Who'd Be A Pollster

There’s plenty of forecasters that get a bad rap. Quite rightly.

Economists pitch opinions as facts, falsehoods as truths, pipe-dreams as plans.

Politicians are accused of being hopeless dreamers and hapless implementers.

And what about all those shysters forever plain wrong on tomorrow’s weather.

Yet one class of crystal ball gazers has taken the art of futuring failure to a whole new level.


I gather 2016 alone has seen them deliver three gigantic mis-reads:

Brexit. Colombian Peace. Trump.

Nobody nailed their actual outcomes. Despite the millions lavished their way. Despite all manner of supposedly sophisticated weighted, smoothing and algorithm models.

Each occasion their incompetent predictions may have contributed to the eventual result being so unexpected, to the extent of even tipping them the “other” way itself.

After the atrocious 2015 UK General Election incorrect polling, the industry tried to take stock.

Their main finding seemed to be right wingers tend to hide their views while left wingers tend not to vote as much.

Hardly the basis of sector practice overhaul.

It was guesswork then. It remains guesswork now.

The analogy that sums up their highly-priced waywardness goes along the lines that ‘they try to measure grams on scales that only display kilos’.

Yet this continuing fiasco has serious sales repercussions.

We’re constantly taking soundings across multiple personalities prospectside.

Is it as simple as thinking say, that those with you are shy in coming forward, whilst those against you claim they’re not involved?

Asking people to their face can find them shroud their true intent and cloud your decision data.

So how do you avoid being stymied yourself?

Well, the current inquiry will take some time in the US. But at least one emerging idea rings a seller’s bell.

It is the technique of asking warm-up questions before the “big one”.

People are apparently less likely to avoid giving their true intent if that specific answer follows immediately a few prior where they’ve also provided how they really feel. Crucially, on lesser, potentially less controversial, issues.

So as go-getting trunk-pulling-up no-holds-barred salespeople, we surely know our key question here. Although, many seasoned in sales would suggest that if you have to ask, then the answer is likely a “no”. The theory being that when they are with you, they openly make it clear without the social awkwardness of being asked outright.

So if you do find yourself in this potentially losing situation, then how about crafting a simple set-up.

What two or three related yet not so intrusive questions can you ask before your killer reveal extractor?

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