Do you remember how inquisitive you were as a child? It seems that little ones are constantly asking questions and seeking to learn more. Too bad we had that curiosity drilled out of us over the years, because it seems that this character trait will help us be more successful as adults.

This need to develop our curiosity as a competency was addressed in an article I read recently aptly named: Curiosity: The Gateway Competency. If you adopt the mindset of being curious when you talk to your customers, you’ll probably listen better. You’ll be more focused on what they are saying instead of concentrating on what you want to say or ask next. That means you’ll probably ask better questions to dig deeper and get to the heart of the matter—and that can lead to more successful selling.

So just how do you develop this competency of curiosity that’s been drilled out of you? Fortunately, the authors Giulioni and Kaye provide 6 ideas for leaders that I’ve tweaked for selling:

1. Recognize that there is more to learn. Part of the reason people are curious is they realize they don’t know everything. In fact, that’s the reason you should be asking questions. You want to know the answers.

2. Truly listen. Don’t assume because your customer starts to answer the question the same way as another customer that they’ll go in the same direction. If you’re curious, you’ll never know where the conversation will wind up.

3. Enjoy being surprised. When you really connect with someone else, you’ll likely be surprised at some of the things they’ll share. Recognize that everyone has a story to tell. Be curious to learn what it is. It will make your conversations with this person more enlightening and help you to develop a relationship with that person. It will also make selling more fun.

4. Don’t prescribe before you diagnose. Good sales people define selling as helping customers discover what they want and helping them get it. But this resolve to help solve problems can lead to sharing the solution before they truly understand the problem. Resist this temptation.

5. You don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t understand or need more clarification no matter who you are talking to. Ask questions to learn more.

6. Pay attention to cues. Look for cues such as body language and tone of voice when talking to someone. What do these cues reveal? View these as invitations to ask questions to learn more and/or gain clarification.

In my mind, curiosity is a separate yet intricate part of the concept of lifelong learning. It relates to other competences such as coaching, understanding and gaining attention. When you plan how to approach your customer, think “What am I curious about?” This can help you identify exactly what you need to learn. Allow curiosity to direct how you engage your customers and you’ll likely marvel at what you’ll learn!