What is sales force automation (SFA)?

The sales process is full of repetitive, administrative tasks, from data entry to task management. Sales force automation software automates many of these administrative duties so sellers can spend less time clicking around a CRM system and more time working with customers.

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Why do businesses use sales force automation?

Sales force automation makes the sales process more efficient—helping companies sell more and sell more quickly. The best SFA systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and unified customer data to prompt sellers to take recommended next-best actions.

Effective sales force automation systems do the following:

  • Boost sales productivity. When sellers reduce the time needed to click through a system, they can focus on the right tasks and actions to close deals more quickly.
  • Increase sales efficiency. With SFA tools, sellers can spend more time on the tasks that matter—such as calling prospects and setting up meetings—and less time performing manual data entry.
  • Drive higher user adoption. Sellers should want to use sales force automation systems. The right systems offer proactive, AI-driven guidance to sellers across all their devices.
  • Deliver connected customer service experiences. Connect customer intelligence with sales force automation software, so your sellers have a complete view of each customer interaction.
  • Uncover more revenue opportunities. While humans may forget to follow up, SFA software can intelligently track accounts and suggest the next-best recommended action.

How does sales force automation work?

Sales force automation software makes the sales process more efficient for sellers at every step of the customer journey. From activity tracking to sales reporting, here’s how sales force automation works.

  • Activity and opportunity management. Prioritize leads most likely to convert, analyze win probabilities as sales deals evolve, and provide AI-recommended, next-best actions to keep sales engagements on track.
  • Account and contact management.Alert sellers when something needs attention. Give sellers a complete, unified picture of each customer, so they have visibility into every interaction, sale, and activity. Sellers can use SFA to update appointments and tasks, complete call logs easily, assign follow-ups, and add contacts.
  • Subscription management.Support subscription-based sales. Connect the entire subscription lifecycle, including finance (revenue recognition), operations, and customer experience/renewals.
  • Sales planning and performance. Automatically assess how effective your sales activities are, alert both reps and managers to deals that need attention, and leverage AI-backed recommendations to effectively re-engage.
  • Mobile capabilities. Easily complete tasks and move deals forward faster. Use a mobile digital assistant that responds to a person’s voice or text to enter customer data and get work done quickly and efficiently.
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The advantages and disadvantages of sales force automation

First, the advantages of sales force automation. Basically, it gets salespeople sell more in less time by doing the following:


Increase productivity

Today’s sales force automation tools give sellers a single, customizable view of accounts, opportunities, leads, and contacts that they can browse with powerful search capabilities.


Offer guided, relevant recommendations

AI captures and analyzes clean, comprehensive customer data to provide guided recommendations to sellers.


Provide easy access to customer information

Augment customer records with CRM and back-office systems data that’s collected and enriched with verified, third-party customer and company data.


Provide smarter reporting and planning.

When systems are easy to use, sellers benefit from better data and more actionable insights about performance. Powerful business intelligence can be leveraged to build a deeper understanding of pipelines, opportunities, and critical sales metrics.

Now, let’s look at the issues that can arise with any SFA implementation.


Learning curve

For sellers used to the traditional way of doing things, implementing a new system can change processes and create a more challenging workflow for organizations to navigate.


Fewer personal customer service experiences.

Automating email responses and check-ins with customers can make the customer service experience a less personal one for the people involved.


System maintenance.

Upgrading sales force automation can require extra technical support and manpower.


Barriers to entry

Integrating sales force automation into current systems can be an expensive operation that hinders an organization’s ability to close deals.

Difference between CRM and SFA

So what is the difference between sales force automation and CRM? They are closely connected, but they are not the same, even though you may see the two terms used interchangeably. Specifically, sales force automation software is designed to increase sales. It supports the sale of products or services, with a goal to make the entire sales process more efficient.

On the other hand, CRM deals specifically with the management of customer relationships, with the goal to improve the overall relationship between the company and its customers.

Sales force automation

Sales force automation helps sellers take the next-best action by using machine learning and comprehensive, account-level data. It automates and simplifies data entry and supports mobile interactions, giving sales teams more time to engage with customers and prospective customers.

Customer relationship management

CRM software manages your relationships with customers, but it isn’t just one solution. To effectively manage, analyze, and improve customer relationships, you need a comprehensive set of solutions that supports every step in your customer’s journey. Such an end-to-end solution should include a sales solution (encompassing SFA, partner relationship management, incentive compensation, sales forecasting), a customer service solution, and a marketing automation solution, as well as an AI-enhanced customer data platform (CDP) that combines online, offline, and third-party data sources for a complete, dynamic customer view.

The best sales force automation software

The best sales force automation software reduces the barriers to entry, is a tool that sellers want to use, and makes selling a more efficient, more fruitful endeavor. Features to look for include:

  • Advanced sales AI that captures and analyzes clean, comprehensive customer data to provide guided selling recommendations. Look for AI-enabled solutions that can help you focus on leads that are most likely to convert and give your sellers insights they can use for better long-term sales performance.
  • Automated and simplified administrative actions, such as data entry and task management, so sellers can spend more time working with customers.
  • Adaptive and responsive search, software integrations, a sales assistant, and a mobile app that mirrors the platform’s desktop experience.
  • An easy-to-use interface that delivers responsive and modern workflows to streamline and simplify the sales process.

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