Why Your Small Business Needs Sales Force Automation

Automation can boost sales productivity by up to 14.5% while also reducing overall marketing overheads by up to an impressive 12.2%. Hence, simply automating your sales force can translate to significant revenue and profits gains for small businesses.

Sales force automation systems will allow small businesses to automate general and repetitive tasks in the sales process, which helps reduce time and resources wastage by the sales teams. But, as a manager, you still need to weigh the benefits and costs of implementing sales force automation to determine whether it will be worth it for your business.

If you are still undecided on whether to implement this modern method of running your sales force or not, here are some reasons it would be an excellent strategy for your establishment.

1. Reducing Sales Inefficiencies

Up to 64% of a salesperson’s time goes to non-selling activities that will have little to no value for your small business. Most of their time goes to downtime activities such as catching up with their peers on social media networks and other administrative responsibilities.

This time wastage is a resource drain for your business and can affect your sales considerably. With proper sales force automation, small businesses can ensure less time wastage and better value for the resources dedicated to selling their products or services.

SFA eliminates the need for strenuous administrative tasks and helps businesses keep better track of salespersons’ activities. Hence, it is easier to tell which person is wasting time instead of selling and making appropriate interventions.

2. Minimized Opportunity Loss

No matter how good your sales team might be, it is essential to remember they are all still humans. Therefore, they will not remember everything and miss crucial things like customer appointments and delivery dates.

What all this means is that in many instances, you may end up losing opportunities to make sales simply because someone on your team forgot something. A sales force automation software can help prevent this by ensuring a centralized point for managing everything from customer appointments to deadlines and keeping track of customer interactions.

SFA systems ensure salespersons never get overwhelmed. The system will allow them to access all the information they need from a centralized point, so you never miss a potential contact. Better still, the salespersons can dedicate more of their time seeking more customer interactions.

3. Allows Proper Leads Management

One of the best features of sales force automation is that it can also help with lead management. Proper lead management has a massive bearing on whether the sales team can convert the leads and hence forms a crucial element of any sales campaign.

Small businesses that use the sales force automation software can quickly identify all the potential leads and arrange them according to the prospectiveness. The business can then assign the best salespersons to handle the most promising leads to increase the likelihood of conversion.

Additionally, with SFA, you can prioritize the best quality leads so you do not end up spending too much money on leads that are unlikely to give you any sales no matter what you do. 

With this software, small businesses will also have an easier time generating leads. They can extract leads from marketing campaigns and other channels like social media interactions or website inquiries. Therefore, the cost of lead generation is also much lower than when doing everything manually.

4. Enhanced Business Intelligence

A correctly implemented sales force automation strategy will do much more to your small business than just streamlining your sales process. You can use the system to enhance business intelligence.

SFA makes it possible to predict future income accurately using the different kinds of data you get from the system. Hence, as a small business owner or manager, you can make more accurate decisions on crucial business processes such as resource allocations. 

Better still, you can develop more metric types when using the system, ensuring you know the exact steps to follow and the strategy to implement for a more successful sales process. 

Given that SFA provides detailed data, businesspersons and sales teams will clearly view the sales pipeline and quickly refine and optimize their sales techniques.

5. Maintaining Strict Business Schedules

Only about 2% of sales will be made on the first contact with the customer, meaning that 98% of sales will require further follow-up to seal the deal. 

A sales force automation application can ensure you do not miss out on this huge chunk of potential sales by automating email follow-ups and other things like updating sales leads and scheduling appointments.

Besides increased sales volume, keeping up with these vital business schedules can help improve overall productivity as you never miss anything important.

How to Develop a Good SFA Strategy

Although SFA can have many benefits for your small business, it is still vital to ensure a good strategy and plan for its implementation. The most crucial element of developing the SFA strategy is making sure it is goal-oriented and intended to meet specific objectives. Additionally, it should be fine-tuned to conform to the particular needs of your establishment.

