Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

To Buy or Not to Buy Smarter Sales Force Automation Technology

Nathan Joynt
CX Cloud Business Group

Sales force automation (SFA) software is fairly self-explanatory. It automates business tasks associated with the selling process. This includes tasks around contact information storage; appointment scheduling and tracking; pipeline, opportunity, and workflow managements; as well as sales forecasts and performance analyzations.

SFA software is a significant technology investment for growing businesses that have outgrown manually managing sales processes. And while this technology has been around for many years, conditions have aligned for SFA technology investments to surge. In fact, Gartner forecasts that the SFA market will grow to more than $9.4 billion by 2019, with SaaS-based solutions continuing to take a larger share. By comparison, in 2016, the SFA market grew by 12.8%, to $5.6 billion.

Why SMBs should invest in SFA technology

There are many conditions today influencing this interest in SFA technology, including:

  1. The development of modern sales teams – including newer sales roles such as blended sales and customer service agents – who are actively trying to address the shifting dynamics of the buyer-seller relationship.
  2. A consensus that artificial intelligence (AI), social collaboration, predictive analytics and other advanced SFA technologies can offer a competitive advantage.

SMBs, thanks to their agility and nimbleness, are in a unique position to gain a competitive edge over their larger rivals, who are probably entrenched with legacy SFA technologies that have yet to offer capabilities including:

  • Rich contextual experiences for new, evolving roles like blended agents where sales reps can address customer service requests as part of the sales process.
  • Enhanced seller productivity capabilities through complete mobile SFA experiences including mobile virtual assistants (i.e. chat bots).
  • A complete sales force ecosystem that extends beyond SFA to boost the entire company’s ability to sell more efficiently (and therefore profitably). This ecosystem includes connecting all customer interactions with the business, centralizing customer data, and leveraging AI and machine learning capabilities to derive the insights needed to close deals.

A key advantage for SMBs is that they can dissolve internal line-of-business silos faster than their larger competitors. The ability to create a more customer-centric culture capable of leveraging a single source of inclusive customer data through a connected customer experience (CX) technology stack is invaluable. Layer on embedded AI capabilities, and the business is now in a position to address critical customer experience concerns and provide the instant, personalized experiences customers expect. And just like that, the SMB pulls ahead of the competition.

Addressing this larger CX strategy is at the heart of an SFA technology investment. While the SFA vendor market is large especially for SMBs, it’s the existing enterprise vendors that will prove to be the right long term partners.  And let me emphasize that point. An enterprise-level SFA vendor will prove to be the right choice for a long-term partner. 

And because enterprise vendors can prove additional connected technology offerings and the ability to scale up as business needs evolve, an SMBs ability to orchestrate a unified, omnichannel customer experience strategy may prove incrementally less expensive and more efficient with a single vendor partnership.

Learn what leading analysts have to say about the SFA market and which vendors to consider for your SMB:

Read Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for Sales Force Automation 2017 (Tad Travis, Ilona Hansen, Julian Poulter, 13 July 2017)

Read The Forrester Wave™: Sales Force Automation Solutions, Q2 2017

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