Are you a Curious Storyteller?

I recently lead a training for my team that set out to encourage our sales and delivery associates to dive deeper into ‘discovery.’ Translation: Listen more, talk less and uncover your customer’s problem. All too often, companies fall into the trap of focusing on saying the “right” thing versus “listening” for the real thing.

“You must identify client pain or discomfort. Otherwise, you won’t be able to solve their problem.”

To achieve this, one must become a curious storyteller. What is a curious storyteller? defines curious as an attribute that embodies an eagerness to learn, to know, to pry, or to inquire. An inquisitive disposition marks a great sales person because they have a genuine curiosity to learn and explore new information about people.

Furthermore, a storyteller is an individual who tells or writes stories. In the world of sales, let’s think of client testimonials or case studies instead of stories. Imagine those two skills together, exhibiting curiosity and sharing client successes. Imagine how good of a salesperson that would be for a company? What a bizarre phenomenon – someone who listens and solves customer problems with real customer experiences!

“I teach my sales team to be as curious as they can.” 

In a recent training session, I made a comment to one of our most senior salespeople by asking him how great would it be if you could bring your five-year-old during customer meetings. He said, “Why is that?” I replied, “because her favorite word or phrase is ‘why’ or ‘why is that, daddy?’” He laughed but then acknowledged my point as an important analogy for all salespeople to remember. We need to dive deeper into customer pain to ensure that we can offer them the best solution.

In every meeting, customers always inform their current or desired future state through words, phrases or clues. Our curiosity needs to shine by listening and asking more questions to show how eager we are to understand our partner and provide value. I tell myself and my team that we should always strive to hear our customers say in a meeting say, ‘Wow! That was a good question.’ Why? True differentiation.

“Customers don’t remember the salespeople who talked. Customers remember the ones who listen actively through solid eye contact, great note taking and inquisitive questioning.”

I’ve tasked our sales associates to adopt this new attitude of being a curious storyteller. Our firm has already seen this behavior adopted throughout the organization. Not only is this changing the way we interact with our customers, but it’s also driving a culture of learning and growth.

Too many times, people in the business world get a job only to stop learning. They work 9 to 5 pm and come home to the trivial activities that don’t further their journey toward a more successful career. One of my mentors, John Kaplan, says that to be successful in any career “you have to believe what you do matters.” After nearly 20 years of business experience, I’ve seen many salespeople not dive deep enough into client discovery, only to limit their abilities in fostering deeper client relationships. I believe this occurs when salespeople don’t truthfully believe what they do matters.

Have you asked yourself what problems do you solve for your customers? How do you solve them differently?

Realizing the impact of your work will inspire the confidence you need to ask more questions during the discovery process, regardless of your line of business. Additionally, you will begin to foster a “growth” mindset to start reading books, magazines and blogs that align with your industry or profession. Challenge yourself daily and ask: Does what I do matter? Do the problems I solve at work help others? Give this theory a chance and you may surprise yourself with happiness in your daily life and career.

As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog, but your job is not over. I want to hear from you! Please leave a comment and describe what you do, why it matters and what problems do you solve?

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