The use of computer software to automate the tasks in business of information exchange, monitoring and controlling inventory, sales, order tracking, analyzing sales forecasts, evaluating the performance of employees, and customer management, is known as sales force automation.
The term is often used interchangeably with CRM -- customer relationship management -- though this term does not necessarily imply any kind of automation in business. It is really when a sales force automated system is combined with a marketing information system that it becomes a CRM.
Sales force automation systems are claimed to have the ability to improve the levels of productivity and efficiency within sales personnel. There are many reason for this:
- They no longer need to write out reports; these can be generated semi-automatically.
- Via a company Intranet, or via the Internet, reports can be sent electronically, which negates the immediate need for printing them out.
- Sales staff can be provided with product information and training in sales techniques without the need for time-intensive seminars.
- Staff morale can be improved if the amount of record keeping can be reduced, and the rate of sales closing can be increased through the use of additional automated tools.
- The software could generate more and better qualified sales leads.
- Precision forecasting can enable staff to take advantage of opportunities that may not have been obvious otherwise.
If used wisely, sales force automation systems could increase customer satisfaction. All that needs to be done is to perform careful analysis of the information obtained, then allow the system to service the customers more expertly, based on the results obtained. Managing the pipeline effectively will serve to maximize the number of opportunity availability occasions. It will also serve to raise the level of quality obtained, thereby giving your customers a greatly increased sales experience with your company.
A competitive advantage should be gained through this as customer satisfaction is likely to lead on to a definite increase in customer loyalty. This in turn will reduce the costs of acquiring new customers through repeat business, which will serve to increase the overall profit margin.
When your mobile sales people can enter their sales data in a single database, which is available to everyone, then updating and tracking all activity becomes simple. Progress can be monitored and profit opportunities can be identified, as well as being able to avoid or minimize problem areas. Powerful reporting of pipeline activity coupled with accurate analysis will enable your sales team to act whenever necessary, always backed by the right information. Productivity can increase enabling the sales process to become transparent and efficient.
About the Author:
- Syed Ali, is the lead CRM consultant for a Toronto based company www.cqsolutions.com. His company offers, GoldMine and ACT! Software.