators... little Lt. Colombos, seeking more information about the observations they’ve made.
Curious people conduct more successful needs analyses, because they:
- Get charged up at the thought of learning something new, and begin, well in advance, mentally preparing for the discussion.
- Do more research and preparation than do other sellers.
- Are more interesting to talk to, so their questions flow easier and clients open up and participate more freely.
- Are better listeners—because they care about the answer.
- Make it obvious to the prospect that they give a damn about the answers they’re hearing, which prompts the prospect to keep talking.
- Get more information than the typical seller would in the same meeting.
Curious people have major advantages over others when it comes to problem-solving. They:
- Wonder a lot… their brain works overtime, conjuring up possibilities to be checked out.
- Take an interest in people and the world around them, so they respond quickly to trends, innovations, and current events.
- Are likely to take the time to figure out how what they sell really works—and how to make it work better for their clients.
- Are as curious about solutions as about problems. They attack relentlessly, not stopping until they find a solution.
- Develop more and better ideas, because their more insightful questions produce more interesting, useful information.
- Are more open to new ideas and concepts, and less hung up on whose idea it was.
- Don't easily take no for an answer. They start developing other ways to skin the cat, drain the swamp, tap the budget.
- Learn and know more about how other departments operate, making them a better orchestrator of solutions.
Curious people influence those around them in subtle ways and can build relationships more easily. They:
- Love to meet new people and experience all sorts of new situations, because they find it interesting.
- Are able to strike up a conversation with nearly anyone, because they’re sincerely curious and interested.
- Are able to connect with others on a variety of different levels, so they’re more likely to connect with more people.
- Enjoy learning about people and their individual differences and needs, the basis for strong relationships.
- Stimulate their peers and clients to think about things differently and to develop better answers for problems.
As if that’s not enough! Curious people also:
- Are more perceptive and aware.
- Are more flexible and open-minded.
- Are more energetic and work a little harder than the average.
- Never think they “know it all.”
Walt Disney is often remembered for his creativity and vision. Are you curious about what fueled those qualities? Here’s how he explained it:
“We keep moving forward because we're curious. Curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney
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Steve Marx is Charman Emeritus at The Center for Sales Strategy.