“The Stars We Are Given.
The Constellations We Make.”
— Rebecca Solnit
(And why this is important to you and your rep business or rep relationships.)
There really aren’t any constellations.
But, when you view the night sky from a particular hemisphere on earth, facing a specific direction, then unique stars are visible. And a creative stargazer spending enough time staring at the heavens from that particular vantage point will start to see patterns and ways to connect the dots.
The patterns form based not so much on the positions of the stars as on the patterns familiar to that viewer.
So, from ancient stargazers, we have been handed down constellations based on images familiar to ancient stargazers: a scorpion, an eagle, a ram, or a charioteer.
It’s just human nature to take those points of light in the sky and see patterns.
We still do it today, but instead of mentally organizing points of light in the sky to fit our preconceived patterns, we mentally organize data points to fit our preconceived notions.
How is this important to your rep business or rep relationships?
Our rep and manufacturer members are awash in data points. Value of products sold, amount of commission paid, percentage of sales leads closed, and orders shipped on time, among many others.
And when it comes to reps and manufacturers, that sea of data points is just waiting for each party to interpret them according to their own preconceived notions.
Viewing the same data points, one sees a great sales year, but another sees great growth for only a single customer. One sees commissions paid to a rep firm exceeding the manufacturers’ CEO’s income, the other sees that firm’s commission spread among 10 of the rep firm’s salespeople.
Once those dots are connected and those business-results constellations are formed, there is little hope of changing anyone’s perceptions. After all, the lines were imaginary in the first place. How can you change imaginary lines in someone’s head?
But you can change their preconceived notions before they form the lines.
Have a conversation about the importance of gross sales vs. the number of new customers brought on board. Let the manufacturer know that the money he or she invests with your rep firm goes to support the efforts of 10 salespeople instead of going into your own pocket.
Then when the data points arrive, the information you’ve supplied will be the framework in which those data points are stored. So, when the time comes, the lines your partners use to connect those dots will be seen as a value instead of a cost.
It’s up to you to give your partners context before they interpret your mutual data points. With context, you can prepare them to connect the dots of your data points into a charioteer instead of a scorpion.