Sales Force Automation: In this article, we are covering the seventh part of Customer Relationship Management Complete Notes which is important for different competitive exams like Business and Marketing Exams, Management and Leadership Exams, Information Technology Exams, Sales and Customer Service Certification Exams, MBA Entrance Exams, Industry-Specific Exams etc.
Table of Contents
Notes on Sales Force Automation
This is the seventh part of CRM Notes – Sales Force Automation where we are going to cover Definition of Sales Process, Overview of Sales Force Automation, Sales Force Automation Solution, Benefits of Sales Force Automation Software, Features of SFA, Functional Features of SFA Architecture and Important Terms of SFA.
Definition of Sales Process
Before getting to know about Sales force automation we need to know first what a sales process is. A sales process is a systematic methodology for performing product or service sales. The reasons for having a sales process include seller and buyer risk management, achieving standardized customer interaction in sales and scalable revenue generation.
Specific steps in sales processes vary from company to company but generally include the following steps:
- Sales lead
- Qualified prospect
- Need identification
- Deal Transaction
From a seller’s point of view, a sales process mediates risk by stage-gating deals based on collection of information or execution of procedures that gate movement to the next step. This controls seller resource expenditure on non-performing deals. Ideally this also prevents buyers from purchasing products they don’t need though such a benefit requires ethical intentions by the seller. Because of the uncertainty of this assurance, buyers often have a buying or purchasing process.
Sales processes are generally more common for companies that either have large revenue risks that require systematic assurance of revenue generation and/or those that choose to use a more consultative sales approach (e.g., Saturn, IBM, Hewlett-Packard).
Strictly even an effective ad hoc or retail sales process can be described by steps of an ideal sales process though some of the steps may be executed quickly. Often a bad sales experience can be analyzed and shown to have skipped key steps. This is where a good sale processes mediate risk for both buyer and seller.
Many companies develop their own sales process; however, off the shelf versions are available from companies such as Huthwaite International and Miller Heiman. These provide a customizable process and a set of electronic tools that can be freestanding or can be integrated if required with the company’s CRM or opportunity management system Sales Process Management includes all the tasks associated with finding sales opportunities and closing deals. This includes:
- Prospecting and qualifying leads.
- Managing contacts, opportunities, and accounts.
- Tracing the stages of deal closure and its related probabilities, including the variable compensations directly or indirectly related to closing deals.
- Managing and tracking communications between salespeople and customers, such as conducting direct e-mail campaigns.
- Maintaining a database of product information in a format that’s easy for the sales force to access, either online in the office or offline at a customer site.
Any sales team in a company today, has to deal with various constraints. They need to continuously be in touch with their office, for updates on availability, prices and schemes for the products they sell. While this external reliance is a bottleneck, even the information obtained is not always accurate. Sales Force Automation enables a highly mobile sales force to increase productivity on the field, react faster to customer requirements and access and update sales related information anytime, anywhere.
SFA is often used interchangeably with CRM; however, CRM does not necessarily imply automation of sales tasks. Sales Force Automation (SFA) contains multiple aspects of sales functionality, including sales activities, opportunity & pipeline management and forecast capabilities. Sales Force Automation is frequently combined with marketing tools to help facilitate the lead to opportunity (sales) flow. SFA enables you to analyze the entire sales cycle and successfully manage your sales pipeline—from first contact to final sale.
SFA functionality can also help forecast your sales pipeline. Forecasting sales opportunities enables companies to forecast products or services that will be sold within a specified timeline, the monetary/unit amount of products or services sold, and the likelihood of selling those products or services. Forecast management may also be based by employees or territories, they may compare the adjustments over time so sales managers can see the changes, and the forecast could be compared to a sales users’ quota.
Overview of Sales Force Automation
Sales force automation refers to automating all the actions related to sales of an organization or business. This is a coordination of applications that chiefly center on scheduling and contact management. Sales force automation actions are usually incorporated with other systems that supply the status of orders, inventory and products and other related information and can be a part of a bigger program of customer relationship management. Abbreviated SFA, a technique of using software to automate the business tasks of sales, including order processing, contact management, information sharing, inventory monitoring and control, order tracking, customer management, sales forecast analysis and employee performance evaluation.
Sales force automation helps by making all business actions pertaining to sales, automatic. These actions include:
- Keeping a track of orders.
- Meting out of orders.
- Contact management.
