According to Webopedia, sales force automation (known to some as SFA software) is “a technique of using software to automate the business tasks of sales, including order processing, contact management, information sharing, inventory monitoring and control, order tracking, customer management, sales forecast analysis and employee performance evaluation.” Often confused with CRM, sales force automation focuses on enhancing the sales process rather than managing contact with customers.
Best Sales Force Automation Integrations
Although it’s not a staple category of software for every business, sales reps that use it find the solution to be extremely helpful in streamlining their sales processes. When sales force automation software is integrated with other solutions, the process becomes even smoother. To that end, it’s important to know which integrations you should prioritize. Here are our top 5 (in no particular order):
We highly recommend ERP integration no matter what platform you’re implementing. ERPs centralize all of your systems, easily sharing data between each piece of software. ERP integration also provides seamless access to every system via a single sign-on. In other words, your users can work with every piece of software your business has implemented with one set of login credentials.
What’s especially useful for businesses is that the data collected and stored in every system is accessible to everyone with access to the ERP. That way, more than just your sales reps can access your sales data. If you want your marketers, data analysts, customer service reps or HR professionals to look at the sales data for any reason, they can do so thanks to ERP integration.
CRM integration is a near-must for any business using sales force automation software. Despite their similarities, their capabilities are complementary rather than redundant. CRMs are designed for mostly communications tracking and customer profiling. They retain information about your customers and leads, as well as your interactions with them. The point is to get to know them better so you can cater to their needs as you try to move them down the sales funnel.
Sales force automation tools, on the other hand, automate and monitor the sales funnel. In addition, they often come with pricing tools and help with lead management/evaluation. So where does the benefits of integration come into play?
As we mentioned above, the more information you have on your customers and leads, the better you can cater to them. The information gathered in your CRM can help dictate how your SFA platform manages the sales process. For example, you might record information about how certain leads are more hesitant in your CRM, and your sales force automation tool can use that to better manage future communication. Additionally, you can use SFA software to track quotas. Whenever new leads or converted customers are input into the CRM, the SFA can track it, making it easy to check on each sales rep’s progress toward their quota.
Marketing and sales force automation, similar to CRM and sales force automation, are complementary platforms that make them ideal for integration. The information gathered from a SFA platform can be used by a marketing automation solution to better inform your sales team. For example, the data from the sales force automation platform can be used to score leads in the marketing automation solution.
This type of capability is what helps create more cohesion between marketing and sales. All too often, these two departments, despite being closely linked, operate separately. This can lead to inefficiencies in pursuing leads. In particular, the changing hands of leads from marketing to sales can be challenging. But when the systems are integrated and the data flows smoothly, the handoff is seamless, with few to no leads falling through the cracks.
Not always a common sales force automation integration is with BI (business intelligence) software. Although sales force automation systems have sales forecasting capabilities, the best data analysis is done within a BI solution. Whether it’s detailed analysis, data visualization or ad-hoc reporting, BI tools can find potentially game-changing patterns in your sales data.
Whether it’s finding out which messaging leads to the most conversions or simply the trends of each sales rep’s production, there’s valuable information to be learned from your sales data. Of particular value is the order and purchase history data that SFA platforms collect. Using a BI tool, you can find patterns in all of your customer’s purchasing behavior. You can then use that information to start selling relevant products to them at the times they’re most likely to order. Although a SFA platform can gather and forecast sales, deeper data mining is best done by the tool designed specifically for that.
When your sales team is contacting customers and sales leads on the go, they don’t have time to input data manually from their email into the SFA software. When it’s integrated with email providers such as Outlook and Gmail, however, they don’t have to. The conversations you have and the customer information you get is input automatically into the sales force automation system.
Of course one key component of email integration is that your SFA system needs to be cloud-based in order to take full advantage of email integration. On-premise deployments work just fine for when you’re working in the office, but you can’t access the data on the go unless you use a cloud solution. Cloud-based sales force automation often comes with a mobile app as well, so your sales reps can start forecasting sales data right after they receive an email from a lead.
Although it might take some customization to make all of these integrations work, they’re well worth the time and effort. More and more businesses today are making their employees’ lives a little easier by integrating their entire software stack. If you have other software products you use on a regular basis, we’d suggest integrating them with your SFA software as well. You never know what benefits you can find through seamless integration.