Streamlining the work of salespeople with SFA

What is SFA (Sales Force Automation)?

The acronym for Sales Force Automation is "SFA," and in Japan it is translated as "sales support system.

Purpose of introducing sales force automation tools

The first purpose of introducing a sales support tool is to streamline the work of sales representatives and increase the order rate. Secondly,  to visualize information such as the progress of deals, the contents of negotiations, the prospects of contracts, and the schedule of the person in charge.

And thirdly, to share sales know-how.

Background of the spread of sales support tools

It is said that the introduction of sales support tools started in the 1990s in American companies. Since sales activities tend to be highly individualistic, and the business cards acquired, the content of business negotiations with clients, and sales know-how are highly dependent on people, there were many cases where the level of sales skills dropped or relationships with clients were broken due to the turnover of salespeople.

In order to prevent this, we introduced SFA so that we could share case information and conduct sales activities efficiently.

Until then, information was managed on paper or in Excel, which took a lot of time and effort to input and manage, but with the development of IT technology, SFA has emerged to centrally manage information necessary for sales.

However, with the development of information technology, SFA has emerged to centrally manage the information required for sales. Furthermore, with the penetration of cloud computing, low-cost and functional tools have become available and widely used.

Main functions of sales support tools (SFA)

Customer management

Manages actions for each customer, including the status of business negotiations, visit history, and other past results.

It also manages who is the key person, who initiated the idea, who has the authority to make the decision, and the process to make the decision for each customer.

Action Management

Manage the daily, weekly, and monthly activity schedules and results of salespeople. By doing so, it is possible to analyze the bias toward specific customers and regions, as well as the efficient movement of salespeople.

Preparation of daily reports and sales reports

This is a function to visualize what kind of sales activities salespeople performed when they visited customers. It includes the amount of the deal, sales probability, and closing schedule.

Create Invoices and Quotations

By entering the product number, quantity, and recipient, you can easily create invoices and quotes by automatically importing the relevant product information from the product database.

Sales Management

You can tally up the amount of orders entered in the daily sales report and view it as sales management. You can view not only the actual results, but also the probability of sales and the schedule of closing, so you can manage which deals will be closed and when they will be posted as sales for the entire company or for each individual salesperson.

Schedule management

By referring to the daily sales report, you can visualize the process of business negotiations in the form of a schedule. By doing so, you can visualize the schedule for closing and prevent so-called "left-over" business negotiations from occurring.

To do list

As the stage of the negotiation increases toward closing, the number of things to do increases. This is an important and necessary function for salespeople who are involved in a number of projects, such as whether to provide a quote next time or need to make another proposal.

Data Analysis

By analyzing data such as how long it takes from inquiry to closing for your products, or which products have the fastest sales cycle, you can make use of this information for future sales activities and product development.

Business Talk Process Management

You can grasp at a glance the list of projects and the degree of progress in business negotiations of your subordinates and staff. You can give precise instructions to those who are stagnant or need advice, and instruct them to share information about the process of business negotiations if they need to share it.

Advantages of introducing SFA (sales support tools)

Things to keep in mind when introducing SFA (sales support tool)

Visualize the work of sales representatives.

From a company's point of view, it is important to check the daily tasks and schedules of salespeople from the perspective of labor management. In addition to labor management, the introduction of sales force automation (SFA) tools can make it easier for managers to manage salespeople, thus eliminating omissions and omissions in tasks. The ability to visualize the movements of salespeople makes it possible to give them appropriate instructions at the right time.

Streamline the work of salespeople

One of the advantages of using a sales force automation tool (SFA) is that it allows salespeople to perform all the necessary tasks in one tool, such as checking customer information, reporting the details of negotiations, creating schedules, daily reports, and quotations. This leads to increased efficiency in sales activities.

Information sharing and analysis

It is very important for managers to be able to grasp the progress of projects and problems in real time. By knowing the progress of your subordinates' work, you can not only prepare for risks, but also deal with complaints caused by work delays at an early stage.

In particular, popular products are competed for by salespeople, so it is possible to prevent product shortages by checking against the product database.

In addition, since reports can be created based on contract rates and sales estimates, it is easy to create monthly reports.

Improving sales skills

The original purpose of a sales support tool is to visualize the sales process. If this can be done, the actions taken by excellent salespeople can be shared, and the tool can be used as an OJT tool for new salespeople. By sharing know-how among salespeople, such as how to prepare materials, what to email after a meeting, and how to follow up, it is possible to raise the level of sales skills.

Points to keep in mind when introducing sales support tools (SFA)

Understand the issues that need to be resolved.

Before introducing a sales force automation tool (SFA), it is necessary to take stock of the issues that your company is facing. It is a good idea to think about what functions are needed to solve the issues identified through the inventory process. It goes without saying that a tool that has all the necessary functions is preferable, but too few functions will not solve the problem, and too many will be too much, so the first step is to clarify the problems that your company has.

Consider the burden on salespeople of introducing the system.

It is easy to fall into the trap of introducing a sales support tool in the dark without clarifying your company's issues, resulting in an increase in the burden on salespeople and a decrease in sales efficiency.

No matter how good the sales support tool is, each salesperson needs time to learn how to use the tool.

This time and effort must be taken into account.

If the operation method is complicated or there are too many input items, it may cause stress, so care must be taken not to reduce work efficiency. It is important to choose a tool that can be operated as simply as possible.

Check the balance between cost and effectiveness.

Even if you find a sales support tool that solves your problem and you think it is the right one, it will be difficult to continue using it if the monthly cost is too high.

Currently, cloud-based sales support tools are the norm, but depending on the number of users and the length of time they use the tool, on-premise sales support tools, which require a server built and operated in-house, may be more economical.

Once a tool is introduced, it is difficult to change it immediately, so it is important to examine its cost-effectiveness and carefully select a tool that can be used for a long period of time and can solve your issues.

In order to do this, you should select multiple candidates and compare them until you are satisfied with the cost and effectiveness.

Conduct a trial before full-scale introduction

We often hear that even after careful consideration and careful selection, the tool does not take root and the expected effect is not achieved.

Before full-scale implementation, we ask a small number of sales representatives to use the tool on a trial basis to see how easy it is to use and how effective it is. After those issues have been resolved, we recommend full-scale implementation for the entire company.

Some sales support tools are available for free trial use for a certain period of time, so it is a good idea to proactively use such services. If it's a cloud-based tool, or if it's an on-premise tool, you won't be able to stop using it easily.

Sales force automation (SFA) tools can help salespeople "change the way they work.

Just because a sales support tool is introduced, it does not mean that sales will increase extremely from the next month.

Also, sales support tools are not labor management tools for salespeople. Sales support tools are not tools to manage salespeople's labor. It is not a tool to check and monitor whether salespeople are lazy or playing on the road.

The purpose of a sales support tool is to maximize the productivity of salespeople so that they can focus on their primary mission: sales activities.

The role of sales support tools is to help salespeople move efficiently by visualizing the negotiation process from finding a deal to closing it.

As a result, the ability to send reports from anywhere with a mobile device has made it possible for salespeople to go directly home, leading to a "change in the way they work.

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