A Comprehensive Guide to Sales Force Automation

John Cook Director of Demand Gen | Consensus
John Cook

Sales Force Automation or SFA is the automation and management of sales staff, business processes, and activities. SFA software leverages information technology to organize and automate processes for consistent performance and reliable results using data. It sequences sales cycle steps and brings real-time visibility of sales progress to enablement functions and sales management, making it a vital component to any quality CRM strategy and software solution.

A typically cited aspect of SFA is sales lead management. A company may have a sales team that consists of staff distributed throughout the globe who contact prospects and potential customers remotely or at their actual place of business.

  • SFA systems gather lead information from a form which contains the most significant data on the potential client including contact information, demographic data, lead source, role, and more optimal time to contact.
  • Sales lead origination is typically the product of a marketing campaign event and usually starts as a website inquiry, inbound call receipt or outbound telemarketing contact. The lead data is entered directly in the SFA system as a prospect or lead, and the system assigns the lead to the sales representative based on a lead distribution algorithm.
  • The lead is assigned to a sales cycle with the initial activities automatically scheduled. The sales manager is immediately sent a notification that the lead is generated and assigned The sales representative is the notified and has to send a response.
  • Generally speaking, after the initial contact, the lead is then labeled and categorized as a qualified prospect. Qualified leads attain the next step in sales process activities. Non-qualified prospects are assigned to drip marketing campaigns until the point at which they may become qualified. Unqualified leads are then closed.

Most SFA systems provide both flexible sales cycle processes and automation of those processes for sales professionals. They also provide sales management visibility at each opportunity stage, enabling better forecasting. Deviations can be alleviated and sales managers are able to provide sales coaching in order to improve the skills of the sales team over time.

Giving sales managers real-time opportunity visibility means, they no longer have to make manual inquiries through calls and meetings with the sales staff in order to ask and receive updates on every particular lead’s follow-ups and progress. Instead, they can focus on matters that concern troubled accounts.

SFA is generally centered around the facilitation of:

  • an organizations most optimal sales processes
  • automating key sales activities  
  • empowering sales staff with more time
  • providing visible sales management as to deliver nuanced guidance

Sales Management and Sales Force Automation Systems

Managing a sales team can be immensely difficult. Every single time you are able to overcome one problem, there is already another one rearing its head in the distance. This is most evident especially in terms of large sales teams, where it is typical that minute issues are difficult to identify and tend to escalate into larger and more significant problems. An SFA system is arguably the best solution for these types of problems.

The process of reporting sales activity, following-up with potential prospects, and staying meticulously organized are the core foundations of a successful salesperson and overall sales team, but these are often overlooked. The sales process system is relatively easy to establish but can be incredibly tricky to preserve.

Sales Force Automation systems are essentially designed to overcome hurdles for any sales team; they automatically organize and manage the various functions and elements of your sales team. One of the best aspects of incorporating a Sales Force Automation system is to have a good handle on your sales-related predicaments.

Managing Contacts

If your sales team is aggressive in nature due to dealing with large amounts of leads, keeping track of each and every opportunity in the pipeline can get very difficult, even for the most organized sales representatives.

The great thing about using SFA is that it has the ability to manage your sales team’s complete contact list. All the sales representatives need to do is enter each client’s information. From this point, the system automates all the other aspects of contact management.

  • Scheduling – A Sales Force Automation system can automatically schedule and reschedule sales meetings. Which in turn, structures your sales team’s day as efficiently as possible. Each and every set appointment will be confirmed, eradicating the wasted time from attending a missed appointment.
  • Deal Status – Every instance that your sales team closes a deal should be updated in your CRM. Prospects and leads become customers. A Sales Force Automation system allows for keeping everyone updated and in the loop. The system updates the status of each and every deal as they develop in the pipeline so you and your sales team constantly remain on track.
  • Follow-Up – If you have a large number of leads, some may fall through the cracks. A Sales Force Automation system automatically follows-up with opportunities based on your established parameters.

Contact management is one of the most crucial parts of sales because this is the area where leads are mostly lost.  Investing in an SFA platform that manages your leads can have a tremendous impact on your operation.

Tracking and Reporting

Businesses live by virtue of results. A sales team functions in the same vein, which entails that tracking results is of utmost importance.

SFA assists you and your team by keeping track of and reporting deals. The system can be a much-needed solution for monitoring even the most minuscule results of daily sales activities.

