We like to believe that decisions are made on the basis of facts backed by data, that the decision-making process is both rational and logical. But what happens is radically different. Data creates disbelief when introduced too early in the sales cycle, and it kills your website and digital marketing conversions. It happens because of a weird psychological quirk in the human brain.
As a web and digital designer, I had to become extraordinarily good at sales and marketing, because ultimately my work will be judged by the traffic the website generates and the number of sales it generates. , regardless of its quality or appearance. how fast it charges. The challenge of the Internet is that you have to push people to action without being able to see how they react. Winning this challenge requires mastering practical psychology.
For a long time, I believed that data was the ultimate asset to attract customers. If something is empirically better, more efficient, or provides actionable insights, wouldn’t that always be the best option for someone to choose? I was completely wrong.
Data is easier to challenge than history and narrative.
The purpose of the data is to provide clarity and provide an empirical way forward. Be as factual as possible to uncover the truth. The hope is that it will change someone’s perspective and cause them to think, act or do something differently. Ideally, this means seeing things our way, which means doing business with us.
What happens instead is shocking: people dispute the data, punch holes in it, or walk away with more questions than before. Sales calls end with the always frustrating “I have to think about it” backed up by an obscure reason and often without specific follow-up questions. Whether something is factual, empirically the best choice, or backed up by numbers doesn’t really matter to someone if it goes against the experiences they’ve had in life because they’re not able to perceive it as a fact. It just happens because people are emotional creatures.
Another common mistake is to assume that the more analytical or data-driven a person is, the more you need to double down on presenting data. Doing this is exponentially worse than presenting data to someone who isn’t numbers driven at all, because the more data driven someone is, the more experience and context they have to challenge what you present.
Experience guides the interpretation of data, while imagination builds confidence.
The precise clarity that data can provide is exactly what makes them fail in sales and marketing. Clarity eliminates imagination because there is an answer already presented. Rather than creating a scenario where the prospect can imagine all the ways something could work, they instead find themselves in doubt, disputing all the reasons why it can’t work based on their experience biases.
This is why narrative and story work so well in persuasion, sales and marketing. With a story, the person must imagine “how” something might work or be achieved. The numbers person does the heavy lifting to figure out how it might work in their head. The non-analytical person is drawn into the narrative, understands it, and thinks about things in a different light. In either case, what has happened is that the credibility of what you are presenting has increased because it is the person who “sees” how it could work that way and makes their assumptions.
The paradox is that at the beginning of the sales process, the story creates trust and the data sows doubt.
The best time to use data is to substantiate the narrative once the prospect has trusted you.
The best time to use your data is after the presentation of the main sales pitch, marketing material or website activation. Namely, after going through the narrative and emotional reasons why someone should do business with you. Above all, for your data to be well received and accepted, it must be at least at a basic point of trust with you. When data is presented in a simple and concise way at the end of the sales cycle, it completely changes its effectiveness and amplifies the impact.
People choose to take the next step with you or your idea based on their emotional connection to you. The data allows them to logically justify their decision. For data to work effectively, it must follow trust and establish an emotional connection. This happens because they’ve opened up to what you have to say and aren’t in a skeptical mindset focused on questioning your point of view.