Mark Twain is contributed with saying “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” This tends to give a negative interpretation of how someone can manipulate data to prove a point. I would offer a different hypothesis about presenting data—to state the facts but in a slightly different way. The goal is not to obfuscate the facts but to have the customer say “I never saw it that way before.” Or ““You know, I never thought of that before.”
Quite often sales people tend to get into a rut when communicating. Based on habit and routine, they tend to be limited in the words they choose when conversing with customers and use the same ones that everyone else does, such as “new, improved, better”. The successful sales person knows that these types of words do not capture attention. Customers hear them so frequently that they don’t even register in their thought processes because they are so commonplace.
I read an article recently that drove home the point about telling facts in a different way. The author was talking about thinking about your work week differently. We all know that typical work week is Monday through Friday—5 days. Yet, do you ever stop to think that one day represents 20% of your week? Or that 2 days is actually 10% of your monthly work effort? This is what I mean by presenting the facts differently.
One of my favorite ways to look at something common and see it differently is 212 degrees—which is both a book and idea created by Sam Parker: “At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. Just one extra degree makes all the difference.”1 This is a common fact that we all learned in grammar school: Water boils at 212 degrees. Yet how many of us have stopped to think that at 211 degrees, it is still water. That one extra degree is the tipping point. If we stop boiling our water at 211o we still have water. But if we continue to push and boil it just 1 more degree, we have now changed our water into a gaseous substance called steam. And water in that form can do amazing things that ordinary water can’t do. As Parker says, now you can power engines—even a huge train.
This serves as a great example of using the facts to your advantage. Here is a challenge for you: Take the information that you know about your product and think of how you can present it in a slightly different way. Your goal should be to can create a message that is compelling and memorable so that your customer says, “You know, I never thought of that before.”
1Sam Parker, “212 the extra degree”, post on blog “Givemore.com”, http://www.givemore.com/brand/212-the-extra-degree/, accessed June 2012.