Sales force automation software is almost essential for any serious sales organisation. It acts as the central repository for account, lead and contact records and enables sales reps to automate key activities such as dialing leads, sending emails and logging data.
Research firm Aberdeen Group found that the leading adopters of sales force automation increased the size of deals by an average of 27 percent, decreased the sales cycle by 16 percent, cut the time-to-quota by 15 percent and cut sales administrative time by 15 percent.
But implementing an effective sales force automation system can be challenging – each organisation’s requirements are different. A survey by another research firm, Gartner, found the average time to deploy to be in excess of six months. “Implementation methods vary, ranging from self-implementation to global systems integrator-led efforts for comprehensive global, multibusiness unit implementations,” Gartner reported.
The reason for this, according to Gartner is that requirements are unique to each organisation and are a function of the maturity and culture of the organisation in its use of technology, the sophistication of sales practices and the anticipated RoI.
“Companies that have low to moderate sales process complexity and that do not need to integrate to back-end systems can self-implement,” Gartner said. However: “As a general rule of thumb, regardless of your sales process complexity, Gartner recommends that you employ an SI if you are new to the vendor's technology,” it said.
A third research firm, Forrester, says the sales force automation market is undergoing significant change with increasing emphasis on mobile sales capability, integration with other software products, real-time actionable insight and usability approaching that of consumer-grade applications.
This integration, for example, could be with mapping software to enable the territories of individual sales reps to be easily defined and managed.
Like many other kinds of business software, sales force automation is increasingly moving from on-premises to cloud based delivery. Gartner says it has spoken with many clients that are replacing their on-premises systems with SaaS-based systems, and that smartphones and tablets, are fast becoming the data-entry method of choice among its clients. By 2017, Gartner predicts that 65 percent of sales organisations will be using smartphones to drive user adoption and improve data quality for their sales force automation systems.
Sixty eight percent of respondents to a Gartner survey use tablets for both account management and sales activity tracking, and 58 percent use tablets for opportunity management.
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