At Product Growth Leaders, one of our basic beliefs is that math matters. We’ve spent many years finding ways to discover facts in the market, then applying math to help us objectively determine which opportunities should be pursued. Some people might think of math as the opposite of marketing, but great marketing actually relies heavily on numbers. Successful companies recognize that numbers are important, and math truly matters.
Numbers: Anecdote to Panic
Each individual in your company is exposed to different product situations. When they learn something negative, it’s easy to overreact, because each person’s exposure is usually narrow. If a Sales person loses a deal because of a missing feature, they quickly imagine how NO ONE will want the product because of the gap. Or imagine a Customer Support person who takes a call on a particularly bad bug. They get excited, worried for overall customer satisfaction and the livelihood of their customers. Rather than thinking about how many people might be affected, they think about how bad that effect would be.
Use math to calm panic in situations like these. Calculate the percentage of the client base who’s likely to experience that problem. Apply numbers to the risk, so the entire team can see reality. That’s usually enough to reduce the panic, which is extremely important – it’s hard to think logically about pragmatic solutions when you’re panicking!
Math Ignores Opinions
People are expressive…some more so than others. Without math, the loudest or most eloquent person in the room sometimes gets their way, even if there was a better solution available. Some people can be very convincing, even when they’re truly wrong!
Instead of making decisions through passion and opinion, bring facts and math to the center of the table. It’s not about how we all FEEL about doing something. Diagnostics isn’t even really about what any of us thinks!
We’re here to satisfy as much of the market segment as we can; our conversations should be about finding the numbers and doing the math to figure out which opportunities are worthy of our time and investment.
Numbers Can Drive True Change
We’re human, and we really do have our own opinions. Without data, it’s easy for each individual to get stuck in their own head, married to an opinion that may or may not reflect reality. When we pull those facts out of people’s heads and into the conversation, we can start assessing what’s currently true in our market segment.
We can also use numbers to motivate and incent the team. When you’ve set the target, decide on metrics for tracking success. Set these metrics up early, so everyone knows what they’re trying to achieve. Work these numbers into their personal goals whenever possible.
To drive true change, focus on the numbers. Calculate what percentage of the market segment has a certain problem. Talk about how many times the team has witnessed our persona encountering it. Gather together all the disparate bits of data and apply math to create an objective picture of the situation.
Help your team understand where the data came from, and the math that you applied. Whether you personally enjoy math or not, it is consistent and objective. If the team understands the math, it’s much easier for them to get on board – even if the final decision is at odds with their initial opinion!