Here’s to Curiosity
When I first started in sales, I remember being surprised at how passionate I was about having the chance to grow revenue for a business. I was excited about having the chance to close deals and make a real impact.
I was so excited, in fact, that I didn’t really bother to listen to prospective clients. I was too focused on mimicking the style of the best salespeople on my team, writing down questions prospects asked for future use, and memorizing talking points about the value of the service we offered. I thought I was doing all the right things.
It took just five words from a prospect to make me realize my mistakes: “You’re not listening to me!”
I quickly realized the prospect was right. And as I continued in my sales career, I realized something else: it’s not just listening that’s important. It’s curiosity. Listening is polite. Curiosity — about the person, their business, their goals, their concerns — is authentic. It can’t be faked. I realized that I’d gotten into sales in the first place in large part because I’m a curious person. I enjoy talking to people. I truly want to understand where prospects are coming from, and figure out how I might be able to help make their jobs easier.
Approaching sales conversations this way — with curiosity at the fore — has helped me develop better rapport with clients. It has helped me close more deals. (And no other prospects have criticized me for not listening!)
I later discovered a quote from Albert Einstein, which I hung on my desk. It says, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” I look at it every day as a reminder. At times, I wonder whether the questions I ask prospects might be too difficult or intrusive for prospects to answer. Inspired by this quote, I began adding a disclaimer: “I’m sorry, I am just genuinely curious about you guys. I hope that’s ok.” Clients can tell I’m not just paying lip service.
For those of you who read my blog, it’s clear that I enjoy sharing sales wisdom. I’m always interested in figuring out the best ways to phrase questions and deliver the right tone. Sales professionals today also now have access to great sales call data through AI. However, those aren’t solutions in themselves — they’re just tools to bolster our curiosity and create a conversation which is relevant to both parties.
At the end of the day, every sales conversation starts and ends with curiosity. If I lose a sale, I learn from that loss and take that lesson with me to my next sales call. If I close a sale, I apply my curiosity in working with that new client.
If you think about it, you really don’t have anything to sell without genuinely understanding one another. If you don’t genuinely understand your prospect or have an inquisitive mind to learn all about them, you probably won’t have that client for too long.
So, here’s to passionate curiosity. It requires no special talent.