Sometimes a simple thing like automated email responses is often enough for some small businesses. But, for others, a more comprehensive strategy that uses advanced sales force automation software will be necessary.

Conclusion

Sales force automation systems are a powerful tool that a small business can use to streamline its sales process to ensure increased conversion, minimal resource and time wastage, and higher revenues or profits.

Whether you are using a free sales force automation software or a more feature-rich and advanced paid version, you will have an effective tool for optimizing your sales strategies. But, it is always essential to make sure whatever you choose is customizable to fit your specific situation.

Lastly, you still need to combine the SFA system with a strong sales team to ensure you get the best results, as the latter can still be the weak link in your sales process.

What is Sales Force Automation & What Are Its Benefits?

According to a Forbes publication, at least 64.8% of a sales rep’s time is spent doing non-sales-related activities. Hence, only 35.2% of their time is spent on sales-related functions. All this translates to fewer conversions and less value for the money spent on sales.

An easy way for businesses to eliminate this excessive time wastage and ensure every minute and cent spent on sales provides value is automating the process. Sales force automation increases the productivity of a sales team and leads to higher conversion rates.

Businesses planning to adapt sales force automation systems need to understand what it is all about, the key features that define it, and the benefits they stand to gain.

What is Sales Force Automation?

Sales force automation (SFA) is a process that uses software to automate various aspects of the sales process. It typically focuses on repetitive and administrative tasks that tend to be highly time-consuming and are one of the critical reasons sales reps waste a lot of time.

By allowing the sales force automation software to do the administrative and repetitive duties, the sales reps can focus more time and energy on making a sale. Businesses can also automate information sharing, sales reps, and customer tracking and order processing with SFA.

Businesses use SFA in industries and often integrate it with CRM (customer relation management) systems to ensure a smooth selling process. Also, sales force automation is customizable to suit the unique needs of any particular business.

Key Features of Sales Force Automation

SFA combines several automated systems to ensure a smooth and efficient selling process for your sales team. It typically includes the following main features.

1. Customer/Transaction Management

Customer and transaction management are integral elements in SFA, given that the end goal is to convert many of them into actual buyers. SFA makes it easy to manage customers by viewing essential things like their contact details and transaction history.

With SFA, you can also create custom sales campaigns and monitor customer engagement keenly. Also, it allows for opportunity management, so you never miss out on any ongoing transactions.

2. Lead Nurturing

Leads are vital for any business as without them, making any sales will be super hard. With sales force automation systems, you have an effective and reliable way of nurturing your leads to ensure a higher conversion.

SFA allows you to track leads in real-time and optimize any ongoing sales campaign to ensure you maximize your sales. Also, you can efficiently work with other partner networks to maximize results by sharing business goals and objectives.

3. Productivity Acceleration

Sales force automation software can help accelerate productivity by utilizing various features like mobile and email integration. 

With a sales force automation application on your mobile device, you can easily keep track of your sales performance and keep up with any upcoming opportunities, all of which can help accelerate productivity.

4. Insights Management

All the data going through the SFA end up as valuable target market insight. These insights make sales forecasting easier as there are various variables you can use in real-time.

Additionally, SFA can help simplify territory management by making it easier to create multiple models of your market and preview them before rolling out any sales campaign. Doing this ensures you get a balanced and more optimized approach when handling the different territories.

Benefits of Sales Force Automation Systems

An automated sales force system can do your entire business a lot of good and not just your sales team. Here are a few key benefits you can expect by implementing SFA App.

1. Decreased Sales Cost

High sales costs can eat up your profits significantly and even make high sales volume insignificant. SFA can help reduce your sales cost and ensure you make higher profits and a faster return on investment.

With an automated sales force, you can reduce the manual tasks that can be highly time-consuming and often reduce the business’ revenues.

The selling process is quicker and more efficient when using SFA tools, and you can even trim down your sales team to save on the costs. Additionally, a seamless selling process that focuses more on revenues can make your sales reps more efficient, reducing overall sales costs.

