Interested, Curious & Wondering Aren’t Buying Signals

Can you remember, back in the early days of your selling career, when you would get excited because you found someone that was interested in talking to you about your product orImage of heart and brain on question mark teeter totter for Sales Coaches' Corner blog "Ask Open-Ended Questions in Sales" service? Be honest. Have you ever gotten that feeling in your stomach when someone was curious to learn what you do? OK, have you ever spent the commission dollars in your mind the moment someone said they were wondering if you could help them with a business problem?

You know who you are. That’s right. You know who you are. Because there is a good chance you are still doing it.

Let’s face facts: selling is hard. Prospecting for sales appointments stinks. When someone “bites” it feels good. If this describes you that just means you’re normal. The problem comes when you feel so good that you let your guard down. When you take words like interested, curious & wondering & turn them into buying signals. Dangerous territory.

There are other “dangerous words” out there too. Do you ever fist pump your colleague when someone said they wouldn’t mind comparing you to their incumbent supplier? How about the times you went running to your boss’s office because a prospect said they were looking into your products technology? Who do you know that jumps on a couch, like Tom Cruise, whenever he finds a prospect that would consider meeting with him?

Other zingers: hoping, shopping around, evaluating, market study, checking out, etc. Don’t you dare take these words for anything more than what they are — conversation-starters. And that is perfectly fine.

These are words you will hear at the beginning of sales opportunities — conversation-starters. They are intellectual words used when the process is still early & can be nothing more than intellectual — & that is A-OK. When was the last time someone bought your product or service (at the dollars you charge) out of curiosity? When was the last time you got the P.O. because your prospect wondered if it would work? Never is a good answer. You aren’t selling the latest new flavor of Tic Tacs, or a $9.99 gadget spinner online (two things people buy out of wonderment & curiosity.)

It’s time to get serious about the career that feeds your family & take these words at face-value, & the face says (“not there yet, too soon…”). If the conversation stays intellectual & technical you are sure to be reduced to a commodity — you know that’s the truth. That happens to you every day.

It’s time to dig in & have serious business discussions. Let’s get away from the platitudes & high-level “fluffy” discussions that get you nowhere. Takes work. Takes a bit of skill. But, you can do it. You do it by asking questions. Open-ended questions that generate more than a one-word (yes or no) answer. Questions that (by design) help you gather more information. Questions that start with WHAT – HOW – WHY – WHEN – WHERE – WHO. You know this.

You learned them in the 3rd grade.

Then why did you stop asking them? One reason: it’s easier to not ask open-ended questions. It’s easy to keep the discussion high level — after all, “fluffy” feels good. Problem is: fluffy doesn’t sell!

Get comfortable with the open-ended question words & you just might start learning a lot more about your prospect’s serious business problems. You need to turn wondering into worried. How about considering into confused?  These are the feelings (emotions) that people & companies pay big dollars to get rid of.

Other suggestions: (there is not a 1:1 correlation between the words on the left & the words on the right – just examples)


The alternative is to keep it high-level & fluffy. Let your competitors do that. Remember: fluffy doesn’t sell!

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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