Curiosity Won't Kill You

My son was very disappointed recently. He was doing a project for school, and decided to investigate dinosaurs and how they roared. He found instead that they likely didn't roar at all. Imagine the disappointment in my seven year-old. He's crestfallen at the concept that his favorite thing about his favorite creatures is just a myth. How much less terrifying is a T-Rex now?

Sometimes when you ask questions you don't already know the answer to, you learn things you don't want to know. As disappointing as that may be, it doesn't make the information any less true or valuable. Regardless of whether the answer you think you'll get is the one you'll want to hear, should it stop you from asking the question? 

No. But it does, and that's holding you back. Big time.

Salespeople talk themselves out of asking great questions like that all the time. This identifies two big issues:

  1. If you're only asking questions you think you know the answers to, then you're manipulating your customers. 

  2. If you're not eager to learn something, then why ask a question at all? (refer back to #1 above) 

The majority of salespeople are simply framing their pitches in the interrogative, as if adding a question mark to the end of their statement makes for better selling. It doesn't. 

You can be different though. You can capitalize on opportunities that others miss by asking questions that others won't.

When you ask questions that others won't ask, you learn things that others won't learn...

...when you learn things that others won't learn, you can solve problems that others can't solve.

...when you can solve problems that others can't solve, you will make sales that others can't make. 

This is easier said than done, of course. It's scary to go into uncharted territory- to let curiosity lead the way rather than a pre-charted, scripted, beaten path. 

Welcome to professional salesmanship.

This is where those of us who know what we're doing live and thrive. We're not afraid of what we'll hear because we're there to be curious and learn, not just arrived at a predetermined outcome. What we hear may alter our course, and might even impact the ultimate destination, but we know we'll get to where we need to go, and the experience of this journey will inform the next one.

No, it's not as predictable, or safe, as sticking to what's familiar. But in order to thrive, you need to stick your neck out, and sometimes even challenge your customers to do the same. To be certain, you should never bully or disrespect anyone with your questioning. However, being willing to go where others won't, and having a reputation for asking great questions, is inspiring. How many of your customers would describe you as inspirational? Probably not enough.

Not to be disregarded is the kind of connection with your customers that only curiosity can create. Never underestimate the power of genuine interest in another human being.

Buster learned something this week that right now he would rather not know. But I know beyond a doubt that this new information will spark a new curiosity in him, and he'll get a lot more than he bargained for in the end.