Your Guide to Software Selection

Sales Force Automation Software Requirements & Features Checklist

Sales force is more than just a software provider, it is the name for the process salespeople go through as they guide customers through the sales process. Luckily for you, there are plenty of sales force automation software (SFA) solutions to help sales reps do their job more efficiently. But wait, you might think, I don’t know what I need from SFA software! Never fear — we’ve made this salesforce automation software requirements checklist to help you get prepared for your software search.

The goal of SFA is to automatically track and record any and all contact made with individual customers, the purpose of that initial contact, and any follow up that sales reps or customer service may need to perform. This has the multiple benefits of streamlining the/your sales pipeline and avoiding irritating customers with duplicated sales efforts. It will typically be a module or feature of a larger customer relationship management software (CRM), but some CRMs deliver stronger functionality for the required features than others. Let’s get into the individual sales force automation features to look for:

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Sales Automation

Sales automation involves all the areas of the sales process that can be automated. Contact management modules track and organize contact information including names, addresses, emails and phone numbers. Consolidating and digitizing this information can help your organization overcome the interruptions and inefficiencies that come from information fragmentation and disorganization. Users can associate contacts with marketing campaigns and other actions, further enhancing the value and effectiveness of each interaction with contacts.

An in-system function for scheduling customer meetings is a must for organizations trying to consolidate their sales process. Schedule customer meeting capabilities should eliminate back and forth emails and phone calls by creating a one-step process to instantly book sales meetings. It saves time by offering sales appointments to multiple reps to ensure timeliness and efficiency.

Contact Management Dashboard Properworks

Contact management dashboard from Prosperworks

A document library allows users to store files and information associated with accounts directly in those accounts or in another easily accessible format. Files can be shared between major contacts and accounts to reduce data duplication.

An SFA system should offer goal assessment features directly tied to sales reports. This makes it easy to track and measure progress by month, quarter or year. It should also provide techniques to enable lead generation, management and tracking of new sales opportunities. Lead management in particular facilitates an organization’s relationship with advertising and the responses received from marketing activities. It creates an ordered structure for managing volumes of customer interactions to reduce manual organization activities and streamline your workflows.

Contact Management
Schedule Customer Meeting
Document Library
Goal Assessment
Lead Management

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation refers to the software and technology platforms that help marketing teams work more effectively. It automates the more repetitive actions involved in the marketing process.

A crucial aspect of marketing automation is email marketing. SFA platforms should offer robust email design capabilities that allow users to create emails which inspire customers to take action. Emails can be sent via batch marketing or individually based on triggered events.

One of the activities marketing automation software can optimize is automated campaigns. Marketers are increasingly able to take a “set it and forget it” attitude to marketing. They can create a campaign (or multiple) when it’s convenient and schedule it to be executed at the optimal times. Once campaigns have been made, SFA software can track the progress and ROI of those campaigns across all the channels on which they are executed.

Once leads have been drawn in by these inbound marketing campaigns, they can be assigned. Many sales force automation modules will do this automatically, rating leads by a variety of criteria so they can be assigned to the best sales rep to nurture them.

Automated Campaigns
Assign Leads
Track Campaigns
Email marketing

Opportunity Management

Sales opportunities are contacts that have been qualified; they have entered the sales pipeline and are interested in working with you. Opportunity management focuses on providing a guideline for the sales process. Users have a real-time overview of where opportunities are in the pipeline and other important account information to help nurture them. The goal of opportunity management modules is to optimize your sales process, improve win rates and gain insights into which leads are most likely to become customers.

Deal tracking functionality allows users to track critical details about ongoing deals like value and competition. This feature uses collaboration tools and provides automatic deal updates as well as activity tracking.

Quote management assists in the organization, automation and delivery of customer quotes. SFA solutions should be able to automatically populate a quote with relevant customer data, generate a PDF from a predesigned template and email it to customers. This standardizes and streamlines the quote process for sales teams and customers alike.

Track Deals
Quote Management

Reporting

Reporting is a business intelligence (BI) function that involves collecting and presenting data so it can be analyzed and drive data-driven decision-making. Data is collected from various data sources (such as user demographics, preferences, sales history, etc) and organized so the software can search for patterns. Then that data is visualized to present it in a way that is understandable so it can be analyzed.

