Difference between CRM and SFA: Functional Differences

Categories CRM

What are the Differences between CRM and SFA?

The terms CRM and SFA are often heard, but are they not often used in similar situations? However, it is too late to ask, What is the difference? The CRM/SFA market is expanding across the board, and the market share of cloud services, in particular, is rapidly growing.

In this article, let us take a fresh look at the differences between CRM and SFA.

See also: Customer relationship management tools


CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. On the other hand, SFA stands for Sales Force Automation.

The difference between the two terms is that CRM is a management concept of customer relationship management and a system to realize it. SFA is just a system or tool to streamline sales activities. Nowadays, however, CRM is mostly used to refer to a customer relationship management system as well.

CRM and SFA have one thing in common: they are both systems that mainly manage customer information. The difference is that the output of customer information is different. So, this is also the cause of confusion between CRM and SFA.

The purpose of CRM is to manage all customer information in a database; and not only the sales department but also other departments such as the development department, information system department, and marketing department can check the customer information to formulate business strategies.

Besides, many CRMs have marketing features, such as email sending and surveying, and customer satisfaction-related features. For this reason, CRM is often called a system for management.

On the other hand, the purpose of SFA in managing customer information is to accumulate sales know-how and streamline sales activities by entering detailed information on deals, negotiations, and other information on negotiating with potential customers and clients.

In Europe and the United States, where SFA appeared, salespeople were very mobile. And there was a frequent problem of important customer information lost as salespeople moved from one job to another, so the customer information they had acquired while working at the company become their own. 

That is where the SFA system was born, allowing all salespeople to enter customer information into the system and manage it as a corporate asset. 

For this reason, SFA is considered a system for sales.

In this way, although CRM and SFA are the same systems for handling customer information, they were different because their original purpose and output were different. Recently, however, many products integrate CRM and SFA, and the line is becoming blurred. Shortly, the era of fully integrated CRM and SFA may come.

Specific functional differences

Even though they are the same systems for managing customer information, the scope and functions are different. 

First, let us check the differences between the information managed by CRM and SFA.

Customer information
managed by CRM
Customer information
managed by SFA
Company nameCompany name
Name of person in chargeName of person in charge
Contact informationContact information
Department and job titleDepartment and job title
Survey resultsNegotiation history (date and time)
Details of the project
Deal details
Issues you are facing
Comments of salesperson

As you can see, SFA can manage customer information to a deeper level than CRM because it has the purpose of accumulating sales know-how and improving the efficiency of sales activities. 

However, some items can only be managed by CRM, so SFA is not generally superior as a customer information management tool. 

Next, let us look at the differences in functionality.

Functions of CRMFunctions of SFA
Customer information managementCustomer information management
Email deliveryDaily sales report
Form creationTo-do management
Remind emailTask assignment
Website creationContract creation
Scenario settingSales forecasting
SurveysProspective customer assessment
Quotation creation

If you put the functions of CRM and SFA side by side, the difference is much clearer. The output of customer information is very clearly different.

Should I implement CRM or SFA?

As a customer information management system, many of you may be wondering, "Which is better, CRM or SFA?" However, since CRM and SFA are essentially different systems, it is difficult to determine which one is better in general. So if you clarify the purpose of customer information management, you will be able to find out which system your company should implement.

For example, if you want to manage customer information and utilize that information throughout your organization, a CRM would be the best choice. If you want to enhance marketing, I also recommend a CRM with marketing functions.

On the other hand, if you want to manage customer information, streamline sales activities, and consolidate personal customer information, SFA is the best choice.

It is important to note that, as mentioned earlier, many products that integrate CRM and SFA are now available. So, there is an advantage that customer information can be shared and utilized by each system.

Many companies may eventually need both CRM and SFA functions. In the end, the debate between CRM and SFA is meaningless because the goal is to contribute to the business by improving sales performance and customer satisfaction.

Can the key to success be to establish the system?

So what do you need to keep in mind for a successful implementation of either CRM or SFA? CRM is a system for management, and SFA is a system for sales. However, both have one thing in common: they cannot function without information input from the user department.

Many of the reasons why CRM and SFA implementations fail are that the systems are not well established in the user departments, and information entered is not done well. If you dig further into the causes, you will find that the system selection ignores the actual business conditions.

If the information entered into CRM and SFA is not accurate, the implementation will be meaningless. Both systems are mainly for customer information management. So without accurate data, they will not only be ineffective but will also confuse.

So, it is necessary to select a CRM and SFA that match the actual business conditions to avoid such problems. For example, the person in charge of leading the system implementation collaborates with the user department to select a system after clearly defining the system requirements. 

Also, you can firmly establish the system after implementation if you can aim to implement it from the user's point of view, such as by involving the user department and conducting trials.

In this regard, ease of use by salespeople is probably the most important thing.

See also:
Reasons for Failure in Implementing CRM Tools
Open Source CRM Software and Tools
Customer Relationship Management Tools / CRM Software
CRM System
Advantages and Disadvantages of CRM

Leave a Comment