The Good, The Bad, and The Not So Attractive of Microsoft’s Copilot for Sales

As salespeople and sales managers, we are continually looking for a silver bullet or a simple edge that will help make it easier to boost sales.  Microsoft is fully aware of that desire and has introduced Microsoft Copliot for Sales with perfectly aligned marketing speak to play off of those needs.

Visitors to Microsoft’s Copilot for Sales webpage are welcomed with a comforting message that Copilot will “Transform the way sellers work, maximize productivity, personalize interactions, and stay in the flow of work.”

Sounds good to me. Tell me more!

Microsoft does just that, and at the same time, reveals, that while Copilot is powerful, it, just like any tool, provides a varying degree of value depending on where and how it is used.  In the case of Copilot, the three main uses include streamlining communications, personalizing interactions, and streamlining workflows.

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Streamlining Communication

Copilot uses AI assistance to create emails and arrange meetings by pulling data from your CRM, which, at this point looks to be limited to Saleforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Copilot also has the ability to leverage data in Microsoft Graph to complete these tasks.

Copilot can create AI-generated email summaries in Outlook and Microsoft Teams and then share that information with your CRM. Copilot can also use AI to create pitch decks, marketing briefs, and data graphics using Microsft PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.

Personalize Interactions

Copilot helps salespeople prepare for meetings by summarizing past meeting notes, emails, and other related content found in Outlook and Teams. During Microsoft Teams meetings, it provides sales tips, related information, and answers to customer questions. After the call, Copilot uses AI to produce a meeting summary and an analysis, and highlights competitor mentions, relevant KPIs, and suggested follow-up tasks.

Streamlining Workflows

Copilot helps to udpate all relevant records after a sales event (call, meeting, email interaction) and sends that information to your CRM. It also facilitates the sharing of contact cards with all relevant account information. You can also use Copilot to create “deal rooms” in Microsoft Teams that automatically sync call and meeting data with information in your CRM.

These applications of Copilot all sound promising. Clearly, providing meeting summaries that are automatically forwarded to your CRM and that can be retreived on demand when needed are a significant time saver for salespeople.  I also like the ability to create draft emails, and change the tone on the fly.

The bad and “not so attractive” for me include in meeting sales tips and prompts and suggested answers to customer questions. I guess I’m old school, but I prefer to focus intently on the how and what the customer is saying. I don’t want my salespeople or me to be distracted by AI-generated content that may or may not be useful, especially when it comes to proposed answers to customer questions.

All experienced salespeople know that aside from yes and no questions, there are many ways to answer almost any question, and our responses often vary depending on the context and dynamics of the call.  

For example, if a prospect or customer were to ask our about development roadmap, I’d probably want to emphasize future developments that were in alignment with the customer’s requirements. A generic AI-contrived answer would be less effective and run the danger of falling flat on the customer’s ears.

Furthermore, there is a concept that for whatever tool we humans develop and use, there is a corresponding mental and physical degradation in our ability to perform that task without the tool. So, using a calculator for arithmetic, results in making it more difficult to solve math problems without that device. So, while in the short term, it might be nice to be fed answers to customer questions, in the long term it would be kind of sad if we lost our ability to think and respond for ourselves.

I’m also a wee bit reluctant to turn over the creation of pitch decks and other presentations to AI. Presentations involve both creativity and an understanding the the target audience, often at the micro level.

Maybe this feature could be used to create a generic presentation and then the sales and marketing people could fine-tune it. But, I’m not sure that this would be any different than using an marketing-approved template and simply inserting the customer-specific relevant data.

Lastly, my old school brain strongly believes that, although time-consuming, there is some value in creating our own meeting notes.  Just as writing about something helps us to crystalize our understanding of that topic, writing meeting notes and summaries can help us to think through those meetings, understand what went well and what could be improved, and what our (not Copilot’s) recommended next steps should be.

In conclusion, I believe that, in the appropriate situations, Microsoft Copilot will be a game changer for sales by reducing the time needed on a lot of “admin” type tasks such as forwarding information from Outlook to a CRM and creating draft emails. At the same time, I’d hate for salespeople to start depending on Copilot to answer customer questions and make strategic or even tactical recommendations.

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