I was on vacation this weekend, spending some time in Maine at a wedding. After spending last week at Gartner Customer 360, I’ve had less time than normal to scan my feeds for interesting articles to share. When not traveling, I try to do this everyday–if you follow me on twitter (@Barnes_Hank), you are pretty used to this.
But this week, I’ve marked all my feeds as read, without scanning them. When the lists get really long, its just an easier choice. I may be missing a great article, but weeding through hundreds of stories is just not productive. It is information overload on overdrive.
And that is what buyers go through every day as well. It is pretty much impossible to find all the stories, facts, data, and information about any product or service you might be considering.
As a result, every buying decision and every analysis you do is imperfect. Once you make a decision, or write a blog post, or a research note, you’ll often find more information or get new inputs that might have changed or improved the result. In some cases, you can take action (I did it last week with my blog post after some suggestions from two smart people that read my posts-read the comments for more information on that.). In others cases you can’t.
Don’t let this paralyze you. Action is almost always better than indecision. Many years ago, someone shared with me a presentation called “A Leadership Primer“. The link is to a version on slideshare. It is a series of lessons and tips from Gen. Colin Powell. One of those lessons is my favorite and I refer to it often:
Part I: “Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired.”
Part II: “Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.”
Remember this as you are making any decision. As a seller or marketer, part of your job is to help your buyers find the 40-70 information they need to make a good decision. Guide them toward information that will build their confidence. Listen to their concerns to help you learn what other information they need, then get it for them. In some cases, they may just need to develop a higher sense of trust for you and your company. How you act may be as important as the information you provide.
But above all, just remember that perfection is impossible, don’t agonize over information that you are not even sure exists. You will never find everything and new information is always available. Worry more about indecision than the wrong decision. In the worst case scenario, you’ll make a mistake, but if you learn from it and correct it, you’ll probably end up in a better place anyway.