Research Shows…and Other Attempts at Credibility

Have you ever attended a course or read literature that uses the phrase “research shows?” I’m getting skeptical in my old age. “Research shows that…” is used more often than the referral to a higher authority, and usually is an indication of fiction.

“I believe that the most popular colour of lingerie is nude.” This may be true, but nothing in this statement says that it is true – belief is entirely dependant on the reader’s assessment of my integrity (dangerous at best).

“Research shows that the most popular colour of lingerie is nude.” This reads like it isn’t my opinion and because the word research is mentioned, it must be true. However, there is still no validation of the truth.

Add some detail, and the statement, standing on it’s own, is more believable. “Research conducted in India this year by Debenhams, a leading retailer, shows that according to POS data, the most popular colour of lingerie is nude.”

Add a reference, and the statement becomes more credible. Here’s mine: Times India Dec 2010

When I am writing sales presentations for clients we need to make the proof statements believable so we try and provide as much detail behind the proof points (most often case studies) as possible. Data is king; and quantifiable data is extremely persuasive. If I add the fact that 72% of shoppers choose for nude lingerie and sales are up 38%,  there is now trending, relevant data that my audience can act on – whether that’s stocking more nude lingerie or changing a marketing scheme.

So when you hear somebody say “research shows,” ask the following questions:

  • What research?
  • When?
  • Who executed the research?
  • Can you show me the data?

Otherwise, assume it is made it up to strengthen a weak argument.

By the way, the alternative is to just state it as a fact: “‘Nude lingerie is the most popular, the question you should be asking is Why?

Written by nick and filed under Sales Effectiveness

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