Microsoft Viva Sales

Microsoft announced Viva Sales, “a new seller experience application that brings together any customer relationship management technology (CRM), Microsoft 365, and Teams to provide a more streamlined and AI-powered selling experience.”  The new solution is designed for the hybrid work environment where reps leverage video conferences, chats, emails, and documents to close deals.  Viva Sales will also support Salesforce at launch.

Viva Sales “represents a new way of working by breaking down silos of data and breaking down silos of experience,” explained Microsoft Corporate VP for Business Applications Emily He.  Sales reps “really want a more simplified experience.  So, Viva Sales enables a seller to use the tools they already love and use every day, including your email system like Outlook, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, as well as Teams,” she said.

Unfortunately, reps manage these disparate communications channels and their CRM to organize administrative tasks, collaborate on sales, and attend virtual sales meetings.  “Yet, all sellers really want is to spend more time with their customers,” stated Microsoft Chief Commercial Officer Judson Althoff.

Continued Althoff, “What if everything a salesperson needed to do their job was brought together in one place – where they already spend most of their day – in calls, meetings, and chats?  What if their customer records, data, and tasks were intelligently organized and accessible in the tools they use every day?  What if the collaboration environment sellers use to talk to customers automatically provides the next best action and sentiment analysis?”

Viva Sales is a “new modern way of selling” that operates as a “smart CRM companion” that simplifies the seller’s workflows and enriches the CRM.  Viva Sales captures AI-driven insights from Outlook, Teams, and Microsoft Office and feeds this information to the CRM.

“Viva Sales empowers sellers to be more connected with their customers, resulting in more personalized customer engagements and closed deals faster,” stated Althoff.  “This happens through a simple customer tagging feature, which automates the data capture, saves the seller time, and provides their organization with a more complete picture of deal and customer status.  With AI embedded throughout, Viva Sales is like a sales coach to move deals along with recommendations and reminders.  This intelligence layer provides sellers the information they need to help them be more productive.”

Viva was launched last year as an employee portal, but Sales is the first functionally-specific edition of the service.  Viva Sales will be in public preview in July and generally available this fall.  Microsoft Dynamics Sales is inclusive of Viva Sales and “addresses both sellers’ and sales leaders’ needs by automatically enriching Dynamics 365 Sales with customer engagement data captured in Office 365 and Teams.”

Once an email is tagged to an account, Viva Sales presents a sidebar with CRM intelligence. Customer interactions are then logged to the CRM.

Sales reps tag customers or prospects in a Microsoft application.  This “tag to capture” functionality alerts Viva to begin capturing account intelligence and offering insights to the sales rep.  Viva Sales employs Microsoft’s recently announced Context IQ for capturing relevant content across Microsoft apps and services.  This data can then be synced with any CRM.

“What we are focused on is removing the drudgery of manually entering the data into a CRM and then providing the AI capabilities for the sellers,” explained Product Marketing Senior Director Neha Bajwa.  “There’s a virtual personal assistant that is sitting and helping them out doing all the busywork that we would normally have to do.”

The objective is to solve the problem of manual data entry without destroying the CRM.  Viva runs alongside the CRM, capturing intelligence from other enterprise sales apps commonly deployed across sales teams.  The data capture and CRM syncing improve rep productivity while the AI suggestions improve sales effectiveness through better recommendations, reminders, and Next Best actions.

“As you work with a customer, you can not only see your own interactions, [but] you can also see across your company and find all the people that are interacting with your client as well,” said Microsoft VP for Modern Work Jared Spataro.  “We’re trying to apply AI not only to remove the boring stuff, but also to provide real value add so that you can cope with the volume and the expectations associated with you doing your job.”

The service recommends next steps, displays complete interaction histories, and pushes reminders to reps.  It is also connected to LinkedIn, providing the names of colleagues with strong connections to a contact or account, allowing sales reps to conduct research before a Teams chat.

Viva Sales recommends colleagues with pre-existing relationships for pre-meeting briefings via Teams Chat.

During a Teams call, reps can view the relevant customer information in a sidebar and access meeting prep notes.  After the call is recorded and transcribed, Viva Sales summarizes the call and captures action items.  Conversation KPIs and talk tracks are also generated.

Another feature is the generation of customer lists with recent activity, sentiment graphs, and engagement within Excel.

Customer lists within Excel are enriched by Viva Sales. A sidebar provides contact-specific insights, including colleague connections and meeting summaries.

“The future of selling isn’t a new system.  It’s bringing the information sellers need at the right time, the right context, into the tools they know, so their work experience can be streamlined,” said Althoff.  “Empowering sellers to spend more time with their customers has been our goal — and we’ve done that by reimagining the selling experience with Viva Sales.”

