“Curiosity Killed the Cat” is a proverb used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.  The original form of the proverb, now little used, was "Care killed the cat". In this instance, "care" was defined as "worry" or "sorrow” according to Wikipedia.   This interpretation of the proverb has changed in modern times to be a little more literal.   The actual phrase appeared as the headline story in The Washington Post on 4 March 1916 (page 6):
CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT.

Four Departments of New York City Government Summoned to Rescue Feline.

From the New York World.

Curiosity, as you may recall— on the fifth floor of the apartment house at 203 West 130th street lives Miss Mable Godfrey. When she came to the house about seven months ago she brought Blackie, a cat of several years' experience of life.

The cat seldom left the apartment…... He was a hearth cat….. In other respects he was normal and hence curious.

Last Tuesday afternoon when Miss Godfrey was out Blackie skipped into the grate fireplace in a rear room. He had done this many times before. But he had not climbed up the flue to the chimney. This he did Tuesday. Blackie there remained, perched on the top of the screen separating the apartment flue from the main chimney, crying for assistance. Miss Godfrey, returning, tried to induce her pet to come down. If you are experienced in felinity, you know that Blackie didn't come down.

On Wednesday the cat, curiosity unsatisfied, tried to climb higher—and fell to the first floor. His cries could still be heard by Miss Godfrey; who, to effect Blackie's rescue, communicated with the following departments….. Among them they lowered a rope to Blackie. But it availed neither the cat nor them anything.

Thursday morning, just before noon, a plumber opened the rear wall back of the chimney. Blackie was taken out. His fall had injured his back. Ten minutes later Blackie died.

Poor Blackie succumbed to curiosity.

Have you ever been curious about something?   What did you do about it?  Did you ask questions?   

Why are you curious in the first place?   Well, it is usually because the topic discussed is of interest and your situation or issues are causing you to want more information.   The result – you become engaged in the conversation.    Curiosity stimulates conversation and is crucial to starting a sales cycle.  Its basic premise can cause a prospect to engage with you in a conversation about their needs and issues.   

As great sales people we want the prospect to engage with us in a conversation.   The big question is how you do it.  Here is how to create curiosity with a prospect:

Principle 1 - Understand your Perceived Value

Have a message that quickly and succinctly illustrates your unique value from the prospect’s perspective.  This is not an elevator pitch, it is an understanding of the true value you provide to your prospects.  This value MUST come from their perspective, not yours.    

Principle 2 - Be brief and Shut-up!

Whether you are leaving a voicemail, sending an email, or having a conversation at a networking event you will never create curiosity if you do all the talking.   Understand your value and figure out how to state it in 10 seconds.    That’s all the time you have on a voicemail or email before they delete you, or at a networking event before they ignore you.  

Next, understand how your prospect is motivated and use it to present your value.  There are 3 key motivators that can cause prospects to be curious.  

Gold Medals

Why do athletes work 4 years, go through the pain and agony of daily training?  They want the gold medal.   Prospects do the same thing.   Here are some examples:   Being the largest company in their industry or being the first to in their category.  This kind of prospect is running for something and is usually an early adopter.

German Shepherds

If you’re a mail person, what scares you?  The german shepherd guarding the yard.    Some prospects are running from something.   Here are some examples:  Revenues aren’t where they need to be and they may have to downsize, or they are worried about new government regulation which may cost them money.  

Follow the Herd

Have you ever watched the cows in your local farmer’s field?  Ever notice how they tend to group together and when one moves the others follow?  I have found that most prospects do exactly the same thing.  If they see one of their competitors doing something, they will follow.  If they see one of their partners doing something they will follow.   This makes references the most powerful tool in your sales arsenal.  

Creating Curiosity

Now you’re ready to create curiosity with a prospect.   Here’s how: Be relevant to their business and provide them “glimpses” of value, while being vague enough that they want more.   The value you provide depends on whether they are motivated by gold medals, german shepherds, or the herd.  How does this come into conversation?

 Here is an example of a curiosity voicemail:  

Hi Bob, this is XXX calling from XXX, I am on the team that works with oil and gas companies in Toronto (relevance), we have been working with XXX Company (Herd) helping them cut their telecommunications costs by 40% (german shepherd) and I thought we could do the same for you.  If you think it makes sense…..

Hopefully the prospect listens to this and thinks:  “I wonder how they saved XXX Company 40%?” If the need is urgent enough they just may call us back."

So just because “Curiosity” didn’t bode well for Blackie the cat, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use it to your advantage and open the door to new business. 

If you would like to learn more about the concept of Curiosity in the sale process, I recommend you read “Questions Based Selling” by Thomas Freese.  

Until Next Time....