Microsoft Corp. announced Viva Sales, a new program intended to connect its Office and video conferencing programs with customer-relationship management software, both of its own and that of competitors, in a move that could garner revenue from Salesforce Inc. clients.
The program would be available for testing next month which allows users of customer management programs to synchronize information between those products and Microsoft’s Outlook address book and calendars or Teams conferencing and chat.
To scan calls and interact with clients, Viva Sales seamlessly uses artificial intelligence tools to analyse customer sentiment and understand what actions and marketing material are working well. It then provides feedback to the sales reps.
In a statement, Microsoft announced that Viva Sales will be available free of cost for those who already use Microsoft’s Dynamics customer relations software. Pricing for Salesforce customers will be completed later this year when the software is available for commercial use.
Microsoft’s Chief Commercial Officer, Judson Althoff said in an interview that the new product offers the Redmond, Washington-based company a chance at capturing revenue from users of Salesforce’s market-leading CRM software, which Microsoft has been trying to grasp for nearly two decades.
While Microsoft tries to win over Salesforce clients, some are of the opinion that they are interested in the new features, but aren’t planning to remove the customer relations software which they already have. Althoff further added that Salesforce added AI abilities to its programs and acquired business chat app Slack to integrate with its offerings last year.
Microsoft hopes to generate incremental revenue with Viva Sales
Althoff noted that if the users choose to stay with Salesforce, they can still purchase Viva Sales separately and get all of the new developments that the company will offer, as well as full integration with Teams and Office which customers have been asking for a long time. He also added that this would be a big incremental revenue generator for them.
The program enables sales reps to identify certain contacts as customers in their Outlook contact list, which would aid interactions to be synced with their customer-management program. Viva Sales links with calendars and identifies when customer meetings are nearing, and shows the sales rep which of their LinkedIn connections and other contacts are related to the user. Throughout a meeting held on Teams, a sales representative can view all the data related to the user.
AI researchers have revealed their concerns about accuracy and favouritism issues in several sentiment analysis algorithms, which could raise concerns if the analysis is used to set decisions on compensation or influences performance reviews. Althoff mentioned that Viva Sales enables analysis and allows sales reps to review for accuracy. It also allows users to score recommendations and to learn from the graded scores.
For a year now, Microsoft has been using the new tools with its sales teams and has trained the AI which allowed them to reduce early problems. This meant that external customers wouldn’t have to rework.
The company said that initially, Viva Sales would work automatically with Dynamics and Salesforce, and the program includes the ability to manually connect data to other programs.
Currently, sales reps manually search for information, and Microsoft hopes that the new tools will help remove much of all the manual data entry.
Microsoft observed that companies are trying very hard to focus on employee productivity and well-being, and they are of the opinion that this is a capability that will actually help make Salesforce team’s lives more efficient, effective, and enjoyable.