Paradox of Non-hunger vs Real Curiosity

Tony Hughes
The power of 'non-hunger' has been explored with my 'the hottest one at the bar' story, and it is also known as The Law of Principled Disinterest but there is a paradox... you can come across as arrogant or uninterested. Conversely, the more interest you show in closing a deal, the more repulsed the prospect will be. Jeb Blount calls this the "universal law of need" and it's the idea that when you need a deal too badly, you're going to have sales breath, an anathema to prospects.

How do you manage the paradox of non-hunger and genuine curiosity? Ali could "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." The best salespeople are not desperate but genuinely curious. They seek to be interested rather than interesting. They have no desire to pitch anything until the buyer is in the zone. Jab, jab, duck, hook. Or to use another metaphor; Like a masterful lover; they entice, wait, entice again, tease and wait... until the other person is screaming for it! Meg Ryan knows what I mean and Billy Crystal masterfully lives the law of disinterest while he focuses on non-hunger.

"I''ll have what she's having"

Paradox... "I want you but I'm happy to move on if it's not the best thing for both of us." Genuinely curious people ask the best questions because they are not seeking to manipulate or steer the conversation in a pre-determined direction. People who are genuinely curious have an advantage when prospecting because questioning is in their DNA and they don't have to fake it. Barry Rein advocates a Selling Through Curiosity approach and he is famous for being paid equity on future revenue performance by his customers.

The egomaniac blabbermouth never gets to root-cause so they can't ever really propose the right solution. However, curious people with the right values will go through hell and high water to understand another person's business. They actively listen to cultivate curiosity on both sides and this is foundationally important for COMBO strategies to work.

A big fat sales pipeline, non-hunger and curiosity; combined with a love of customers and enjoyment in making a difference; prevents sales burnout. You can afford to focus on alignment rather than pressure for a close. These values beat negative attempts at Machiavellian manipulation or brute force tactics. Hunting big game is going to take an extremely sharp spear and a willingness to walk away, the ability to exhibit gravitas, and dead calm while operating at the highest echelons. You cannot lose your cool, nor become hungry, needy, or pushy. It's crucial at all times to be creating value in conversations, listening proactively and remaining detached from the outcome of the deal.

By filling your pipeline with 3-5 times your sales quote/target in qualified opportunities then you will gain the confidence you need. On the phone, tone is 86% of our communication [source: ContactPoint]. Other research revealed that words account for just 7% of 'received communication' [source: Albert Mehrabian, Stephen Covey, Wharton Business School]. Whether it is 7% or 14%, words alone account for the minor portion of influence. The way you sound, your demeanor and body language all convey intent.

As a sales person, you cannot be aggressive or desperate. Instead, encourage the potential customer to take a closer look. Attract and engage rather than pursue and hunt. Leaping from the bushes... or the alien egg, is no way to win a customer. Consistently build a pipeline that takes almost all pressure out of selling, where you focus on alignment rather than persuasion, and the business case rather than the pitch.

How do you execute the law on non-hunger? Let me know here in the comments section.

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Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published on LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award-winning blog. Also, visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at


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