A sales force automation platform gives you the ability to better manage customer data, contacts, nurture leads, sales pipelines, analyse sales performance and so much more. This can boost sales productivity, shorten sales cycles, enhance customer relationships and increase sales revenue. With all these great benefits, it’s no wonder you’re looking for a sales force automation platform.
But how do you find the right one? In this blog, we’ll be discussing:
- What are the different types of sales force automation software?
- What features should you look for?
- 9 tips to narrow down your options
What are the different types of sales force automation software?
There are two ways sales force automation software can be installed:
- Cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) - hosted on the vendor’s server, it’s typically paid for monthly. You’re not responsible for installation (and all the costs associated with that), maintenance, updates or data security. This can make SaaS options very convenient and cost-effective.
- On-premise - hosted on your local server and typically covered with a single license. This option is usually quite expensive (more than cloud SaaS) because you are responsible for installation, maintenance, updates and data security.
This blog covers the two types of systems and their pros and cons in more detail.
What features should you look for?
Some key features you should look for in your sales force automation software include…
- Contact management - so your sales teams can keep contact information up-to-date, better prioritise their opportunities, review detailed histories of all interactions with accounts they’ve engaged with and more. For managers, this means they can gain visibility into their sales team’s activities.
- Lead and opportunity management - thanks to detailed, accurate contact information and lead and opportunity scoring models, it’s easier for to efficiently manage leads all the way through the process (from qualification to opportunity).
- Integration with other data sources - if your software can integrate with other data sources, in any format, it makes importing information much simpler. It also means your key data can be stored in one location which equals fast and easy access.
- Customisable dashboards - as well as being able to pull data from multiple sources, you should be able to view whatever you need in customisable dashboards. This can help you make more informed decisions.
- File sharing - improve cross-team collaboration with a solution that enables file sharing across different departments. This also facilitates sales marketing alignment which can help you better nurture leads and close deals.
- Automation - save time and boost productivity, thanks to administrative tasks being automated. For example, leads being automatically assigned, automated data entry and automatic analysis of leads and how qualified they are.
- Reporting and analytics - reports can be automatically generated based on custom criteria. You can use this information to enhance your marketing campaigns, identify and target top accounts, prioritise leads and more.
- Sales forecasting - predictive forecasting abilities make it easier for your financial and sales analyst teams to predict sales revenue.
Although not essential, the best sales force automation software will also offer AI-infused features, including:
- Contextual recommendations on the next best actions to your sales team and talking points tailored to that specific interaction
- Deeper insights into when and how customers interact so you can be more proactive (for example, Dynamics 365 Sales offers survey insights from Customer Voice so you can look into your customers’ points of view)
- Relationship health notifications that highlight at-risk relationships so you can intervene and keep them on track
- Automatic analysis of the quality of your leads so you can focus on the highest priorities
Find out more about how a combination of a CRM system and sales force automation can benefit your lead nurturing process in this blog.
9 tips to narrow down your options
- Decide whether a cloud-based SaaS or on-premise platform works better for your business. Check out some tips to help you choose between the two here.
- How agile and scalable do you need the platform to be? Whether you want to scale up or down, the right choice will grow with your business.
- The benefits should extend across all your teams, not just sales. The name ‘sales force automation’ may lead you to think it’s just for your sales team but it’s not! Your platform should also fit in with your other teams’ processes.
- Is the platform user-friendly? The easier the new platform is to use, the easier you may find it to get your teams on-board with the change. And you’ll save time on training.
- See if the platform can integrate with any third-party solution. To truly gain complete visibility over your business processes, your sales force automation software needs to integrate with other key solutions, such as your ERP.
- Check out the vendor’s reputation. Ideally, you want to pick a well-known, reputable vendor. So, look at their reviews, client testimonials and case studies before deciding.
- How much support might you need? No matter how user-friendly a platform is, you may need additional support from time to time. The right vendor will provide excellent after-care services, such as in-house training and a support team ready to answer any queries.
- Is it within budget? The right platform will always be within your budget, though this doesn’t mean you should pick the cheapest option. Instead, you should pick the one that can give you the best benefits and value for money.
- See how the platform will fit into your existing processes. A common misconception is to assume technology will solve all your business challenges. However, technology is only one aspect of the full picture that’s business success. You also need to consider your people and processes. So, the right platform will work with your people and processes.
The best sales force automation platforms have CRM capabilities and vice versa…
CRM and sales force automation platforms aren’t the same thing. CRMs focus on managing and improving customer relationships while sales force automation is about managing the sales process.
You might have noticed that a few of the key features of sales force automation platforms we mentioned are actually CRM features. This is because the best platforms cater to both of these!
A CRM system with sales force automation features is often the ideal way to go. You use sales force automation to initiate and manage the sales process, then use the CRM to take over the lead nurturing and customer satisfaction side.
Want to read more on how you can find the right CRM system? In our guide, we cover all of this, plus signs that it’s time you need to invest in a CRM and common misconceptions.