A pie chart will not close many deals. Bar graphs may elicit a yawn from customers and prospects. Handfuls of stats sprinkled through a pitch deck may simply look tacked-on. This is not the way you tell a compelling story with data.

Some large firms have started building up data science teams that dig into vast quantities of unstructured information to provide forward-looking insight about how their particular customers might behave. This is no doubt helpful for the sales teams in such companies, but if you don’t have a group of in-house data scientists to turn to, don’t fret. There are many ways to find data that could make your sales pitch stronger, more convincing and easier to understand. You just have to know where to look.

Turn your web site traffic data inside out: Many companies spend a lot of time trying to drive demand to specific landing pages but do little to share the results unless it’s leading to e-commerce sales. Work with your marketing team (or web admin) to find out the stats on the most-visited product and service pages. Create a sales deck that maps out the journeys other customers are taking across your site and show prospects what routes they should be following to get to the online information that will best help their business.

Make social media your personal database: Every day there is publicly-available information that shows what topics are trending in social media. Look for keywords related to your target customer or prospect’s industry or products and services. Use what you find to start a discussion about what kinds of problems your customer’s customers are trying to solve, and focus specifically on how you can assist.

Mine your asset library for data storytelling prompts: Many firms have an online place where they house case studies, testimonials and other helpful pieces of marketing collateral. Take an afternoon to skim through the best of what’s available and carve out the relevant stats on return on investment (ROI) that demonstrate what your company has achieved for customers in the past. Use one stat per slide of your sales deck with the customer reference’s name beside it — nothing else — and use this as a set of proof points about why your firm’s track record should be enough to win their business.

Crunch research reports into an elevator pitch: Even when surveys contain a lot of rich data, most of us probably glance through the executive summary at the beginning. Look for relevant research of interest to your audience and take that one step further, by making a startup-style elevator pitch that uses no more than three or four stats in less than five sentences that delineate the essential learning and call to action.

Convert customer data into a story with alternate endings: If you’re already using CRM (and you should be), you should already have plenty of numbers associated with what your customers have spent with you in the past, how often they’ve called in for assistance and hopefully some background information on their current business goals and challenges. Use aggregate information from a group of customers to create a benchmark of sorts to show why spending more, or on particular products and services can lead to bigger or better results than what they’ve experienced so far.

Compare your day-to-day data to the seven wonders of the world: How many orders did your firm process last year? If you stacked them up like bricks, how tall would the building be? How many customer service issues did your call centre resolve, and how does that compare to the number of cars that pass in front of the customer’s office each day? Use well-known or easily-visualized examples to make the numbers resonate.

Exploit viral hits to your own advantage: Look for the most recent cat video that’s being passed around online, and check how many views it’s had. Show it to your customer and discuss how quickly it reached its current number. Talk about how many additional views it’s gotten since your meeting began. Now talk about how, in that same period of time, they could have been growing their business or saving money by working with you. Keep it fun and light-hearted as you make these sorts of contextual comparisons.

Telling stories with data is vital because it takes a lot of the work off your customer’s back in making an informed decision, and it also provides an entertaining touch that proves you want to treat them like a human being rather than just another customer or prospect. And the better a storyteller you are, the more likely your audience will come back asking for more.

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