5 Main SFA Functions that Dramatically Improve Sales Efficiency
"I'm thinking of implementing a sales force automation (SFA) system to improve my sales performance, but I want to know what functions SFA has first."
Do you not know what functions SFA has and are wondering whether you should implement it or not?
There seem to be many companies that manage sales administration in Excel, but it is not easy to link data with each other and develop effective sales strategies. So I am going to implement SFA, but what can SFA do? Which tool should I choose specifically? There are a lot of questions, am I right?
The main functions of SFA are the following:
- Case management
- Customer information management
- Opportunity management
- Sales process management
- Forecast and actual management
In this article, I will introduce typical functions of SFA (Sales Force Automation, a sales support system) that lead to productivity improvement of the entire sales activities. Also, I will introduce recommended tools according to the purpose and situation of implementation, so I hope you find it useful for implementing SFA that suits your company.
Five main SFA functions and their benefits
SFA is a tool that aims to improve the overall productivity of sales activities by utilizing IT technology.
The functions of SFA differ from company to company, but the most basic SFA management functions are the following:
This function manages detailed information about sales proposals. Specifically, the information such as the person in charge of the project, the client company, proposed products/services, sales phase (progress status), expected orders (probabilities), expected order dates, and order amount.
- Most basic information on a project is visualized, and sales representatives can share the progress status, making it possible to hand over the project and hold meetings with other members smoothly
- By being able to see at a glance who is proposing what to whom, at what price, and what the current status is, the sales manager can issue appropriate instructions to each sales representative for each phase
- Prevents mistakes such as duplicate approaches to customers
Customer information management
This function manages detailed information about customers. Most basic information such as company name, location, phone number, contact name, position, etc., as well as information such as the history of approaching the customer, can be grasped at a glance.
- If a customer calls in a hurry when the salesperson is not available, the SFA customer management system will enable smooth customer service even if the salesperson is not the one who is in charge
- In contrast to the case where a salesperson holds customer information individually, SFA can share customer information with all team members, thus minimizing the cost of handover and the risk of problems in the event of transfers, retirements, or changes in responsibilities
- If you choose an SFA that can be linked to a business card management tool that can automatically import business cards, you can eliminate the time and effort of typing and manage accurate information without mistakes
It is a function to manage detailed information related to the opportunity, such as past opportunity history, opportunity purpose, opportunity time, opportunity partner (person in charge), settlement person, proposal, proposal amount, opportunity progress, and next action schedule.
- Share the know-how of other salespeople across the sales department, such as how to write proposals for talented salespeople and when to close, thereby strengthening the sales force of the entire organization
- Since the sales manager can check the history and progress of each business meeting, he/she can adjust the amount of the proposal, give advice on the next action to be taken, and provide accurate follow-up to win the order
Sales process management
It is a function that allows you to easily and quickly grasp the progress of your salespeople by displaying their daily activities in chronological order. Sales process management items include the number of appointment calls, the number of appointments, the number of visits, the number of proposed products and the order rate, etc. All of the salesperson's actions and results are quantified and managed.
- Sales managers can quantitatively compare the behavior of salespeople who are not growing well and understand what is different and where problems are with the behavior of those who do not
- Like the opportunity management function, it is possible to refer to the timing of email and phone calls to understand what supervisors and other high-grossing salespeople are doing, which can improve performance across your sales department
- It is possible to prevent the omission of the schedule
Forecast and actual management
This function allows you to grasp sales forecasts and actual sales results in an easy-to-understand manner. You can understand sales from various angles, such as by customer, product/service, etc., as well as by salespeople or department, and you can manage progress by constantly comparing budget and actual results.
- By entering the estimated number of orders received for each project, the accuracy of sales forecasts can be improved, and the forecast values can be shared in real-time.
- Sales managers can always take proactive measures, such as prioritizing projects with high order potential or reallocating personnel, while monitoring the situation.
- The report function can also be used to display graphs, allowing you to intuitively obtain information and understand your company's current status and goals at a glance. Sales meeting materials can also be created easily.
