Many organizations have implemented sales force automation (SFA) solutions, but few have realized the expected ROI. The primary reason for this is that organizations often follow a narrow approach that limitstheir SFA strategy and scope to justlead and opportunity management, failing to recognize the importance of aspects like compensation management, analytics, and mobility that can accelerate their ROI. An organization's SFA strategy should center on user adoption, productivity tools, technologies, and process, all which will empower a sales organization to close sales faster and increase wallet share, rather than merely track opportunities or leads for management reporting.
Here are five key areas organizations should focus on to revitalize their SFA solutions and accelerate their ROI:
Sales insights (business intelligence)
Organizations are flooded with information gathered over the years, and have struggled to derive insights that they can put to good use in their daily operations. An organization's SFA strategy should include a solution that can provide insights and recommendations to sales representatives and managers that can inform sales team realignment, compensation planning, and upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Ideally, a it should include a business intelligence tool that also provides real-time reporting.
Sales performance management
Sales performance management (SPM) helps to boost the moral and increase the productivity of a sales organization. Tom many companies have ignored SPM and considered performance incentive activities as a back-office operation. Many of these firms also continue to use basic spreadsheets to calculate incentives; this leads to shadow accounting, commission over payment, and so on.
Organizations should embrace technologies for setting quotas, territories, compensation calculations, and payments. These tools should offer information insights (business intelligence) for quota and territory planning, self-service applications for viewing commission statements down to transaction level, dispute management, and commission simulation.
Sales team collaboration
Complex deals require pursuit leads to collaborate with product design teams, finance, legal, and other departments within their organization to close a deal. Sales representatives spend a great deal of time in sending mails, coordinating meetings, and following up, as a result losing essential selling time. Organizations should embrace Enterprise 2.0 options like wikis and discussion forums for their sales organizations; this would result in a highly collaborative and productive sales team.
Field salespeople tend to update SFA solutions on weekly or fortnight basis, making most data stale. This results in managers phoning salespeople for updates and to gather the latest information while those reps are in the field. Next-generation SFA solutions should incorporate SFA process right into mobile applications through smart phones. This would help agents update opportunity and lead content more often, as well as reduce time wasted by both managers and reps chasing down current information.
Organizations should consider mobility as a must-have rather than an optional strategy, to bring SFA closer to sales reps, instead of having the reps go to an SFA solution.
User adoption and experience
Present day SFA applications have come a long way; they provide jazzy screens and dashboards, and have been successful with usability. However, one area often overlooked that is of utmost importance is user personalization capability. SFA tools should provide the flexibility for users to easily add and delete content. This would allow salespeople to personalize their dashboards with relevant content and data, bringing in a sense of ownership and an increase in moral. Consider SFA solutions that also incorporate Web 2.0 technologies like tagging, wikis, etc., to enhance the user experience.
Many SFA vendors s have gone all out to embrace and offer technologies from analytics to mobility to Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 technologies. Organization should revitalize their sales force automation strategy by implementing any missing pieces as outlined above, either in a phased or Big Bang approach. Doing so would help increase sales velocity, improve productivity, and accelerate ROI.
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About the Authors: Kiran Amara is a lead consultant in the Enterprise Solutions group at Infosys Technologies Limited; Mahesh Potluri is a lead consultant in Enterprise Solutions at Infosys Technologies Limited.