It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about a sales process, concept, tactic, or philosophy–someone else has already covered it with your prospect. It may have been yesterday, earlier today, or last month, but your conversation is probably not much different than the one your competitors and prospects have already had.

As annoying as it is, someone else has already uncovered that same nugget of information, that same decision-altering, sacred piece of data that the incumbent missed. How do I know? I know because a path is a direction commonly traveled. It’s safe, predictable, and well-charted way of selling.

Here’s a good example. You’re at the base of a mountain and your goal is to get to the top. In front of you lay four or five trail options. They’re marked with signs and the ground among them is worn. Since you’ve never climbed this particular mountain, you choose a well-marked trail and, after a mile, you find yourself staring out over a beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys. The view is well worth the choices you made, and it didn’t take too much effort to get there. But how many others have seen that same landscape? The answer is everyone who has taken that same path. It was a safe and predictable choice. Although the scenery is beautiful, everyone who chose this same, safe and predictable trail has seen it, too.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Now, let’s restart this hike. You decide to take the same path, but for some reason, you decide to challenge yourself a bit more. When you come across the impressive mountains and valley, you take an immediate right off the path. Taking some extra attention and time, you proceed to traverse a few small cliffs. You then decide to hike down a sharp, angled ravine and follow it for a half-mile (at the same time, you get a pretty good workout!). As you walk, you notice the damp smell of the rocks, the pitch of the running water, and the silence of the trees around you. You’re in uncharted territory. Your senses are sharp. You’re in the moment. Next, the ravine turns to the right, and you encounter a beautiful, 30-foot waterfall. Now, the question is how many people have discovered that same waterfall? The answer is a few – only those who were willing to take the risk and venture the path and make the extra effort to get there.

What others do and going where others have been is less risky and predictable. When your entire sales process is best described as taking a turn here, a turn there, and look out for the falling rocks – you can be sure of one thing, it’s someone else’s path. Are you going about your daily sales life continually doing the same thing everyone else is doing with little reflection on why? Do you continue to look for the same cues, answers, and information to guide your next move?

It’s comforting and easy to walk a clear, well-worn path. Someone has already laid if out for you. But don’t confuse clarity and repetition with success? They are not the same. Challenge and success come when you forge a new path or blaze a new trail.