Sales Force Automation (SFA) refers to a software application that automates certain sales tasks, including digital quotes and order-taking, online procurement, managing sales rep appointments, recording all stages of the sales process and accessing customer analytics for strategic decision-making.
Sales Force Automation is generally met with resistance by salespeople due to several misconceptions and fears, including:
- The loss of their jobs, as SFA is seen as replacing their primary sales functions.
- The loss of control over customer relationships, which may cause a decline in the quality of their service to customers.
- The loss of autonomy and privacy as sales managers can monitor their every move.
- The loss of individual competitive advantages as valuable contacts and customer information would be accessible to the entire organisation.
- The risk of SFA being too difficult to learn and use.
- The risk that fellow salespeople could enter inflated sales figures or hide information from their managers.
- That SFA is too expensive and unnecessary if businesses already have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place.
The term Sales Force Automation may be deemed a misnomer as the main focus of this system is to enhance the sales process and free up time for sales staff to focus on more customer relationship-orientated activities – the aspects of the job that a computer is incapable of doing. Despite popular, yet misguided, beliefs, there are a number of benefits associated with SFA, including:
- Providing instant digital quotes and orders. This leads to an increase in productivity, eliminates error-prone manual order-taking and enables effective team collaboration to streamline the sales cycle.
- Providing instant customer analytics and insights to enable more focused sales strategies.
- Enables multi-platform access from any internet-connected device, such as smartphones, tablets and computers.
- Ensuring that sales efforts are not duplicated, which improves efficiency.
- Reducing costs associated with generating a sale, thereby providing a competitive advantage in terms of revenue and market share.
- Increasing customer satisfaction with drastically reduced response times.
- Allowing sales managers to focus on enhancing processes rather than administrative tasks.
Sales Force Automation is an effective approach to digitise sales processes and facilitate important interactions with customers, which can have a significant effect on conversion rates and overall revenue, thereby boosting efforts to convert leads into sales.