3 ideas for using statistics to persuade

Mark Twain once said “There are lies, damned lies and statisitcs.” But if you use statistics effectively you will build credibility with your prospect and, as a result, your persuasive influence. Let’s look at three guidelines for using statistics effectively in a persuasive sales presentation.

Be Precise. Statistics that are not precise are not persuasive. For example: “A survey showed that our product outperformed our next closest competitor by 25%.”  Using a statistic in that way may generate more questions on the part of your audience than answers. Keep in mind the immediate skepticism that some have for statistics.

A better approach might look like this: “The Phillips Research company performed a survey last year with 1,500 recent buyers and found that 78% of those buyers confirmed that our product outperformed our competitors by 25%.”

Do you see the difference? The second example leaves no room for question and its persuasive power is the direct result of how precise and credible it is.

Be tangible. Numbers can be meaningless if not attached to something relevant to the prospect so make your statistics tangible to the prospect by connecting it to something they can relate to. For example: you can tell the prospect that your software can improve their process efficiencies by 17% but don’t stop there, next make it tangible by adding “based on our analysis, Mr. Prospect, this would mean an annual savings of $55,000 to your company.”

Dan Heath, who wrote the best seller ‘Made to Stick’, said “To make your data stick, you’ve got to drag it within the grasp of your audience’s intuition.” In other words, the abstract statistic above regarding process improvement is somewhat persuasive but once attached to a dollar figure that the prospect can relate to (the bottom line!) it becomes tangible and persuasive.

Be selective. The prospect will not be persuaded by a data dump. Nor will they find super complicated graphs and charts interesting. Use statistics selectively. Insert them throughout your presentation so that you’re not delivering a stream of data to the prospect. The prospect will quickly lose interest if you pour an avalanche of statistics on them.

Follow these guidelines and your data will stick, you will increase your credibility and as a result persuade your prospect.

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