One of the core issues at the heart of CRM implementations is the reliance on manual data entry, argued Paul Greenberg, Managing Principal at The 56 Group.  What is necessary is ongoing automation to remove this busy work.

“Sellers rely on digital collaboration and productivity tools to connect with customers and close deals, but a lot of the insights they uncover with these tools don’t make it into the CRM,” Greenberg.  “Microsoft is taking on this challenge by offering a solution that complements the CRM.  Viva Sales automates the busy work, captures critical information about the customer, and helps sellers get the job done.”

Chorus and Gong Apps for Zoom

Zoom formally launched its Zoom apps at the end of July, with Chorus and Gong among the launch partners.  Over fifty business and consumer apps were launched, but Zoom did a poor job of indexing the apps, making it difficult to find apps in a category without mousing over each unknown app. 

Chorus, which was acquired by ZoomInfo two weeks ago, announced General Availability of its Chorus app for Zoom Video Communications.  It’s a better name than being called the ZoomInfo app for Zoom Video Communications which would simply be confusing to the marketplace.

The Chorus App for Zoom

“The Chorus app for Zoom enables us to bring the power of Conversation Intelligence seamlessly into every meeting,” said Dominik Facher, Vice President, Product Management at Chorus.ai. “We’re bringing Chorus everywhere you work — because that’s where the voice of the customer belongs.  This extension of Chorus empowers sellers to have better, more meaningful interactions in real-time.”

The Chorus Zoom app supports live notetaking with the transcript attached to the digital recording.  Other features include

  • Team / Collaborator Engagement and Follow-up – Reps can share snippets of calls with managers, technical support, product teams, etc.  The shared content is in the voice of the customer, improving the context and fidelity of the forwarded information or query.  Collaboration is supported by one-click pins for flagging shareable moments.
  • Hashtags, such as #objections, push moments to a Chorus playlist.
  • @Mentions for looping in colleagues during calls.
  • A post-meeting email summary
  • Automated syncing with Salesforce, including budget data, stakeholders, and the post-meeting email summary
  • Meeting analytics
  • Meeting Prep intelligence – The Zoom client displays deal velocity, next steps or discussion topics from prior calls, and deal context like buying stage, key stakeholders, and deal amount.
  • Participant talk time and key topic trackers

While the newly launched app supports Zoom, Chorus also gathers intelligence from other meeting platforms and emails.  This processing of multiple communication channels provides a set of engagement and deal risk analytics that will be supplemented by ZoomInfo’s Streaming Intent data, visitor intelligence, Scoops, Chat, and SmartForms.

“Chorus and Zoom are both intent on fundamentally changing the way work is done in a virtual environment,” said Ross Mayfield, Product Lead, Zoom Apps & Integrations for Zoom. “It’s about making our customer and prospect relationships stronger.  With the Chorus app for Zoom, the benefits of Conversation Intelligence are more accessible than ever before.”

The Gong App for Zoom

Gong, which competes directly with Chorus, also launched its app this week with similar conversational intelligence for sales features.  Gong automates transcription, notetaking, and analytics.  Users can also tag colleagues for feedback, leverage timestamps, and attach comments in context.  Gong employs AI for coaching, noting points of interest, and flagging deal risks.

“The new Gong app takes two tools that sales pros find invaluable today – Gong and Zoom – and makes them even more useful,” said Chief Product Officer of Gong, Eilon Reshef. “We’re enabling revenue professionals to stay engaged in customer conversations by plugging into their daily workflow.”

By managing recording, transcription, analytics, and intelligence, Chorus and Gong allow reps to step away from traditional notetaking and focus on the meeting, helping them be more present.  As a result, they can ask better questions and manage the meeting flow more effectively while avoiding awkward pauses when taking notes.

The Zoom App marketplace, which launched late last year, already has over 50 apps, including

  • Conversation Intelligence for Sales: Chorus, Gong
  • Transcription: Colibri, Rev, Avoma, Grain
  • Collaboration: Asana, Mentimeter, Workona, Docket, Allo, WorkPatterns
  • People Insights: Warmly,
  • Polling: Polly, Dot Collector, Coda, SurveyMonkey
  • User Interviews: BuildBetter Research
  • Signatures: PandaDoc
  • Whiteboarding: Miro, Mural
  • Notetaking: AI Notetaker by Fathom, Notejoy
  • Timer: Timer
  • Demos: Demoflow
  • Interpreters: Voyce

Zoom also announced its Zoom Events service for hybrid and virtual events.  Marketers can “seamlessly manage and host back-to-back event sessions from sales summits, customer events, trade shows, and internal events.”  Features include event hubs, dedicated corporate virtual event spaces, customizable registration, reporting, and a chat-enabled virtual event lobby.

