It’s no secret that sales force automation (SFA) was dreaded not too long ago. But it is now an indispensable friend to the sales person. There are many who may still be leery of it, but that number is certainly dwindling. Lauren Carlson’s blog at Software Advice reflects on this sales force automation evolution over the past 15 years, and identifies four factors that explain the change. While we agree with those, here’s our take on where this is headed.
The central theme as we see it (of course being a SaaS company ourselves) is:
- The deployment of SFA on SaaS platforms
- SFA is more inter-operable in a sales environment
And that is a great fit to how the best sales people think and act. Sales is seen in the larger context of client and business needs. So while software engineering has taken great leaps forward with usability, content and inter-operability, it has made it easier rather than harder for sales reps to use these tools.
Let us now envision what the future holds in terms of increasing adoption and further making SFA an indispensable tool for the reps of today and tomorrow.
SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY:
Thanks to Amazon, Google, Apple and iPhones, and other innovators, we now live in a world where our tools and devices instantly empower us with just a touch of a finger. There is no need to over-engineer features and functionality. So we will see SFA applications mimic more closely the way sales reps live and work, intuitively pulling things together for the right communication with customers that build credibility and trust.
BETTER INTEGRATION OF ANALYTICS AND DECISION SUPPORT:
Either through native interface, APIs or other methods, information will become more context-sensitive. In other words not “all the data all the time” – that’s like using a cannon to kill a mosquito! Predictive analytics is not used just to determine which customers to contact and what to sell etc., it will also determine when a particular insight or data point is valuable and present it to the sales rep at the right time. The integration of up-to-date sales intelligence tools is further validation of this trend.
GREATER RELIANCE ON SALES PROCESSES THAT PRODUCE RESULTS:
A proven process is a collection of technology, domain knowledge and best practices that are known to produce a better result. There is enough body of knowledge to show what practices work where and why. Sales organizations are already building on this. In addition, the availability of domain expertise and the relative ease of technology integration further drive the dependence on an established process. No SFA = no process.
With the advent of smart phones, tablets and social media we are now at a tipping point with respect to the next evolution of SFAs. It’s no longer a question of should sales team use sales force automation. Companies and sales organizations that do not embrace it and follow a solid process are at a disadvantage. That only portends more exciting times ahead for those that do.Tags: business intelligence, data integration, SaaS, sales management, sales operations, software as a service