Your timing in these instances is crucial, because you have the opportunity to consider what will truly add value and what will truly result in the most actionable insight. Here’s a great example of when that’s most true and a moment when the “So what?” test does its best work. Metric B is down 50% from last quarter! Now would be a great time to slide back from your desk, lock your computer, and begin running around frantically, right?
So what if we’ve declined 50% in that area. How do you know if it’s good or bad? Does that follow a similar trend we’ve been seeing all year or have seen in the past? Is the metric seasonal or cyclical? How does that compare to what you see in the industry among your competition? Before you start spending more money, contracting more agencies, or scrutinizing business units, take a step back and think.
Here’s another benefit: when you ask “So what?” it can lead to the real business question. And sometimes, after you discover the true underlying issue, you’ll find that the proposed metric isn’t actually even the best one to measure that area or answer that question. Let’s look at a more concrete example. “We’re up 100% in lead generation this quarter!” Whoop whoop. It’s a crime being this awesome. Break out the champagne, right?
In this situation, asking “So what?” can lead you to discover that actually all that growth was from just purchasing two million leads this year and only one million last year. Perhaps a better metric is actually inbound leads. It passes the “So what?” test because it answers the questions: “Are people learning about us?” “Are we driving demand?”
And the best part of the “So what” test is that you can apply it more than once. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. So what, we’re driving demand; that doesn’t mean those people learning about us are the ones that will eventually buy from us. Maybe a large portion of those are giving us bad info. Perhaps a better metric is actually new inbound leads that move on to qualified deals. It passes the “So what?” test because it answers the question: “Are we driving right demand to result in pipeline creation?” A question derived from a question: the “So what?” test knows no limits (just don’t tear a hole in the universe).
Of course, there aren’t hard and fast rules for this. But if you don’t already, try asking “So what?” more often, and share your success stories from it in the comments below!