One of the best sales skills you can develop is curiosity. When you have a genuine interest in learning about your prospect’s business, the authenticity shines brightly.
In a recent HBR article, psychologist and author, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, identifies three attributes of curiosity: Being an unconventional thinker, intellectually hungry, and seeking new experiences or relationships.
1. Be an Unconventional Thinker
According to Chamorro-Premuzic, unconventional thinkers question authority, have an independent spirit, and avoid following mainstream trends. Most salespeople exhibit these characteristics—especially when it comes to having an independent spirit. Put these tendencies to work for you. Look through the lens of curiosity at the businesses of your prospects and clients. Seek to understand what they do, why they do it, and how they do it. Look at business as a sport, a game that can be played multiple ways to win.
Unconventional thinkers question the way things are done. They are always wondering if there could be a better way to accomplish things. Could it be done more efficiently? Is there a way it could be done with fewer steps? Why do we even do this in the first place?
If you are more conventional in your thinking, look for ways to become more creative. Stretch yourself by asking more questions. The more you do this, the more opportunity you will uncover. If you fail to ask questions of the status quo, you will fail to displace the status quo. Thus, you will fail to sell.
2. Be Intellectually Hungry
Smart sales professionals develop a hunger for new ideas. They are always on the lookout for better, faster, more efficient ways to do everything. They realize that they are one insight away from transformation. This drives them to continually consume knowledge.
Look for new ideas from a variety of places. Marketing guru, Jay Abraham, challenges his students to look outside their industry to other industries. Examine successful business models with curiosity, asking themselves, “What could I learn from this business that I could adapt to my own business?”
If you are more of a conventional thinker, I challenge you to build an appetite for new ways of thinking. Much like you might venture to a new restaurant to try out some new kinds of food, try reading something different. Pick up a book, read articles, or listen to podcasts that stretch your thinking. This content may be scientific, historical, or philosophical. It may seem to be completely unrelated to business or sales. However, engaging with these new ideas will help to stretch your thinking. It also makes you more interesting as a person, helping you drive more engaging conversations.
3. Seek New Experiences and Relationships
Curious people intentionally look for opportunities to try new things and interact with a variety of people. By definition, sales professionals are required to develop new relationships. However, over time there can become a tendency to work with the same people. We can get comfortable serving the same set of clients, finding ourselves in a rut with our income plateaued into a flat line.
New relationships are the lifeblood of sales. Getting to know interesting people makes the job of sales fulfilling. New relationships open the door to new opportunities. My good friend, Larry Levine, says that if you want a full sales funnel, you need to always be filling your relationship funnel.
Similarly, sales professionals should continually look for ways to foster new experiences. Trying out new things nurtures curiosity. Go to different restaurants. Attend a concert for a different type of music than you normally listen to. Do something different.
One of my favorite things to do is travel. I love going to places in the UK or Australia that are similar to my life in the United States, but different enough to spark my creativity. It makes me see the world differently, stretching me as a person. I also get to meet people who see the world differently. All of this helps me become a more curious person and a better sales professional.
What’s Your Curiosity Profile?
How curious are you? You can find out in just a few minutes on the HBR website. Click HERE. You’ll get insight into ways you can develop your curiosity as a sales professional.
After you take the test, I’d love it if you’d share your observations in the comments below.