Eight useful SFA functions to power up your sales
In this section, I will introduce other useful functions for sales activities. Let's take a look at each of them to see how they can help you with your sales operations.
Please note that not all SFA tools have all the functions introduced in this section.
Schedule management function
In addition to entering and managing salespeoples' expected action schedule, this function also allows you to write sales activity results and comments and view customer information from the schedule screen.
It also allows you to correlate documents such as proposals and quotations, which is useful when looking back on past business meetings.
By managing the schedule with SFA by each salesperson, the sales managers can see what's happening across the team at a glance, making it easier to notice issues such as "not enough opportunities" and "many unnecessary visits."
To-Do list management function
A to-do list is a list of things that need to be done in daily work. The SFA's to-do list management function allows salespeople to manage their tasks, making sales activities more efficient.
For example, by sharing each other's schedule information within a company or team, it is easy to grasp subordinates' activities and adjust supervisors' schedules to accompany them.
Also, sales managers can view each salesperson's to-do list to understand their work and resource status and to consider whether their work priorities are reasonable. So it is possible to make better decisions such as dividing the workload with other salespeople and replacing the person in charge.
Alert setting function
It is a function that notifies you of projects that are not progressing. With SFA equipped with an alert feature, you only record your daily sales activities in SFA, and it will notify you of the timing of your next action, preventing sales omissions and delays, and always approaching potential customers at the right time.
Knowing which cases are stagnant, not only the salesperson but also the sales manager can follow up. If the reason for the stagnation is a lack of proposals, identify customer requests. If the reason is the salesperson's schedule, you can smoothly deal with it by sharing progress information so you can transfer the case to another person.
Quotation creation and workflow functions
SFA has functions to create and output price quotations and workflow functions. For example, if you register template patterns of price quotations in SFA, you can create price quotations quickly and without mistakes at any time.
Also, there is no need for salespeople to return to the office from outside to get their supervisor's stamp of approval since approval and application of quotations can be done on SFA.
Daily and weekly activity report creation function
Using the function to create daily and weekly sales reports, the created daily and weekly sales reports can be shared immediately on the SFA. Sales managers can quickly grasp each salesperson's actions and results and provide necessary advice without missing timing.
Also, since daily and weekly reports in SFA can be entered with simple operations, the burden of administrative work, which is not the main task of sales representatives, can be reduced, allowing them to spend more time on sales activities.
Analysis and aggregate report creation function
With the function that can automatically create analysis and aggregate reports, you can output them by segment, by salesperson, by product, by matter, by potential order, by area, and so on. By checking these reports, you can analyze sales trends from various angles.
Also, you can easily extract and report only the data you need, so you don't have to waste time creating documents for sales meetings.
Business card management function
It is a function to manage business card data. If a company can manage all the business cards accumulated through sales activities, it may lead to business opportunities.
For example, in addition to improving efficiency, such as finding employees who know the companies you are thinking of approaching, you can also develop strategies on how to approach the companies you are targeting.
Conversely, if each salesperson only files customer business cards individually, he/she cannot share existing connections with the rest of the team. And there is also a risk of losing the cards themselves or the entire data after salespeople leave the company.
With the business card management function of SFA, you can prevent the same troubles from occurring again because the customer information is not transferred if serious ones happened in the past.
Mobile device support function
In the case of cloud-based SFA, as long as you have a smartphone or tablet device, you can view customer information, access schedulers, files, apply for workflows and create and send daily reports while on the go.
For salespeople who are on the move or out of the office, the use of time is necessary, and cloud-based SFA can help them make effective use of their time as long as they have a mobile device, which can streamline sales activities and reduce overtime.
SFA's functions are very diverse, but I have understood that the sales process and issues can be visualized by digitizing sales activities into data. And sharing information and ideas among salespeople will lead to improved sales results.
SFA is equipped with such a wide variety of functions.
If you use it in the sales field, it will contribute significantly to improving your sales performance.
I hope this article will help you choose the most appropriate SFA to improve your company's sales efficiency.