HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

The Business Value of Curiosity

You can't possibly be successful in business if you're not deeply curious about other people.
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Being successful at business requires many things: courage, creativity, people skills, and so forth.  However, there is one character trait whose importance is sometimes neglected: curiosity.

Curiosity is like one a Swiss Army Knife with all the attachments. It gets the job done in nearly every situation and is easy to access once you've got it in your tool kit. Curiosity helps you in:

  • Building customer relationships.  People are drawn to those who show interest in them.  Having an abiding fascination in others give you the opportunity to learn new things about them, thereby making a deeper connection connections.
  • Increasing your business acumen. Being curious about your own industry and the industries of your prospects drives you to learn more.  As you satisfy your curiosity, you're augmenting your ability to add value to your customers' business.
  • Solving customer problems.  It's a truism that customers are looking for solutions to their problems.  It's only possible to create a meaningful solution is you're motivated by true curiosity about what's actually going on and why those problems recur.
  • Negotiating win/win contracts.  Your ability to understand the positions of the other party are directly dependent upon your ability to feel true curiosity about them.  If you're not curious, you'll end up arguing about issues that aren't important.
  • Correcting sales errors.  When a customer buys from somebody else (or doesn't buy from anyone at all), if you're not curious about what that happened, you won't bother to find out why, and therefore can't learn from your failures.
  • Creating great products.  Would-be innovators who aren't curious about what makes people tick and why technology works (or doesn't) can't possibly create workable products or services that people want buy.
  • Motivating your employees. Some bosses think of employees as cogs in a corporate machine. However, if you want to get the best out of people, you must be curious about their dreams and desires.

In short, curiosity at the core of every successful business effort.  If you don't have curiosity, you can't expect to be successful as an entrepreneur, a salesperson or even as an engineer.   Period.

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IMAGE: bishoff/Flickr
Last updated: Aug 20, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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