“The map appears to us more real than the land.”
~ D.H. Lawrence
What Does This Have to Do with Business and Sales?
In it’s most general term a ‘map’ is any tool that helps us understand and navigate the situation we are facing and the ‘territory’ is our actual situation.
In business and in sales, these maps include:
- Sales processes, scripts, and tools
- Business processes and protocols
- Dress and speech codes
- Financial instruments
- Lead generation and nurture
The territory would be the actual real-world conversations you have, the sense of rapport you do or do not have, systems glitches, etc.
Every day your business uses a map to function. Even the decision to ‘wing it’ and make up the rules as you go is a map… of sorts.
One of my favourite stories to tell with regard to following a map is about a sales rep named Bob. My friends know him as ‘Bob the photocopier man’. Bob’s map was detailed and fixed in his mind. He went from Point 1 to Point 2 to… Point X without any variation.
I encountered Bob on a day when I was short of staff and short of time. I wanted the answer to a SINGLE question and was ready to sign the purchase order as soon as that was answered. Unfortunately, Bob was so fixated on his map, that he couldn’t read the situation… And lost the sale!
This principle can make the difference between paying your bills… And not doing so.
When you mistake your map for the reality you actually face, you can get into big trouble.
This is why, in business and sales, there is no such thing as a perfect process or structure. There are frameworks that apply when certain things are true, but if someone says, “Just do x, y, and z, and then you will 100X your profit this year,” then you should run away as quickly as you can.
There are many valuable online courses that promise to help you succeed if you have the confidence and motivation to work at implementing them. Most of them are genuinely effective, but you still have to bring your analytical skills and imagination to them. This is why we insist on pre-qualifying people for our programs: they are designed for people who have specific needs and there are some people whom we cannot help for one reason or another.
In business, your processes, theories, and understanding cannot be divorced from the reality of everyday life. If you try to ignore reality, your business is likely to fail… Fast.
In fact, one of the reasons people often contact me is that the financial reality of a business that does not have a strong sales process and supporting sales structures has become painfully evident. The truth is, you can have a fantastic product or service, but if you can’t actually close sales then you are at risk of failure.
Jumping to Conclusions
A map is like any other model. A quick glance may expose the similarities, but may not give enough information to highlight the differences.
That’s where both parties need to ask good questions to establish their suitability. I’m always rather wary of a high-ticket service business that lets me pay my money too easily, especially when they are going to deliver an outcome. It may be tempting when you need to make sales quickly to take ‘anyone with a pulse’, but it has a negative effect on your positioning and your own confidence in the results you deliver.
This is why the most famous and successful sales and business consultants have a very stringent application process and turn away as many applicants as they accept. Those they do accept are happy to pay astronomical fees because they know they will get results. These companies have set up a process that weeds out all the people who do not fit their profile.
There are other consultants and trainers who offer one-size-fits-all courses and deliver the same advice to everyone without digging into specific situations and needs. Frequently, these people are well-known, but their programs don’t deliver such stellar results and there is rarely any effort to pre-qualify applicants.
There’s a third group of consultants and trainers who offer customised interactive programs that deliver stellar results to members even when they are at different stages (within limits). These consultants and trainers qualify and evaluate candidates and they exclude those they can’t help, but their aim is to fully understand just what the prospect is looking for and where they are in the process.
Who Made the Map?
When it comes to sales training, specifically, it is extremely important to know who made the map you are following… And when it was made.
There was a long period in the 80’s and 90’s when sales training focused on what I call, ‘drag, batter, and kill’ methodologies. The idea was that when you see someone who was a potential prospect, you should corner them, beat them over the head with information, drag them to the desk, and close the sale – preferably on a long-term contract.
Some of these ideas are still practiced and taught today… And I find them out-dated, repulsive, and arrogant.
When you think about your sales strategies, my question is: if you used them to offer your service to your best friend, would you still be friends?
If the answer isn’t a resounding “Yes,” then it’s time to re-evaluate your sales strategy and discover how to tweak (or redesign) your map so that it is truly useful in today’s business territory because sales has never been a more critical skill to develop if you want to succeed.