Sales Force Automation
Definition: SFA refers to any suite of software apps that initiates, automates, and optimizes the interface between sales representatives and existing clients or prospects, pipeline management, and the sales management process. This includes the tracking, organization, and managing of contacts, leads, and opportunities through the sales pipeline, sales team and customer activity, order taking, communication, and analysis for performance evaluation.
In the case of B2B sales of physical goods, SFA solutions are extended to support order route-accounting (or transport sales), which facilitates direct-store-delivery of products and the selling of items from the transport’s stock. It should also be enhanced with retail execution capabilities enabling data capture of product performance at brick and mortar stores, enabling merchandising activities, and facilitating onsite sales through replenishment orders.
Benefits: Sales Force Automation solutions serve the sales organization first and foremost and offer benefits such as making the sales process more efficient and transparent, building relationships with prospects, increasing sales velocity and volume, monitoring sales team performance, optimizing pipeline management, and giving management a clearer picture of future prospects, sales, and sales rep performance.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Definition: CRM refers to practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to track, monitor, analyze, and manage interactions with customers and the data they provide across the customer lifecycle, with the goal of enhancing customer satisfaction and retention.
Benefits: The main benefits of mobile CRM systems are improved relationships with customers and better customer loyalty. A CRM system is used by multiple entities within an organization such as customer success, support, sales, and more.
SFA and CRM
While the benefits of Customer Relationship Management systems are that they serve as a single repository for storing and managing customer information, and they can help businesses learn a lot about their customers, they don’t offer the full functionality needed by the sales team to manage, measure, and maximize sales.
Businesses do not need to choose between the two solutions as they actually complement each other and can be used together to boost sales and improve customer retention. In fact, the integration of data between the two platforms can be used by both sales and customer-facing teams to streamline processes and boost profitability.
For example, data from the CRM can be integrated into SFA software to identify sales trends across different territories, product suites, and customer profiles. These can then be used to identify trade promotion opportunities to increase revenue. Similarly, knowledge about the interaction with a prospect can help manage future engagements when the prospect becomes a customer.
CRM, SFA and omnichannel
Professional B2B buyers look for seamless experience to meet their procurement needs akin to what retail consumers now expect.
B2B’s are beginning to adopt omnichannel commerce strategies to support a customer-centric experience. This may force an alignment where the SFA, CRM and the B2B systems, are integrated to share data and metrics. This would allow a sales-person to have a holistic view of their accounts, make smarter decision faster, improve customer satisfaction and maintain growth.
The next natural step will then be to not only share the data across CRM, SFA and B2B solutions but to fully integrate and actively manage them as they have so much in common and enable a truly customer-centric strategy.