Key Points to Avoid Failure in Implementing an SFA System for Small and Medium Enterprises
In this article, I will explain the importance of SFA systems and points to avoid implementation failures.
Nowadays, IT is deeply related to business success, and everyone recognizes that building an appropriate IT foundation will lead to business success. Even for small and medium-sized businesses, it has become commonplace to implement mission-critical systems such as financial accounting systems and sales management systems (essential IT infrastructure for management) and collaboration software to enhance communication within an organization.
In recent years, the Sales Force Automation (SFA) system has become a natural addition. However, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) consider the SFA system a useless system for their company as long as they have Excel.
Related article: Difference between CRM and SFA
Table of contents:
- Why is an SFA system so important?
- Is it easy to fail to implement an SFA system?
- Key points to avoid failure in implementing an SFA system
Why is an SFA system so important?
Small and medium-sized companies may have different images of SFA systems. Among them, there are many images such as time management of sales representatives and to make daily report work efficient. However, the actual reason why SFA systems are considered important is far different from these images.
The essence of SFA systems lies in the consolidation and visualization of information assets. That is the significance of implementing SFA systems, and it is the clue to solving many sales issues.
Background of the birth of SFA systems
The SFA system was born in the United States in the 1990s. At that time, many U.S. companies were troubled that they could not accumulate customer information as an asset.
It is not unusual for a sales representative who has worked for a long time to change jobs suddenly one day, and the company loses the customer information he or she has. Therefore, the SFA system was born. By inputting customer information, which was previously managed individually, into the SFA system, customer information is stored as an asset even if the salesperson changes jobs.
Nowadays, customer information utilization is the main focus
In modern business, SFA systems have come to find advantages in utilizing customer information rather than accumulating customer information, and the functions for this purpose are being enhanced.
By managing customer information across the entire sales department or organization, rather than by each sales representative, improves the efficiency of sales activities and contributes significantly to the systematic and strategic promotion of business negotiations and marketing.
In other words, the SFA systems are now regarded as an IT foundation for consolidating and utilizing information necessary for all scenes, such as sales expansion, profit margin improvement, sales strategy, and management strategy.
Is it easy to fail to implement the SFA system?
Even though the importance of the SFA system is high, there is one problem. Although SFA systems are complex and do not require specialized knowledge or skills to implement, they tend to fail, especially in small and medium-sized companies. Let's take a look at the reasons for this.
Resistance from salespeople
Since SFA systems are information systems for sales activities, their users will naturally be salespeople. However, many salespeople show strong resistance to the idea of entering their customer information into the system for sharing. Even if they are working as a team in a department, they would inevitably want to monopolize customer information, considering that their performance will affect their personnel evaluation and career. The problem is that we ignore the resistance of the salespeople and decide to implement the SFA system, forcing them to input the information into the system. The result is obvious, whether the SFA system will work or not.
Loss of original significance due to increased workload
For salespeople, core time (time directly linked to profit) is time communicating with customers. Therefore, the SFA system implementation is meaningless if it does not extend the core time rather than hinder it. However, in the early stages of the SFA system, the workload will increase, and after that, there will be no progress in improving work efficiency, resulting in an overwhelming situation.
Unclear objectives of SFA system implementation
The key to implementing an SFA system is to clarify and share the purpose of implementation. The most important thing to keep in mind is that companies that decide to implement an SFA system thinking, "My clients and competitors have already implemented SFA systems and are succeeding, so why don't we try it ourselves?"
If the purpose of implementing an SFA system is ambiguous, you will not know which product to choose. And it will also be hard to operate the system properly after implementation.
Unnecessary functions and difficult to use
In recent years, SFA systems have become more multifunctional, and there are SFA systems that can do anything, such as those that incorporate marketing functions and integrated analysis tools. However, if these functions do not match the objectives of the SFA system, even if it has many, they will be unnecessary for your company, and you will end up with a system that is difficult to use.
Not being able to use the information even after collecting it
I explained that the essence of the SFA system is the consolidation of information assets. It makes sense to utilize the consolidated information assets.
However, many companies have successfully implemented SFA systems to consolidate their information assets but have yet to utilize them.
What do you think? There are many reasons for failure to implement an SFA system, but most of them are not due to the SFA system but to the company that implements it. Therefore, it is necessary to aim for correct implementation and operation after firmly controlling the points to prevent failure in implementing the SFA system.
Key points to avoid failures in SFA system implementation
Finally, based on the SFA system implementation failures reasons identified above, here are some key points to avoid implementation failures. I hope you will keep these points in mind as you work toward the correct implementation and operation of the SFA system.
- Make sure to clarify the purpose of implementing the SFA system
- Share the purpose of the implementation not only with the sales department but also with other departments
- Explain the significance of implementing the SFA system to the sales staff
- Explain the benefits to the sales staff
- Conduct a questionnaire before implementing the SFA system
- Clarify concerns about the implementation of the system based on the results of the questionnaire
- Eliminate the burden of implementing to the extent possible
- Consider how to improve business efficiency after implementing the SFA system
- Develop and implement a concrete plan to improve business efficiency
- Consider adapting operations to the SFA system
- Clarify the current issues in sales activities
- Define the expected effects and necessary functions of the SFA system based on the current issues
- Pick up multiple SFA systems and compare their functions
- Set a budget limit for the SFA system
- Choose an SFA system that can be implemented and operated within that range
- Consider a cloud-based SFA system for future scalability
- If you are working on overseas business, consider overseas products
- Consider how to utilize the information assets gathered by the SFA system
- Make a concrete plan to use information assets
- Select a business partner to support the implementation of the SFA system
- Work with the business partner as a team to implement the SFA system