Failure Cases of SFA Implementation that You Need to Know
Table of contents:
- Definition of SFA and what it can do
- What is the purpose of implementing SFA?
- Failure cases of SFA that you need to know before implementing it!
- Points to make SFA implementation successful
SFA is a system to manage and improve the efficiency of sales information and progress. It can be used conveniently by the entire company, from general employees to management, but some people may want to gather detailed information before full-scale implementation.
In this article, I will introduce some helpful information for those considering the implementation of SFA. I will also explain points to avoid failure patterns so you can use them more effectively.
Definition of SFA and what it can do
When starting SFA, it is important to understand the definition and benefits. Once you have an overview of SFA, you will have a clearer idea of what you need to focus on when implementing it. In this section, I will explain the definition of SFA and its expected benefits.
What is SFA?
SFA is a system to support the sales organization in the field and develop it into an efficient business. The official name is Sales Force Automation, but in many cases, the abbreviation is used.
The following is a list of what can be managed by implementing it:
- Past negotiation history
- Progress status of ongoing projects
- Information on the company and person in charge of business partners
- Sales schedule
- Phone call records
The purpose of SFA is to record and manage sales information and transaction details. You can clarify how you have a relationship with the company of your business partner.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a term that is often confused with SFA, but this is a system that aims to approach the customer side rather than manage sales. It is important to understand that there are differences in the fundamental concepts.
Function 1: Customer management
With SFA, you can record and manage business partners' company information and business negotiations. Specifically, the following information is mainly:
- Manage the progress of business negotiations
- Reports on deals that have been concluded
- Manage the balance between budget and actual in real-time
By thoroughly managing customer information and transaction details, it will be possible to clarify who is conducting what kind of deals. Visualization of the progress of the entire sales department also makes it easier to see if budgets and performance are well maintained.
It is also helpful for planning such as "why couldn't we make a deal?" and "what should we do to make it successful?" when the deal is not closed. Business card management functions may also be associated with the customer's contact information.
Feature 2: Daily report creation
By using SFA, you can eliminate the need to compile reports on sales. Some sales representatives may spend a lot of time preparing daily reports, as they may have to prepare reports every day.
Specifically, you can use a format that completes the report by entering the required information. Some tools allow you to change items according to the content of your sales, which is effective in reducing time and cost.
Some formats are compatible with smartphones and tablets as well as PCs. You can use it on the train while traveling, so you can work without being tied to your work location. It is a system that reduces the burden on employees.
Function 3: Activity management
SFA allows you to manage the sales activity history and performance of your employees. For example, the following information can be recorded and organized at once:
- Number of contacts made through appointments
- Number of appointments
- Number of visits
- Number of products proposed to the customer
- Number of contracts concluded
- The percentage of orders received by employees
A spreadsheet app like Microsoft Excel is used to manage this information. Some companies have already recorded their activities, but it takes a lot of time to reflect employee information manually. Since SFA can link each piece of information, it will be easier to find when searching for past activities.
An activity management system is also effective in visualizing employee issues and areas that need to be evaluated. It will also allow you to develop strategies to close the deal.
Function 4. Data analysis
Another feature of SFA is that it can analyze large amounts of data collected from daily reports and customer information from multiple perspectives. The benefits of using data analysis are not limited to improving employee work efficiency and problem planning.
For example, we analyze the patterns that lead to contracts based on the cases where contracts are concluded. If you visualize the sales process with graphs and charts and share it with the entire sales department, you can expect an improvement in the closing rate.
Analyzing the failed cases together will help you identify the next issues and points to improve. The analyzed data can also be saved and used as reference material when taking over a case.
What is the purpose of implementing SFA?
With SFA, you can expect a variety of effects. For example, it can help your sales department be more efficient, increase sales and closing rates, and reduce time and monetary costs. This section details the three objectives of implementing SFA.
Increase sales by improving the efficiency of the sales process
If you have a plan for a successful opportunity, but it doesn't work as expected, SFA data analysis can help. Employee efforts alone may not lead to results, and you may not understand why sales are not growing. Visualizing the following data with SFA makes planning easier:
- Reasons why the contract was concluded
- Reasons for not closing the deal
- Skills of salespeople
- Customer information
- The level of interest that customers have in the company
It's important to clarify the reasons and challenges based on cases where the business talks didn't go the way you wanted. SFA data analysis allows you to share such information in the form of graphs and charts. You can expect an increase in sales by avoiding a failed approach and being aware of business negotiations that lead to success.
Statistical data to manage sales activities
With traditional information management methods, employees must individually record their business, and the manager must listen to them to collect data. The larger the number of employees, the larger the volume of information and the greater the time burden.
With the implementation of SFA, employees can collect real-time data by simply recording according to a format. The manager can also check the sales content and understand the performance and progress of each person.
Since you don't need time to listen individually, it's a system that can be efficient for both managers and employees. The collected data can be viewed by each person at any time. The ability to instantly search through a vast amount of data is another purpose of implementing SFA.
Reduction of labor and training costs
SFA is a system in which employees who conduct sales activities use a format to record data. The recorded data is not managed individually but shared by other employees and managers. Therefore, there is no need to collect data again when analyzing the data.
