For many small & medium businesses, managers are unsure whether implementing a CRM or SFA (Sales Force Automation) system is worth the effort and costs. When going through this decision for your business, there are many different questions to ask yourself. Everyone knows that the customer is a cornerstone of any business, and sales automation is what allows you to continue creating new customers, and to generate more business from your existing customers.
Before we dive in to the top 5 reasons which your business should implement some form of online CRM or sales tracking system, let’s identify exactly what “Sales Force Automation” is. SFA (or Sales Force Management) systems are informative systems designed to help automate common tasks within sales processes. SFA systems are commonly integrated as part of a customer relationship management systems, such as Apptivo. Some primary elements of a sales force management system include: lead tracking, sales lead process tracking, sales forecasting, order management, or a product knowledge base.
Top 5 reasons a Company needs Sales Force Automation
While there are many different reasons a company should implement SFA/SFM, here are 5 of the top items you should consider when deciding to include SFA within your CRM processes.
1. Lost Opportunities
Humans aren’t perfect, so you cannot expect your sales agents to remember every interaction, deadline, or appointment with potential customers. Without a central system to manage all of these activities, sales agents become easily overwhelmed, and miss out on contacts. Being persistent is a necessary trait of a sales employee, and giving them tools that can help them manage each follow up with their contacts is invaluable.
Most CRM & SFA tools allow you to manage not only follow ups for a specific contact or customer, but also manage reminders about each potential deal you have on the table with each of these entities. This allows your sales agents to focus their time on increasing the number & quality of interactions, rather than getting bogged down with managing their obligations, and potentially missing tasks that were supposed to be completed.
2. Poor Prioritization
Without a tool which can easily list all potential deals in your business, how are sales staff supposed to understand which task is the best use of their time? For many companies, the number of sales leads is not the issue, but the quality of the leads is an issue. You don’t want your best staff working on the lowest quality leads, you want to make sure that each resource is always used in the most optimal way.
By using an online sales force automation tool, you can easily assign lead ranks to each potential deal, and also form a clear segmentation between cold sales leads, and hot sales opportunities. Not only this, but you are able to track indicators of how important a deal may be, such as seeing the overall value, or the estimated probability that the deal will close; this such information gives managers the information required to assign the proper resources to every deal.
3. Lack of Forecasting & Intelligence
This point takes a step beyond just solving problems in your sales process, and moves on to allowing your sales processes to solve problems in other areas of the business. By properly defining the estimated outcome (probability X revenue amount), you can make accurate projections of future income. This allows business owners to make intelligent decisions about resource allocation, marketing budgets, and nearly every other aspect of the business. Being able to monitor the future cash flow of the business is simply an invaluable tool when it comes to running a company, and these reports are easily generated when a sales team is disciplined about the use of their sales force automation tools.
Beyond just forecasting, tools like this can offer the ability to get all sorts of reports and metrics. You can easily gain vision as to which steps in your sales process perform poorly, and which steps perform well. You can also differentiate between all of your sales by a specific market segment or geographical territory, helping you refine & optimize your marketing and sales techniques to better fit niches that your business excels in.
4. Employee Accountability
As the saying goes “what gets measured, gets improved”. By tracking each individual sale within the company, your sales crm system can give you a detailed breakdown on employee performance. As noted above, you gain the ability to run reports and see which steps of your process, or which types of customers you succeed with. But beyond this, you can also see how successful each employee is compared to these segments. Basic reports can give small, but telling pieces of information such as “how much revenue has an employee generated?”, or “what percentage of opportunities does a sales person convert?”.
This sort of intelligence on employee performance can help you focus management resources on training employees to improve, changing employee roles to better fit their skills, or rewarding your top employees for a job well done. Many businesses will even share the performance of employees with their peers, which can promote competition between sales staff which pushes the entire team to perform at a higher level.
5. Collaboration & Data Sharing
Last, but not least, is the ability to share information between your staff. There are many scenarios where your sales process would improve if the sales agent had a better understanding of who they are contacting, or the past interactions your company has had with this customer. A sales force automation system provides two major solutions which help in this area. The first is the ability to manage details on all business contacts, in a central area accessible by all employees. For example, one employee might meet a prospect at an event, and add their contact into the cloud based CRM system. This employee could write down some details they learned, such as if the prospect is a soccer fan, or a coffee aficionado. Later on, when your sales agent calls this prospect to follow up, they already have information needed to instantly forge a tighter relationship with this contact, and improve the probability of closing a deal.
Beyond managing specific details about a contact or a customer, a sales force management system also managed your interactions & history with every contact. This allows every sales agent in your business to be able to view a single customer record, and instantly get a complete history of all past & current deals. This type of collaboration is paramount when dealing with resources who leave the company, or even an employee who is just out sick for the day.
What are the first steps to implementing sales force automation?
Well, the first step is to decide whether SFA is right for your company, which you’ve hopefully done above. Once you’ve decided to move forward, you’ll need to find the right software. Every sales team is different, so it’s important to think about the unique needs of your business. Here at Apptivo, we’ve focused on delivering a system that is accessible from anywhere, and integrates completely with every process in your business. Our sales force automation system not only manages your deal pipeline, but also has tools to manage the fulfillment & billing areas of your business, like customer service, estimates, project management, invoicing, and marketing.
How about your business, what reasons did you take into consideration when implementing your system? Let us know in the comments below!