100% of nothing is nothing…

My sales increased by 100%, so now I am making 2 sales a month!

Huh?  Wait, what’s wrong with this picture?

If you’ve ever researched any business venture you were planning to get into, undoubtedly you may have come across the first part of this sentence.  If you are like me and are a sucker for success stories, case studies and testimonials before you buy anything or try any business venture, you could spend days reading about other people’s success.  For a long time when I would read, “My sales increased by 30%, 100%, 500%” – I would get excited, if it happened to them, surely it can happen to me!  That means all I have to do is copy what they did and whola! I’ve hit the jackpot! Well, not so fast!

This post is going to be little technical, but trust me, you’ll thank me for it after you’ve finished reading it.

Percentages can be a double edge sword if you don’t know how to read them. When some get-rich-quick scheme comes along, the first thing they holler about are the percentages.

“Diane increased her sales by 500%, and she just bought a new house last month.  And she did all of this working from home!”  a copy letter will scream out.  Your juices get flowing then, all you have to do is XYZ and you will make the same.  That’s what I would do and that’s how I got caught up in some ugly situations.  Now, whenever I read success stories, case studies or testimonials, where someone is boasting about how much they have increased their sales by XYZ percent, the first thing I ask is – what were the hard numbers?  If you increased your sales by 100%, then tell me 100% of what?  Because if you went from selling 1 T-shirt, to selling 2 T-Shirts, then that’s 100%.

Granted, that’s good and I praise anybody who is able to do that.  But selling 2 T-shirts for $10.00 a pop will get you some extra spending cash, but you won’t be able to quit your day job or by a new house .  Now, it could also serve as a predictor, if you continue to do what you are doing, your sales may grow into something that you can boast about.  The point I am making here is to read between the lines.  Do some additional research, cross reference because percentages can be misleading.  Very misleading.

For example, how many times have we read about a survey where 95% of the people felt that the President should not where brown shoes on Monday?  On the surface, you are thinking, “Damn, that’s most of the country!  The president had better not do that, he could lose his approval rating!”  But what if they have only surveyed 20 people?  That means 19 people (who we know nothing about) believed that the President should not where brown shoes on Monday.  What about the other 299,999,980 people living in this country?

It’s a similar concept when reading an ad copy where a company is trying to convince you to become an affiliate and sell their product, or you are selling your own product and you are considering hiring a marketing firm and they give you their “hard percentages.”  So just keep in mind the next time you are looking at something that says how they increased their sales by 250% or you read a survey that says 98% of Americans want to die tomorrow, ask yourself (or them) – where are the hard numbers?  You can save yourself a lot of grief if you do.

Told you this one was going to be a little technical, but don’t you just feel warm and fuzzy inside after reading it?

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