Microsoft’s Viva Sales Opens Up CRM Prospects By Easing Sales Woes
Despite significant product advances in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, salespeople face many of the same engagement challenges they’ve had in the past. It’s still difficult to find information because it resides in multiple systems. Salespeople lack contextual insight, such as the types of interactions a prospect or customer may have recently had with the organization. After a meeting, a salesperson struggles to accurately capture information from engagements and follow up with the correct information at the right time. Often, a salesperson needs to copy the same data into multiple systems of record, which rarely happens with any consistency. Meanwhile, managers question whether they have the most up-to-date information to forecast sales and resolve performance issues. Today, there’s simply too much manual labor in the process.
To address these challenges, Microsoft announced a new sales tool called Viva Sales. The company calls it a “new seller experience application.” Microsoft shared that many salespeople spend only one-third of their time with customers, and the remainder is focused on internal processes and workflows. While the actual percentage of time a salesperson spends with a customer will vary by organization, every organization has a tremendous opportunity to improve the sales process.
Viva Sales is an extension of Microsoft’s existing Viva product that it launched last year. Microsoft Viva is a platform that combines communications, learning, resources, and insights to improve the employee experience. It offers personal insights, a learning platform, an area for content curation, and for connecting and sharing information internally. In February 2022, Microsoft published a blog sharing that “Viva has more than 10 million monthly active users. Over 1,000 paying customers—including Blum, Nationwide, Old Mutual, PayPal, REI, and Unilever—are using Microsoft Viva to build a better employee experience, from promoting growth and wellbeing in the digital office to building a connected culture for frontline workers.”
The idea behind Viva Sales is to eliminate the friction in finding, sharing and logging prospect and customer information. It aims to break down data siloes and integrate information across applications such as email, collaboration, productivity apps and CRM. In a product video, Microsoft demonstrated how the system could seamlessly integrate customer and prospect engagement data from Microsoft Dynamics into Office application, Outlook and Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft’s Viva Sales minimizes context switching by placing deal information within the flow of work. In the demo, Microsoft shows a salesperson reviewing an upcoming meeting with a new prospect. Viva Sales surfaced new insights, such as which co-workers may have engaged with the prospect in the past and ranking the strength of the connection so the salesperson could reach out to the best co-worker to ask advice. It also connects with LinkedIn to deliver additional insights about the prospect. The video also showcased how Viva Sales makes it easy to share sales information across applications such as Microsoft’s Excel and Teams without copying and pasting all the information. Any shared data is a live link which means the information is always current. For example, if you share information such as the size of the sales opportunity in Microsoft Teams, it will automatically update it in Microsoft Teams if this information changes.
Another aspect of Viva Sales is its ability to provide real-time transcription, sentiment analysis and conversation insights to help guide a salesperson through the call. Embedded AI creates a transcript of the meeting and captures a list of action items eliminating the need for a salesperson to take notes. It also improves the overall capabilities of new sales team members by surfacing timely insights such as the next best action to take during a meeting, when to follow up and what product information to send as part of a follow-up. Viva Sales delivers simplicity and improves employee experience by minimizing the manual aspects of searching and copying information between apps. Meanwhile, AI correlates data and turns it into actionable insights.
The bigger surprise with Viva Sales is that Microsoft says this CRM companion app will work with other non-Microsoft CRM solutions. While I haven’t seen any integrations in action, supporting a diverse range of CRM solutions will allows Microsoft to strengthen its ties with a customer and prove its value to sales leaders. The Viva Sales announcement also sheds light on Microsoft’s overall strategy to turn Viva into a platform for role-based applications.
Viva Sales represents the next generation of modern employee application experiences that Lopez Research defines as Right-time Experiences. Right-time experiences are applications and workflows are contextual, learning, and prescriptive. Viva sales is an example of an RTE because it surfaces the right insights at the right time within the context of the task the employee’s attempting to complete.
Branding this sales solution under the Viva portfolio may create confusion, but it fits into the category of a solution that enhances the employee experience. While the CRM space is highly competitive, Viva Sales simplifies the process for salespeople and gives organizations another reason to look at Microsoft Dynamics365. Microsoft’s strength in workplace applications (e.g., Office) and collaboration suites means that company has native access to create integrations that break down internal data silos to improve the flow of information throughout the organization. AI will surface suggestions and reminders to help the salesperson select suitable offerings and product information to improve close rates. In general, Viva Sales will help salespeople focus on the customer instead of the process, which can only enhance the experience for everyone.