You might wonder what sales force automation means. Images of a robotic force of salespeople making door-to-door sales calls (and not giving up till every sale is closed) might flit through your mind.
Actually, it is nothing exotic like that. Sales force automation simply involves automating many of the tasks that members of your sales force would have to do by hand. For example, they will typically have to prepare reports of every call made, and the results of the call. In an automated environment, they would simply fill up a form after the calls, probably on their handheld devices after every call.
The call details will be stored by the central computer, and used to track any follow up if required. The call record will also prevent other sales people calling on the same prospect or customer again with the same message (leading to a highly irritated prospect or customer).
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Sales Force Automation Software Components
The sales force automation software would typically have components that represent all stages of the sales process. It can even include a sales forecasting component.
Contacts management system: Records all contacts made with a customer, including its purpose and indicating any required follow up. The records will be accessible to all departments that deal with customers. This means that all concerned would be aware of contacts already made and would not irritate customers by repetitive calls with the same message.
Sales lead tracking system: Sales leads can be generated through lists that you purchase, such as phone lists and email addresses lists. You can also identify leads by looking at the buyers of related products. All such leads would be recorded and tracked using the facilities provided by this system.
Order management system: All orders received must be properly tracked and executed to the satisfaction of the customer. Without an order management system, orders might be overlooked, particularly if the relevant items are not immediately available for executing it. The order management system prevents such occurrences.
Product knowledge: All members of the sales force must have a clear idea about the company’s products, and the benefits they provide to users. By making the knowledge available through a conveniently accessible section of the system, you can avoid disruptive seminars and other programs for imparting product knowledge. The section can be kept updated so that it will provide current product knowledge.
Product modeling system: A new trend is emerging allowing customers to “build” the product. For example, automobile customers can build their cars by selecting the kind of fittings and seating they need. Computer buyers can build a computer with the features they want.
Advantages of Sales Force Automation Software
The sales automation software can help train the sales force, familiarizing them with the steps to follow and providing the tools they need. By following the standard procedures, they will become familiar with the essential steps. Case studies and best practice materials can further help them acquire needed skills.
Another advantage is on the cost front. Frequent training programs, product knowledge seminars and other disruptive get-togethers can be minimized. At the same time, it should be recognized that personal contacts are essential for team building and motivation.
Sales persons will also get more time to do their selling, instead of writing reports. They can simply enter call details etc into computer forms, and the system will generate required reports.
Sales force automation software can thus prove highly valuable for improving sales performance at economic costs, provided care is taken to make the software user friendly and also to ensure that motivating personal contacts are not completely eliminated.
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Stanislav Krotov is a technical writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of mobile application development and IoT technology. ( Moscow State University of M.V. Lomonosov )