The Reboot of Sales Force Automation

The Reboot of Sales Force Automation
"…organizations should be thinking about SFA products as being able to unlock the power of artificial intelligence (AI)."

I went to see Blade Runner 2049 the other night (two thumbs up) and what struck me about this movie, and a lot of others lately, is how franchises are being ‘re-booted’ and adapted to accommodate new thinking, as well as to re-clarify characters and back stories. Extending this line of thinking, it seems to me that many of us in the software industry could benefit from some self-reflection and creative re-booting when it comes to our products. We seem to have lost touch with (1) what problems our products are supposed to actually solve, and (2) how they should solve them. What I mean is that we’ve lost focus on both the outcomes and the methods. I asked myself, “Could Sales Force Automation apps use a 21st century-style reboot?”

For example, consider these points about Sales Force Automation (SFA) implementations:

  • More than 60% of SFA implementations fail (Accenture and various other industry sources).
  • A majority of reps are missing opportunities because of information overload.
  • SFA systems require manual administration by sellers, which takes away from selling time.
  • Managers and reps have to do the heavy lifting of data and record interpretation.

All of this data points to the fact that SFA’s original goals – more revenue from sellers, better close rates, improved customer retention, reduce the order to deliver time, etc. – are not being met. They also suggest that the current tools and methods are inefficient and ineffective.

Let’s reimagine SFA, starting with outcomes.

We should re-think what SFA platforms are supposed to do. In my opinion they should help you sell smarter, bust quotas, and streamline sales. Aren’t those the obvious things you (and your reps!) want out of your system? Whether you are a rep or a manager, you want to be able to say “My SFA system is indispensable to me, helps me consistently meet quota, and is wired and connected to all of the other tools that I use every day.”

Let’s also talk about methods. Technology for Customer Engagement has radically improved thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Rapid Development, and Platforms that finally bring a unified workflow, channel, and client or prospect ‘state’ together. It makes sense that these technologies should be applied to SFA systems so that the system itself – not the users – is sensing, deciding, and then taking action on sales leads and opportunities in support of humans. Not the other way around. And SFA should be able to adapt and learn from the wisdom of the sales crowd, as well as from data and information that is collected.

None of this is to say that selling and managing no longer needs humans and judgement. Just that the system should:

  • Generate more sales for the reps and clients you have.
  • Never miss a sales opportunity, and proactively push that information to reps and managers.
  • Quickly get to market with sales apps that are intelligent and that can be configured quickly.
  • Streamline and link the end-to-end sales process from lead to quote to cash.

These capabilities mirror Forrester’s latest SFA evaluation and top ranking criteria, and support the new idea that organizations should think about SFA products as being able to unlock the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

The goal is to move SFA away from:

  • Static selling processes and manual administration
  • Rolodex of database records to interpret
  • Siloed, inefficient, sales systems and processes

And move it towards:

  • Dynamic, smart and automated sales processes
  • Contextual knowledge pushed at the right moment
  • Streamlined Sales / Service / Operation engagement system

AI can help SFA apps simplify complex sales processes and seamlessly support your customer engagement.

Industry leaders are updating SFA apps with new tools and methods to leverage AI. For example, in Pega’s most recent release we’re first in market with several new features, such as:

    Graphical views of how our AI arrives at a prediction for a given model

    AI models that help sales managers predict if a new rep is on or off track, and provide detailed actions to take to help reps succeed

    Workforce Intelligence and robotics insights that glean application usage patterns and identify inefficiencies

You can watch a video or see a guided tour of these features on our Pega® Sales Automation website.

Now is a great time to rethink your Customer Engagement and SFA technology and identify the new methods and outcomes related to sales that will best support you. Because your company never stops ‘re-booting,’ right?


About the author: Chris Benedetto, director of product marketing, brings 20 years of CRM, digital transformation, and marketing insight to the Pega Sales Automation team. He helps our clients solve problems and build impactful sales solutions.