When it comes to generating new business, the effectiveness of any software balances on the power of the platform and the strategy of the business development team. Highly-skilled teams may find success in spite of shortcomings in their software. Inversely, a robust, well-designed software platform can help all manner of business development teams gain a competitive edge. However, that’s not to say a skilled business development person can get by on less. A powerful business intelligence platform, in the right hands, can go a long way toward growing your revenue.
So, what constitutes good business intelligence software? Let’s explore the top five features and functions your software needs to effectively generate new business.
The Fast Facts…
Content consolidation streamlines the research and reading required when extracting actionable insights.
Data visualization guides the smaller quick decisions like gauging the best time to reach out to a prospect.
Boolean search functionality provides context which narrows the scope and increases the relevance of the content returned.
Distribution functionality keeps users engaged, streamlines team decision-making, and informs prospect nurture campaigns.
Platform integration strengthens the link between business intelligence and sales data.
Before we get into our list of the top five features and functions of effective business intelligence tools, it’s important to identify our “givens”. This is important to establish the baseline functionality you should reasonably expect in any BI software worth its salt. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are becoming buzzwords in business intelligence. Both these terms have a broad range of implications. Artificial intelligence, in its simplest form, simply refers to be business intelligence software which filters, sorts, and curates content without you (the user) specifically telling it what to do. Similarly, the simplest version of machine learning uses algorithms to adjust how it aggregates content; making inferences based on feedback from the user (i.e. you). While both ML and AI can get pretty fancy, you should accept these features as “givens” unless your software provider is willing to elaborate.
Cross-platform compatibility (i.e. desktop, tablet, and mobile) is another given. In all fairness, a smooth mobile user experience is a worthy selling point for business intelligence tools. But, in 2019, no self-respecting software provider can boast about how their tools are available on your mobile phone—as if it should come as a pleasant surprise. While this may be the case in another five years, business intelligence software is not widely expected to include data and media coverage. However, any platform capable of synthesizing both data and content into actionable insights has a head and shoulders advantage over the competition. Treating this as a given sets a higher standard when comparing software providers.
1. Content Consolidation
Content consolidation refers to the elimination (or economical reorganization) of data and media coverage. Simply aggregating this information offers little more benefit than an advanced Google search. However, effective business intelligence software knows how to reduce clutter. Users must feel empowered by reading less and learning more. Doing so enables them to make faster, more informed decisions. This ability is what makes intelligence platforms uniquely valuable in generating new business.
Manzama Insights articles represent a 70% reduction in relevant content. Stories and Storylines summarize articles, reducing the reading time a further 90%.
Content consolidation may include removing any duplicate articles shared by multiple media outlets. It can also involve trimming away content which regurgitates or recapitulates on higher-quality content. Consolidating data requires more technical sophistication, but can be immensely valuable to business development. This involves synthesizing the data just enough, allowing users to extract actionable insights while—at the same time—not omitting potentially valuable information. Consolidating data into corporate health scores, news timelines, industry matrices, etc. closes the gap between Point A (raw data) and Point B (informed decisions).
2. Data Visualization
Similar in concept to content consolidation is a software’s data visualization functionality. The similarity lies in making large quantities of information easy to understand. The difference between consolidation and visualization is that consolidation involves a reduction or summarization of data, whereas visualization emphasizes the representation of data. These functionalities aren’t mutually exclusive, however, as many intelligence platforms use visual representations to summarize key metrics. In fact, there’s typically some overlap between the two, as news timelines and industry matrices often involve some amount of data visualization.
Data visualization plays an important role in generating new business, as it is useful in guiding sales strategy without necessitating a deeper investigation. The majority of gainful sales decisions involve—to varying degrees of formality—the synthesis, interpretation, and articulation of actionable insights. However, sales teams can streamline the guidance of smaller decisions through the effective use of data visualization. This comes in handy when gauging the optimal time to reach out to prospects; on the tail of industry developments or competitor announcements. It’s also useful in highlighting impactful talking points, as trending topics may point to specific needs or concerns.
3. Boolean Search
Boolean searches incorporate operators such as “AND”, “OR”, and “NOT”; including modifiers for specific words and variants of those terms. This allows users to add context to the content they’re searching for. Boolean queries are a vital tool, letting sales teams drill down into topics, companies, and markets. This cuts down on time spent searching through semi-relevant information to find what you’re looking for. Boolean search functionality goes a long way in generating new business. “Semantic” or “natural language” searches are good for asking the Five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. Boolean searches have the advantage when it comes to asking “what about…”.
For example, sales reps at a professional services organization could semantically search for “New York Video Gambling Taxes 2020”. This would likely return a variety of corporate blog articles outlining new legislation affecting electronic gambling in the 2020 tax year. However, this query lacks the specificity needed to filter out consumer-facing content and is less effective in finding information from a primary source. A Boolean search is more effective in cutting through the noise, providing a rigidly-defined structure for getting to the “what about…” questions. The right combination of operators and modifiers would allow users to search for New York 2020 tax laws AND video gambling OR electronic gambling.
In short, boolean search functionality provides a methodology for adding context when querying search engines or databases to eliminate less relevant results. For sales teams, this means learning more while reading less.
Of course—while effective in performing targeted searches—boolean searches can be a hassle. They’re often tedious and require a working knowledge of the necessary operators and modifiers. Well-designed business intelligence software will not only support boolean logic, but streamline its application.
As it pertains to the features and functions of business intelligence software, distribution refers to both:
• Distributing relevant content to users.
• Allowing users to distribute relevant content to others.
Distributing content to users involves sending email alerts or mobile notifications—either in regular intervals or in response to a predetermined threshold. This threshold may relate to industry, prospect, or competitor KPIs or involve a saturation of positive or negative press surrounding a given topic or company. These notifications must walk the line between being useful and being perceived as “obnoxious”. Poorly-timed alerts (like receiving an email every time new content is available) can have a “boy who cried wolf” effect. However, an effective and efficiently-paced notification structure keeps users engaged; cultivating “power users” within a company’s sales reps.
To be effective in generating new business, intelligence platforms cannot stand in the way of allowing sales teams to act on valuable insights. This means data and content must be easy to share outside the software; with prospects, account managers, and other sales reps. The ability to share individual content and reports is a given. However, sharing information in one-off instances is not useful in constructing and pitching actionable insights. Rarely are well-informed decisions made from a single article or statistic. The information needs to tell a story, laying out support for a given course of action. It’s also difficult to nurture prospects along the buyer’s journey one piece of content at a time. The best BI software allows users to construct branded, bespoke newsletters and intelligence reports.
5. Platform Integrations
It makes sense that well-built CRM integrations and APIs impacts the ability of BI to inform sales strategies and decision-making. The intel you use to guide business development is most effective when joined with the relationship and lifecycle management platforms used to manage your prospects. Platforms which offer CRM integration and metrics on clicks, views, and open rates are particularly effective in generating new business. APIs offer more robust, intricate connectivity between business intelligence and CRM platforms. Of course, sales strategies don’t always live and die within a CRM. Integrating with extranets and project or knowledge management platforms can facilitate the role of business intelligence higher-level strategic positioning and team discussions.