We are living in a competitive and tough world marketing and sales world today. Companies, therefore, need to be smart and have to look beyond the obvious if they have to survive and grow. The use of modern technology to drive sales and improve marketing is no longer a choice but is becoming a necessity.
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With each passing day, more numbers of companies are using sales force automation technology to give a fresh impetus and push to their business processes. It takes into account almost everything from start to end. It covers customer accounts, looks at possible business opportunities, and also ensures efficient and intelligent inventory management. Further, it also helps in accurate performance evaluation so that corrective action may be taken as and when necessary.
Many organizations repose their faith in SFA or Sales Force Automation while others believe that a functional CRM can do the job better. In this article, we will try and have a look at SFA vs. CRM so that readers can get the right perspective about it. It will also help us to understand the right points to be kept in mind while evaluating sales force automation vs. CRM.
What is SalesForce Automation Technology?
SFA or sales force automation technology is used to refer to any software application or app that helps streamline the sales management process. Hence, to understand SFA vs. CRM, we should know about the tracking of leads and opportunities that move through the sales pipeline, customers’ activities, and also through other efforts of marketing and sales efforts.
It also helps in better analysis of individual performance evaluation and even for communication purposes. In fact, though here it a regular comparison of sales force automation vs. CRM, many believe that a right SFA technology could go a long way in making the lives of the salesperson and the manager easier. It is done by automating day to day mundane tasks, which often become very dull and stressful.
When Do Debates Arise?
There is a continuing debate when it comes to SFA vs. CRM benefits and downsides. It happens when the customers, salesforce, marketing management team, and other stakeholders discuss SFA vs. CRM in the same breath. Quite often, we come across thoughts, suggesting that both CRM and SFA are the same. However, when you do a thorough analysis of SFA vs. CRM you will come to know there is a difference between the two.
What Are The Major Differences between CRM & SFA?
The most crucial difference between CRM and SFA is quite evident and striking. The former has been built with the primary objective of customer satisfaction and aimed at various steps that could help in customer retention. It is designed to look after the interests of the client once a client becomes a customer of any organization. It manages the relationships between businesses and gathering, and this point is often missed out whenever there is a study of sales force automation vs CRM.
CRM works best by centralizing data of clients based on customer interactions. The interactions could be through social media, email, phone, and other means of communication. It also tracks down complaints or doubts and queries of customers, details about the previous meetings, and even their purchase history. When the data is analyzed correctly, the sales team can be better positioned to customize the various sales solutions taking into account the current needs of the clients.
On the other hand, before we go in for analysis of sales force automation vs. CRM, we should understand the exact meaning and scope of SFA. Sound SFA systems are all about transparent and efficient sales processes. Good SFA software will come with various pipeline management tools, and also other potential sales management aids.
It will provide the sales directors and marketing people with the right picture of the numerous prospects, past performances, and also take into account recent sales performances. It will include all the sales and marketing channels, including sales representatives, telemarketing groups, and so on. Hence, when we analyze sales force automation vs. CRM, we need to factor the above things into account.
Where We Are?
When comparing sales force automation vs. CRM, we often make the mistake of the time-period where these two software solutions are used. We need to understand that CRM is a solution that takes care of situations post-sales, whereas SFA is focused entirely on client acquisition. Many CRM service providers try to juxtapose SFA into their modules and also try to build in marketing automation as a part of their CRM solutions.
It could lead to more problems than solutions in many cases. Therefore, whenever we make a comparison between sales force automation vs. CRM, it would always be better to keep both of them in separate silos because CRM and SFA have different objectives and end-use.
Benefits of Sales Force Automation Technology
There are many benefits associated with SFA, and understanding this will perhaps make us know more about sales force automation vs. CRM discussion and debate. SFA helps to free the time of salespersons.
As mentioned earlier, it helps to automate various mundane tasks, and these could range from admin work to data entry and also preparing customer background research. The time so saved can be spent on activities that could drive sales and could also help them to build better relationships with clients and even prospective clients.
In today’s tough and demanding market situation, there is no doubt that strong customer relationships are incredibly vital and perhaps even indispensable.
In our zeal to prove that CRM is a better approach to SFA, we often become biased in our sales force automation vs. CRM debate and discussion. We tend to believe that CRM will take care of everything related to sales and marketing. This is not the case because CRM is more of a post-mortem based on which corrective action could be taken.
Sales forecasting is another area where the use of SFA technology could yield better results. It can help to optimize the sales forecasting process, and directors and managers could find the tool very useful when it comes to forecasting for the short term, medium-term, and long term periods.
It may or may not be possible in the case of CRM. It is another crucial factor that is considered when analyzing and debating sales force automation vs. CRM.
Where Could CRM Help
We need to also bear in mind that over the years, the dynamics of the client and sales rep has moved slowly in favor of the customers. They have a wealth of information available to them, and this is mainly because of the internet. They always come into the buying negotiation table armed with a lot of information, statistics, and figures.
Hence, any organization should not only help sales personnel to spend more time with customers or for identifying the right customers. Organizations should improve the sales team to identify the right customers based on the various CRM reports that they generate using the best of CRM software systems. In other words, CRM can be an enabler and could work as a tool that is complementary to SFA rather than trying to replace it.
To sum up, both CRM and SFA have their unique functions, and their areas and scopes of operations are different and varied. It may not be right to juxtapose one feature into the other because it may not be able to yield the right results.