2. SFA Provides Better Sales Data

One of the best features of sales force automation is that it allows for better sales data collection. With this automatic system, you get exclusive insights that most sales reps might not pick out, given the software understands and interprets information differently.

Additionally, the data is stored in a central database to ensure easy access for the sales team when they need to check something. Hence, your sales team is better equipped with everything they need to convert a sale, from the client’s demographics to their purchase history.

3. Higher Productivity

There will not be much manual labor required with an automated sales force, so your sales team can focus more on strategies to improve sales and look for more clients. A good sales force automation system will also include several tools geared towards enhancing productivity.

4. Improved Customer Service

SFA system work with CRM to provide a centralized place for storing all the essential customer data you need, for a holistic view of the customers. When you have all the information you need on a customer, it becomes easier to offer services. Also, changes in sales reps handling them do not significantly affect the customer experience as the new ones have easy access to all their information and understand them better.

5. Streamlined Sales Rep Management

Managing a sales team is not easy, which is more so for large organizations with big groups. However, things become more manageable with SFA as you never have to do things like sales-call sheet tallying manually.

The sales manager also gets tools that make the allocation of territories to sales reps easier. Better yet, the managers have easy and real-time access to all salesperson information and can hence measure their performance and success rate quickly.

Conclusion

A sales force automation system plays a crucial role in every business’ sales department. By automating things, you can cut down on sales costs and reduce the time wasted by the team when trying to make a sale.

However, to get these and the many other benefits that come with this system, you first need to make sure you get or set up an ideal one, whether it is a free sales force automation software or a premium paid service.

How Does Sales Force Automation Software Make Your Process Easy?

What comes to your mind when you think of automating your sales operations? Nine out of ten people say “sales force automation software” while answering this question.

But when you think of sales force automation software as a technological concept, it includes a long list of elements. These aspects work together to facilitate different business operations.

Read on to know more about how you can simplify your business activities with a sales force automation application.

How SalesForce Automation Simplifies Business Operations?

According to an estimate, 80% of different advertisement processes will be based on automation technology by 2022.

Contact management and opportunity management constitute the two primary aspects of sales force automation (SFA App). Major companies use these features of SFA to achieve their objectives. Together, these software solutions help business organizations address business requirements.

Apart from these options, there is one more SFA solution called pipeline management. It helps a company track a lead’s data from their inquiry until they buy a product or service. By monitoring the details of a lead, a company can make timely decisions through forecasting.

Customer relationship management (CRM) and SFA are closely related to each other. Given the volatile nature of the mood of customers, company representatives need to keep track of communication. 

CRM helps with smooth business communication and monitoring between the representatives of a company and customers. This helps prevent communication gaps which can be a source of irritation for customers. 

Additionally, other features of sales force automation help leaders overcome challenges concerning automation projects. These include the following:

1. Task Management

Remembering dates and managing tasks can be difficult when you have to do it all by yourself. But an automated system can help you to a great extent. As soon as you create a reminder, the task management feature of SFA integrates it with the calendar.

You can track the communication with customers on different dates and identify your priorities and pending tasks. As soon as you make any change to the logged data or complete a task, the task management aspect of SFA updates the records on its own. Thus sales force automation can give a boost to your efficient sales force task management.

2. Team Collaboration

Because sales force automation systems work on cloud technology, its data is accessible on the Internet. With an active internet connection, one can access a CRM on a browser. The best part about it is that many users can do it at the same time.

Even as multiple users make changes to the data of CRM, they get automatically updated on the CRM. This feature is nothing shorter than a blessing for sales professionals as they can log in to a CRM and work remotely from any location. Also, they can communicate with each other and keep abreast with the latest updates. It helps improve team collaboration.

3. Cloud App Integration

Connecting disparate systems is a major challenge for business firms. And, most of the businesses fail to attain the same. But making use of sales force automation software features helps overcome it through cloud app integration. It improves the flow of data across different systems.

