If you’re like most people, you probably think that emotions should leave the room when key decisions need to be made. But, sometimes your gut instinct pokes and prods at your reasoning until you either listen to it — or do a good enough job pouring over reams of data to justify ignoring it.
When I look back on decisions that I’ve made that I wish I could reverse, I find a moment in time where I ignored my gut. Instead, I used the wisdom of experts and mountains of data to push down my gut instincts and help me sleep at night, and it almost cost me the business.
You gut can be the best decision making tool you have in your arsenal.
Sometimes Facts Paint a False Picture
Expert advice and data are helpful when you’re trying to make a decision, but be aware that sometimes they paint a false picture. Make sure that you know the origin of the data that you’re using, including any factors that might be influencing it.
Then, test your gut instinct against the data to determine if that sinking feeling is based on intuition rather than fear.
If it’s fear, you’ll sleep better at night knowing that you have the data you need. Otherwise, you may want to revisit the testing strategy or choose to give more weight to your intuition and go with your gut.
A few years ago, Infusionsoft created our Everest mission. This mission declared our purpose to help small businesses succeed and was focused on changing the game for hundreds of thousands of small businesses by being the standard in sales and marketing software.
This mission was bold and we were set on delivering it as fast as possible.
Advisors and board members were insistent that we remove the biggest barrier to purchase, which was the set up and training fee that we charged each customer. I knew in my gut that this wasn’t the right move for Infusionsoft, but I felt compelled to listen to experts and those with more experience.
Along with their advice, I sought to collect data to convince myself that my gut was operating out of fear instead of fact.
For six months we tested the plan to remove the barrier to entry with a select group of buyers who wanted to purchase, but couldn’t afford the setup fee. The data was overwhelmingly positive and proved that eliminating the fee would increase usage and sales volume.
When the data came in, I couldn’t argue with it. In one day we removed the set up fee and all of the services that came with it.
What I failed to realize about the data and testing plan was that the select group of buyers were unique. They knew a lot about sales and marketing, but they didn’t represent a good sample of the small business population.
Suddenly, we had a huge volume of customers coming in and a mass exodus out. Our cancellation requests went through the roof. The business was hemorrhaging cash, and we had to take swift and massive corrective action to save the business.
We learned through experience what my gut knew intuitively. We were doing a disservice to our customers by providing a tool to grow their business without providing the help to use it.
I could’ve avoided the frustration and huge setback we experienced if I would’ve listened to my gut. As it turns out, many small businesses need help to get started with sales and marketing processes and campaigns.
They also need to have some skin in this game so they can spend time focusing on getting their business out of chaos and running smoothly.
Why You Should Listen to Your Gut
Accumulated knowledge over the span of your life is stored in your long-term memory. While you may not know why you feel a certain way about a decision, your brain is processing years of experience and creating this feeling in your gut.
No one knows your business and your customers better than you do.
Although you may not always be able to fully articulate the reasons why you feel a certain way – never ignore what your gut is trying to tell you. It could save your business someday.