Sunday, July 3, 2022

Microsoft announces Viva Sales to capture data for CRMs

Microsoft is expanding the capabilities of Viva, its employee experience platform, with Viva Sales, an application designed to complement customer relationship management systems (CRMs).

What is Microsoft Viva Sales?

Viva Sales’ marquee benefit is its ability to automatically capture customer data through its tagging feature and feed it into any CRM such as Salesforce CRM and Microsoft Dynamics 365, bidirectionally. It can also pull data from any Microsoft 365 applications–Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc–to produce AI-generated suggestions and next steps using Context IQ, announced last fall.

The goal, according to Microsoft, is to reduce the need to manually input customer data into a CRM.

“If you ask any seller, they would say that they don’t like manual data entry into the CRM, because it’s not helping them engage customers And it’s really kind of an overhead they do for their managers,” said Emily He, corporate vice president of Business Applications at Microsoft.

While this may sound simple, offloading the tedium of manual data entry from sellers is actually a big deal. Microsoft’s own research also showed that 23 per cent of business owners said manual data entry was the biggest challenge with CRMs. And according to NetHunt, 72 per cent of salespeople spend up to 60 minutes per day on manual data entry.

That time can be spent better elsewhere, which is why sales managers have been testing various ways to automate the task, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Viva Sales wants to do it the best.

“The magic of Viva sales is capturing a source of data that was never captured in the CRM systems…What Viva Sales allows you to do is…that you can tag a contact as a customer. And once I tag you as a customer, all our interactions will follow the contact. So you’re creating this new catalogue of engagement information, including emails, documents and virtual meetings. And I can sync the data into my CRM without having to manually enter that data,” said He.

She explained that this not only saves time, but also adds a new source of customer engagement data previously absent.

Viva Sales also has the benefit of building a holistic view of the customer. To do this, Emily He explained that Viva Sales can help build a clearer picture of the customer by capturing fine-grained data without manual intervention. Through artificial intelligence and pooling data from multiple interactions, Viva Sales lets the entire team see their interactions, updates, and suggestions on what to do next. This insight saves time and avoids duplicated efforts in reaching out to customers.

“Previously, you’d enter an abstract set of information about what’s happening with the account. But you don’t have a record of every single email or document you’re creating for the customer or the conversation intelligence based on the virtual meetings that you have with the customer. Now that information is present in CRM”

She said the richer profile can lead to richer insight, giving the seller a better understanding of the customer as well as precise recommendations, all without having to constantly refer to the CRM.

Microsoft Viva Sales product demo.

Additionally, Microsoft said that by consolidating data, Viva Sales can streamline workflows and helps people maintain their focus by keeping them in the communication app. A report by Futurum says that salespeople spend most of their time in productivity tools, but often have to refer to discrete record systems to keep updated on their sales. This constant back and forth is intrusive and disrupts workflow. Viva Sales can pull the relevant data directly from applications like Teams and share it with other team members.

There are other nifty features as well, such as call summaries and real-time conversation tips. It also generates call transcripts so the caller can stay in the moment as opposed to taking notes.

When will it be available?

Microsoft Viva Sales will enter public preview in July and become generally available sometime this fall. It will work with Salesforce and Dynamics 365 out of the box, but Microsoft will work on other CRM integrations based on customer requests.

For Microsoft Dynamics 365 customers, Viva Sales will be available for free as long as they have a Microsoft 365 subscription. Microsoft also offers standalone pricing for the Viva Sales module on its own.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT World Canada. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at tli@itwc.ca.

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