4. SFA Customization

Flexibility is a hallmark feature of SFA. In other words, you can use it on computers as well as mobile devices. Especially in today’s era when mobile phones have become a core part of our lives, you would always find people clinging to their cell phones.

Thus, companies can use mobile phones for easy-breezy sales force management. It means that you can also think about using a mobile sales force automation application alongside apps on computer devices.

Final Thoughts

From tracking business leads to team collaboration and smooth communication with customers, sales force automation software ease the workload on the employees of companies in many ways. By doing so, not only saves time for employees but also helps them boost their productivity. Depending on your budget, you could either opt for free sales force automation software or its paid version to reap the above benefits. 

Mobile Sales Force Automation Software – Choosing Android Phones

There are few points that need to be considered while choosing an Android device for your Mobile Sales Force Automation Software or Mobile CRM.

1. Android version

Please make sure that the mobile / tablet has Android 4.0 or above. Most of the Android OEMs do not provide upgrades. So, it’s best to pick a mobile/tablet which has at least Android 4.0 for the purpose. Make sure that the Mobile Sales Force Automation Software supports the Android version.

2. Serviceability and support

Does the Android manufacturer provide support for the devices in places where the team would be using them? If the device manufacturer does not have service centers in places where problems could occur, then the sales team will have to send the device to Head Office and then request for a new device in the meantime. If they have a local service centre, then they can easily get the device checked themselves. For companies with nation wide presence, a wide support and service network becomes very important.

3. Battery

Does the Android phone/tablet provides sufficient battery backup for a single working day? Battery usage depends on a lot of factors. If in case you are using a real-time location tracking system where up to the minute location information is provided, then the phone would use significant battery resources. Choose a phone with at least 1400 mAh battery.

4. Camera

The quality of the camera depends on the purpose for which it will be used. In case the sales team needs to take photos of documents, then an Auto Focus camera with at least 5 MP would be required.  Otherwise, a camera with 2MP will be sufficient.

5. A-GPS

Mobile Sales force Automation software also provides location tracking features. For most accurate locations the Android phone should have GPS chip. GPS works even without internet. Whereas, A-GPS requires internet and is less accurate than GPS. It’s fine if an Android phone/tablet has both GPS and A – GPS.

6. Speed

There are slow Android phones and there are phones which have a very slick and fast interface. A lot depends on the operations that need to be performed and the user experience on an actual device.

Based on our experience at PepUpSales, we suggest taking these points into consideration while finalising the Android phone / tablet-based on your budget. But always get a couple of devices first before ordering the whole bunch!!

Using Sales Force Automation Software Effectively

Having deployed a Sales Force Automation software is a job half done. The other half is to get people to use it.

In most cases, there is an initial resistance from the sales team. They are used to their old ways of using pen and paper. The MIS team does all the number-crunching work. The data is erroneous but there is no way to find out.

There are a few points that the Sales Heads can keep in mind while persuading their team to use the Sales Force Automation software:-

1) Stop taking reports in excel! Take reports only from the sales force automation software.

2) Ask the team to claim their expenses in the SFA software.

3) Let the team view their reports on the move right from a mobile app. So, they know where they are heading during the course of the month.

4) Have an internal person well trained for hand-holding the team in case of training issues.

5) During the Weekly sales call or the monthly sales call, ignore any data except the one from the Sales Automation software.

6) Stop giving route plans / PJP on paper. Instead, ask the team to log in to their mobile apps.

Once all the communication starts happening through the sales force automation software, the team will realize its benefits and adhere to its usage.

GPS Tracking of Employees

Mobile phones pose a difficult situation for Sales Managers. Though it has become very easy for the sales team to communicate, at the same time, the sales team may not report correctly.

This reduces performance and overall cost of sales increases. For example, a sales person who completed his meeting at 2 pm may actually report at 5 pm. Since the reporting is primary over a phone call, sales managers have found it very difficult to ascertain the timings and performance of a sales person.

