When it comes to sales activity tracking, a common stress point for RevOps leaders is leveraging the data that they’re pushing into Salesforce.
Here’s the type of question we see frequently in Sales Ops communities all the time:
“An example of where we lack insights on a deal is on proposals being sent … I often catch deals in a forecasted stage where Legal hasn’t even generated a proposal yet!We have YesWare, Outreach, Gmail, Marketo Sales Insights… but I’m overwhelmed with the options to get standard insights into Clari.”
- Multiple tools in the stack
- Lots of overlapping functionality (tasks, templates, syncing email / calendar / etc to Salesforce)
- An ‘overwhelmed’ revenue operations leader who’s trying to balance the million tradeoffs between all the different software purchases that they’ve made.
- A result that falls short of expectations.
In our earliest days (when building out our Salesforce sync architecture) we wondered WHY this pattern is so pervasive and why none of the 100+ activity tracking softwares all fall short of delivering what revops teams want.
We found this very surprising… after all, isn’t pushing data into SFDC supposed to be the EASY part?
So we interviewed 42 RevOps leaders in our customer base and here’s what we found…
Reason #1: Trying To Become THE “System of Record”
Almost all of the “big name” sales tools are venture funded. For venture capitalists chasing massive returns, the idea of taking a bite out of Salesforce’s monopoly is extremely compelling and they specifically look for products that move workflow out of SFDC and into the third party tool. The idea is that “if Salesforce becomes just a dumb reporting DB, then we can eventually threaten to displace them as CRM and they’ll have to buy us.”
The problem with this approach is:
- It creates adverse incentives with the RevOps buyer- the company is pushed to create an experience in their product which makes Salesforce’s inherently worse.
- It forces the startup to compete with Salesforce’s reporting, which is a REALLY high bar, SFDC can do… ANYTHING. Guess who wins that battle almost every time?
The net result is that the RevOps buyer always has a worse experience at every level of the reporting chain.
Reason #2: Automation & Data Sync Don’t Mix Well
The vast majority of sales tool purchases are motivated by some kind of automation. Email sequencing, sales forecasting, meeting recording, etc etc all justify their expense by saying you can ‘give reps X hours of their time back’.
What’s interesting about automation software is that it usually equates to volume, which translates into all sorts of operational challenges:
- API limits: if you’ve ever sent a bulk email blast to 50,000 people and heard a ruckus coming from the sales floor, you know that API quotas need to be managed with any software.
- Locked DB Rows: this is an error that comes up when two sources are independently trying to modify the same record. Imagine that the rep is updating the lead with some info while wrapping up a call when the sales tools does a record update in the background. To ensure that the rep doesn’t overwrite the data that was just pushed, it shows and error and forces the rep to re-enter all of their information in SFDC.
- CRM Schema Limits: as we discuss in our article here, SFDC imposes a lot of architecture constraints that require a deep knowledge of Salesforce and an investment in a package to get all the data into place.
When you combine all these variables into one, the logical choices for automation vendors is to choose a ‘bulk sync’ architecture, which queues up activities to sync every X minutes OR when 200 sync events occur.
So why is that a bad thing?
Well, one of the most valuable insights you can get from Activity data is a context/snapshot of CRM state at the time the Activity itself occurred. If you can build automations and reporting ETLs off of these snapshots, you can unlock a treasure trove of data driven tools. For example – “what was the last activity that happened when the opportunity was in stage X on deal with product Y?”
The only way to make this happen is through a real-time sync architecture, which solves for a totally different set of problems and requires different constraints.
TLDR; it’s *extremely* improbable that an automation vendor can solve activity tracking the way most people want because activity tracking is about better understanding what your PEOPLE are doing (low volume) and this is incompatible with their core value prop.
Reason #3: Salesforce Is Kind of ‘Broken’ Out of The Box
It’s easy to say ‘this is all the sales tool vendors’ fault’. The reality is that even if you get the data into Salesforce the right way, you still have a slew of problems to work through before you can make that data actionable.
Here’s a link to an article that explains ‘why’.
And here’s a link to a page that explains ‘how you solve it’.
So How Do I Fix This??
Just like an All Mountain Ski, anything that tries to be good at everything is going to eventually come up short when high performance matters.
In the case of the Sales Ops professional that we quoted above, this is what’s happened – their need has evolved from ‘how do I get activity data into SFDC’ to ‘how do I translate this into insight’ and the bar for these two problems is very different.
The only way to solve this class of problem is to ‘unbundle the stack’ by moving Activity Tracking out of the sales automation layer.
Many sales automation tools today actually allow you to turn off CRM sync for certain types of activities. For example, SalesLoft and Outreach.io allow you to ‘bring your own activity sync’ tool so you can have them manage the sequencing automation, without them pushing data into your CRM. Many of our customers today do this with Truly because they are able to sync call activities across sequencing campaigns AND voice/sms/email activities that are mid/bottom of funnel.
Interested in fixing your Activity Tracking problem? We’d love to talk! Click here to schedule a Salesforce Data Consultation in under 10 seconds!