Why do charts and graphs communicate better? Perhaps it’s because humans are preprogrammed to process visual cues rather than written language. In other words, humans are not “preprogrammed” for written language. “We were never born to read,” says neuroscience and reading researcher, Maryanne Wolf, in her book, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.
Wolf explains that vision is pre-programmed into the human brain while reading does not come naturally. She describes the brain as computer scientists would: with an “open architecture.” The system of the brain “is versatile enough to change--or rearrange--to accommodate the varying demands on it.” She continues, “Thanks to this design, we come into the world preprogrammed with the capacity to change what is given to us by nature, so that we can go beyond it. We are, it would seem from the start, genetically poised for breakthroughs.” Because of this brain plasticity, we have the ability to learn languages and how to read.
Reading, says Wolf, involves tapping into existing “visual circuits” of the brain in order to decode letters into words. That decoding can happen with any image or symbol and it is happening with data visualization. In effect, images are becoming a new written language.
Wolf’s findings are significant when considering the importance of data visualization in sales. Charts, graphs, and visual representations can be processed faster, support visual learners, and show insights and actionable items that lead to increased sales productivity.
If you’re not already realizing the benefits of data visualization tools, consider these five advantages of data visualization:
1. Visualized Data Is Processed Faster
Visual content is processed much faster and easier than text. In fact, researchers at Pennsylvania School of Medicine indicate that the human retina can transmit data at roughly 10 million bits per second. The retina, explained by the news release, is actually a part of the brain that has grown into the eye.
Data visualization taps into this concept of how quickly our brains can recognize images and make sense of them. James Haight of Blue Hill Research explains, “The brain operates with neural networks that allow us to predict patterns based on external stimuli at great speed. And once we learn a pattern, the brain is excellent at recognizing it again. What’s more is that one of the greatest inputs into our brain’s pattern recognizing process is, you guessed it, visual imagery. So, in this sense, data visualization tools play into our biological sweet spot. The human mind may not intuitively understand complex statistical models or things like ‘R squared’ values, but we are quite adept at picking out patterns from visual displays.”
In a world where employees are overloaded with information, visuals allow us to quickly process and section out necessary information.
2. Data Visualization Dashboards Support Visual Learners
While 90 percent of information submitted to the brain is visual, learning styles vary among the population. Some learn kinesthetically, while others are auditory learners. The majority of the population however, 65 percent to be exact, are visual learners. Data visualization and online data visualization tools help make it possible to quickly comprehend the information presented.
Moving past the spreadsheet era, modern technology has transformed information from generic spreadsheets into appealing and easy-to-read charts and graphs. online data visualization is a tool to present data visually and gain insights from that data.
Anyone from salespeople to CEOs will greatly benefit from the ability to quickly grasp the pulse of the organization.
3. Data visualization tools show insights that may be missed in traditional reports.
Getting the entire company in the habit of seeing the dashboard reports and data visualization can help get a better picture of the organization. Corey Crellin, Senior Manager of Product & Operations at Prosper Healthcare Lending reported in a Dreamforce session that his company adopted loose permissions with their CRM program so all users could create their own reports. “[Senior managers] had good ideas,” says Crellin, “but the people on the front lines had even better ideas...they were finding new metrics and new ratios and a lot of those ratios that came from that quarter are ratios that are critical to us now.”
Once your organization identifies the information and key performance indicators (KPIs) they’d like to have visualized, CRM can produce the visualizations. Examples of data visualization reports might include: Sales by period, sorted by sales person or product, deals in the pipeline, sorted by individual accounts; call time per customer; or deals closed by sales rep.
4. Data visualization gives actionable items.
Data visualization may help your organization see where there’s room for improvement or where performance is high. Actionable items can result by identifying successes and areas for improvement.
For example, if your sales team knows that for every X number of calls, Y number of sales will result, creating a visual report based on calls per sales rep and progress to call goal is a visual motivator to meet the call quota. Similarly, a pipeline report showing where each deal falls along the sales pipeline shows sales teams the next steps to be taken.
5. Data visualization increases productivity and sales.
Being able to visualize data produces real results. The time saved in creating up-to-date reports means greater efficiency company-wide. In an Aberdeen report, organizations that use visual data discovery tools are 28 percent more likely to find timely information than those who rely solely on managed reporting and dashboards. The study also reports that 48 percent of business intelligence users at companies with visual data discovery are able to find information they need without the help of IT staff all or most of the time.
Organizations who embrace data visualization see rewards to their bottom line. In a study of global businesses, only 26 percentof the respondents’ organizations used data visualization. Most of those companies, however, lead in revenue growth and planned to invest even more in data visualization in the next year.
Use Data Visualization to Identify Trends
Using data visualization to identify trends is a key aspect of using data insights to improve performance. Being able to visualize trends by sales rep, by quarter, by year, or by SKU allows for greater awareness into the pulse of the company and allows actions to be taken to continue favorable trends and to reverse negative trends.
Data visualization allows organizations to capitalize upon our natural ability to recognize and process visual images faster than written language. Because of the brain’s ability to recognize and remember images, online data visualization tools help teams see insights that may have been missed, create actionable items, and ultimately, increase sales.