February 21, 2024

Automated Sales Activity Capture: What it is and Why it's Essential for AI

Mariah Petrovic
Automated Sales Activity Capture: What it is and Why it's Essential for AI

Table of Contents

AI is here to stay in the sales industry. According to IDC, global spending on AI will exceed $301 billion by 2026, a $100 billion increase in just two years. The rapid growth in AI across all parts of the organization is thanks to the technology’s ability to help future-proof, digitalize processes, and permanently reduce the cost of doing business. But AI tools are only as good as the data they have access to. 

Most enterprises still rely on humans to connect their sales processes and customer relationship management system (CRM). As a result, data in most CRMs is incomplete and unreliable because reps don’t want the distraction from selling to make manual updates. A great user interface can’t make up for inaccurate or even hallucinated outputs generated as a result of a CRM full of incomplete and inaccurate sales activity data. 

For sales organizations, the key to capitalizing on AI starts with creating a robust data foundation in their CRM. Automating the capture and recording of all rep activities on each contact, account, and opportunity is the first step toward creating that foundational data layer and getting true value from AI sales tools. 

The negative impacts of manual data entry for sales organizations

Incomplete, unreliable, and inaccurate data in your CRM leads to a lack of visibility and major information gaps at key handoff points in the sales process. In other words, it is a root cause of misalignment between members of go-to-market (GTM) teams. It also complicates sales leaders’ attempts to guide their teams to success. And it makes it impossible for GTM organizations to leverage AI for accurate insights.

Consider these trickle-down impacts of failures to update your CRM:

  • Lack of visibility into if/how accounts have been engaged
  • Increased deal risk and poor forecasting
  • Inability to determine which personas are driving deals
  • Struggles to understand whether territories are properly managed
  • Loss of valuable intellectual property when a salesperson leaves the organization
  • Poor decisions based on incomplete data, leading to subpar or inaccurate territory planning, forecasts, resource coverage, growth projections, and more

Automating sales activity capture is easier than you think

The good news is that enterprises can automate CRM data capture by taking advantage of the right sales AI tool. A high-quality sales AI platform automatically captures data from inboxes, calendars, meetings, and more, and then records all of that valuable information in your CRM. AI then filters and analyzes all information about GTM business activity — no manual data entry or change management is required.

But there’s a key distinction between a sub-par AI tool and an exceptional one. Creating a data repository to fuel AI is not just about collecting activity information. The most important part of AI for sales organizations is actually happening behind the scenes with activity matching, where data is organized and categorized. It’s what turns raw data into clean data. A great AI tool will not only capture all of your team’s activities. It also accurately matches all of those data points to the correct accounts and opportunities in your CRM. 

Think of AI for sales teams in the context of the IoT (Internet of Things) devices that manufacturing companies deploy on the factory floor, for example. IoT captures critical data, enabling the insights and workflows that drive operations. By connecting multiple machines and production lines, companies glean critical insights and data that pave the way for double-digit improvements.

Similarly, an AI platform for sales teams leverages automation to capture data from all the GTM systems in your environment (along with your reps’ inboxes and calendars), and post it in the right places in your CRM. Put another way, the platform connects all the GTM-related signals across your selling environment — from emails, calendars, and video calls — setting the stage for you to bubble up relevant insights. A high-quality AI tool will do this automatically, requiring no effort on your part, and then deliver those insights into the role-based workflows and tools where your GTM teams already work today (like your CRM, inboxes, and collaboration tools). 

How sales reps and sales leaders benefit from automated sales activity capture

Accurate, timely data informs the forecast and deal health with these types of insights:

  • Are reps engaging and interacting with the right personas in each opportunity?
  • Are prospects responding to emails and other forms of engagement?
  • Once they respond, are meetings on track?
  • Is the rep likely to win their current opportunities?

This data also provides insight into what’s happened with an account:

  • Has the rep engaged the right personas?
  • Has the organization brought in the right internal resources for executive engagement?
  • Are reps spending time on the right accounts?

Perhaps most importantly, unimpeded visibility into prospect and customer engagement helps sales leaders drive the right sales behavior. With easy access to all relevant data, it’s possible to identify “good” behavior, use it to inform benchmarks, and coach all reps to perform better.

The impact on marketing

A high-quality go-to-market AI platform can benefit all teams across the GTM organization. The marketing team can only market to known contacts. With an AI sales tool automatically keeping CRM up to date, marketing can reach more prospects and strategic customers with campaigns, offers, and invites. By reviewing win rates across personas, marketing gains a complete picture of the personas that sales is activating. In turn, the marketing team can activate personas in accounts instead of running generic campaigns. Put simply, marketing can spearfish into accounts rather than cast a wide net, becoming a true ABM partner to sales.

In addition, the right tool will enable better attribution models. Without knowing who’s involved in a deal, it’s hard to determine campaign effectiveness. That’s the case for many marketing organizations, leading them to run generic attribution models. Knowing which personas were involved and associating those with specific campaigns, marketing can determine which campaigns are driving opportunities.

Improving sales operations and enablement

AI is a game changer for the operations/enablement team, empowering them to:

  • See account engagement at the account and territory level for optimal territory planning
  • Better allocate internal resources by understanding where people like pre-sales engineers and the rest of the GTM ecosystem are spending time
  • Determine which hyperfocus accounts are being engaged
  • Understand whether executives have met with priority accounts

Armed with the right data and insights, sales operations is able to design a sales process for repeatable, scalable success.

Good data is in. Bad data is [going to stall the growth of your business].

While other vendors focus on solving the surface-level sales productivity challenges. People.ai gets to the root of what’s stalling growth — bad data — and helps organizations operationalize best-in-class performance. Think of this as the equivalent of IoT on the factory floor, connecting machines, automatically gathering data, and analyzing it to deliver insights that power business decisions. People.ai is “IoT for sales teams.”

Learn more about how to find the right AI tool for your sales team by asking these 8 questions during the procurement process

Learn all of the ways People.ai can  drive revenue growth for your business