7 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a GTM Activity Capture Vendor.

As a leader of a thriving company in the Revenue Intelligence and Revenue Operations space, I frequently get asked about how technology and specifically AI can transform the sales process to drive sustainable business growth and innovation. The first question I usually get is around how it can solve the CRM challenge. Enterprise leaders are hungry for solutions that deliver a solid data foundation to optimize sales processes and alleviate mundane, rote work to empower sales teams to capture and realize every opportunity to grow revenue faster.

One of the ways People.ai is helping these leaders monetize the value of CRM is by automating the capture of all prospect and customer contact and activity data, and then intelligently entering the data in their CRM. A key ingredient of making this process effective is the ability to match people, accounts, and opportunities on the correct field in the CRM.

Stats these days on CRM data quality and time spent on data entry are especially grim:

  • 91% of CRM data is incomplete, and 70% of that data decays annually (Dun and Bradstreet)
  • Sales people spend 30% of the time on manual data administration (Sirius Decisions)

A vendor that touts sales-activity-to-CRM capture and matching capabilities could be the way forward, but first, here are important questions you have to ask: 

1.  Is the process completely automated?

It’s almost 2020: your reps should not have to enter anything in CRM manually. The system should be smart enough to log all their activities, create contacts, and update business objects such as accounts and opportunities in your CRM without any human intervention, freeing up 12-20 hours of time/week for each rep. 

Automatic contact creation from reps’ calendar invites, conference calls, and even email CC is now table stakes. Everyone can agree that reps don’t create most of the contacts manually (in fact, approximately 80% of contacts don’t get created), and if the system is not auto-creating them, you will only be capturing 20-40% of activity making insights from this data incomplete. There are also major benefits of automating the contact creation process and management within the regulations of GDPR.   

It’s not enough to create contacts anymore. Contacts also need to stay up to date. We see a natural 33% rate of data decay per year across companies, meaning that when people change jobs, move companies, get promotions, their contact information is not always automatically updated in your CRM. Therefore, you need a way to keep those contacts updated automatically without relying on your sales, marketing, or customer success team to manually update them.

2. Do the contacts/activities match to the correct accounts and/or opportunities?

One of the wonderful things about AI is that it helps humans move faster and smarter. In the context of matching contacts to accounts and opportunities, it requires sophisticated algorithms to define which account or which opportunity is the right match for the captured contact. In enterprise sales, we all know we are inundated with multiple accounts and definitely with multiple opportunities within those accounts. When you are looking into automation, you need to dig deep to see if the intelligence of the system supports your GTM motion, sales process, and compliance requirements. 

3. Does the solution include accurate partner/agency matching?

Most of your reps’ conversations involve your prospect, customer, and often a third party (channel partners, resellers, agencies, etc.). The system needs to know how to properly handle third parties in communications (email CC, calendar invites, phone calls, etc.) and sync emails and contacts to the right customer account even when two or three different companies are in CC or in a meeting. Choosing a system that automates capture correctly with partner entities in the loop allows you to accurately manage attribution through channel deals reducing any conflict with your partners on who did what on every opportunity. It also allows you to better do partner marketing, enablement, and build longer lasting relationships with your channel.

4. Is change management required for the reps? 

From a rep’s perspective, not having to learn another tool or another process is a win these days. It takes valuable time to have reps switch their tools and adopt new plugins. For example, large sales teams struggle to deploy and then maintain a Chrome plugin, that often doesn’t even work on mobile and through software updates. A true enterprise activity capture system should be able to capture all the data in the background, without reps having to install anything, while giving you full visibility and control of what’s going on, and how the data is flowing in your CRM.

5. Does it filter out personal, confidential data, and noise?

A leak of personal information into shared CRM environment could result in a lawsuit or serious fines. Reps use their work emails to book vacations, talk to significant others, shop on Amazon and do their banking, among other things. The system you pick needs to use machine learning to classify the content in all of these activities and intelligently filter out all compromising or irrelevant content. This can get risky if you pick a system that doesn’t use filtering. For example, one company had 20,000 401K statements synced into Salesforce, providing a view into compensation details.

Needless to say, filtering is key to avoid ingesting too much sensitive information. Intelligent filtering helps to remove noise, such as:

  • A contact created in SFDC for every conference room in which your reps attend meetings
  • All executive assistant contacts and activities being logged in SFDC
  • Hundreds of activities logged when people go back and forth deciding when to go for drinks after work
  • All kinds of marketing and spam materials that hit your reps inboxes 

6. Does activity and contact capture work for all roles in the organization?

Most data syncing tools are focused on syncing data for your direct sales team. But, what about the supporting cast that is involved in a deal? Your sales team goes to market with Solution Engineers, Customer Success, Architects and other players. Most activity syncing tools only look at account or opportunity ownership to match data to the right place. This leaves a big portion of the selling organization out in the cold from a data perspective.

7. How portable is this data into other systems?

Once you trust this data, you will want to use it in your business intelligence (BI) systems, with your analytics teams, your customer support, success, and even marketing automation systems. This data needs to be completely portable, have an open API, and give you the ability to ingest your teams’ activity streams anywhere, matching correct metadata and without locking in a specific BI system. After all, you don’t want to turn activity capture into a BI system migration project. 

So, how do you move forward with confidence?

These are a few critical questions to ask before you select an activity capture, contact creation, and matching vendor to support your go-to-market teams. In the era where CRM is no longer the ultimate source of truth, it’s critical to partner with a vendor that will help your organization reap the benefits of automating the data input and ensuring data health. In addition, having enterprise grade privacy and security measures will be non-negotiable.
We’ve been working hard to build People.ai’s platform from the ground up to solve for the seven questions I outlined here. Learn more about how our customers have succeeded here or request a demo.