Soft data gets a bad rap.
“I’m not so sure, that report is full of soft data.”
“That Training is soft skills training; I need Training that is going to make a difference”.
I’ve heard those two phrases more times than I care to remember (including hearing myself say them a few times over the years).
The problem with the word “soft” is that in some cases it’s perceived as negative; that “soft” stuff is less important than some of the “harder” stuff.
The longer I look around though, the more I realize I haven’t always thought of that right.
- Hard data is great, except when you missed the soft data that is often customer opinion, employee engagement, social media perceptions and the next cable network pundit’s nasty opinion about your brand.
- Hard skills like system knowledge, order entry, product knowledge and compliance training are great, except when the soft skills like negotiation skills, engagement skills, sales skills, coaching skills and customer service skills disappear or take such a back seat, that they never get trained.
We are all guilty of trying to make soft data and soft skills “harder” by trying to quantify them; assigning numbers, equations and decimal points to “soft” stuff in an effort to make it more like the hard stuff.
Problem might be that we are just not comfortable or confident with “gray”; and that we want, like the hard skills and hard data, for things to be more easily measurable and more black and white.
But there are few wildly successful sales people whose soft skills are not often the differentiator in customer relationships. And there are fewer superstar entrepreneurs, consultants, customer service reps, managers, teachers & marketers who don’t absolutely rock with soft skills or even in the use of soft data to get the job done.
So maybe, just maybe, the next time someone says to you “You’re going soft”, you should just say “Thank you”.
Till next time,
Grow The Business.