“Zoom Apps and Zoom Events are critical components in broadening Zoom’s offering and reach,” said Roopam Jain, VP, Information and Communications Technologies at Frost & Sullivan.  “These solutions empower users to accomplish more with video communications and are a testament to Zoom’s focus of enabling customers to create and grow businesses entirely on its platform—whether through applications, integrations, events, or other services.”

EXPLORE Sales Intelligence

EXPLORE.FR, which has historically been more of a niche data provider for the French market, now offers a full sales intelligence and DaaS offering covering the entire French market.  In March, EXPLORE took a minority stake in Societeinfo and published its set of registered Sirene data for ten million active businesses.

“With Societeinfo, we can offer a wide range of data enrichment scenarios, contextualized email generation, semantic targeting without equivalent on the market,” said Laurent Nicouleau, Associate Director of EXPLORE.  “These data can, of course, be integrated into the information systems of our customers, including those deployed by GESTINNOV, our subsidiary dedicated to CRM & ERP integration.”

EXPLORE describes itself as ”a designer of high value-added B to B behavioral data solutions” that “identify all the life stages of your prospects and customers and transforms them into a lever for commercial performance.”

EXPLORE French market intelligence includes company and executive profiles, financials, and triggers.  Features include prospecting, list mapping, news alerts, and mobile apps.

EXPLORE offers connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Oracle, SugarCRM, Efficy, and SAP.

A new Microsoft Teams feature lets users look up and share company profiles within the Teams discussion stream.  Company profiles may be looked up via their Siret # (registration number), name, or address.  From the mini-profile, colleagues can link to the company website or view additional details in EXPLORE.  The service works as a freemium with non-EXPLORE users viewing a limited profile and EXPLORE users viewing a complete profile.

The Teams application is French only.

EXPLORE captures business signals from news, social media, the open web, and governmental sources.

EXPLORE triggers are gathered from regional and national news, social media, the open web (e.g., governmental sites, real estate developers, public purchasers), and public data resources (e.g., building permits, legal announcements).  Triggers fall into three categories:

  1. Strategic events such as M&A, Fundraising, IPO, Investment Projects, and Restructuring.  EXPLORE captures 3 million strategic events per annum.
  2. Relocation Projects and profiles spanning 15,000 annual events.
  3. Legal News such as company registration, dissolution, change in capital, divestitures, litigation, etc.  EXPLORE tracks 2.7 million legal events per annum.

EXPLORE targets commercial real estate, real estate developers, financial services, building supplies, and B2B services.  EXPLORE pricing begins in the €2,000 to 3,000 range.

EXPLORE has 160 employees, with offices in Paris and Nantes, and an annual turnover greater than €14 million.  EXPLORE has 1,500 clients and over 40,000 users.

In other news, EXPLORE acquired Belgian data vendor CODATA which collects information about retailers in France and Benelux.  The dataset covers 370,000 retail locations at 4,600 sites (e.g., city centers, shopping centers, outlets).  The new content augments EXPLORE’s coverage of commercial real estate.

“EXPLORE has been present for many years on the commercial property market; our offer is mainly “project” oriented (construction and renovation of buildings, urban development, CDAC-CNAC decisions, etc.),” said Nicouleau.  “We were very impressed by the high quality of the teams and the data produced by CODATA in the field.  Associated with EXPLORE, CODATA will have new operational resources to develop and strengthen their positions.”

Insent Integrates with MS Teams

Conversation Marketing platform Insent.AI integrated its service with Microsoft Teams, notifying users when customers and prospects are ready to chat.  The conversation is conducted within Teams via an MS Teams AppSource app.

“With the Insent app for Teams, your team can get notifications for the incoming chats from your buyers, view detailed visitor insights to understand the context and strike up more personalized conversations, and make the necessary hand-offs inside your chosen MS channels,” blogged Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey.

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform.”  According to Jey ”integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

Insent offers “Advanced Enterprise-grade routing,” which directs conversations to the CRM account owners.  If the account owner is not available, calls are routed via a set of fallback rules based on time of day and location to other reps or the chatbot.

Insent emphasizes the value of “human-first conversations” with bots serving as a backup channel:

“Chatbots were meant to be your second line of defense, built to support marketing and sales when your team isn’t available – not pretend to be human.”

Insent Website

@ Mentions allow users to include additional staff in the conversation.  It is not necessary to register individual users.  Simply tagging them directs Insent to create a user profile based upon MS Teams data.

Insent also offers integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, and Slack.