This is a technique where software is used to automate sales tasks in a business. It includes contact management, order processing, inventory monitoring, information sharing, order tracking, analyzing sales forecast and evaluating employee performance.
The revolution in our society causes a change in the nature of selling and the traditional process of selling has two communication ways between salespeople and customers, and customers to salespeople. Face-to-face selling needs a lot of time, expense and energy but has a tremendous payoff. Despite all the alternatives of high technology, the presentation of face-to-face selling is a single marketing tool that is most powerful today.
Salesforce automation records the stage in the sales process automatically and includes a system of contact management that tracks the contact made with customers, the purpose of contact and the need for any follow-up. This helps in ensuring that sales efforts are not duplicated and eliminates the risk of making the customers become irritated. Salesforce automation is integrated into different departments because if there is a failure to integrate them, departmental communication would not be possible and this results in different departments contacting the same customer for a similar purpose. (Fogg, 1973 pp24-28)
Advantages of sales force automation
Salesforce automation improves the productivity of personnel in the sales department. The prepared e-forms to be used by salespeople saves time rather than using activity reports, call sheets and write-outs of sales orders. Reports are no longer printed out and taken to the sales manager because; company intranet is used by salespeople to transmit information. Paper-based data for product inventory, information for sales support and sales prospect list are no longer waited for because the information is made accessible whenever it is needed by the use of sales force automation. Record keeping is greatly reduced by the use of the additional tools and this improves the morale of sales staff which contributes to virtuous benefits and cumulative effects.
The systems of the sales force are an effective and efficient device for training. They give sales staff product information and training without wasting time at seminars. There is successful team selling due to cooperation and better communication between sales personnel. Sales leads that are better and qualified are generated automatically using the software. Salesforce automation increases the sales made by each person which results in high profit and the generation of huge amounts of revenue. (Forge, 1985 pp24-28)
The results given to the sales manager are automatically presented in tables which are understood easily thereby saving a lot of time. Information requests, activity reports and booked orders are frequently sent to the sales manager which makes him respond directly and give the required advice on verifications of products in stock and authorization of price discounts. This enables management to have better control of the sales process.
The sales manager is able to configure the system and automatically analyze information by use of statistical techniques which are sophisticated and present results in a user-friendly manner. This enables the sales manager to provide sales staff with useful and current materials for supporting sales and coordinating with the rest of the firm particularly production, finance and marketing and also identifying customers who are most profitable. (Cicelli, 2004 pp11-15)
Salesforce automation helps the marketing manager to understand the economic structure in the industry, identify market segments, identify a target market and know the best customers who have potential. It makes it easy to do market research in order to identify customer’s needs and the need to develop new products that satisfy the tastes and preferences of the customer in order to be competitive in the market. The marketing manager is able to establish a mechanism for scanning the environment to be able to detect opportunities that are there in the market and threats. (Zoltners, 2004 pp13-18)
Marketing strategies are easy to develop for each product by use of variables of marketing mix such as product, price, promotion and distribution. Sales functions are coordinated properly with promotion mix such as advertising to create awareness of the product to customers, public relations and sales promotion. A marketing manager is able to understand where he wants the brands to be in future and provide the basis for preparing marketing plans.
Salesforce automation increase customer satisfaction if the information available is analyzed in the system and used in creating a product that exceeds or matches the expectations of customers and the system is properly used by staff to service customers diligently making customers be satisfied. Customer satisfaction increases customer loyalty, reduce costs of acquiring customers and increase profit margins. (Honeycutt, 1995 pp13-18)
Disadvantages of sales force automation
Salesforce automation is difficult to work with because it requires people who have knowledge and experience in using it. Therefore it cannot be used by staff at a lower level in the organization. It requires additional work of inputting data which calls for more staff to be employed to assist in inputting the data all the time. salesforce automation requires to be maintained continuously which require a lot of funds, information needs to be updated all the time so that it can provide current data which is not outdated and the system need to be upgraded for it to be effective for use. (Carter, 1998 pp34-37)
Implementation of sales force automation should lead to a more spacious and better amount of sales data for sales analysis. However, this depends on how easy employees in the field can make a data entry. If salesforce automation proves difficult for employees to retrieve or enter customer and sales data, the information available may be less than when the traditional system of reporting sales is used.
Sale is ventured that relies heavily on human interaction where salespeople move from one place to another to meet their potential customers and inform them about the products they are offering for sale. When sales force automation is used, it reduces human interaction between salespeople and customers which may reduce profits and efficiency. salesforce automation help employee identify customers by entering information into the system but if employees are not used to inputting the data, they may not be happy about the extra work which is necessary for providing adequate information to sales force automation. (Jobber, 2006 pp14-19)
Honeycutt E. (1995): guidelines for managing an international sales force: industrial marketing management, pp. 13-18.
Forge R. (1985): empirical and judgment-based sales force decision models: Blackwell Synergy, pp. 24-28.
Carter T. (1998): contemporary sales force management: Elsevier, pp. 34-27.
Fogg C. (1973): a quantitative method for structuring a profitable sales force: Journal of marketing, pp. 24-28.
Zoltners A. and Lorimer S. (2004): sales force design for strategic advantage: Palgrave, pp. 13-18.
Lancaster G. and Jobber D. (2006): selling and sales management, 7th edition: Prentice Hall, pp. 14-19.
Cicelli D. (2004): Compensating the sales force: McGraw-Hill, pp. 11-15.