Sales force automation (SFA) or sales automation means using sales automation software and creating workflows to make sales management smoother for everyone involved. The point of sales automation is to simplify the sales process and reduce the amount of manual, repetitive tasks for sales reps.
It makes contact management, opportunity management and task management easier by having the complete history and data of your interactions with a customer stored in one place. It also keeps track of sales leads and helps with setting up reminders and notifications.
But we’re only getting started here, so are you sitting comfortably? Grab a snack or two, and let’s dive into the world of sales automation.
What’s The Difference Between SFA and CRM?
Whether an SFA system and a CRM system is the same thing is a question that’s regularly searched on Google. SFA systems can be (and often are) incorporated into CRM (customer relationship management) systems, but don’t get the two confused.
CRM software helps you manage and analyze data and customer interactions throughout the entire customer lifecycle with the goal of keeping existing customers happy.
While a CRM is a system you use post-sale to retain and satisfy your existing customers, a sales force automation system is used for customer acquisition. We’ll get to all the details in just a minute, but let’s get the background stuff out of the way first.
Sales Automation In Outbound Sales
Mixing smart automation and people skills will help you smoothen your outbound sales process-whether it’s a large or small business. Even though contacting new prospects directly should never feel automated, getting rid of unnecessary repetitive tasks makes everyone’s life easier.
For example, your SFA software can help you send automatic emails to your prospects, either following a schedule or after certain pre-defined triggers, such as them downloading a piece of content from your website.
Great examples of automated emails in outbound sales include congratulations, welcome and onboarding emails as well as abandoned cart emails, referral emails, or milestone emails such as birthday wishes.
If you want to know more about email marketing, you should check out the study we did on cold emails.
Does Sales Force Automation Work For Inbound Sales?
Inbound marketing and sales involve sharing high-quality content like informational blog posts and use cases and and using effective SEO tactics. Inbound is a great way to grow organically as you’ll often bring in leads that convert easily.
When it comes to inbound sales, you don’t want to automate the entire process. Your content team should still work on creating original content and research what is actually relevant to your target audience, and publish the content at the right time to bring in relevant leads.
But an SFA solution can still help you guide your prospects through the sales pipeline once they find your company through inbound tactics.
Why Is Sales Force Automation Important?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: administrative tasks can and should be automated because they unnecessarily take up time and resources you could use for more important tasks. Sales automation can actually reduce the time taken up by sales administration by up to 14%.
Another good reason to automate sales management tasks: sales automation can boost sales productivity by up to 14.5% and increase deal closures by 30%, according to Instapage. And what do you get out of these numbers? More revenue.
In short: when done right, sales force automation will improve your company’s revenue, increase your sales rate and boost the productivity of your sales team. How, you might ask? Let’s see!
The Actual Benefits Of Sales Force Automation
Increase your productivity by simplifying the sales process
When you cut out all the manual work from your day-to-day sales tasks, you have much more time to focus on things like creating meaningful conversations with your prospects. Pretty magical, right?
We’ll soon get to the most important processes to automate, but by getting rid of some repetitive manual tasks you can focus on stuff like improving your customer acquisition process and maintaining relationships with your existing customers.
Some SFA systems can even be run on smartphones or other mobile devices to make using them extra convenient.
Decrease the costs of sales
Once you’ve got your sales force automation software up and running, you’ll quickly see a decline in sales process related costs. And what’s more, you can also expect a potential increase in sales performance and revenue when the process becomes quicker and more seamless.
The costs will decrease because time-consuming manual tasks are performed faster and without continuous input from a person. Your revenue will, in turn, increase because you’ll be able to find customers that are actually a good match for your company and close more deals faster.
Gain more data and information regarding your sales
SFA solutions offer a lot of interesting insights that can help you build your business intelligence and plan and target your sales efforts in the future.
For example, the system knows your customers’ purchase history and can predict future sales based on that, and also help your sales team and sales managers offer the most relevant products and services to the right customer at the right time.
Reduce your response time
You’ll have more time to focus on problematic areas such as customer complaints throughout the sales process. Paying extra attention to response time and being fast with customer service can help enhance your customer satisfaction and customer experience.
With an automated sales system, real-time replies are easy breezy.
Keep records and collect data
Your company has a CRM software solution, right? But how about the records and data you normally collect during the sales process? Right now, you’re probably entering all of that manually into the system, if at all.
Once you have your SFA system running, all of that can be done automatically, and conveniently synced with your CRM system.
Minimize the possibility of human error
Have you ever lost a potential customer due to a simple human mistake like forgetting to contact them in time? Yeah, we’ve all been there. An SFA system will remind you, and even contact that person for you, so mistakes like this will never happen again.
Potential Risks of SFA Systems
As we all know, nothing in life is perfect. Here are a few potential problems related to sales workflow automation to know about.
It won’t work if you don’t know what you’re doing
Unless you know exactly what should happen in each individual stage of your sales cycle, it’s impossible to automate it without making a mess. Before using an SFA system, you need a clear sales process.
The installation and maintenance can be quite expensive
Yep. You need to know what you’re doing with the software, and if not, it can be a good idea to hire a dedicated team for that purpose. It’s an investment but when done right, it will usually pay off in the future.
You’ll also want to make sure that your own sales team knows how the process and system work, and that all your integrated systems –SFA, CRM and others like your enterprise resource planning system (ERP) – are compatible.
Data entry and integration takes up a lot of time
When you get started, you’ll need to include all the relevant information regarding your sales process in the system, and preferably integrate it with your CRM solution. This is a time-consuming task that will take your big old bag of patience out for a rollercoaster ride. But don’t worry – it won’t last forever.
Integrating the SFA system with other management information systems can also be demanding and time-consuming at first.
It’s important to know and understand that you shouldn’t overlook the time and effort it may take to make all your automated systems work seamlessly together.
When used poorly, you might lose your personal touch
By automating the wrong parts of your sales process, you risk losing your personal touch and human connection with your customers.
For example, while some aspects of customer support can be automated, it’s a good idea to leave some of it to actual people since interacting with a human being is what makes a positive customer experience for many of your users.