- Sharing sales information and statistics.
- Screening and control of inventory.
- Analyzing future sales patterns and behavior.
- Evaluating performance of employees in sales.
In short, sales force automation can help you to control your entire sales process from head to toe. Sales Force Automation (SFA) software is a type of program that automates business tasks such as inventory control, sales processing, and tracking of customer interactions, as well as analyzing sales forecasts and performance. Sales automation software is sometimes called sales automation software, and sometimes called Customer Relations Management (CRM) software.
Sales Force Automation Solution
Nowadays there is a variety of software and solutions available for sales force automation that can help small, mid-size, and large enterprises to meet and surpass their sales targets and initiatives. All the information provided by such solutions can help businesses to analyze their sales and pinpoint future trends and courses.
SFA packages typically include a Web-ready database, an e-mail package, and customizable templates. A three-tiered architecture is typically used to separate the database, server, and application to reduce programming demands on clients.
A module-based design is generally used, to allow users to customize the package to suit their needs.
In August 2000, Oracle released a free CRM software package, OracleSalesOnline.com which makes information – such as contacts, schedules, and performance tracking –available online through the included database program. The package is designed for medium-to-large enterprises with mobile work forces. All data and storage are based at an Oracle facility, similar to the Application Service Provider (ASP) model, which means that data can be accessed from any Internet connection and that the client doesn’t need special hardware or software. The Oracle package also includes online staff training.
Benefits of Sales Force Automation Software
Personalized Software: You can get sales force automation solutions that are customized according to your specific business. These solutions are completely configurable to meet your individual business and sales automation needs.
Complete Sales Solutions for Executives and Employees: Sales force automation software can help executives to define and set individual sales goals, share sales and advertising information, analyze results and reports, and predict future courses.
Sales employees can benefit as the solutions make it easy for them to obtain leads, supervise their databases, set reminders for schedules and appointments, and save numerous notes, orders, and applications.
Swift Launch and Incorporation: Most sales force automation software can easily be incorporated into your unique sales programs and can be configured according to your special needs. As a direct consequence of this, your sales team can be fully functional in weeks rather than months or even years.
Provides Control: By using sales force automation software, managers can find out how their sales team is doing at any given time and also take care of any possible problems before they get out of hand. Sales representatives can quickly be brought up to date by providing all the necessary sales information in one common place.
Safeguards Data: All sales force automation systems have built-in security tools that help to safeguard all your data, statistics, and solutions. Advanced technology in security enables complete protection of client and company data. Along with this, these systems have data encryption and user authentication facilities that help to back up the saved data and also prevent unauthorized use of your sales solutions.
Features of SFA
- Sales Management
- Lead Management
- Opportunity Management
- Account and Contact Management Notes
- Activity Management
- Approvals and Workflow
- Territory Management
- Partner Management
- Analytics and Forecasting
- Reports and Dashboards
- Customizable Forecasting
- Data Quality Management
- Sales Information
- Product Catalog
- Document Management
- Contract Management
- Email Templates
- Asset Management
- Desktop and Mobile
- Mobile CRM Solutions
- Microsoft Outlook Edition
- Word and Excel Integration
- Customization and Integration
- AppExchange Applications
Functional Features of SFA Architecture
More Competitive & Government Exams and Jobs Links
Important Terms of SFA
Active Listening: Active listening is a communication technique. Active listening requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear.
Behaviour Analysis: Behavior analysis is a science concerned with the behaviour of people, and it attempts to understand, describe and predict their behaviour.
Body Language: Body language is the person’s expressions, behaviour, body movement, etc., through which you can judge that a person is tense, relaxed, worried, happy, restless, etc.
CLTV: It is a reflection of the possible future business a company can expect from a loyal customer.
Continuity Marketing: These programs are generally aimed at retaining customers and enhancing their loyalty.
Cross-selling: Cross-selling is the act of selling a product or service to a customer as a result of another purchase.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business strategy to select and manage customers to optimize long-term value.
Event-based Marketing: The best definition of event-based marketing is a time-sensitive marketing or sales communication reacting to a customer-specific event.
Verbal Behaviour: Verbal Behaviour, a detailed behavioural analysis of what constitutes as language is provided.
