Sales force automation, often abbreviated as SFA, and sometimes confused with the CRM software Salesforce, is the process of automating the entire sales lifecycle from order processing to post-sales.
While SFA can be a part of a CRM system strictly speaking, either one does not necessitate the other. For example, an SFA system can automate entire sales tasks without being integrated with the relationship management software. The opposite is also true as well.
The Sales Life Cycle
A key requirement in implementing SFA in any sales-driven business is to understand the sales life cycle (SLC) completely, which involves the next six major ideas:
- Opportunity – The generation of leads and identification of opportunities (i.e. upgrades).
- Qualify – Determining the proper amount of resources to use to pursue a lead.
- Sales Process – Engaging a lead to present terms and/or demonstrate solutions and overcome objections.
- Transaction – The actual sale, filling out paperwork, and providing the customer with more information regarding after-sales.
- Management – Customer satisfaction survey, monitoring of their use and satisfaction, and cross-marketing.
- Upgrade – Engaging the customer again to either present an upgrade or ask for referrals.
By the sixth step, one can see that the SLC has come full circle and can be repeated again. With this cycle in mind, SFA can be used to ensure that these steps are executed properly and automatically from the side of the enterprise.
How Sales Force Automation Helps
With SFA, every step of the sales life cycle is covered. Based on specific configurations, a customer can be contacted by the business at just the right time to present an opportunity based on their needs. Likewise, a customer can contact the business for a request of a product and the SFA software will manage inventory control itself and inform the customer of availability. Properly integrated with all departments, SFA allows the customer to be engaged once, reducing the chance of duplicate calls and offers. This makes the transition to actual sales much easier.
In some cases, because the sales can be made on-demand by the customers, they can even model their products themselves, especially for items that involve multiple parts or vendors. Of course, the SFA’s software inventory control and management helps a customer in this regard. For example, a business selling refrigerators can use an enterprise-level SFA to purchase parts from multiple vendors without having to concern themselves with the different steps of the sales process multiple times.
Top-tier SFA software can also track purchase history, any upgrade they might need for the parts or products they purchase (i.e. by tracking consumption or expiry), and even manage customer feedback.
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