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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Curiosity Killed the Cat, but Saved the Sales Rep


Have you ever noticed how many questions little kids ask? Every parent has a story to tell about the funny or embarrassing questions their kids have asked at the most inopportune times: “Why is Grandma so wrinkly?" or "Why do I have to eat those gross green things?”

If you don’t take control of the conversation, the third degree can go on indefinitely—because the curiosity in children is limitless!

Somewhere on the journey from childhood to adult professional, much of that unfettered curiosity gets left behind. We've become a society of head-nodders where people are often afraid they’ll look dense if they ask a question. You’ve seen it—people nodding in agreement, as if they completely understand, when you're certain they don’t. Their fear of losing the respect of others actually keeps them from learning.

New Call-to-actionWe naturally become more self-conscious as we grow older, which is related to those normal insecurities. Or maybe all those times our parents said, "Stop asking so many questions!" curbed a bit of our inquisitiveness.

Even expressions like "curiosity killed the cat" could have impacted our innate desire to pry.

In Sales, Curiosity is Your Friend

Whatever the cause, there's no doubt it happens—which is a problem if you're in sales because, in sales, curiosity is your friend

Great sellers are naturally curious, and they can't help but ask questions to learn more about how they can help. Great sales managers look for evidence of this curiosity when recruiting and selecting new sellers because they know that, driven by curiosity, their salespeople will uncover a treasure trove of information.

Armed with that information, sales professionals are free to design solutions and share ideas that will help their clients earn a strong return on their investment. 

Tell Me More

Sales managers, this part is for you. When you’re out in the field with your salespeople, pay attention to how often they say, "Tell me more." Those three words, when used correctly, are powerful.

Tell me more works well because it doesn’t say, "Hey, look at me! I don't understand what you are talking about." Instead, it says, "Wow, that’s interesting, and I would like to know more about it." Teach your sellers to use tell me more to show they’re paying attention, believe what they’re hearing is important, and want to learn more.

Remember that, as a sales manager, your job is to develop your people. So don’t jump in and save the day! Work with your salespeople before the meeting as they prepare the questions they want to ask and the topics they will want to cover. Unleash their buried curiosity by helping them to prepare in advance. You’ll develop better salespeople while, at the same time, securing better customers and better deals. 

While it might be true that curiosity killed the cat, in the world of sales, curiosity saves the sales rep.2021 Talent Magazine - Button

Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 9, 2013 and has been updated.

Topics: Needs Analysis Sales