Competitive Advantage: An advantage that a firm has over its competitors, allowing it to generate greater sales or margins and/or retain more customers than its competition. There can be many types of competitive advantages including the firm’s cost structure, product offerings, distribution network and customer support.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large
Customer Value Framework: The framework identifies five major sources of value—information, products, interactions, environment, and ownership—that are associated with central value-chain processes.
Customer Value: It is defined as the difference between what a customer gets from a product, and what he or she has to give in order to get it. It helps people and companies unlock their inner creative power and achieve amazing results.
Marketing Research: It is the systematic gathering, recording, and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data about issues relating to marketing products and services. The goal of marketing research is to identify and assess how changing elements of the marketing mix impacts customer behavior.
Marketing Strategy: Marketing strategy is a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its resources on the optimal opportunities with the goals of increasing sales and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.
Technology Components: The CRM technology components combine the functions of CRM engine, Front-office solutions, Enterprise Application Integrations (EAIs) for CRM.
Customer-Repeat Purchasers: (a) number of repeat purchase customers over the past year as a % of total number of customers or, (b) Value of repeat sales as a % of total sales or, (c) % of purchases by current customers. This measure provides an indication of customer retention/loyalty.
Customer Account Profitability: This is a measure of the value of specific customer accounts.
Customer Acquisition Cost: This is a measure of the cost involved in attracting or retaining customers.
Customer Relationship–Duration: Customer relationship – duration is the average duration of relationships of an organization with its customers or, the duration of relationships with key/individual customers.
Customer-Projected Retention: This measure provides an indication of projected customer retention/loyalty and may be effective in the measurement of current customer satisfaction as opposed to measurements relating to customers already lost.
Customers-Value of Key Customers: (a) value of total sales or contracts to key customers as a % of total value of gross sales or contracts, per period, or, (b) value of sales or contracts gained through referrals from key customer as a % of total sales or contracts. This is a measure of the performance of identified key customers, allowing the effectiveness of special relationship strategies to be assessed and refocused as necessary.
Market Share Projection: Market share projection is a measure of projected market share, commonly used in setting goals or targets in new product promotions or when penetrating new markets with existing products.
Return on Investment (ROI): This measure provides an indication of how well profits are being generated from use of the organization’s resources. A measure commonly used to compare performance between organizations; ROI is useful for assessing an organization’s competitive advantage. In this context it can be used to track the success of a CPM initiative.
360-degree Marketing: Marketing activities which take into consideration brand identity and take an inclusive approach so that the brand is presented at all points of consumer contact.
Competitive Advantage: An advantage that firms have over its competitors, allowing it to generate greater sales or margins and/or retain more customers than its competition. There can be many types of competitive advantages including the firm’s cost structure, product offerings, distribution network and customer support.
Consumer Behaviour: Consumer Behaviour is a branch which deals with the various stages a consumer goes through before purchasing products or services for his end use.
Cross-selling: Selling the customer additional, related, products
Data Mining: Data mining (sometimes called data or knowledge discovery) is the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information – information that can be used to increase revenue, cuts costs, or both.
Economy: The system of production and distribution and consumption.
Marketing: The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.
Up-selling: Selling the customer a more expensive version of the product
Behavioural Segmentation: Market segmentation based on consumer’s product related behavior; typically, the benefits desired from a product.
Demography: The statistical study of human population and its distribution.
Market Targeting: The process of segmenting, targeting and positioning an offer in the market.
Positioning: process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its company, product & services and brands.
Psychographics: It is the science of using psychology and demographics to study the lifestyle patterns of consumers.
Segmentation: The process of segregating a heterogeneous market into a set of homogeneous groups of customers.
Target Market: it is a group of customers that the business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its merchandise.
Brand Building: The goal in brand building is to carefully manage a company’s name, brands, slogans and symbols, otherwise known as brand equity.
Call Centres (CCs), or Customer Contact Centres (CCCs): These have long played a critical role on the customer interaction front.
CTI: It can be defined as the application of computer-based intelligence to telecommunications devices.
Customer Equity: It is the Net Present Value of a customer from the perspective of a supplier.
Customer Knowledge: It refers to understanding your customers, their needs, wants and aims is essential if a business is to align its processes, products and services to build real customer relationships.
Customer Value Analysis (CVA): CVA compares price and quality (or value) of a product against competitors.
Enterprise Data: Enterprise Data is information that is entered and used by each staff member in performing their job, but which is also relevant to others in an organization or group, such as the feedback from a customer during a sales call.
