Building a Curiosity Culture

“Curiosity is recognizing a gap in our knowledge about something that interests us, and becoming emotionally and cognitively invested in closing that gap through exploration and learning.  Curiosity often starts with interest and can range from mild curiosity to passionate investigation” 

Brene Brown “Atlas of the Heart”

How curious are you about people?  In my past dealing with my prospects I’ve only been curious enough to know if they needed my product of service. 

What I love about Brene Brown’s definition is how she talks about being invested.  Invested in the person, invested in them, not as a means to an end (a sale) but invested emotionally and cognitively to better understand them as a human being.

Traditional sales training would put this process in the ‘discovery’ phase of the relationship.  What are we discovering about the prospect? What are we discovering about their needs and pains (from a product perspective, not emotions)?

Mind the Gap

As Ms. Brown points out in the definition above, there’s a difference between gathering knowledge about something (or someone) that interests us and being invested in that thing or person on both an emotional (how am I feeling) and cognitive (what am I thinking) level.

When having conversations with potential clients this separates an empty suit sales rep from a sales professional that is selling from their heart.

A rep just wants the facts or just surface information.  They just want to gather enough information to move the conversation along in their sales cycle.  They are training to maintain control of the call and to keep improvisation to a minimum (because they might lose control).  But, in order to get to the ‘heart of the matter’, we need to go deeper and give up some control.

The Heart of the Matter

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”

Theodore Roosevelt

No time has that ever been truer than now.  According to Gallup, fewer than one in four US employees feel strongly that their organization cares about their wellbeing- the lowest percentage in nearly a decade. (

Don Barden in his book “The Perfect Plan” tells us that the average person can only recall 6% of the facts after a meeting, but they recall 100% of how we make them feel.

Curiosity shows we care and proves that we’re human, just like they are.

The Wild Ride

Curiosity opens us up to the unknown and that can lead to uncertainty.  But think about it, would we ever have known what the moon was made of if the space program hadn’t been launched and President John F. Kennedy hadn’t made the bold commitment to land a human on the moon?

“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.  We have to ask questions, admit to not knowing, risk being told that we shouldn’t be asking, and, sometimes, make discoveries that lead to discomfort.” 

Brene Brown

I want to challenge you to become passionately curious about the people you’re meeting with in the next month.  Rather than going in with a set agenda or script, be curious about them as people first.  Find out what their goals are, what the last movie they say that made them cry or laugh until they cried.  Find out about them on a human level and after be curious about their role, their industry, their challenges.  By doing that they won’t be a role, and industry or a challenge that you’re there to fix.  They will be a human being who you’ve connected with that is in a role, an industry, or has a problem that you can talk about.  

Where to Start?

I know this might seem a bit foreign to you.  Here are three tips to start being more curious on calls:

  1. Start with someone you trust- have a call with a coworker or networking partner? Take it a bit deeper and get curious about them.
  2. It doesn’t have to be super personal or creepy.  Ask about business goals, personal goals around a hobby or for a restaurant recommendation in their area or neighborhood- the important thing is to start!
  3. Make sure you’re being open and vulnerable with their questions.  Nothing will ruin trust-building faster than if they perceive this to be an interrogation!

There’s much to this and I’m admittedly learning as I’m going.  But, I want to help you!

I’m curious about your thoughts and your opinions about this.  Comment your thoughts below, but also, let’s talk!  I can provide you with a 30-minute curiosity coaching session where we can get to know each other as humans and talk about how curiosity can benefit us in the world of sales! 

Click HERE to schedule a time!

Originally published on Bill McCormick’s LinkedIn.

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