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The jig is up: a picture is worth way more than 1,000 words. It’s science. Our brains are essentially giant image processors — studies show that 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
You can use that visual power to solve one of the biggest infighting issues that occur in growth-driven organizations today — misalignment between sales and marketing.
The rift between sales and marketing most commonly occurs because of a lack of comprehension about each other’s work. If the sales team isn’t closing new business, they tend to blame it on the low-quality leads marketing campaigns are bringing in, while the marketing team blames it on a haphazard sales development process.
The greatest tool in solving this type of disagreement is cold, hard data. Data can’t easily be disputed, but first it has to be understood. This is where data visualization comes in. Tapping into the brain’s preference for images, you can create visual representations of data that will align your sales and marketing teams with more efficiency and accuracy.
Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools for the job — typically some combination of CRM software and marketing automation, although many sales/marketing teams also use third-party data visualization tools to enhance their native reporting capabilities with more dynamic illustrations.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the sales and marketing charts your organization should be creating:
Dynamic charts that show what percentage of qualified leads convert into deals and where they come from. These can be used to attribute revenue to marketing campaigns.
In a study of cigarette smokers, researchers found that those who were shown graphic anti-smoking images were more likely to quit smoking than those who were shown text about the consequences of smoking alone. This is thanks to the emotional response images elicit—visual memory is stored in the same area of the brain as emotional memory.
You can use this connection to help trigger change in sales and marketing strategies that will improve alignment. Marketing charts that clearly demonstrate the ways in which this department is contributing high-value leads will push sales to work future leads from those sources harder. At the same time, when marketing sees areas lacking in their revenue contribution visually conveyed, they will be more likely to take fast action for improvement.
Obviously, a revenue chart doesn’t have the same emotional weight as an anti-smoking ad, but the experience of seeing that visualization in a room full of stakeholders will be a much stronger impetus for change than a vague, conceptual notion of revenue.
Shared CRM dashboards that visualize the lead pipeline and current deals in progress.
It might take you several minutes to read a marketing analytics report with data listed in a spreadsheet. But studies show the brain can interpret images in just 13 milliseconds. That is record-breaking speed—exactly the kind of speed you need in order to respond in a rapidly shifting sales and marketing environment.
Using visuals to demonstrate where leads are in the pipeline is a game-changer for creating improvements in both your sales and marketing funnels.
With one glance, the sales team can clearly see where potential blocks are occurring on their end and address them quickly, further improving their understanding of marketing’s contribution to their pipelines.
At the same time, the marketing team can quickly view how their leads are or are not moving through the development process and use that information to adjust campaigns.
Visualizations that analyze past buying trends in order to build more accurate ideal customer profiles that generate better quality leads.
It’s tough to notice patterns when you’re reading a long report or spreadsheet of data. At the very least, you’ll need a highlighter (and probably some aspirin) to try and keep track of all the information.
Visuals are different. Our brains are hardwired to notice the relationship between objects, picking up on patterns with speed and accuracy.
Sales and marketing teams can harness this power in order to notice trends in buyer behavior—where did the highest-converting traffic come from, what are their demographic details, who worked those leads, and so on.
Patterns in the ideal customer profile and pipeline will quickly emerge, allowing for better targeting of high-quality leads and better strategic planning on the sales end.
Charts that track sources and campaigns that are bringing in the most and least new business.
Any teacher will tell you that the best way to get students to lock information into their long-term memory — not just for the next pop quiz — is to pair concepts with relevant visuals.
In fact, research has shown that three days after an oral presentation, audience members only remember 10 percent of the content. But three days after an oral and visual presentation, audience members remember 65 percent of the content.
You can put this to use to not just get alignment between your sales and marketing teams, but to maintain it. Create charts on a monthly (or other interval) basis that track the success of various sources and campaigns.
If you don’t want to build a new visualization, you can also build a dashboard that pulls data from your campaigns in real time and presents it in the form of charts, tickers, gauges, and other illustrations. Representing this data visually will help members of both teams not only remember the value of each source as they go through their daily work, but also help them note changes as they occur from cycle to cycle.
If you still need proof of the power of data visualization, take a look at a map. After all, when you break it down, a map is coordinates and geographical data represented as an image. Just imagine trying to find your way around from a spreadsheet of city names, latitudes, and longitudes.
Visuals work. Put them to use with the data at your organization, and your marketing and sales teams will be finding their way to a middle ground in no time.
And if you don't have the budget to subscribe to an expensive third-party data visualization tool, you can also start creating your own marketing charts and graphs that display live data with this free tool.
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