Lifetime Customer Value: It is a reflection of the possible future business a company can expect from a loyal customer.
CRM: Contact with customer made through the retail store, phone, and fax.
Digital Signature: A digital certificate simply ties together a public key with say the name and address of the customer or merchant.
E-CRM: All of the traditional methods are used in addition to Internet, email, wireless, and PDA technologies.
Mobile CRM: This is defined as “services that aim at nurturing customer relationships, acquiring or maintaining customers, support marketing, sales or services processes, and use wireless networks as the medium of delivery to the customers.”
Outsourced Model: It is similar to the ASP option. A company with limited resources and capabilities will utilize outside businesses to fill in the gap.
Self-hosted Applications: In this situation the software is hosted by the e-business. The vendor will teach users how to put the software to use.
Web Browser: This model preserves the fundamental value of the Internet as a communication medium, and provides a common platform for independent access to data anytime and anywhere.
Alerts: Messaging facility allows sales representative to receive from as well as send alerts to central server.
Appointment Scheduling: This facilitates creating, viewing and rescheduling appointments by a sales representative on his PDA.
Client Application: The client application is hosted in the Sales Representative’s PDA device and has the ability to view appointments, create orders, search for customer details and item details and synchronise with the Mobile Server using GPRS.
Delivery Instructions: The Sales Representative can enter a Delivery Instruction if required and save the order.
Mobile Server: It is the key sub-system of the entire sales force automation system.
Sales Force Automation (SFA) Software: It is a type of program that automates business tasks such as inventory control, sales processing, and tracking of customer interactions, as well as analyzing sales forecasts and performance.
Sales Force Automation: It refers to automating all the actions related to sales of an organization or business.
Synchronization: This module facilitates in synchronizing data on the device with the server using cradle or wireless synchronization.
FAQs on Sales Force Automation
What is Sales Force Automation (SFA), and how does it benefit businesses?
Sales Force Automation is a technology-driven approach that automates and streamlines sales processes, such as lead management, contact management, opportunity tracking, and reporting. SFA benefits businesses by increasing sales efficiency, improving customer relationships, and providing valuable insights into sales performance. It helps sales teams save time, reduce errors, and focus on high-value activities.
What are the key features of Sales Force Automation software?
Sales Force Automation software typically includes features such as:
Contact and Lead Management: Storing and organizing customer and prospect information.
Opportunity Management: Tracking sales opportunities through various stages of the sales pipeline.
Sales Forecasting: Predicting future sales based on historical data and current pipeline.
Task and Activity Management: Scheduling and tracking sales-related tasks and activities.
Reporting and Analytics: Generating reports and analytics on sales performance and trends.
Integration: Integration with other business systems like CRM, marketing automation, and ERP systems.
How does Sales Force Automation differ from Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
Sales Force Automation is a subset of Customer Relationship Management. While SFA focuses primarily on automating sales processes, CRM encompasses a broader set of functions, including marketing automation, customer service, and analytics. CRM aims to manage and enhance all interactions with customers, while SFA specifically targets sales-related activities such as lead management, opportunity tracking, and sales forecasting.
What are the benefits of integrating Sales Force Automation with other business systems?
Integrating SFA with other business systems, such as CRM and marketing automation, offers several advantages:
Data Consistency: Ensures that customer data is consistent and up-to-date across all systems, reducing errors and improving accuracy.
Streamlined Workflows: Enables seamless data flow between sales, marketing, and customer service teams, improving collaboration and efficiency.
Enhanced Customer Insights: Combines data from multiple sources to provide a more comprehensive view of customer interactions and preferences.
Automation of End-to-End Processes: Allows for end-to-end automation of customer journeys, from lead generation to post-sale support.
How can Sales Force Automation software help with sales team productivity?
Sales Force Automation software can significantly boost sales team productivity by:
Automating Repetitive Tasks: It eliminates manual data entry and administrative tasks, allowing sales reps to focus on selling.
Providing Mobile Access: Salespeople can access critical information and update records while on the go, increasing flexibility and responsiveness.
Offering Sales Analytics: Analytics and reporting tools provide insights into sales performance and help identify areas for improvement.
Enabling Lead Nurturing: SFA systems can automate lead nurturing processes, ensuring leads are engaged at the right time with the right content.
Enhancing Customer Engagement: With access to customer data and insights, sales reps can provide more personalized and timely interactions, leading to better customer relationships and higher close rates.