Over the past few days, I’ve been discussing enhancements made to the 14 sales intelligence services covered in my new book, 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence. On Monday, I discussed content enhancements and on Tuesday I covered functionality. Wednesday was supposed to be user interfaces, but Dun & Bradstreet dropped a bombshell and acquired Avention, so the UI discussion was bumped a day.
There are two approaches to UI enhancements: Big Bang and Incremental. With the big bang approach the entire product is refreshed. Such a project is a major endeavor and often involves a completely new look and feel to the service and upgraded workflows and design elements. It may also involve new standards such as responsive design in support of mobile devices.
One example of broad product redesigns are the new interfaces found in Bureau van Dijk’s Orbis and Fame products. These products focus on financial analysis and account research. New design elements included a navigation bar, a contemporary UI, faster list building, new report types, shared information sets (e.g. reports, lists searches), and new analytical tools.
Unfortunately,Bureau van Dijk has not indicated any plans for addressing the old-fashioned Mint sales intelligence user interface.
Another example of redesign is InsideView which refreshed its user interface for its web browser and CRM connectors. The browser changes were relatively minor, but the CRM connectors had a broader set of design and workflow upgrades.
DiscoverOrg also redesigned their user interface at the beginning of 2016 (it was in beta in 2015). In February 2016, DiscoverOrg released a new platform designed with better speed, performance, and scalability. It included a new UI and enhanced features:
- Streamlined prospecting against 62 variables across five broad categories: companies, employees, technology products, location, and triggers. The new UI immediately presents an updated result list as variables are selected. The same selects are available across three results views: companies, contacts, and triggers.
- Export of contacts as profiles or as VCF
- Company and contact notes
- Suppression of companies or contacts when prospecting (e.g. suppress named accounts from lists for territory reps).
- Admin user management and usage reporting
- Ability to toggle between multiple departments on the same page (depending on subscription)
- Ability to follow a company or contact with update alerting, including if they leave a company and reappear in the database under another profiled company (a unique DiscoverOrg capability)
- Customizable dashboard based on followed lists
- Contact profiles include previous job history and education
- Company profiles include lists of current employees and recently departed staff.
RainKing went through a rebranding exercise which included a refreshed user interface. The platform has faster response times, improved searching, and an expanded technology taxonomy.
Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification).
The second approach is more incremental. Instead of changing the overall look and feel of the platform, workflow and layout improvements are made to a set of contained tools. For example, list building is a contained functional category. Upgrades to prospecting workflows do not impact the whole product, but are focused in a functional subset, allowing the upgrades to be compartmentalized.
Avention took an incremental approach to workflow with redesigns of their active homepage, build a list, and watchlists. The Build a List user interface was redesigned to improve usability while expanding to 150 selects. Lists may now be exported to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle for Sales, Marketo, and Eloqua. New list management features include rename, pin to desktop, delete, modify criteria, and clone list.
The Avention active home page is now customizable with users able to drag and drop information tiles. There is also an improved SmartList tile display and onboarding tiles containing product tips.
Expanded notification functionality allows Avention reps to manage new company and sales trigger alerts from a centralized location. This Watchlist supports filtering by read/unread notices, priority flag, trigger type, and list. A new flag allows users to flag notifications as important.
Likewise, Data.com originally launched the Dun & Bradstreet family trees in the classic UI, but implemented the Lightning UI for family tree viewing. The family tree information mashes together the Dun & Bradstreet global family tree (e.g. linkages, location type, city, country, revenue, and employees) with Salesforce.com account intelligence including whether the location is already an account and the name of the account owner. Users may expand or collapse nodes and add an account via clicking on a Plus button.
Owler improved the user interface for their advanced search (Build a List). They also added selects for area code and ZIP/Postal Code.
Unlike content and functional upgrades, one would not want to have annual UI upgrades as they require customers to relearn key elements of the service. There is value to both stability and change (a fact which is true of both product design and life in general). If a platform goes too long without a refresh, it becomes stale and fails to leverage new browser and mobile device capabilities. Furthermore, as new content and features are added to a platform, it can become overly busy and illogical. Conversely, a platform which changes its design elements and workflow too often will frustrate users. There are benefits in knowing how to efficiently complete a task or where to find specific information. Change should never be simply for change sake.