Implementing SFA software iteratively is part of any good delivery and business strategy. But when evaluating SFA technology, IT and business executives often fail to understand the full scope of technologies that will contribute to adoption and use. While implementation of core SFA functionality is necessary and complex, so is planning for the rollout of extended technologies that drive real people, process, and behavioral change. What additional SFA technologies should be prioritized to drive sales excellence? Which complementary SFA technologies contribute to adoption and can help managers see value and returns from SFA? I’ve outlined five of the most important below.
1. Email/Calendar and social collaboration capabilities
Gartner predicts that by 2020 use cases for email, calendar, and social functionality will include built-in AI and more transactional capabilities. This means that common SFA opportunity updates, forecasting updates, meeting activity tracking, and configure, price, and quote operations will be accomplished via AI-guided sales processes that leverage email and social messaging.
As such, it is imperative to start integrating SFA with email, calendar, and social functionality, because these are the digital systems that track time, tasks, activities, and content that is shared. SFA systems will have unified access to, and synchronization with, email and social collaboration systems to improve day-to-day efficiency, usability, and user buy-in.
2. Call telephony capabilities
Are you really sure that your sales reps made an hour of call prospecting? When’s the last time your rep, who was actually call prospecting, marked it down in SFA as active working time? Though outside the traditional SFA tool set, consider an investment in unified call telephony (with built in time, date, and call dispensation tagging) that supports day-to-day sales usability.
3. Robotic automation capabilities
Supporting the way sales representatives execute rote, daily sales processes – like placing an order into an ERP system, checking on territory assignments or commission payments – can be accomplished with robotic automation capabilities. Robots can easily execute ‘scripts’ and interface with separate systems faster and quicker than it takes a seller to login, query, and source the data. An additional benefit is this promotes visibility into the various systems sellers use so that you can drive digital transformation efforts between your front office (sales) and your back office (fulfillment/operations).
4. Lead management
Sales and marketing are tasked with never ending prioritization of leads to ensure the entire organization is focused on the highest-quality leads. Since leads can be added channel by channel (inside sales, web, email, partners, paid media, etc.) it’s relatively easy to break this effort down and into pre-determined channels, rules per-channel, guided sales processes per-channel, and patterns to optimize the quality and volume of leads. Lead management capabilities scale SFA system use, expand visibility into sales channels, and promote coordination.
5. Artificial intelligence
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30% of all companies will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to augment at least one of their primary sales processes. As I mentioned in item #1 (email, calendar, and social capabilities), it’s clear that AI can support new and different use cases. But wait… before you get overly suspicious or concerned that AI will solve every use case related to SFA, let’s compartmentalize AI to better understand the possibilities.
AI can be used for low-touch and high-touch conditions. For example, forecast analytics, and opportunity and lead scoring are very quantitative and inherently low-touch conditions for AI use. We look at the reports, and the AI models learn because they are validated by the data and quantitative measures. But robotic virtual sales assistants, with content recommendations and conversational options, are higher touch, more nuanced, and require business modeling, testing, and refinement of the AI models over time.
Bottom line: Place emphasis on the right kind of AI technology for the right situation, to drive more effective sales processes.
In the end it’s all about sales productivity
SFA systems – as standalone applications – won’t make your sellers more productive. This market is evolving, and if you are interested in making, retaining, protecting, extending, and ultimately duplicating your most successful sales, you’ll need to look for solutions that deliver an entire suite of capabilities focused on sellers.
- Read how Pega is the only solution using real automation to get work done.
- Watch this interview with John Bruno of Forrester Research on how SFA tools are evolving to support the AI-empowered seller.
- Discover why Forrester considers Pega a strong performer and top-ranked Sales Force Automation solution.
- Download the whitepaper, “Unlocking the Promise of AI for Sales,” to learn how predictive analytics can help sellers.
- Try Pega Sales Automation for free!