Every day, more and more data is being generated all around us. Unsure about what to wear? With the weather updates at your fingertips you can plan accordingly. Need the fastest route to work? Up-to-the-minute traffic reports are just a click away. Want to share your brushing habits with your dentist? Why not—there’s even a report for that. These are but a fraction of the myriad of statistics and data points that get recorded and dumped into various databases.
And the same is true for channel program data, which (given the right tools and techniques) can unlock key insights and drive greater performance.
Those insights can be fleeting, however, with many companies finding themselves rich in data but poor in insight. Without the right tools, delivered at the right time and offered with the right context, the value hidden within that data can escape as well.
Data visualization is a great window into what your channel partners are up to, how your channel program is operating and what actions you might want to take to make meaningful change happen based on the findings. This can come in the form of dashboards, business reviews and/or survey analysis.
Dashboards can deliver prompt and highly visual data at your fingertips with a click. Refreshing as frequently as every half hour, these powerful tools keep the user’s attention front and center, focused on what is most important and actionable.
Trend charts are the analyst’s most basic tool, visually displaying a key metric over time and indicating insights such as a quarter-long uptick in sales after a major product launch or a 10-week stretch of enhanced website hits following an informative email campaign. These simple—but powerful—data visualizations form the bedrock of data-centric reporting.
Of course, there are additional ways to visualize data with big impact:
- Tree maps can display how awards earned through your program are motivating your sales personnel.
- Leaderboards can show who on your team is building customer loyalty toward your brand.
- Interactive maps pinpoint where dealers are performing well or where some are below target and need a little extra attention.
- Automotive-style gauges mark progress towards objective completion.
The list could go on, but any number of creative and engaging visuals can shed light and insight on what makes your channel or program tick.
Well-designed dashboards and their constituent visuals can also be used to answer your more general questions as well. Need to track how many certifications have been completed this year? No problem—discover that and more on an entire page dedicated to training. How many claims have been submitted on the new product line since launch six weeks ago? Another tab shows an array of total claims by sales area, time and specific SKU. How is dealership personnel turnover affecting my channel? Investigate that issue with dealer retention segmentation displayed side-by-side with key performance metrics like customer satisfaction and sales.
Related: These steps to greater ROI for your incentive programs help you identify program objectives and utilize best practices for audience segmentation, goal setting, financial forecasting and program design.
Dashboards are fantastic for the self-service needs you may have in harvesting valuable items from your data. But business reviews represent an opportunity to dive even more deeply.
Business reviews can yield more of the “why” behind your data trends. Why are your top performers beginning to disengage with your brand? Why are employee retention figures starting to improve? What exactly happens to sales when the value of the incentive rises, lowers or stays the same?
Business reviews can offer vast easily digestible insight into your data’s finer, more minute points.
Segmentation, patterns, regional nuances and cause-and-effect relationships between engagement and performance are all examples of analytical items, which take more time and care than a dashboard allows. But the cadence business reviews offer provides plenty of time for a skilled analyst to uncover deep meaning (and possible new paths forward) to fill in gaps or to evangelize a best practice across your channel.
Box and whisker plots might show the breaks in how each role is awarded through your program on key percentiles. An engaging infographic can display the ratio of the most highly certified personnel in your dealer network versus those who are just doing the basics. A market basket analysis can shed light on what products are typically bundled with each other to better enhance your marketing reach.
Analysis often (and quickly) turns to strategy planning in a strong business review. For example, the data may show that your quarterly bonus promotion is only reaching 10% of your audience. Seeing this having too short a reach, your strategic team—in conjunction with the analyst—proposes lowering the threshold to qualify for the award, but steps up each level to encourage the participant to do just a bit more to unlock increased earnings. At the end of the next quarter, you see this has risen to 30% of your audience being touched by the program.
Customer and employee sentiment are also highly valuable pieces to the overall analytic puzzle. Responses to a survey can be turbocharged when the questions link together, allowing for more understanding than first meets the eye. A chart showing a simple layout of how respondents said they "strongly agreed" with a statement on how motivated they were to sell your products tells only a part of the story. But a sliceable visual with other questions may show those who "disagree" with being motivated by your program also have a high correlation with not understanding your product line, and are not getting feedback from their supervisor on a regular basis. This actionable learning could lead to more enhanced and targeted training, incentives to have management connect more frequently with their employees and other meaningful strategies.
Whether taking advantage of the insights found through the data discovery of a dashboard, the deep findings of a business review or the revelations of a participant survey, powerful data visualizations can help clear the fog commonly associated with disparate sources of information. By utilizing these and other tools, your channel will be poised to make big things happen with your big data.
When it comes to making data-driven decisions for channel success, keep these five questions in mind to get more information.