NLP For Sales - The Map Is Not The Territory: The Power Of Presupposition

Any good sales person or networker knows that to really nail their target they have to research their prospects, and research them well. This is the foundation of intelligence based telesales work. They need to determine where their client is, where they have been and where they are planning to go - all so they can play a helpful part in the clients future.

They may even go as far as researching they're key contact - finding out their hobbies and interests in an effort to gain some common ground. So far, so good - a man forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

But what do you do with your knowledge? How do you apply this for maximum effect?

NLP For Sales - The Map Is Not The Territory: The Power Of Presupposition


The Temptation To Presuppose

The temptation to treat this information as a form of power over you client is undeniable. Surely they will be impressed by your helpful advice and informed opinions that only come with a decent understanding of the business they're in. You're only one step away from introducing a product or service that they are undoubtedly in need of. This may be the case, and if so, the drinks are on you!

However, there is only so much you can learn from online research, networking and so on. There is only so much time you can invest in such endeavours - this combination means that you are probably not as 'right on' as you think you are. 

The Map Is Not The Territory

"The Map is not the Territory" is a key principle in the teachings of NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Without a thorough knowledge of the practice you can still decode the meaning of this particular maxim.

Your 'map', or understanding of the world around you, is not the 'territory', which is the world itself. In this context, the way you perceive the information you have about your prospect (or their business) is unlikely to be an accurate representation of how it actually is (at this stage anyway).

So while you may have an idea of what your client wants or needs, that idea can always be influenced by your own 'map', or experience of the world. Where you naturally detect a link between a problem and a solution, your client may not. This may seem obvious but the question remains - how much do you let your knowledge about a company or person determine the approach you take?

Information - Ammunition Or Part Of A Puzzle You Are Yet To Complete?

The information you possess about a client is always valuable - it helps you to process information faster and keep pace with the person you are talking with. But do you use it as 'ammunition', or do you hold onto it as part of a jigsaw puzzle you have yet to complete? Your client holds the missing pieces - only then will you be able to see where you fit into the overall picture.

We have all tried to wedge in that piece of the jigsaw that we are certain 'should go there' and are determined that it will fit. It's far simpler to hold onto that vital piece until we have worked out the others that fit around it - only then can me make a true connection.

What Are The Takeaways Here?

  • Don't treat knowledge as ammunition - you can be very prepared, but you won't know the full picture until you talk in detail with your client/prospect
  • The way you see the situation probably isn't accurate at the start - make sure to ask relevant questions before trying to pitch
  • Understand that the outcome we think is best might not be best for our clients - we need to see the whole picture and then how we can slot into to help 

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By Alan MacDougall

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.