Regarding sales people, one trait that I have noticed with the best sales people – including the sales superstars – is the trait of being curious. Why is curiosity important?
Curiosity is the natural need to discover reasons or just information about things we see, hear or touch during the day. For sales people, this is a very positive trait because a curious sales person is one who will ask more questions. More questions leads to new discoveries and information that can impact the progress of the sales process.
The best sales people use their curiosity to focus upon the customer or prospect and thereby ask more “in depth” questions to learn about various aspects of the customer’s business. Without this need for more important information, sales people tend to go into presentation mode or just talk about them-self or their company or product. Very little involvement from the customer in these situations, therefore, little buy-in or commitment from the customer or prospect.
Another factor that is important to the sales person is to discover what is really important to the customer or prospect. What is important to the sales person – may in fact – be of little importance or consequence to the customer or prospect. When you are curious, you will find out what is important to the customer or prospect and relate this knowledge in your next offering. Offerings or solutions need to be tailored to what is important to the decision maker if you want to make a sale AND gain a customer.
It is important to note that moderation is important in most areas of life and being curious is one of those areas. If a person has too much curiosity, then there is never enough information for these people. Sales people with too much curiosity will delay offering, presentations and in some cases I have seen – even delay making an appointment – until every rock is overturned and every piece of information is studied and analyzed. These people are only looking for the perfect situation or storm before launching. They usually get left at the gate by other sales people who have launched and gained a relationship with the customer or prospect.
Continuing this theme, if a sales person has no curiosity they usually fail to ask any questions of importance. If they ask questions at all, the questions are usually surface level or detail oriented questions – which interestingly – they don’t actually listen to the answers from the customer or prospect. Which is why you get sales people asking questions again or the customer or prospect had just provided the answer to the question. This action shows disrespect and possible arrogance on the part of the sales person.
While there are assessments that uncover the driver necessary for natural curiosity, it is important for you to think about how curious you are with your prospects and customers. Are you confident while asking questions? Is it really important for you to learn more about your customer or prospect? If asked by your sales manager – “tell me about the Z company” or “explain the current situation with x customer” can you answer these questions clearly and accurately with confidence? This becomes the real test of curiosity – real understanding of customer situations.
In summary, take a moment to reflect upon your customer – especially your major or A accounts – and their current situation. Could you sit down and write a white paper about your customers? Okay so you are not a writer, then could you clearly tell your management about the issues, needs and wants of your customer base? If you are lacking confidence in this task – then take action and make a list of things you need to learn about your customers AND GET CURIOUS!