Reducing the process of collecting information can also reduce labor and training costs. Information is shared through the system, allowing real-time data to spread throughout the company.
You will spend less time on training, which will give you more time to develop your sales strategy. Improving the efficiency of data collection and analysis is an important objective of implementing SFA.
Failure cases of SFA that you need to know before implementing it
If you are going to implement SFA, it is important to know about failed cases. If you can't take advantage of the system's appeal, it won't be fully effective. In order to be able to respond flexibly in case things don't work out as expected, it is important to anticipate possible failure cases. Here are three examples of SFA failures:
It did not penetrate to the employees in the field
One of the most common failures of SFA is that it fails to penetrate the employees directly involved in sales. It is not wise to talk about it only with upper management, such as corporate officers and sales managers.
For example, if you implement a full-scale deployment without telling employees that you are considering SFA, it is difficult to respond flexibly immediately after the implementation. Many employees manage schedules and business cards in their notebooks.
If you suddenly switch to SFA for something that has been done in analog, the efficiency may deteriorate. It is important to seek opinions from employees in the field, rather than just focusing on the effects of SFA.
More work due to the implementation
There are many SFA systems to choose from, so you need to focus on your company's business and ease of use. If you implement a system with the following drawbacks, it may result in more work for your employees:
- The UI (user interface) is difficult to read
- The menu is difficult to find
- Too many items to be entered
- Too many times to enter the same information
The ease of use of the system itself is an important factor for SFA to be effective. If not all employees can use it efficiently, we cannot expect to reduce time and financial costs.
For example, if the information is not linked to each other, the same information will have to be entered multiple times, so choose your SFA carefully so that you don't end up spending more time on it than before.
Failure to utilize the collected data
One of the advantages of SFA is that it is easy to collect information such as customer data and sales performance. However, simply collecting the data is not enough to demonstrate the full effect. The purpose of implementing this system is to fully utilize the collected data to improve sales in the future.
Some companies that actually implemented SFA do not know how to use the collected data and do not use it. Only by utilizing the analyzed data can you realize the effectiveness of SFA.
If you do not utilize the collected data for sales, you will lose sight of the original purpose of implementing SFA. After collecting the data, it is important to connect it to the planning process, such as what kind of process to use to develop strategies.
Key Points for Successful SFA Implementation
To ensure the success of your SFA implementation, it is a good idea to keep a few points in mind before implementing it. If you know the tips that lead to success, you may get more benefits than expected. Here are four key points to consider when implementing SFA:
Reach a consensus with the field before implementation
Although it is the upper management that makes the final decision to implement SFA, it is important to reflect the opinions of each employee first. For example, if an employee is having trouble with efficiency, SFA may help solve it.
On the other hand, it is a good idea to create a positive impression of the implementation, explain the benefits and risks that SFA brings, and set up a discussion forum to share the background if employees feel uneasy before implementing SFA.
If there are objections from employees, make a plan while considering whether or not the issue can be resolved after the implementation. In order to be able to deal with any problems that may arise, it is important to anticipate all possible scenarios and proceed to consensus building.
Find an SFA with the functions you need
When choosing an SFA system, it is important to ensure that the entire sales department can use it conveniently. Even if the system is easy and attractive to other companies, they may not be able to use it as well as they would like, or it may not lead to increased efficiency.
If your company has experience with this system, you may want to choose a system that has more features built-in, in addition to the basic ones. If the interface is easy enough for all employees to use, the system will be more effective.
If you are a new company, one way is to choose a system that can streamline the least amount of work. It will be easier to choose if you pick up the functions you need to improve efficiency and sales and then narrow down your choices after determining your priorities.
Deciding who will be in charge of data analysis
The large amount of data you collect will be analyzed and used for sales strategies. Without an employee to analyze the data, the SFA will not be as effective as it could be. To make the most of the system you have implemented, decide on a person in charge of data analysis.
Specifically, the data analysis includes the following:
- Number of visits until the contract is concluded
- The time between the first visit and the conclusion of the contract
- The relationship between the client's industry and products
- Level of interest in the company by company
There are various other items to analyze, but it is more efficient to clarify what you want to analyze after the implementation. Rather than leaving everything to the person in charge, share the post-analysis efforts and management strategy planning with the entire sales department.
Prioritize and implement in stages
If you implement SFA across the entire company at once, there is a risk that it will not be utilized properly and will not be effective. One way to proceed with the SFA implementation while resolving the disadvantages discovered is to implement it in stages.
First, grasp the priority of each department and implement it from the department that seems to be able to utilize SFA effectively. Share the advantages and disadvantages of using the system with the entire company and decide whether or not you can get the full effect.
Implementing the system in stages also helps to spread the risk. It is important to understand the benefits and concerns of SFA before proceeding with the implementation.
When implementing SFA, understand the expected effects and objectives to implement. SFA not only streamlines sales activities but also analyzes data to improve sales. It is also important to learn from past failure cases to ensure that failures do not continue or the system becomes obsolete after implementation. To effectively use SFA, it is important to prepare carefully in advance.