Sales Force Automation – What’s in store for you?

Sales | 9 minutes to read

12th Oct, 2018

Every big accomplishment stands on the foundation of an idea – an idea which found its way to sprout out of the ground and see the daylight. Similarly, successful businesses are not just the resultant of fabulous ideas and strategies which originate in the boardroom, but it is the actual on-ground execution of those ideas which results in the final favorable outcome.

Every business which comprises a field force element understands the criticality of effective field force management in ensuring the required execution and eventual outcome. Now if your idea of managing your field force comprises of deploying a software solution or store planogram software  which just keeps a track of the daily activities of your agents or worst of all, if you still depend upon the spreadsheets, mail reports and exhaustive excels, you know where you’re headed – a catastrophe in sales lingo!

When technology is enhancing every aspect of our lives and the world of sales, specifically B2B sales, is also not shying away from leveraging it to the maximum then why should you remain stuck to the sub-par software solution or those cumbersome excels anymore?

Sales force automation (SFA) solutions are a boon to the sales industry as it frees-up the sales professionals’ time allowing them to focus on business enhancement and critical problem solving instead of spending time in administrative or logistical chores.

A worrisome research statistic reports that despite so much automation, salespeople are spending just one-third of their day actually talking to prospects.

They are spending 21% of their day writing emails, 17% entering data, another 17% prospecting and researching leads, 12% going to internal meetings, and 12% scheduling calls. This indeed calls for a desperate change of track to save salespeople’s precious time and let it get invested to do some real selling.

In sales, the last mile is very important, and that’s where a Sales Force Automation solution comes in – it not just acts as a tracker but also gives insight into employee accountability, lost opportunities, prioritization, market intelligence and much more.

SFA – Something for Everyone
Tackling the issues in the realm of sales operations, stock management, workforce management etc. while bringing in the much-required business intelligence into the picture – the modern-day Sales Force Automation solution caters to each aspect relating to field force management.

Now don’t let that confuse you into thinking it is just meant for the ground level workforce and their immediate managers. The finesse lies in the fact that the solution offers commendable benefits for all profiles who constitute the sales ecosystem. Let’s look at the profile-wise breakdown of the offerings to understand what’s in store for you.

If you’re from the senior management a Sales Force Automation solution can provide you with the following:

  • Ability to define an effective sales strategy
  • Access to sales trends and demand forecasts
  • Visibility on channels responsible for increased revenue
  • An edge over competitors with complete industry and competitive landscape mapping
  • Effective resource utilization leading to additional savings

If you’re a manager dealing with on-ground supervisors, you get to have:

  • An effective team management in place
  • Lesser abrupt changes in sales plan which are caused due to the delayed information relay
  • Access to intelligent analytics which in turn helps you to guide the field force in a more informed way
  • Real-time market insights allowing you to make effective competition-cracking plans

If you’re a supervisor dealing with an on-ground workforce, Sales Force Automation solution provides you:

  • A better understanding of customer landscape
  • Effectively minimized sales leakage
  • Quicker issue resolution and close looping
  • Constant connection with the stakeholders at all levels

And ultimately, if you’re a field resource, you get a bagful of offerings such as:

  • A well-planned JCP aiding your productivity
  • Focused field plans allowing optimized target-completion
  • Quick issue addressal owing to a constant access management window
  • Better customer interactions with real-time sales support and material access
  • More time for actual selling owing to automation reducing the iterative manual jobs
  • Good riddance from tedious manual reporting owing to optimized and error-free reporting tools

While these are just a few of the offerings which can help you understand the magnitude of impact the Sales Force Automation solution can make in your sales reports, the bouquet of benefits expands even further.

However, just to get a sharper perspective, let’s also look at what you may be subjecting yourself to in case if you’re still not in the mood to invest into an SFA solution:

Major productivity loss owing to:

  • The inefficient process of capturing sales data
  • Limited visibility of the sales potential of channel ecosystem
  • Frequent false reporting

Low last mile visibility owing to:

  • Limited stock visibility
  • Limited supply chain ecosystem visibility
  • Limited insights on marketing activities resonance

Sub-optimal resource utilization owing to:

  • Flawed performance evaluation
  • JCP deviation
  • An absence of redressal mechanism
  • No structured communication channels

Weak strategic planning owing to:

  • Limited market insights
  • Non-authentic data
  • Delay in data analysis because of manual reporting

The gap between the benefits of adoption and ramifications of non-adoption, is quite a major one. The interlude explains why the SFA tool is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury for sales firms.

Adoption trend across industry also suggests that we are moving in the same direction with Gartner reporting that in 2017, the sales force automation (SFA) market grew by an estimated 15.7% TO $6.2 BILLION, with almost all the growth relating to cloud-based offerings.

The bottom line is simple, if optimizing your sales process holds a critical place in your organizational agenda then you can no more ignore the workforce efficiency and productivity enhancing sales force automation solution
Depending upon the requirement and scale of operations, the choice platter is also varied. You can go for an on-premise or SaaS-based automation solution or even opt for cloud-based one for the most advanced set of offerings.

Despite such a huge row of benefits offered by a Sales Force Automation solution across profiles, what are the reasons that some organizations are still shying away from this growth path – is it the low level of benefit awareness or improper technique to evaluate the eventual ROI impact? Do let us know your thoughts about the possible reasons for this phenomenon in the comments section below.

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