Jon Lee of ProsperWorks: Automating CRM Data Entry Improves Impact of AI and Provides Better Insights

When many think about artificial intelligence (AI) today it’s usually centered around headline grabbing examples of it addressing the futuristic type issues and challenges. And because the media lens focuses on those “eye-catching” use cases, many small businesses don’t feel like AI is really something that they would benefit from.  But, according to Jon Lee, founder and CEO of CRM platform ProsperWorks, AI can help businesses of all sizes make better, more timely decisions that can help create more successful outcomes.

Better CRM Data Quality Improves AI and Analytics

Lee shares how automating the data entry process not only frees up sales professionals from having to enter and maintain contact and account records, but also provides CRM apps with the data it needs to feed AI and uncover important relationship-building insights.  Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.  To see the full interview watch the embedded video or click on the SoundCloud player.

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Jon Lee of ProsperWorks: Automating CRM Data Entry for Better Data Quality Improves AI and AnalyticsSmall Business Trends: I want to get a little view of your personal background and also give us like the 30,000 foot view of what ProsperWorks is and what you guys do.

Jon Lee:  I’ve been a career entrepreneur since 2005. Started my first company, a marketing automation software business. I bootstrapped it to 47 million in revenues and then sold it to a private equity consortium in a roll up of various advertising networks. Then I started a software company that built video games and AV testing software. And then we sold that company to Zynga. And then basically took a long hiatus and really questioned my meaning for life and realized that it’s to serve. I felt that the best way to do that was to help my fellow kind which is other entrepreneurs, other fast-growing businesses.

Every business struggles with building great relationships and ultimately monetizing those relationships. And so we focused on the CRM space but we did so and really positioned ourselves differently by focusing on G-Suite, which is formerly known as Google Apps. So ProsperWorks is the number one CRM for Google Apps and we are solving the biggest problem in CRM today, which is that there’s a lot of dirty data. It’s actually dirty data that causes more than 47% of CRM’s to fail according to Forester.

We automate data entry. Nobody likes data entry. It’s a huge waste of time. We estimate sales reps spend almost a day out of the entire week entering information. And for what reason? So CRM’s I think historically have largely been focused on backwards looking data. It’s an auditing mechanism for management to make sure that the team is ultimately working, right? The reality is that you want your team working, you don’t want them filling out data. That’s really where we come in and we really solve that problem.

By solving that data entry problem, that data cleanliness problem, we’re actually able to realize the revolution of CRM, which is that no longer are CRM’s just a backwards looking tool to see what happened in history, but actually can inform what you should do in the future. Using algorithms to basically interpret what was successful and what was correlated with success, verified causation, and then continually test that, we can actually recommend to customers what they should be doing. And ultimately automate that for our customers.

Small Business Trends: Give me the distinction or the definition of dirty data and how it compares to incomplete date or out of date data?

Jon Lee:  Usually it’s incomplete data is the number one issue, right? You have a meeting, you have a series of meetings, you get caught up, you forget to update your CRM at the end of the week. You don’t remember something so you basically don’t enter the information or if you do, it’s not accurate. Another thing is you pay your reps and you pay your relationship managers where you yourself as a relationship manager your most valuable asset is your time. And so a lot of times you’ll just enter something within CRM just to be able to try to have really good hygiene but the reality is it’s a hard thing to do. It requires a lot of discipline. But why should you even have to do it?

We live in the cloud today. All of the applications we use to communicate with customers exist in the cloud. We can pull that in so that your data is relevant, it’s comprehensive, it’s fresh, and you can trust it. And that’s the number one thing, can you trust your data? If you can trust your data you can make data driven decisions as to how you start to optimize your sales process? Who are your best performing reps that your other reps can learn from? Why are you losing customers? Why are you winning customers? Answering these key strategic questions, they’re important for every business owner, for every functional leader that they need to have answers to.

Small Business Trends: Talk the effect of good, clean data on AI and how that could optimize the benefits that companies get?

Jon Lee: That’s right. An algorithm is only as good as the data that you put in it. If you have missing data, the algorithm can’t really interpret for that or error correct for that. And so you need not only clean data but you need lots of data. If you don’t have those then you either don’t have an answer or you have an answer that’s non-determinant. Your error bands basically cross each other and you can’t make a decision. I think that AI is going to completely revolutionize CRM and just relationship management in general is because it’s going to be able to identify all of the specific things that occur, find those correlations to success, validate causation, retest, and then ultimately be able to help inform what the next decision is. Be able to identify patterns in data that human beings otherwise can’t see, right? To be able to inform. How can you optimize your business process better? How can you do better on that next call? What are the key things said in the call that really convinced the buyer to move forward with your solution.

We live in an amazing world today where you can transcribe this entire conversation. You can analyze it against other conversations, pattern match it, and be able to figure out what are the key phrases. Those are things that folks are doing that’s really exciting and that’s really helping to promote what I call the augmented productivity economy. Which is that it’s focused on really helping humans build better relationships. And through better relationships you get better results both for your customer and for your company.

Small Business Trends: And how does clean data, and complete data, and timely data, how does that impact ability to get the right nugget at the right time when you can actually do something with it?

Jon Lee:  An example would be you walk into a meeting, ProsperWorks knows you have this calendar event. It’s automatically recalled all of the e-mails, all of the phone calls, it’s transcribed the voice, it’s got all of the customer service tickets, it’s entered my information from outside the web about this person’s interest. It pops up because it knows, hey it’s time for the meeting and you’ve just walked into the building. And it can provide you with this whole dossier so to speak of what’s going on. And then that makes you go into the meeting knowing exactly what the customer’s challenges are, where you last left off, what your next objective is, and so forth.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

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Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.

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