A key quality of a great salesperson is a “natural curiosity” about people and an authentic interest in what they have to say.

By Susan Saldibar

Have you ever had a really great conversation with someone only to walk away realizing you did all the talking? All they did was ask a few good questions and you were off and running. And they listened, with interest, to what you had to say. It sure felt like a conversation. How did they do that?

As it happens that is considered, by many, to be a key quality of a great salesperson. A “natural curiosity” about people and an authentic interest in what they have to say. Those are the people who really lean into what you’re saying, becoming more engaged with each answered question. So, what’s happening is a real conversation, not the “show and tell” so many salespeople, by habit, fall into.

How do you hire for “natural curiosity”? How do you even recognize it?

I recently read a blog post located on the Sherpa CRM website (Sherpa is a Senior Housing Forum partner) about the value of curiosity in senior living sales. The article centers around a book written by HubSpot’s Mark Roberge, in which he focuses on the role curiosity plays in effective selling. As Roberge, himself, puts it, “Great salespeople are naturally curious. They ask great questions, listen intently, and probe into points of interest.”

No kidding, and all that is great, but how do you hire for natural curiosity? Lindsay’s article provides some clues. Here are the five key points she pulls out of Roberge’s book:

  1. They make each exchange feel like a conversation, not an interrogation. “Great salespeople ask questions of potential customers in a manner that does not feel interrogative,” Roberge says. “Instead, potential customers feel like great salespeople are genuinely interested. After all, if the salespeople are truly great, they genuinely take interest in the responses of their prospects.”

  2. They ask questions that prove they’re listening. “Great salespeople educate potential customers through the questions they ask. Their questions are thought-provoking and elicit introspection,” Roberge says. You know you’re demonstrating curiosity when you hear a potential client say, “You know, nobody has ever asked me that before. Now that I think about it . . .”

  3. They’re not afraid of genuine connection. Potential customers want to be honest about their needs and feelings — but only with someone they can trust. “Great salespeople quickly build trust in order to earn the right to ask personal questions and to receive honest answers in return,” Roberge says.

  4. They know what they don’t know. Curiosity helps senior housing salespeople know which questions to ask to help seniors resolve emotional obstacles. “Great salespeople seek to understand customer goals, aspirations, fears, and struggles — all through tactical questioning,” Roberge says.

  5. They know curiosity is a demonstrable skill, not just a state of mind. Want to know if your curiosity is showing? Roberge offers a simple exercise: The next time you’re at a networking event or a party, see how long you can question a total stranger without mentioning anything about yourself. “If the individual walks away from the conversation feeling interrogated, you need more practice.”

Think about the team you have in place today. Could they be better trained in ways that bring out their natural curiosity? Sherpa says “yes” and they have built a video around the topic which you can watch HERE.

All said, maybe it’s time to toss out the old playbook next time you interview for sales. Maybe ask fewer questions about past conquests (which will be fudged anyway) and conduct some role play to get a better feel for their style and approach.

As Lindsay Toler’s article quotes Roberge as saying, “If the individual walks away thinking, ‘Wow, that was a really smart and interesting guy,’ you are on your way to becoming a great salesperson.”

You can read the full article “Reasons Why Curious People Are Great at Senior Living Sales” HERE.

For more information about Sherpa CRM, please visit their website:

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