Being Curious Pays Dividends Good News - Curiosity Doesn’t Kills Sales Cats

By Jeremy Blake on July 1, 2021

It is great to have an expertise in your profession. Being a King or a Queen of one trade is better than being a Jack of all. However, when it comes to all other of aspects of life on planet earth and beyond it is a very valuable thing to know a little about a lot.

For salespeople who ask me how do you best build rapport? My number one answer is to be curious, ask questions, be keen to learn. I can think of many times when my curiosity has paid dividends. When winning a large US contract via a web call, (this was nearly ten years ago, Zoom type things did exist), I could tell that one of the directors making the decision was not North American, American, rather North American, Canadian. How did I know this? It was because of his accent, and as someone who has always been keen on learning and “doing” accents both before drama school and afterwards, I thought this was my opportunity to have some fun and point out my curiosity. I asked, “Ben as the only a Canadian in the room do you have a slightly different opinion to the US directors?”

Ben didn't answer the question and wanted to know how I knew he was Canadian even though he'd lived in the states for 15 years, “it's a certain vowel sound”, I pointed out “ah he said I know which one!” He went on to explain how important tone and appreciation of where people came from across the United States was a significant way to bond and build rapport for this company that was selling a range of short breaks and nights in hotels.

Now of course we didn't win the contract just on the fact, I was curious, and my curiosity had led to an understanding, it was still another card we had to play in winning the hand.

If you don't have a hobby and it seems increasingly hobbies are making a welcome return, you can find out about someone else's, whether it's a sport or a pastime, this curiosity and ability to listen and ask questions about a whole range of topics from flowers to flooring isn't reserved just for salespeople.

When having an operation a few years back the nurse informed me that she had a first-class honours degree in sports small talk. I said “well I may not be so useful to you. My favourite sport and the one I only know much about is tennis, I follow and watch the others but perhaps you talk to people about other more popular sports?” “Oh no she said, I love tennis. I'm just wondering if you think as the clay court season ends which of those Spanish players can repeat the same form on the grass at the pre-Wimbledon events and of course SW19 itself?” Whoa I was in heaven! “Well Feliciano Lopez…” and we went on.

I was most curious to know how she had achieved this feat of learning about so many sports. Susie the NZ nurse told me, “I take 10 minutes every day to read the back of two newspapers, and that keeps me on top form.”

What do you need to be more curious about? What do the people you're selling to love? What are their hobbies?

Do you have 10 minutes a day? Yes, you do.

A very wise person once said, “We will not starve for lack of wonders, but from lack of wonder.” Are you curious to know where I got that from? Email me and I’ll connect you to one of the best films being released this year…