ABC: Always be Curious — Why Curiosity is Essential for Successful Selling

Ryan Walsh, CEO and Founder
Ryan Walsh, CEO and FounderDec 29, 2023

ABC is a classic sales mantra. It’s a favorite of Alec Baldwin’s character in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross


The phrase suggests that for a salesperson, the name of the game is closing deals. And salespeople should be working every opportunity, and every angle, to get their deals closed. 

But have the days of ABC passed? 

Changing Dynamics Between Sellers and Buyers

In an era of ubiquitous information, the balance of power in many sales scenarios has flipped in the direction of the buyer. 

Take the classic sales scenario: buying a car. 

In 1992 when Glengarry Glen Ross was released, a buyer would go into a car dealership without much information about the basics of the transaction that they were considering. They probably didn’t know the fair trade-in value of their current vehicle. They may not have even known what model of car they were most interested in buying before they came to the dealership. And if they didn’t know that, they certainly wouldn’t know if the car that they ended up considering was also available at a lower price at the dealership across town.

In this dynamic, you easily imagine the cliche of the car salesman playing out. He —it was almost always a man — would try to manipulate the buyer into believing that whatever car was available was the right fit. And he would also try to throw in additional add-ons with no real value as a way of maximizing the price (and his commission).

Now contrast that with the car buying experience today. 

Buyers will usually start their search online. They will identify cars that might be a fit and consume reviews and recommendations from third party publications, YouTube as well as friends and family. 

In some cases they can do the purchase entirely online. But let’s assume they do go to a dealership. . Today, the buyer would likely have checked online first to find out whether the model that they’re interested in is in stock. The typical sticker price of the car, and how much the dealer paid for the car are readily available online. They will also have researched the fair price of any trade-in, and may already have an offer for their current car in-hand. 

Facing a buyer armed with all of this information, the salesperson will likely have very limited success with the strong-armed closing tactics that would be encouraged by the old-school ABC approach.

But it’s not just selling cars. Buyers in every industry – from software to healthcare to financial services — are all more informed and less likely to be swayed by sales tactics that worked 10 or 20 years ago. 

So you might think that the days of ABC as a mantra are long gone. But you’d be wrong. 

ABC is alive and well. And it’s one of the most important tactics for sales success today:


Understanding Curiosity in Sales

Curiosity is the strong desire to learn or know something. In the context of sales, it translates into a keen interest in understanding clients’ needs, challenges, and the dynamics of their industries. But why is this so vital for sales success?

The Power of Questions

Curiosity drives sales professionals to ask insightful questions. Unlike generic queries, curious salespeople dig deeper, uncovering the underlying needs and motivations of their clients. This not only helps in tailoring solutions more effectively but also builds rapport and trust. Clients are more likely to engage with salespersons who demonstrate a genuine interest in solving their problems.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

The business world is ever-evolving, with new technologies, trends, and customer preferences emerging constantly. A curious mindset compels sales professionals to stay informed and ahead of the curve. This knowledge not only impresses clients but also enables salespeople to anticipate changes and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Enhancing Creativity and Innovation

Curiosity fuels creativity. When you’re curious, you’re more open to exploring new ideas and perspectives. This can lead to innovative solutions that differentiate you from competitors. In sales, offering unique and creative solutions can be the key to winning over clients and closing deals.

Building Better Relationships

Curiosity fosters deeper connections. By showing genuine interest in your clients’ businesses and personal aspirations, you create a bond that goes beyond a mere transactional relationship. This can lead to long-term partnerships and repeat business, which is invaluable in sales.

How to Cultivate Curiosity

Now that we’ve established the importance of curiosity in sales, let’s look at how you can cultivate this critical skill.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Practice asking questions that elicit more than a yes/no response. Encourage clients to share their thoughts and feelings in detail.

Listen Actively

Curiosity isn’t just about asking questions; it’s also about listening attentively to the answers. Active listening helps you understand the client’s perspective and respond more effectively.

Stay Informed

Keep up with industry news, trends, and emerging technologies. This not only makes you more knowledgeable but also sparks curiosity about how these changes can benefit your clients.

Seek Feedback

Regular feedback from clients and peers can provide new insights and perspectives that fuel your curiosity.

Embrace Uncertainty

Don’t shy away from situations where you don’t have all the answers. Embracing uncertainty can lead to exploration and learning.

Always Being Curious Means Success in Modern Sales 

Curiosity is more than just a personality trait. It’s a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your sales effectiveness. It leads to better questions, deeper understanding, innovative solutions, and stronger relationships. By nurturing your curiosity, you’re not just improving your sales skills; you’re setting yourself up for long-term success and satisfaction in your career.

Salespeople who are perpetually curious are often the ones who find the most success. They are the ones who continually learn and adapt, who build lasting relationships, and who stand out in a sea of competitors. So, if you’re looking to improve your sales effectiveness, start by fostering your curiosity. It could be the key to unlocking your full potential in the world of sales.

Remember, in sales knowledge isn’t just power — it’s profit. Embrace your curiosity, and watch as it transforms not only your approach to selling but also your results. With each curious question, you’re not just selling a product or service; you’re offering a solution, creating a connection, and paving the way for success. So, stay curious, stay engaged, and watch as your sales soar to new heights.

Curiosity Changes Our Car Sales Scenario

Let’s revisit our challenged modern car salesperson. 

We understand that the buyer is very well informed about the model of car that they want, and the price that they want to pay. So, what is the curious salesperson to do? How about asking questions.

Questions like: 

  • When is the last time you bought a car? 
  • How often do you usually buy cars? 
  • Do you like to purchase or would you consider a lease? 
  • What was your first car? 
  • Do you have kids? How old are they? Oh, they’re 15 and 13… so they’ll be driving before too long? So, safety features are probably important to you? 
  • Would you be in the market for another car in a year or two when you have another driver in the house? 

Contrast this approach to the salesperson who tries to unload whatever they happen to have on the lot, and you’ll find that more often the more curious salesperson will eventually do a lot more closing.

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