Taking Inspiration from Amazon and Netflix

Marketing and sales reps today not only have a plethora of tools available to them, they also have access to an ever-increasing amount of customer data—especially as CRM solutions become a de facto business standard. However, managing this information and culling actionable insights can be a daunting task. In order to make the most of the data, organizations must start looking at software interactions and rep enablement from a new angle.

The leading B2C companies approach software interactions from the viewpoint of how they can improve the customer experience at every opportunity. Top examples are Netflix and Amazon, which leverage all customer data—from specific searches to brand preferences and purchase decisions—and use it to improve each interaction, whether through product recommendations or sale alerts. These companies are able to do this through behind-the-scenes work, with best-fit recommendations based on past behaviors, ratings, and rankings that align with identified customer needs and interests. All this helps the companies to uncover new insights relevant to the customer with every click.

Now imagine if this same technology could be used to help deliver actionable insights to reps—spanning recommendations on collateral needs, customer interests, past interactions, and more. To effectively use customer data, uncover true insight into the sales cycle, and be more effective, reps need to be empowered to explore questions and find insights on their own—not rely on outdated dashboards that don't really address the issue.

Consumer-facing applications such as those used by Amazon and Netflix have set the bar high for data intelligence features. To provide a similar experience for reps and empower them to be self-sufficient experts who close more deals, organizations must look to ensure the following three measures are in place.

Offer a Consumer Touch

Until recently, BI and analytics projects have been heavily dependent on IT to create and distribute predefined metrics or dashboards. While these help marketing and sales leaders get a high-level snapshot of business performance, they don't answer any of the ad hoc questions reps are asking, such as "When should the next follow-up be?" For this, they need the ability to dig into the data to analyze different scenarios.

Today, organizations should empower their reps with the new generation of BI and analytics solutions designed to deliver a more consumer-like experience, offering functionality that flips the BI model from an IT-dependent one to one where every business user is empowered to explore data, analyze, and share insights. These new tools are built with the business user in mind—reducing the dependency on IT. They 

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