The Dangers of Statistics in Business

Beware the devil’s advocate.

When most people think of data and statistics, they think of numbers or empirical proof. Statistics and data are great for making a point in marketing, training, or a sales pitch, but data and statistics are results, which means they can argue any perspective. In other words, data and statistics always have the potential to play the devil’s advocate. Let me explain. Let’s take, for instance, a study about the presence of smartphones in American households. This study shows that a smartphone was present in 84% of American households. The inverse stat shows that 16% of households don’t have smartphones. That means nearly a fifth of American households still need a smartphone. Marketing might rephrase that: “Nearly a fifth of American Households don’t own smart devices. Are you living in the dark ages?” Many people would read that line, knowing the stats, and think that’s good marketing. It is certainly attention-grabbing, but the stat has become slightly warped by the goal of product sales. If a customer were to correct that stat publicly, it could damage the company’s reputation and the customer’s trust in the company. Using statistics is critical because it creates credibility, but it can also backfire and damage your credibility. It is crucial to consider your audience when using statistics and other forms of data because numbers can be misinterpreted or misled. Additionally, too many stats can be overwhelming or even bore your audience. They must be well-placed as well as well-represented. So, how do you include impactful statistics that are clear and manageable for the audience? Graphs. Graphs are visuals that help the client grasp why the data is relevant without attributing your opinion to the data. Plus, studies have shown that only 27% of Americans are right-brain learners, meaning most people learn best from visuals. Right brain dominance means that a person learns the best using reading, writing, and mathematics. This leaves the left-brain learners or the other 73% of the population not understanding a word you just said when you spit random numbers at them. Left-brain dominant people learn better with images and visuals than words and numbers. The moral of the story is that while numbers and data are sexy to you and me, they are not to most people. So, you must make them sexy using graphs. When you can present data in graphs to clients, their comprehension increases, and they understand the processes of the service. A recent survey revealed that 84% of buyers said understanding the process was critical in selecting a professional service firm. Using graphs when presenting data reduces miscommunication and ensures greater client satisfaction. At Scalability, our skilled team of designers can help you engineer graphs to ensure clients understand the data you are presenting and avoid putting them to sleep. In addition, our team can help you research statistics and data that are relevant to your company to enhance your LMS system and help you avoid the devil’s advocate haunting your training.