This year has fast-tracked the digitisation of many wholesalers, and as these businesses adjust with important new technology, it’s vital that they invest in the right solution for their needs.
For wholesalers, two key sales systems that must be in place is your CRM, and if innovation is key to the business, a sales force automation software (SFA).
It’s common for both CRM and SFA software to be confused with each other, and while they both act as a linchpin in your overall sales process, they serve two different purposes.
So, what’s the difference between salesforce automation software and CRM?
A simple way to understand the two differences between these technologies is this.
CRM is about nurturing existing clients, improving retention and maintaining strong relationships. It’s in place to guide all existing client relationships
On the other hand, SFA software focuses on streamlining the sales process for internal staff. It helps reps place orders out in the field, and managers to organise their staff and track key metrics.
However, SFA software is commonly spoken about in the same realm as CRM and often gets confused for doing the same functions. No doubt the two technologies are close relatives, but CRM is fundamentally different.
For further clarity, here’s a client related scenario that involves CRM. Let’s say that a customer has reached out to let you know that a product you sold them was faulty. To make sure this situation doesn’t happen again, you might choose to log this situation in your CRM, with notes regarding the product, and maybe a suggestion to provide the client with a discount on their next order.
Overall, CRM is a post-sale software that is used to retain and satisfy existing clients, while your SFA software is in place for the overall client on-boarding process. Although it’s becoming more common for CRM providers to integrate SFA in their solutions, it’s still important that we understand the fundamental differences involved.
What are the key benefits of sales force automation software?
Time saved: Overall, the main benefit of a well organised SFA software is that your staff won’t get bogged down with manual paperwork and tedious tasks. On top of this, your team and management will gain more time from the streamlined sales process which will allow them to develop deeper client relationships.
Stronger relationships: Strong relationships in sales might be seen as a given, but it’s never been more important for wholesalers. With competition rising, and your customer’s ability to quickly price-match your products online, the value of strong business relationships has never held a higher premium.
Important metrics on-demand: By implementing a solid SFA software, wholesale managers gain the ability to generate highly valuable sales reports on demand. Once upon a time, these reports took days to put together, now these metrics are available at the touch of a button.
These important sales metrics provide real-time answers to some of the following questions just to name a few.
How does a certain rep’s performance compare to the previous quarter?
Are we on target to hit the sales forecast?
Are there any high-priority targets falling through the gaps?
Is this salesperson focusing on the specific targets set to them?
With information like this, managers can easily determine the progress of the set sales objectives, while guiding the professional development of their team.
Importantly, the businesses progress will be based on clear-cut numbers. Management will be able to determine how realistic their sales targets are, and can make strategic adjustments to their forecasting as they go.
Being able to generate reports on demand is a vital tool for management, but what also counts is the type of report they generate. Business Intelligence (BI) reporting covers a few common but important reporting methods for the sales industry.
If you would like to learn more about the important reports that all sales managers can leverage, you can learn more by clicking here.
Upselling and cross-selling with salesforce automation software
Another key advantage of having a good SFA in place is that your reps will have the tools they need to facilitate easy upselling and cross-selling.
By having access to previous sales trends, your reps can put forward additional products to their clients and provide them further value by recommending similar products that could be of use.
Using a platform like Inzant’s also helps because your reps will be able to easily scroll through and search for thousands of different products all at the touch of their iPad. Importantly, they can then place the order with the client on the spot to make sure orders are being placed in real-time.
Salesforce automation software and team management
We’ve spoken briefly about the vital reports that managers can generate on-demand with SFA software, but we haven’t spoken about the simple efficiencies that the software creates.
No longer do managers need to spend the time filling in spreadsheets, counting sales calls or filling in reports late on a Friday afternoon. As all this data is being recorded by the SFA software, and all a manager needs to do is schedule in a weekly report that gets delivered straight to their email.
With these important numbers up their sleeve, managers can determine which sales territories need more coverage from their team, or which territories perform the best at certain times of the year.
The high-value decisions that can be made based on this data are endless and SFA software gives sales managers the information they need to allocate their resources efficiently.
Importantly, sales managers will also be able to determine which reps in their team need more guidance and coaching - this is what being a good sales manager is all about.
Choosing the right Salesforce Automation software for your wholesale business
Choosing the right SFA for your business begins by establishing the specific needs of your business. Let’s wind things back for a second.
Remember, CRM is great if you need to manage a large client base, improve retention and process a high amount of customer data. But the focus now is on SFA software.
SFA software serves the purpose of streamlining your entire sales process. It allows your reps to make sales easily, automates the ordering process, and gives management the important numbers they need.
Some common challenges that might lead a business leader to look into an SFA software are when the sales team is constantly asking for more support, or complaining about a cumbersome sales process. Also, the business might be experiencing growing pains and not coping with a high sales volume. Another key issue is generally around the efficiency of the sales team. Sometimes reps might be caught out on the road all day or seeing clients in a geographically wasteful order.
Doing your due diligence
When you’re evaluating your provider, it’s important you choose a supplier that can work closely with your business. The role that a good SFA software plays in your business is fundamental, and it becomes the core of your entire sales process.
With this in mind, it’s important you work with a provider that you know can deliver the amount of support and ongoing training to make sure you get the most out of the software, and to make sure that the rollout of the software is successful.
Be aware of using companies that have a base of operation offshore – relative to their other markets, Australia is not that big to them This is evident in the level of support they actually deliver VS what’s promised. Also, be aware of paying a yearly subscription – ask yourself why am I being locked in for a year? If service levels are met there would be no reason to go elsewhere.
Importantly, you need to be able to count on your provider to quickly fix any issues that arise. If your SFA software becomes the backbone of your entire sales process, lengthy downtimes or problems can become costly.
So, to make sure you choose the right solution for your business here’s a due diligence checklist to tick off when picking the right software provider.
Due Diligence checklist:
Does this SFA software provider have a diverse software in terms of features?
Are there strong customer support channels in place?
Response times for customer support – if your deciding on software that functions as a core system for your business – downtime can mean your whole operation is affected while you wait for the issue to be fixed with no local resources to be called upon
What does the customer success program look like – is there one?
Do I have a dedicated customer success manager?
What are the enablement resources – what are they like – can I be a power user or use the resources to train my staff to be a product expert
Is this supplier's geographic location relevant to me – consider phone support across different time zones
Earlier in this article, we determined that SFA software is a tool that streamlines your entire sales process, and is in place to serve sales reps and managers. We also determined that while a CRM is similar, it’s focused on managing existing client relationships and information.
We also discussed the importance of SFA software, and the key benefits it has within your business. A good SFA software will increase sales, save time for both reps and managers, and provide the business with important data that can be used to fuel high-value decisions.
Lastly, we discussed the importance of doing your due diligence when choosing the right SFA software provider. It’s important that your provider has a standard of support that ensures you get the most out of your software while addressing any issues or questions quickly.
Want to learn more?
Would you like to learn more about Inzant’s SFA software solution? We work exclusively with wholesale providers and provide a SFA platform that is suited to your exact business.
We’re based here in Australia, and provide real human support to all of our clients.
You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me personally on 0428 625 353. I'm happy to talk about your business and how our software can streamline your sales process anytime.
Damien Britton - Commercial Advisor | Inzant Australia