When it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Force Automation (SFA) is the process of automating sales-related business tasks. These tasks include the following: contact management, order entry and tracking, inventory management, sales forecasting, and sales team member performance evaluation. Usually part of CRM software, SFA formalizes and automates the sales process to render workflows that are seamless and free from errors, while preventing any data from falling through the cracks.
Although SFA can be sought for when buying or upgrading CRM software, learning about the capabilities that are unique to the very same can help you and your team identify between sales-centric and customer-centric features. In turn, this can help you make a more informed purchase decision, when it comes to new or upgraded software.
Here, we outline the key capabilities of SFA, as well as how it can benefit your business. As a side note - when doing a CRM comparison online, try to differentiate between vendors who prioritize on sales-related capabilities such as SFA, so you can shortlist the most suitable software products for your sales team.
Managing Sales Contacts.
A key part of the SFA process is managing contact data. When a salesperson calls on a prospect, they need the most up-to-date contact information. That contact information must also be organized and shared with other members of the sales team. This enables better contact with prospects and higher conversion rates. Keeping in contact with prospects is an important aspect of building an order pipeline. As prospects are converted to customers, orders begin to flow into the SFA process.
In this day and age, knowing how to handle customers is a combination of interpersonal skills that are mingled with sound technology, such as SFA. Perfecting both factors can not only help your company sustain in a noisy marketplace, but give your business an edge over that of your competitors.
Entering and Tracking Orders.
Instead of taking notes on a pad or filling out a manual form, the SFA process makes order-taking a simple task of filling in an online form. These forms are pre-populated with all of the important customer information that is already stored in the system. All the order-taker needs to do is add product details, quantity, and price information.
After a customer places an order, the order is tracked using an automated system. This allows the sales representative to answer customer questions and update orders in real-time to reflect actual customer needs. This brings the sales process more in line with customer expectations and strengthens the relationship with the customer.
CRM platforms today also infuse technologies such as AI and Machine Learning to make intelligent suggestions as forms are filled in, while also rolling this data even further to reveal insights that can help with wiser business decision making.
Forecasting Sales Activity.
Maintaining an accurate record of past sales activity helps an organization generate better sales forecasts. SFA collects all of the data for every member of a sales team and generates useful forecasts for each team member. Creating forecasts using reliable data eliminates much of the guesswork from the process.
Outside of Customer Experience (CX) that is part of overall relationship management software, such forecasting can help teams in other business units such as HR (for employee performance evaluations) and Accounting (to generate revenue reports and P&L statements).
To take forecasts several notches further, cloud-based Business Intelligence (BI) can support business decision-making by offering tools such as visualizations, and self-service customizations.
Evaluating Sales Performance.
Tracking performance of sales team members is an important benefit of SFA. Instead of tracking raw sales data, an SFA package tracks and manages sales data for each member of a sales organization. Using quotas or goals, performance can be judged against a set target. This promotes real performance gains for the sales team and for the organization as a whole.
SFA uses the database technology and contact management tools of customer relationship management to bring advanced capabilities to sales teams. This helps organizations accurately measure and reward success, while also identifying and avoiding less successful sales activities.
To top it all, SFA can also contribute towards building a successful CX strategy, as interactions with sales representatives can help organizations reveal common patterns and preferences among different consumer bases.