Curiosity, Salespeople and The Cat

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Sep 08, 2011 @ 09:09 AM

Curiosity killed the cat, but it also has nine lives.  So which is it? I think that it's more likely that while its curiosity may get the cat in trouble from time to time, it also makes each of its "lives" much more worthwhile.

curious catRon Insana of CNBC was speaking on the radio the other day. He was recounting a theme from his interviews with successful business leaders. While commitment, passion and optimism were all on his list of crucial traits for success, curiosity was atop the list.

Whether people came from finance, technology, retail or commercial backgrounds, they all demonstrated insatiable curiosity often turning the conversation around off microphone or camera and effectively interviewing Ron. The process occurred naturally without technique or self-interest. They simply wanted to learn more and understand another’s experience.

Salespeople know that asking questions is probably the most important thing they do, but frequently the questions sound canned or self-motivated. They often form opinions rapidly about the meaning of what they heard without verifying that their opinion is accurate.

To me my aunt was an example of the curiosity innate in so many successful people that Inman described. In every conversation I can remember with her she made me feel like what I was thinking really mattered. She had the ability to draw you out and get to the heart of things. I suspect all of you have known or know someone like this. Learn from them.

Curiosity is a genuine human trait that creates stronger relationships. It’s a natural act. Go to a preschool and watch the kids. Their faces are alive with curiosity and excitement for the moment.

So my suggestion is, be a kid again and act on your natural curiosity. The “rub” will likely be your ego and desire to make yourself the center of things, so you may need to practice being curious.

Topics: sales, asking questions, curiosity, sales tips

Sales Force Productivity Declines when Control Shifts to Consensus

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 @ 08:08 AM


In a recent conversation I heard the phrase “socialize the idea”. The premise being that more frequently prospects are saying this is necessary.

For simplicity let call this consensus building. The question is why do prospects believe it's necessary? Obviously, it will depend on where they are in the decision making hierarchy, the more senior their role the less you’ll hear about the need to socialize.

The standard answer about why this must happen is it’s a necessary part of, sometimes mandated, the buying process. This sounds rational and it may be true, but what is the motive behind the motive? It’s usually because they are afraid of something.

Here are a couple possible motives. I suggest you make your own list.

  • This is new territory for them; they don’t have experience with it
  • They have a new manager or peer in their group
  • There are uncomfortable with risk
  • They don’t like making decisions
  • Confrontation (directness) is outside their comfort zone
  • They are under the microscope

In today’s business climate people want security and socializing an idea makes them feel safer. It also means that projects get delayed, change doesn’t happen and status quo rules. Start with this premise; opportunities usually disappear when prospects start the consensus building process.

To overcome the fear you need to do the following:

  • Remind them of the compelling reasons for action
  • Increase their understanding of what they gain from acting
  • Identify the specific fear or discomfort
  • Get them to vocalize this to you
  • Show them how their fear is the real problem

Have you noticed that prospects want to socialize your ideas more lately?

What are you doing to overcome this challenge?

Topics: Overcoming Obstacles, sales tips, improve sales performance, Under achievers

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