One example of visualization is a sales dashboard. It is usually an easy-to-read graphical presentation of the data collected in the reporting phase. It should provide an overview of sales data divided into different categories for products, services and people. Sales results should be highlighted with activity metrics like the number and value of deals added as well as the number of completed sales activities.

A sales dashboard from Mothernode

Some can be generated for historical data, but the hot ticket item for SFA software is to provide real-time sales dashboards. Sales managers can utilize this type of dashboard to see up-to-the-minute data about their organization’s health and progress so they can make informed decisions and predictions. They can also display a range of helpful sales metrics and KPIs. When these reports and dashboards can be customized, they provide even more value.

Sales Dashboard
Customized Report

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Workflow Management

Workflow management provides infrastructure for the setup, performance and monitoring of day-to-day business operation tasks.  Its goal is the coordination of work processes to achieve better, more efficient results from individual business tasks. It helps businesses take control of their routine processes to manage them better. Some of these features include automated email alerts for deals, auto-assigning of tasks, etc.

Workflow management modules improve the visibility of workflow processes. This increased visibility aims to create awareness of how each process progresses and how to optimize each step. If properly utilized, it aims to change how people work, not simply what they do.

Automate Business Process

Email Management

Email management is crucial for managing high volumes of inbound email. It is especially important for customer service activities. Some components an email marketing feature should include are:

  • Email ticketing system: allocates reference numbers to incoming mail. All communications can be grouped under the same reference number for organization and efficiency and users can track their correspondence with ease.
  • Email receipt module: this receives emails, filters out spam and assigns ticket numbers based on those conditions.
  • Data enhancement module: adds tags to emails for further processing. This feature may allow users to connect to remote databases to retrieve relevant information about transactions or history within the organization.
  • Intelligent analysis module: reads the subject, message and attachments along with any tags assigned to the email. It analyzes the content to help sort and categorize it into additional tags.

Email integration is also a key feature of email management modules. Sales force automation tools should integrate existing email accounts and correspondence from Microsoft, IBM, Gmail, Yahoo! and others. This eliminates the need to manually transfer anything and streamlines the implementation process of a new system.

Email Management
Email Integration

Database Management

Database management helps users create, retrieve, update and manage data within a database. Some of the administrative tasks supported by database management include change management, performance monitoring, backup and recovery. It provides a centralized view of data that can be accessed by multiple users in multiple locations, and that access can be controlled ahead of time.

Data cleaning (also called data cleansing or scrubbing) involves the processes of de-duplication and organization of data for use. It involves removing incorrect, repeat or incorrectly formatted data by utilizing rules engines and algorithms. A data scrubbing tool should be able to identify and correct a variety of types of mistakes. This type of application frees up database admins to do more complex tasks and streamlines the data analytics process significantly.

Database Management
Data Cleaning

ECommerce

A sales force automation application should make eCommerce hands-free by automating fulfillment and delivery. It should also be able to manage inventory and send targeted marketing campaigns to buyers, streamlining and connecting the sales process from start to finish.

It should also offer purchase automation, a system that helps all parties involved in the buying process get more data to make better data-driven purchasing decisions. It makes the process more efficient and streamlined.

Purchase Automation

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Deployment Environment

Most software can either be deployed via the web/cloud or as hardware on the premises. Choosing a deployment option is important for users, because both come with pros and cons. On-premise CRM systems use a network of highly-customizable onsite hardware and software systems that require software licenses to store customer data. Cloud CRM solutions exist on remote servers where software updates, security measures, hardware upgrades, backups and more are managed by the CRM software service provider.

Most software providers are moving towards cloud-based or hosted installation methods as it provides accessibility that modern users love. Many systems also provide a mobile app or mobile access for iOS, Android or other mobile devices. This lets users access their data on the go, including in meetings or in the field.

Hosted Installation
Mobile

Sales force automation software exists to make your life easier, and hopeful,ly we’ve done the same for your selection process. If you’re ready to look at the best of the best in sales force automation solutions, check out our comparison report to start shortlisting vendors.

Did we leave out any requirements? How prepared do you feel to purchase SFA software? Let us know in the comments!

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