Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
—Arthur C. Clarke
When companies get technology right, the sales results can be impressive. Supermarket chain Tesco runs a loyalty program that generates a tremendous amount of customer data, which the company mines to inform promotions and strategic segmentation of customers. US insurer Progressive is known for conducting experiments to segment its customers systematically and effectively and to tailor product offers accordingly. Bank of America’s rewards program analyzes customers’ previous credit- and debit-card purchase histories to generate reward offers, and it claims to have helped customers save more than $20 million since it began the program in 2012. The offers are popular: Bank of America has retained 30 million online banking customers since January 2012, and the number of mobile bank users increased by 4 million in the two years beginning in May 2012.1
Using data to pinpoint targets is only a small part of what IT—when properly designed and implemented—can do to improve sales productivity. Indeed, if we look back at the range of best practices we described in the previous chapters, we see that sales organizations need strong IT support for all of them—from identifying growth ahead of the competition to mastering multiple routes to market, to managing sales operations. As the search for growth becomes more challenging, and as channels—especially ...