Achieving Sales Success with Sales Force Automation Software
Confessions of a VP of Sales
The on-demand software movement received much of its market growth from on-demand Sales Force Automation (SFA) software systems. Not that marketing automation or customer service are any less important to a company's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, or that the users of these other CRM software components are any less satisfied with their current business software systems, it's just that when the software-as-a-service movement gave sales people something they could use with less training, less IT support and it worked with their consumer devices, they were upwardly vocal to their sales management and had little reservation about procuring a SaaS SFA system, getting reimbursed on their expense report, and maybe getting around to telling IT about their production system at some point in time.
However, much has changed from those early days of flying beneath the IT radar. Software as a Service (SaaS) has dovetailed into cloud computing. IT shops have bought into the cloud delivery model as a way to accelerate implementation projects, achieve more predictable IT spend, grant on-demand scalability, offer business agility and reallocate their limited time away from low value software maintenance items and toward more strategic IT services that benefit the company.
Sales Force Automation systems are also advancing with social media adoption. Social CRM (SCRM) is the newest technology to bring new excitement and extended purpose to SFA software. Integrating SFA systems with social listening tools, social networks and customer engagement channels can promote customer communications, grow customer relationships and result in increased customer-share, market-share, revenues and sales person commissions.
Despite the changes in software technology, the business strategies, benefits and risks of Sales Force Automation systems remain fairly constant. SFA software benefits are many and varied, however, some common examples include:
- Solution selling tools automation and process support for increased sales win closure rates
- Competitive Intelligence (CI) for improved sales strategies and outselling competitors
- Best Practices integrated into the sales process in a just in time fashion, which then repeat behaviors and actions that are known to achieve success
- Automated next-steps, reminders, tasks and alerts for continuous sale opportunities advancement
- Business process routines which automate activities and reduce non-selling time
- Automated sales pipeline and forecast reporting
At the end of a Sales Force Automation implementation, sales people don't embrace a new system because of some short term incentives or threats for non-compliance, they instead embrace the system that offers them selling tools, customer relationship management best practices and automation which collectively help them sell more and exceed quota. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't over-engineer it to more than that.