Every business looks for ways to make their sales team more effective. Using Sales Force Automation (SFA) applications to automate selling tasks and trigger customer communications has become one of the major sales force optimization strategies. SFA looks like the solution to many problems but all too often the results of the SFA initiative do not come close to the promises.
I asked several of the best outsourced sales managers for their strategies in making the sales reps more effective with a SFA initiative. Overall, their advice was to deploy these powerful tools based on an understanding of the business, and a relentless focus on the customers, competition and successful sales process.
Here are the top tips from these sales experts:
Standardize best practices across the entire sales organization
The best place to start is to standardize best practices across the organization. Many companies use SFA to guide their sales reps through the idealized sales process. When done with care, SFA solutions can increase sales, increase close rates and decrease sales cycle time. But, as with any automation process, it is not a magic bullet. You still need to identify the best practices and have the right people on the front lines to bring in business more often.
Don’t waste time – but don’t miss opportunities with narrow thinking
The best way to drive sales growth without increasing expenses is to stop calling on mediocre leads. SFA solutions are only as good as your prospect intelligence. Most companies try to understand who their best prospects are by determining who their best customers are – then they look for more of the same. Sounds completely logical. The problem is that if you have been missing key opportunities, you will continue to replicate this mistake. The best bet is to analyze both your customers, your competitions’ best customers and analyze the market for emerging opportunities. Then track your sales team’s effectiveness and adjust the highly-qualified lead pool to focus on the sources that generate the most business.
Balance the sales load
One of the most important lead optimization initiatives is to ensure that no single rep has too many or too few leads to work on. SFA solutions are an excellent way to make sure that leads are distributed in the most effective way is paired with effective sales force management.
Give your sales team mobile tools that are connected
The biggest trend in Sales Force Automation is mobile integration. With smart phones, Blackberrys and other mobile devices sales reps can be connected to their office and customers whenever they need to be. This can eliminate most “I’ll get back to you with that information” moments and can result in more sales.
There is an old expression, “Strike while the iron is hot.” When a lead is “hot” a great sales person knows that it is time to close the deal. As a result, leads stay warm, increasing the odds a deal will materialize with you instead of a competitor. SFA applications can make it easier to track leads and prioritize effort.
Support your sales team with a knowledge base and training
The most sophisticated and effective SFA solutions include a sales knowledge base. The best knowledge base resources are robust best practices references that are paired with self-guided e-learning programs.
Sales Force Automation (SFA) applications can be a major component of your sales team optimization strategy but experts who manage outsourced sales forces have learned that without a foundation based on an understanding of the business, and a relentless focus on the customers, competition and successful sales process, these investments rarely pay off.
What tools are you using for SFA?