Got a hot prospect you can't wait to close? Hit them with some great stats from the latest case study, white paper or report! That will convince them. Convince them to not buy from you!
Say what?! How on Earth will you convince said prospect to go with your solution? We will get to that--promise. First let's get something straight-research is only valuable to the eye of the beholder. And no research can trump deeply ingrained perceptions. In fact, presenting research can many times hurt you more than help you.
It all has to do with the fact that people know you want to sell them, and they are wary about any fact you throw at them. Want to prove something? You can find a study of some sort to back it up...or not. Just Google it and you will see for yourself. Most savvy buyers know this, and the higher you get up the corporate food chain the more challenging it will be for people to buy stats.
People in the C suite know how easy it is to make numbers look the way they want because they do it every day. They also know from experience that research numbers can vary widely based on how a question is worded and that most people use stats out of context and cherry pick to the advantage of their issue. Or the confidence factor of the study they quote isn't published because the sample size is so iny weenie.
Dr. John Best is one of the most renown experts in statistics and their manipulation. He has written the books: "Damn Lies and Statistics", "More Damn Lies and Statistics", and "Stat-spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data" In a 2008 paper entitled: "Birds–Dead and Deadly: Why NumeracyNeeds to Address Social Construction", Best noted that: "Once people start to take a problem seriously, good things—money,status, and so on—can begin to flow to its promoters. It is quite easy for someone to sincerely believe that some problem demands attention, and for that person to also have a vested interest in that problem gaining attention. Neither characteristic does much to encourage critical thinking about statistics about the problem—at least not regarding those numbers that seem to confirm the problem’s importance."
As a salesperson you have a vested interest in serving up stats that are going to sell your crap. I'm not saying you are intentionally being dishonest but hey wanting to put food on the table can certainly decrease your degree of skepticism. Buyers know this, Champ. And besides, they could care less about how other people view things. It's like a second grander coming home with a "C" and saying everyone else got one. All that matters is them. Everyone else is irrelevant.
People make their own reality. And since stats can be manipulated to support any cause, people are free to come to their own conclusions. The company I work creates content for marketing companies. We recently met with an old codger who owns eight car dealerships to convince him to start taking money from newspapers and applying it to content on his site that can be found in Google searches and social media.
Evidence that newspapers are dying is overwhelming. Just look at your local rag and how small it has gotten. We presented tons of stats, many from the automotive dealers association that supported our argument--newspapers suck, on-line rules and you are a fool not to take advantage.
Guess what he said at the end of the presentation? "I still think when people buy a car they get a newspaper." Two hours and tons of stat digging...gone. Thank goodness we developed a magazine concept that he can send to customers, just in case. Guess what he is going to end up buying? The magazine, because he believes in it.
That example solidified my hunch: If you rely on tons of third party statistics it shows glaring weakness in the value of your solution, especially to the prospect. Why? Because if you had listened to their needs, really dug into the pain, really worked your tail off to find out the true reason why a person wants to buy your solution, and removed your selfish needs from the equation (like selling a mult-platform content strategy for lots of cash) you wouldn't need damn lies and statistics.
All you would need to do is show up with this clear message: I listened to what you had to say and here's a solution to what you think is important.
Forget the stats, and you will sell more. I know we will.