  • Sales Revenue – Each and every sale matters. Sales Force Automation systems can automatically track the revenue that your sales representative is gathering with each deal. From a strategic standpoint, this can be utilized as a way to develop your sales team. Sales Force Automation gives you objective insight as to your sales team’s performance.
  • Product Line Performance – It tends to get very messy when selling multiple product lines. The most difficult part is identifying what is doing well and what needs more attention. A Sales Force Automation system tracks results and details what is working and why that is the case. Product line analysis allows for you and your sales team to focus on the specific products that need assistance. This plays a vital role in developing a strategy to overcome weak performance.
  • Sales Territory Development – Sales territory plays a great part in overall revenue. Your sales team should ideally be tracking which clients or customers are inclined towards what, where to gather qualified leads, and which areas are in stasis. You need to be sure that you are receiving updates in those areas.

SFA is in charge of automating the results of your team’s sales territory. This eliminates a great number of administrative tasks for the sales team.

Forecasting and Enablement

It requires controlled strategy when it comes to managing a sales team. Measuring factors that influence both present and future performance gives you a clear understanding of the long term sales picture.

  • High-Value Deals – You need to truly understand your best clients in order to retain their loyalty. Tracking sales history allows for you to forecast the potential value of your current clients or customers. This grants your sales team a general picture of the future, allowing them to focus their work accordingly. Because high-value deals always call for special attention.
  • Trend Analysis – The monitoring of business trends like new market segments or product popularity is an essential component for making sure that you and your sales team are discovering new opportunities. A Sales Force Automation system will analyze your sales data and be a great help in finding new trends for your sales team to capitalize on.
  • Sales Enablement – This basically involves giving your team all the tools and information to close a deal. This includes providing your team with content that gives answers for common customer questions.

An SFA connects you to the entire customer base. The most typical objections and frequently raised inquiries will be laid out all in one place, which in turn, allows for you and your sales team to build the foundational grounds for a solid sales strategy.

Advantages of Sales Force Automation

Sales Force Automation systems are applicable and perfectly fit for any size of a business organization. Whether you are a small business or a large-scale enterprise, Sales Force Automation optimizes the sales cycle to facilitate increased sales and more improved productivity levels.

Saving Time

Calculating the number of hours that your sales team spends when it comes to scheduling sales appointments, following-up with leads via email or call, tracking contracts, and updating potential sales opportunities is something that constantly adds up exponentially.

Utilizing a Sales Force Automation software will automate these tasks and gather all the necessary data and information almost instantly.

Upselling and Cross Selling

Sales Force Automation stores previous customer or client orders which can be effectively implemented to assist in the improvement of sales prospects. Sales managers can analyze the data of past sales in order to get a good grasp of:

  • Order pattern
  • Client or customer preferences
  • Client or customer demographics

A Sales Force Automation system can help your sales team better deal with the present leads. Also, marketing experts can utilize the metrics in order to create exact and precise campaigns that are more specific and tailor-fit to generate a multitude of prospects.

Increasing Revenue

Relieving your sales team of the mundane chores that come with their territory encourages and empowers them to attend and focus more on making sales calls. The enablement of sales representatives to reach more prospects directly correlates with the generation of more income for the company—increasing profits as well as customer satisfaction.

Sales management and sales staff are also given the opportunity to monitor accounts to determine which customers deliver the most profit margins. By being equipped with this precious information, a sales department or sales team can craft a targeted effort that is reliably based on matching the most relevant products and services from an accurate layout of client history.

Improving Customer Service

SFA is an integral element of a customer relationship management software because it eliminates the most common sources of customer dissatisfaction by creating a centralized panel for each client’s information. Customer management software with SFA integrate sales, marketing, and customer support activities that directly result in a holistic improvement of customer relations.

Sales Force Automation with Consensus

The sales automation aspect of any organization or company is one of the most important business functions. Sales function has a direct impact on any company’s blood and lifeline. Every business must make strong efforts to optimize its sales function with the assuredness of adequate tools and resources that are available for the sales team to carry out their responsibilities both effectively and efficiently.

Integrated analytics tools that come with SFA can be a great assistive and administrative factor that helps process valuable data and attain reactionary insights based on the results.

The combined power of CRM with a Sales Force Automation software will significantly boost your business. Your sales team’s tasks will get streamlined, which in turn, allow for end-to-end sales process at faster rates. This will undoubtedly translate into an increased bottom line through quicker sales.  

Consensus is more than a product. Companies both small and large utilize our technology in order to solve and overcome the greatest challenge in sales: driving agreement across stakeholders in the buying group. We are a diverse collection of talents that work together to achieve Consensus.

Click here to find out more on how SFA with Consensus can help your sales team.