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The curiosity factor

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“What’s the main reason your calls and emails are not getting returned,” I asked a group of advisors recently. Half a dozen hands shot up.

“Value,” one of the advisors answered. “They’re not getting enough value from the call or the email.” Heads nodded in agreement. But the answer was incorrect. People aren’t returning your calls or responding to your emails because they’re not getting enough curiosity.

In the old days of manipulative sales, some trainers taught people to leave a message that sounded as if it had been cut off: “…My number is 555-1234. The reason that I’m calling is [muffled noise, then click].” The idea, of course was to arouse enough curiosity to get the sales-victim to call back. But this is wrong on so many levels.

Recently, I wrote an article blasting a tactic some financial representatives and their managers had applauded: An advisor leaves a message confirming an appointment for “later today” which she hasn’t actually made. Her efforts do get the prospect to call back—to demand that she never call again. I definitely do not condone this type of method of creating curiosity.

Unfortunately, for those of us earnestly attempting to deliver service, there are three types of calls that aren’t being returned:

1.    Cold calls;

2.    Calls to referred prospects or people you have met but who aren’t yet clients; and

3.    Calls to existing clients.

Even the best cold calls are rarely returned, but they are 100 percent certain not to be returned if the message you leave is a generic one. Many advisors don’t leave messages at all, but you’ve made the call, so why not? Leave a message that might pique your prospect’s interest: “Mr. Jones, I’m calling because I have some ideas to help people who are worried about having enough money to retire. If this means something to you, please call me back at 555-1234. I promise I won’t waste your time.”

Calls to people you know but who are not yet clients need to spark genuine curiosity: “Joe, I’ve been thinking about the conversation we had at John and Mary’s party last week and I have a couple of ideas for you. Give me a call if you can.”

Finally, unreturned calls to a current client suggest a less-than-satisfactory relationship. In this case, it’s not usually about curiosity any longer but about improving the relationship (or firing the client). Still, sending a hand-written note hinting at some ideas to further improve his/her situation might create just enough renewed curiosity to generate a response.

If you don’t have the interest of those you want to work with, do what you can to generate a genuine spark—so that you can grow it into a bonfire.

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to


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