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Curious How to Win More Sales?

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

One of the major findings of our research on What Sales Winners Do Differently is that today's sales winners don't just sell the value of their products and services, they are the value. They are knowledgeable experts who bring ideas and new perspectives to the table. Essentially, they harness the power of ideas when selling, and it gives them the winning edge.

It's difficult to harness the power of ideas, however, if you, you know, don't like ideas.

Perhaps that's a bit simplistic, but the point is valid. Some people love to read. They are Harvard Business Review junkies. They watch webinars and seek out the newest research. They enjoy noodling over the 'next thing' on the horizon.

These people like ideas. They like knowing. Their natural curiosity helps them. They:

  • Uncover a broad set of needs: They ask probing questions, not because they were taught to, but because they have a genuine desire to know more.

  • Connect well with buyers: We all like to talk about ourselves, and curious sellers tend to be good listeners who get buyers talking.

  • Are seen as valuable experts: Their thirst for knowledge means they tend to be well read and they provide new, interesting, and relevant ideas to buyers.

Certainly they like to know 'in general', but when it comes to the job, insight sellers tend to become fluent in 7 knowledge areas.

7 Knowledge Areas Where Insight Sellers Excel

For buyers to see sellers as a source of insight, they must see them as knowledgeable in 7 key areas. Sellers who focus their curiosity to build knowledge in these areas are viewed as credible experts and win more sales.

  1. Industry: They know the industry landscape, players, and trends of both their customers' industries and their own.
  2. Dynamics of buyer businesses: They learn about the customer's products and services, their business model, the direction they're headed, and dynamics within the organization.
  3. Difference your company makes: They can articulate their company's value proposition—what they do, how they do it, and what differentiates them from the competition. And they know the business impact they can have when buyers buy.
  4. Needs your company solves: They know the full range of needs their company can solve. (Often sellers only know the needs of their particular division or department and miss out on major cross-selling opportunities.) Also, insight sellers make it their business to find out from every buyer what, specifically, their needs might be, and focus selling to satisfy each buyer individually.
  5. Products and services: They're able to speak intelligently about everything their company offers (even if it's not their specialty).
  6. Competition: They know the alternatives available to buyers and how they stack up.
  7. Buying and selling: They have knowledge, not only in the area of selling, but of the buying process, different buyer personas, and the specific reasons why buyers buy. This is essential to keep sales on track and position value properly.

Identifying Curiosity in Your Sales Team


So how do you know if you or the sellers on your team have a tendency to be curious?

Like assertiveness (another key tendency of insight sellers), curiosity can present itself in conversation, during interviews and meetings, as well as out in the field. Does the seller listen, ask questions, and lead the conversation in helpful directions? Does he or she pick up on opportunities to offer advice? Do they come across as a competent professional who's done their homework? Do they offer thoughts and ideas during the conversation that reflect that they are learners?

Without curiosity, sellers may comply with an insight selling strategy, but they'll never commit and fully embrace it because they aren't drawn to knowledge itself.

Here at RAIN Group, we use a sophisticated psychographic Insight Selling Assessment that tests and measures curiosity, along with other key insight seller attributes. It tells you who has what it takes to be successful as an insight seller.

If you want your team to be successful using an insight selling approach, make sure you ask: are they curious?

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Topics: Insight Selling