Sales research shows one part of a picture. It’s a view from a certain angle. From that angle you get a very clear picture. Of something. But not everything.
From a different view, you get a completely different picture. It’s a very clear picture too. This view is equally as compelling as the other view.
The people that did the research in both cases are good and thoughtful people. They had a hypothesis. They tested it. They discovered something useful, something worth sharing. And they shared it.
Conflicting Ideas and Insights
But the research doesn’t jive. The first picture contradicts the second picture.
Sales research is sometimes conducted by surveying sales managers. That research gives you some insight into what sales managers see, hear, and feel. It provides you with one view.
Other sales research is conducted by surveying customers. That gives you a very different view and a different insight. It tells you how customers perceive salespeople and sales organizations—and it sometimes teaches you how customers perceive their own buying habits.
Still other research studies the entire sales organization. This gives you a very different view of how that organization views customer acquisition, customer experience, and customer retention.
Use the Research
None of this research gives you the whole picture. But that doesn’t mean the research isn’t useful.
Even though I don’t trust any particular piece of research on its own to provide the whole truth, the view that it provides is useful. It can inform your decisions, but it shouldn’t be the sole basis for how you make decisions. It can expose differences with other research that are worth exploring to determine when one approach or one decision may be better than a different approach or a different decision.
You don’t have to trust research completely to use it. You need to trust your ability to discern what is useful for you and what isn’t in the present moment or under a certain set of circumstances.