Look inside a number and you’ll find a story. Sometimes the numbers tell a rousing tale of success. Sometimes they foretell a company’s impending doom. Most of the time, they tell you how things are and how you might make a positive difference . . . But only if you know how to read metrics, the language numbers use to spin their tale.
Consider a business with two salespersons. Let’s call them Meg and Ron. The metrics tell you that Meg the intern closes two deals per week and Ron the pro closes four. So you goad your sales team into the corner cafe for a quick treat, lauding Ron for being an “achiever” and cheering on (read: shaming) Meg to catch up. But you were just halfway into the story, and the numbers have a few chapters left to narrate. If you had looked closer, the metrics also show that Meg gets far more prospects in the pipeline than Ron, who benefits by following up on clients Meg generously refers to him. It also shows that compared to Meg — who closes deals at nearly the speed of light — Ron lumbers like an ox when it comes to getting a prospect’s nod. (more…)