The Future of Sales Training is Curiosity

There are over 20 million salespeople in the U.S. alone, according to Selling Power Magazine. Most of these reps are jockeying to close deals, meet quota, and move up in their sales org. And that’s how it should be—sales requires a strong drive to succeed, an ability to engage with people, and a wholehearted persistence. But sales leaders who want their performance, and those of their teams, to skyrocket should build their sales training with insights from a doctor.

Ramsey Musallam teaches high school chemistry, and his life was radically changed in May of 2010 when he was diagnosed with a large aneurysm at the base of the thoracic aorta—a clot in his heart. This life-threatening news led to life-saving surgery and a life-changing perspective on learning and growth. In 2013, Ramsey took to the TED stage to share what he learned from his doctor:

While Ramsey applied these three lessons to his context—the classroom—his insights about learning are exactly what the aspiring sales team needs to hear. Consider these three sales training tips:

The future of sales belongs to the curious, those who embrace the mess, and those who avidly practice reflection.

Curiosity comes first

Ramsay said of his doctor, “His curiosity drove him to ask hard questions about the procedure, about what worked and what didn’t work.” Salespeople should apply this same consultative selling technique to their interactions with prospects. In fact, it’s clear that curiosity is a huge advantage when selling—both tactically and philosophically.

From a tactical perspective, the curious sales man or woman wants to engage with and get to know the client’s needs—they don’t assume that they know everything. That means, they need to ask more questions than they offer answers. In fact, reps who ask more questions close more deals, according to Their research discovered that there’s a sweet spot between 11 and 14 questions per prospect interaction results in the most closed deals.

Similarly, reps who are naturally curious simply learn more—about people, businesses, industries, and their own performance. Find the sales training ideas that help your team become more curious, and make them a regular part of your sales training plan template.

Embrace the mess

Ramsay’s doctor also, “Embraced, and didn’t fear, the messy process of trial and error, the inevitable process of trial and error.”

There’s no if, ands, or buts about it—sales is messy. 

Every day, every deal, and every stakeholder that a salesperson interacts with is different. This means that one-size-fits-all approaches to sales won’t cut it. Standardized scripts and questions won’t get a modern salesperson very far. Instead—accept the messiness of client needs and work to offer a unique value proposition to the prospect. That means every deal will require thoughtfully-customized deal mechanics.

Some levers for negotiation to include in a sales training module are:

  • Term Length—offer a discount for a longer contract length.
  • Contract Size—offer a discount for a large package purchase.
  • Timeline—offer a discount for a quick close.
  • Payment Terms—offer a discount for annual payments, as opposed to monthly (etc.).

Don’t expect every deal to look the same—remain curious and keep working to discover custom sales solutions for each prospect.

Practice reflection

Lastly, Ramsey noted his doctor’s thoughtfulness, “Through intense reflection, he gathered the information that he needed to design and revise the procedure, and then, with a steady hand, he saved my life.”

While sales requires lots of hustle, it also requires introspection and thought.

The curious sales rep should intentionally take time to consider three ideas:

  • About prospecting: Where am I seeing great success? Which companies in that industry or vertical could benefit from our product?
  • About each deal: What does this customer really need? What problem are they trying to solve?
  • About themselves: What am I doing well on sales calls? What do I need to practice?

Take the time to intentionally consider past performance, as well as areas for future growth. Make sure that your sales training manual PDF—or even better, your online training software— encourages sales reps to cultivate curiosity and retrospection. These moments will lead to opportunities and closed deals that your reps would never have imagined.

A new kind of sales training

Ramsay leaves us with a thought that, when revised for sales managers, both informs and inspires a modern strategy for creating sales training resources:

“But if we as [sales leaders] leave behind this simple role as disseminators of content and embrace a new paradigm as cultivators of curiosity and inquiry, we just might bring a little bit more meaning to [a sales rep’s] day, and spark their imagination.”

That’s a mission worth pursuing.

Lessonly is built to cultivate curious sales training programs

Every sales team needs to onboard team members, enable them to succeed, and drive quota attainment. That’s why we designed Lessonly—to help leaders build a sales training program where reps learn, practice, and perform better than ever before. Our sales training app offers the curious sales rep a chance to improve their skills, and do better work. Want to see if Lessonly is the perfect tool for your team? Take a tour today.

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