So it’s the day after torrential thunderstorms slowed down voting in the “Brexit” referendum for commuters in London & the South of England. Based upon turnout rates and affected railway lines, I've estimated that anything up to 500,000 people were kept away from the polling stations by torrential rains and flooded railway lines that at one point looked more like canals than termini.
And after that particular deluge, we find ourselves with another deluge, as the referendum popped up a surprise result.
Britain is leaving the European Community, although possibly not all together (hang on in there, Scotland!)
Now SalesOps tries to work with hard facts and data, and these have been pretty much lacking in the Brexit conversations running up to this historic vote.
However, what we can do is use data analysis tools to see how people were talking, even if what they were saying was nonsense.
Enter the brexit.atavist.com website, which has been following public commentary on social media sites that support hashtags.
In hindsight it was obvious from their data - from 20-22nd June (that’s the two days just before the actual vote took place) - which way the vote was going to go, with #leave comments outpacing #remain by 53% to 47%.
The actual result was 52% to 48% - which is a remarkably close result.
By contrast the exit polls and those leading up to Thursday showed the Remain voters in the ascendant. As they did with exit polls at the last General Election, it seems that British voters lie to pollsters - but say it as it really is on social media.
Voting Day was the 23rd June of course, and in the UK strict rules mean the BBC and all other broadcasters were not allowed to report details of campaigning while the polls were open. But that doesn’t stop the voters weighing in, of course.
The social conversation data for the whole of June-2016 – including that from voting day on the 23rd - shows that when they’re not being whipped into a frenzy by the media, #Leave campaigners are remarkably quiescent.
By contrast, and perhaps sensing that the victory was slipping away from them, the #Remain supporters became much chattier online on the last day.
The data doesn’t lie. But just as data is ubiquitous, it doesn’t mean that the truth is obvious – although it is out there, as the X-Files used to claim.
The challenge of course is not measuring data - it’s all about understanding what your KPIs are and measuring the data that supports those KPIs – and preferably in real time if you want to make a difference to the result.
Those who assumed that Britain would remain in the EU were blindsided because they were not measuring the right KPIs.
And in SalesOps, we know we can learn a lesson here…
Come have a chat if you think that Brexit might have changed your European sales strategy – contact us here.
*The French expression at the top of this post is attributed to a mistress to the French King Louis XV. It’s literal equivalent is “after us, the floods” but it translates better as “if the revolution happens and the king has his head chopped off, then the nation will be plunged into chaos.” Seems apt, since the British Prime Minister Cameron just resigned.