If you have a sales force, then you are undoubtedly ready for Sales Force Automation (or SFA as it is commonly referred to). Last month I tried to answer the question "What is Sales Force Automation," and said (in a nutshell) that SFA is a combination of Back-End and Mobile Software, as well as tools and techniques that come together to enable Field Reps to sell better, and Sales Managers to manage their teams more effectively.
In the 'old days' of three or more years ago this usually meant buying a server, buying some specialized mobile devices and doing a lot of training for everyone in the Field Sales organization, from Field Reps up to Sales Managers. In those days, the question we're answering today was much more relevant… since there was a very heavy price tag associated with hardware, software, IT resources and roll out to the organization, companies had to go through a fairly extensive analysis to determine if they would get enough benefit to overcome these hard and soft costs.
Luckily all that has changed, and the answer is almost always a very simple 'Yes!'
Todays 'Back-End' is very likely to be a cloud based solution that doesn't require any IT infrastructure (other than a web connected PC or Tablet to access it), and the mobile devices needed by the field are probably already in your field rep's pocket. If you are a small or medium sized business, there may be nothing else that you need to have a fully operational SFA of your very own! Much larger companies, with complex sales processes and/or complex products may still need to create custom solutions that are integrated to other custom back-ends, but for the most part if your organization has a straight forward product offering and a streamlined sales process, you will be able to configure a cloud (web) based solution for your business.
These modern systems typically allow you to 'try before you buy', and work hard to make themselves completely 'self-service', so you don't need to involve IT experts to set them up, configure them for your business or import data.
Here is a simple checklist to help you determine if your Field Sales Organization is ready for SFA, and if you can take advantage of a modern cloud-based solution:
- Do you have sales or marketing reps in the field that visit customers?
- Will your reps will perform better if they have organized data about their customers at their fingertips at all times?
- Would your organization gain value from structured data that reps collect in the field, such as orders, surveys or simple visit reports?
Not so complicated, right? Almost every field sales organization would answer 'Yes' to these three questions, and if you answer yes to any of them, then you are ready for SFA. Of course, organizations with highly complex sales processes and/or complex product offering (think selling Jet Fighters to the Air Force), will have very specialized needs; but even these companies will perform better if their reps have tools and techniques to manage their customers and opportunities in place. For the rest of us that deal with more typical Field Sales processes (B to B selling of products and supplies worth under a million dollars) most of the needs of the Sales Organization can be met with modern cloud based systems that track customer information, manage sales activities, leverage SmartPhones and Tablets in the field and provide real-time structured access to data.
Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.