Thus the sales managers have to resort to being target focussed only. For a new sales person, there is a certain ramp up period of initial few months. In certain industries where sales cycle are of a few months’, it takes time for a new person to land a customer. Having a target focussed manager breathing down your neck actually may not help. At the same time, the sales manager should have faith in his new team. The problem is acute in field sales where a lot of sales people tend to plan their visits as per their personal convenience.

Some sales managers require that their team report immediately after the customer visit has been completed. But it becomes difficult for sales persons to open their laptops on the road side or locate a coffee shop to do so.

There are a few things that a sales manager can ask his new recruit to do to ascertain if he has actually visited the customer:-

1. Ask the sales person to get the customer on a phone call and take feedback.

2. Ask the sales person to call from the customer’s landline number.

3. Ask the sales person to send his location via WhatsApp or other similar apps.

4. Use a Mobile SFA software to track his location implicitly as well as gather visit details on the move.

Mobile SFA apps can help sales person to report immediately without any inconvenience.  Further, a location tracking Mobile SFA can also help a sales manger ascertain that a new recruit had been actually visiting customer. Sales Manager can also visualise and guide their sales team to other opportunities in that particular area.

Any decent mobile SFA will give a visual feedback of the route or customer visits that the sales person has made. This can be used to plan customer visits nearby and boost productivity. Companies have reported upto 60% performance improvements after using mobile SFA software.

Android Apps for Tracking Salesmen

It has been observed that there is a certain level of mistrust between a company’s management and it’s sales team. This is more prominent in smaller sized companies where the owner himself is heading most of the business operations.

For smaller business owners GPS in a mobile phone is something which they love to use extensively.

Getting real time location of your field sales can give a feeling of assurance rather than wondering if it’s a problem with the sales team or something else.

For industries like FMCG, where the salesmen have to cover at least 40 outlets in a day, the knowledge that a salesman has visited the outlets is very substantial. A retailer has only a small budget that he can use to buy products. Any FMCG salesman who doesn’t visit an outlet will lose the market to a rival company. Retailers, in general, like to stock only those items whose supplies are regular.

With time these companies can evaluate the outlets based on their orders. But before this evaluation takes place, it’s important to know if the salesmen are actually visiting the outlets or not. Otherwise, the evaluation will be error-prone.

A mobile SFA app running on a cheap Android phone/tablet can easily determine the location of the salesperson as well as the route he had taken. Such apps should have a mechanism of automatically switching on the location tracking either at a particular time of the day or based on the salesperson’s attendance.

Also, the mobile SFA app should not drain out the battery quickly. In a real life environment, the location of a person would not change for 10-15 mins. So any location tracking information finer than this would not serve a purpose. In turn it will drain the salesperson’s phone’s battery.

What companies should look for in a Mobile Sales Force Automation Software

For customers, it becomes very confusing when it comes to purchasing a mobile Sales Force Automation solution.

There are so many providers, offering very basic features to ones with advanced features. It’s easy to compare them from a cost and features perspective. But looking deep inside there are a few other points that need to be kept in mind.

Five points that IT Managers, Sales heads should look at while finalizing on the mobile Sales Force Automation software.

1. Does the mobile sales force automation software need your present and future requirements?

Many times companies are not able to visualize the need beyond a certain point. So, you can say that you need location tracking or order management only. But do you think you will need other advanced features like Expense Management (TA/DA), deviations etc in the near future? If the solution has newer advanced features built-in, you may not buy them right away, but when you need them you can simply ask for an upgrade.

2. How does the mobile sales force automation provider support remote field users?

For a customer with a pan India workforce, it will be difficult for a solution provider to support users from different places. Does the provider have a mechanism or technology to resolve and fix issues of field workers remotely? Initially, the salespeople show resistance to any mobile SFA. Can the solution provider show you (with proof) that it’s a problem with the salesperson itself rather than the solution?

