Sales force automation solutions help make sales processes more agile, more efficient, and more effective. With sales force automation, a company can enhance collaboration and information sharing and improve the productivity of sales-related activities by replacing manual, disjointed, and redundant tasks with simplified, tightly-aligned, fully-automated procedures.
Sales force automation offers a broad range of functionality that addresses the needs of many different user types within a sales department. From sales representatives who need to effectively manage their prospects, to managers who want to track the activities of their teams, and analysts who have to generate accurate sales and revenue forecasts, sales force automation positively impacts end-to-end sales operations.
Most off-the-shelf sales force automation solutions provide the following features as part of the standard package:
This function, which is the cornerstone of most sales force automation solutions on the market today, enables sales reps to better coordinate and prioritize their opportunities. Reps can keep up-to-date contact information as well as a complete and thorough history of all interactions for each account they are engaged with.
They can also generate a variety of reports that include timely data and statistics about their activities. Additionally, sales reps can more efficiently manage their schedules by utilizing a fully-integrated electronic calendar that allows them to set appointment reminders, flag contacts for future follow up, and more.
Managers can also gain complete visibility into the activities of their sales teams. They can monitor tasks and interactions, track the status of opportunities in progress, and make sure each rep is on track to achieve their goals.
The forecasting capabilities within sales force automation solutions make it easy for sales analysts and financial staff to accurately predict future sales revenue. This is accomplished through a thorough, in-depth analysis of the sales history and trends and the status of all opportunities in progress.
Sales representatives spend most of their time traveling to visit potential clients. That’s why most sales force automation packages provide remote access through a Web-based interface or handheld devices such as a BlackBerry, iPhone, or other smartphone. This allows sales staff to access real-time account, inventory, and product data at any time, from any location, allowing them to stay fully-connected even when on the road.
This function allows sales reps to monitor orders and deliveries, ensuring that customers receive their products and services in a timely manner. Additionally, it provides the intelligence sales reps need to identify vital purchase trends, understand customer needs and preferences, and implement more effective up-sell and cross-sell strategies.
The reporting and analysis capabilities of a sales force automation solution allow companies to accurately assess the performance of individual sales reps, as well as sales territories, specific product lines, and more. Managers and analysts can measure actual sales against forecasts and quotas, revenues generated by product line, and other critical sales performance metrics. As a result, they can more accurately manage commissions and identify areas in need of improvement.
Because most companies have limited technical resources, many sales force automation packages are available as hosted, web-based solutions. Hosted sales force automation solutions are quick to implement and easy to maintain and require no additional infrastructure, so they can significantly minimize the burden on IT staff.
Some sales force automation solutions provide robust customization capabilities, so they can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of the business. Individual personalization capabilities are also available in some sales force automation packages, so each member of the sales staff can structure the interface, data views, and other properties in a way that will work best for them.
If you want more detailed info on specific SFA solutions take a look at our exclusive Top 10 Sales Force Automation software report.