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TLSA International

TLSA International

Marketing Executive

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Any seasoned sales expert knows this to be true


Curiosity never killed the sales person

Although most people associate sales with charm, curiosity is one of the most underrated attributes of a successful seller.

Any seasoned sales expert will tell you: never make assumptions about clients. You might have a face-value judgment, but don’t let that sway the way you approach business with them. Until you know all the facts, you risk making mistakes.

The best sales people are the most curious. They seek to understand exactly what the client wants, what their problems are, what their objections are and what drives them. If they really want to build a relationship, they’ll find out about their client’s family, what they do on the weekend and where they’ve booked to go on holiday.

It’s the curiosity of successful sellers that drives them to ask lots of high-quality questions that elicit useful answers. In turn, these answers make selling much easier.

Gaining a clear picture of a client’s needs and motivations is integral to finding a solution for them. Sustainable, long-lasting business relationships are reliant on sales people providing customers with genuine solutions.

Until humans develop psychic abilities, sales people need to ask good, intelligent questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of what clients want. What sellers sometimes forget is that many people love talking about themselves and asking questions is something that allows them to do this. Sales people can never be too curious.

What makes a good question?

The definition of a ‘good’ question depends on what you want it to do for you. To know what makes a good question, you have to identify what information you’re trying to find out, then create a series of questions that target that information. In client meetings, you want to gain as much detail as you can about a client’s desires, problems, budget, timescale and motivation. To get all of this information and gain a clear picture of your client’s situation, you’re going to have to work.

Whatever it is you want to know, don’t just wait to be told. Actively seek out the information you require to shape the conversation. For richer, more informative answers ask open questions: questions that start with who, what, where, how and why? For example:

“How has the last year been for your company?”

You’re likely to get a detailed answer, but if you don’t, chase this question up with others:

“What are your greatest concerns within the business?”

Do not be afraid of answering questions that highlight an individual’s problems; as a sales person, you want to discover their problems and setbacks as soon as possible in order to fix them with your product or service! The more questions you ask, the more flattered they will feel that you are so interested in them.

Try not to rely too much on closed questions, for example ones that elicit a yes/no response. These can make conversations stilted and awkward. There’s nothing worse than someone giving monosyllabic responses as you desperately attempt to pursue conversation with them. Often, it’s not until individuals have been trained in advanced questioning techniques that they realise how much business they have missed out on because they didn’t ask the right questions.


If asking questions feels awkward or invasive to you, then just start practising. Even better, do a bit of training. Take a greater interest in your friends, family and colleagues and see how much information they will volunteer. Probe them; use follow-up questions that encourage them to explore an issue in more depth. Push yourself to think of interesting questions to ask and get into a habit of doing that often.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’s likely to reward the sales person and strengthen both their business relationships and their profits.

By Richard Sprott

Richard is Business Development Manager at TLSA International. He builds targeted solutions for clients that meet their organisational needs. 

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Author Profile Picture
TLSA International

Marketing Executive

Read more from TLSA International

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