3. Is the solution provider ready to customize the mobile SFA software?

Say, you are a growing company and adding salespeople every few months. Or you are targeting different markets or channels. After some time, you may need that your mobile SFA software either integrated with your ERP or there might be some changes that you want to get fully assimilated into your company/channel. The solution provider should be willing to customize it for you. Of course, they will charge you for it.

If it’s a SaaS (cloud-based) provider, check if they have an on-premise model as well. Because any on-premise software can be customized to your exact needs.

4. Is the technology robust?

Field salespeople need to be spending time on sales and not worrying about the device’s battery being drained out.

A good Mobile SFA should work on a 2G network. It should not consume battery even if the location tracking is on.

It’s advisable to get 15 – 30 minutes of location updates rather than every second. This makes sure that the battery runs for the whole day and you always know where the person is.

The solution should be able to download large data even on 2G networks. Some companies have 50k different products or variants. Some want to show detailed order history. All this requires a huge amount of data to be downloaded over the phone. 3G networks are not available across the country. So, the mobile SFA solution should work in a 2G and offline environment.

5. Is the technology secure?

Mobile can be lost or stolen. Salespeople will have the app always logged in. Can the mobile SFA solution log out a salesman remotely? Is the data on the mobile device secure? Does the solution support limit access to a particular SIM or device?

Ideally, the data on the mobile device should be encrypted by the mobile SFA. So, even if the device falls into wrong hands, your data will be secure from prying eyes. Any sales coordinator or authorized person should be able to log out and deny access to any salesperson remotely.

Why FMCG companies need Mobile Sales Force Automation

Ten reasons why FMCG companies need Mobile Sales Force Solutions more than ever:-

1. Reduce reliance on distributors

Traditionally FMCG companies have relied heavily on distributors for pushing up sales and pushing new products into the market. The approach was to pile up inventories at distributors and stockists and the sales will take care of themselves. This doesn’t work anymore! Distributors have become wary of such tactics. With the competition heating up in the Indian market, distributors have options of changing companies.

2. Improve Sales Team performance

Field sales staff need to have data on their tips to communicate with the market. Readily available data like prices, schemes, contact details of retailers, etc can help them utilize their time so they can focus on their code activity i.e selling. Head Office can push new products catalogs to sales rep even before the products are launched. This enables them to gather market feedback even before the first prototype is ready.

3. Real-Time data

Mobile Sales Force Automation solutions can help FMCG companies in gathering real-time data. So, when Sales heads want to push a new product or scheme into the market, they can get the feedback within a couple of days rather than a month.

4. Secondary Sales data

Secondary sales data is needed by FMCG companies to forecast demand. In the current scenario, a distributor places orders to a company after the receives the secondary orders. With a mobile SFA, the company can get to know the market demand before the distributor/stockists places primary order.

5. Cross-sell and up sell

The company can use the secondary data collected to cross-sell or upsell products to retailers. This is very valuable in a competitive market.

6. Expand to newer markets

Expanding to newer markets becomes a breeze. The company headquarters can now track and manage the salesperson without an additional overhead of managerial layers. This is significant for smaller companies who want to control their cost of sales.

7. Connect to retailers

Companies can connect to the retailers directly. Until now, it was almost impossible for the company to have up to date contact details of the retailers. Now a salesman can punch in all the details of the retailers into the mobile SFA app.

8. Track merchandising activities

Merchandising activities can be tracked and managed by taking photographs from the Mobile SFA app. Merchandising becomes very important in modern trade where the company needs to make sure that the right product facings, as well as stock, are available. This is needed to stand out from the competition.

9. Track stock at distributor/stockists/retailers

Sales Rep can punch in stock details held at the distributor/stockist or retailer level. This can help companies to decide on their material planning objectives and help maintain optimum inventories.

10. Micro market analytics

Companies can gather micro market information correctly and swiftly. Earlier, the company had to compile paper-based DSR (Daily Sales Report) from all their salesmen and then compile them to gather an idea about demand. But other metrics like the best performing product or retailer in a micro-market were next to impossible. The data collected from mobile SFA can be utilized to gather such analytics.