Fact checking reached epic levels this Summer in Blighty. Both sides of the EU Referendum debate threw around all sorts of bamboozling stats.
I came across (one of the many) supposedly neutral fact check outlets. They appear to achieve the misguided sleight of being both Left and Establishment. Still, kudos to them for coining the phrase “indicator hop”.
This covers solely quoting a figure that backs up your argument, despite associated others failing to be so willing, and then moving to another flavour when exposed. One such example being when you state pleasing proportions, only to slide onto the actuals when the sands shift on a particular measure.
Inspired by the smokes and mirrors of ‘official’, ‘true’ facts, here’s my quick handy guide to Numbers That Turn Prospects Off. In time honoured Top Ten fashion.
1. Big Ones. Too many zeroes and your chances hit lows. I was once told by a Sales Manager pitching monthly leasing that any amount beyond someone’s rent/mortgage gets ignored. A billion gazillion. Who cares?
2. Made-up Ones. To knowingly fake is a huge mistake. 72% of all statistics are made up. Or is it 82? Have a source. Use credible data. If you present dodgy numbers, what does that say about your product promises?
3. Percent Ones. 110 percent given and with holes you are riven. I’ve never been a fan of percentages. They often sound less than real. Concrete amounts are better. Especially in tangible terms such as time and especially cold hard cash.
4. Round Ones. The perfect number can leave ’em numb-er. You think these are elegant, please think again. They can easily come across as contrived. Capture the magic of pi. A randomly unconformist figure is usually more believable.
5. Standard Ones. Following the pack, open to attack. Just because everyone else is using a particular measure does not necessarily mean you must as well. Never be afraid to mix it up and distinguish yourself. Just like your offering, right.
6. Unjustified Ones. Stats for their own sake, will your pitch overbake. Yuk. Far more tasty are numbers with relevance. Think of all those ‘glossy’ “corporate overviews”, mandated to be shown to everybody. No-one buys because of the equity split. They do when they realise you deliver.
7. un-Atomised Ones. The larger the scale, the more likely you’ll fail. I’ve always liked atomising. Making that massive, impenetrable number scaled down to seem meaningful. Classics are dividing by time periods. Bigger impact comes from mental pictures conjured by quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly effects.
8. So-what Ones. Someone else’s prob, and you’ve lost the job. We’ve all done it. Gone all manufacturing widgetry with the marketing dept. Talked finance with the users. Microdetail with the chief exec.
9. Your Ones. A number unchecked is a noose ’round your neck. Get out your comfort zone. As touched on earlier, buyers get bored and are driven away by endless charts from your company’s stellar performance figures. They also wander into the arms of competition when your shiny data is all from your perspective and not theirs. Ever stopped to ask them what is most important to them?
10. Abstract Ones. Too arty gets no invite to the party. Coffee beans are set to soar this year after the wettest growing season ever. Really. Luckily people with names derived from ancient Greek are thrice more trustworthy. Other examples of irrelevance persist here. You can often provide extra punch from style. Think ratios, (vulgar) fractions, ranges, multiples. Another path away from the oblique is the comparable. Don’t be afraid to be different to gain crucial buyer discussion and recall.