CEOs and Sales Leaders: Is lack of curiosity impeding your salespeople’s results?

Curiosity. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is not good…10 is world class), how would you rate the “curiosity” of your salespeople?

If it’s below 7, keep reading. defines curiosity as “the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.”

Many of the CEOs and Sales Leaders I speak with want their sales people to be more curious.

Why, you may ask? (gold star for being curious!)

They know, that the “uncommon” sales conversations are the ones that yield the most results.

The conversations that goes beyond feature, function and benefit conversation, aka the “pitch.”

Or the conversation focused purely on ROI and business case.

These executives know that their buyers are human – human first, buyers second.

Humans have a deep need to be understood, at business level AND at a personal level.

They appreciate the untypical questions. They appreciate it when sales people go beyond surface level contextual business questions, ask them for their point of view, or their experience on a particular topic or issue. And they reciprocate in kind – and build equal business stature in the process.

Here are my 3 tips for developing curiosity in sales people, that you as CEO or Sales Leader can influence.

PURPOSE: What do your sales people think their job is? To hit quota? Sell stuff?

If this is what you’ve told them, you can’t be surprised that they treat your customers in a transactional manner – and you’ll probably find that your sales cycles are long and that not enough opportunities end in wins. The executives who lead world class sales organizations make it clear that their salespeople’s purpose is to measurably improve their customers’ business and personal condition. In making this distinction, sales people automatically go beyond trite “me too” questions and conversations and focus on jointly building a “case for change” and assessing if their is a good fit between your clients and your business.

BUILDING A CASE FOR CHANGE: Once your sales people become clear on their purpose, you’ll find them naturally moving from conversations focused on “why choose us” to co-creating a case for change with your customers – “why change and why now.” They’ll be more interested to understand how customers do business today, what works, what doesn’t, what good work can be built on/expanded on, what needs to stop, what needs to start, what risks need mitigating in the future and more…

And they’ll be able to naturally guide the customer to articulating their business case (not your salesperson’s) – what success looks like, what they measure, what results they get today, what results they want in the future, in what time and what the $ value of that is…and does it make sense to change and hire you…or not (in which case your sales person can exit gracefully without investing too much time and resources).

THE PERSONAL WIN: It’s at this stage when your salesperson can truly differentiate themselves and your company from your competition because they’ve taken the time to build credibility and trust by having a very different conversation than the client is used to.

Human beings buy on emotion and back their decisions up with logic. Being curious allows your sales person to artfully uncover the case for doing business and then really make the other party feel heard and understood by asking for “the personal win.” What will the stakeholder have to gain as a result of buying from you? It’s in these answers where unshakeable relationships are created.

Being curious helps your salespeople make more sales, bigger deals, in a lot less time.

What will you do as a leader to exercise your salespeople’s curiosity muscle?

Thoughts, comments?

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53% of sales reps are not hitting quota…

CEOs and SALES LEADERs: if, as research firms suggest, 53% of sales reps are not hitting quota, this is a LEADERSHIP issue. 2 suggestions…

  1. Review your value proposition and messaging. If it looks and sounds like this, then you need to change it because it is focused on you/your company and not your potential customer.

“I/we help companies to…”

This OLD message framework forces your sales people to focus on “why choose us” messaging, which stops them from creating outcome, impact and results focused messaging that your potential client will be interested in. This OLD messaging framework positions you/your company as hero.

Focusing on impact/outcome/results messaging answers the “why change, why now” question in the clients mind and positions you/your sales people as guide and mentor and your clients as the hero. Think you as Obi Wan Kenobi and your client as Luke Skywalker.

2. Are your sales people talking to people who can say “yes” AND mobilize internal resources and create or access budget (according to The Chasm Group 85% of budgets are already spoken for on existing initiatives) ?

To often sales people are wasting their time with mid ranking executives who are “invested in the status quo, can’t say yes, but can say no.” And, even if they are working with a mid ranking exec who wants to drive change, the mid ranking exec probably can’t push the deal through/up the chain of command.

What difference would it make to your business if your sales people were speaking to executives who are interested in change or can drive change…and create budgets?

And here’s the kicker. If you’re a CEO or Sales Leader reading this, what would you do if you wanted to do business with another company? Would you reach out to a mid ranking exec with a Manager, Director or even a VP title?

No? Why not?

The answer I get from most leaders is because they know that decisions to change are made at the C suite level and that those decisions are made fast.

If that’s the case, then why are you letting your sales people prospect into mid ranking execs where they have low probability of success (research from SBI shows that as much as 58% of deals end in ‘no decision’.) You’re wasting your sales people’s lives and putting your company’s growth at risk.

If you’d like to have a conversation about how to solve for these issues, contact me. I’ll share some uncommon ideas and insights that could well accelerate your growth trajectory.