Points to Consider Before Introducing SFA

When considering the introduction of SFA (sales force automation) systems, many companies become obsessed with the question, "Which product or tool should I choose? When you start thinking about implementing an SFA (sales support system)  https://slimtime.co.jp/ , many companies become obsessed with the question, "Which product or tool should I choose? While it is important to select a product or tool that suits your company in terms of cost and functionality, the success or failure of SFA implementation is not determined by the quality of the tool. Before selecting a tool, it is necessary for a company to prepare for SFA implementation.

Clarify the purpose of SFA implementation!

Introducing SFA (sales force automation system) with unclear objectives will only lead to failure. It is necessary to clarify the purpose and align all parties involved as a common understanding.

The ultimate goal of SFA is to maximize sales and profits, but it is important to think about this in detail. What percentage of profit do you want to increase in three years? What is the vision of the department or company beyond that? These are just a few examples.

Also, is it possible to achieve these goals without SFA? It is also important to think about Why are we not maximizing sales and profits right now? If the number of prospective customers is not enough to begin with, it may be time to introduce MA (Marketing Automation) instead of SFA.

Patterns of SFA implementation failures

The most common patterns of SFA implementations that end in failure are those with a weak sense of purpose or vague motives, as shown below.

Because the president decided to introduce it at his discretion

Because it seemed convenient for some reason

Because competitors have already introduced it

Because they lack confidence in their sales management

When introducing SFA, the first thing to do is to clarify the purpose, and to have a common understanding of that purpose among all concerned. If you introduce SFA with unclear objectives, you will regret it within a year.

Establish a project leader who can drive the implementation and operation of SFA!

There is no doubt that using an SFA (sales force automation system) is more convenient than Excel for sales management. However, this is when you consider both at the same starting line. People who have been using Excel for a long time will naturally find it easier to use Excel, and will be confused if they are suddenly switched to SFA. No matter who you are, you will feel resistance to changing the way you are used to.

If SFA is forcibly introduced without considering this issue, the operation of SFA will not penetrate the market, and before you know it, you may be back to Excel management.

SFA cannot be effective without daily data input by salespeople. That is why SFA must be introduced with the understanding of salespeople in the field. For this reason, it is essential to have a project leader who can strongly promote the introduction and operation of SFA. Unless the leader of the project is someone who has the power to convince the salespeople in the field of the purpose of introducing SFA and to make them understand its usefulness, SFA will not take root.

In this sense, the first candidate for the project leader of the SFA implementation would be the executive of the sales department. Ideally, the project team should also include management and salespeople in the field.

Clarify the operating rules of the SFA!

One of the most common causes of SFA (sales force automation system) operation setbacks is lax data entry. If the accuracy and precision of the data is not ensured, the benefits of SFA will be reduced by half.

There are two main reasons why data entry may be lax. Either the salesperson who enters the data is not aware of the importance of SFA, or there are no detailed rules for data entry.

Sales people do not recognize the importance of SFA

This problem can only be solved by the project leader, who needs to change the mindset that data entry into SFA is not something that one is forced to do by one's boss, but something that will benefit one's sales activities.

Detailed rules for data entry do not exist.

This problem can be solved by setting up input rules. For example, when should the information of new customers be registered? Which fields are mandatory and which are optional? When should business meeting information be entered? And so on. The rules that need to be decided vary depending on the SFA tool or company to be introduced, but in any case, it is necessary to create rules that do not cause questions to the salespeople who will be entering data.

After implementing SFA, do a thorough PDCA cycle!

It is a big mistake to think that implementing SFA (sales support system) will solve sales issues; in order to solve sales issues and increase sales and profits through SFA, it is necessary to make a concrete plan, set milestones, and steadily implement the PDCA cycle. If a company is able to do this and another company is not able to do this, there will be a stark difference in the effectiveness of SFA implementation.

SFA is a tool that shows its value the more you use it.

The more you use SFA, the more valuable it becomes, and it is crucial for both sales managers and individual salespeople to keep using SFA and to keep improving it by implementing the PDCA cycle.

The following are some points to consider when selecting SFA products and tools.

More features are not always better!

Some people think that choosing a multifunctional SFA (sales force automation system) tool is a sure thing, but too many functions can be a hindrance. If that's the case, choosing a product that has only the functions your company needs is a wise and cost effective choice.

When considering the functions of SFA, it is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between the functions that sales managers value and the functions that salespeople value. It is natural that they are in different positions, but it is necessary to select the functions that balance both. In this sense, it is recommended to include the frontline salespeople in the project team for SFA implementation.

SFA functions that sales managers emphasize

Sales forecasting and forecast management

Process management (behavior management)

Analysis and aggregate reports, etc.

SFA functions that are important to salespeople


Activity reports such as daily and weekly reports

Smartphone and tablet support, etc.

If salespeople don't use it, it's useless!

The main users of SFA (sales force automation system) are the salespeople in the field. The main users of SFA (sales support system) are the salespeople in the field. As a tool that cannot be effective without their data input, it is essential to choose an SFA that is easy for salespeople to use. Conversely, if the salesperson finds the SFA "easy to use" and "wants to use it actively," then it can be said that the first barrier to implementation has been overcome.

To do so, check the following points. Of course, you need to check not only on a PC, but also on a smartphone or tablet.

Is it intuitive and stress-free to use? (Does it have excellent usability?)

Is the operation method not difficult to understand?

Is it easy to input data?

Are the screens, information, and text easy to read?

Can the user customize the dashboard and other screens?

An SFA that does not meet these requirements may be an SFA that salespeople do not want to use (i.e., difficult to penetrate).

Flexibility in customization is a must!

It is unlikely that you will continue to use an SFA (sales force automation system) with the same specifications as when it was introduced, nor is it necessary to continue using it with the original specifications.

After using SFA for a certain period of time, you will find that you have requests such as, "This would be easier for our salespeople to use. Also, there will be a need to change the specifications and functions of the SFA to match the rapidly changing business environment. In anticipation of such needs, it is important to choose an SFA that is flexible enough to be customized. Can it be easily customized at a low cost? is a must.

If you want, an SFA that can be customized to some extent on the user side is ideal. Rather than spending time and money every time you need to make a small change to the specifications, it would be more agile and cost effective if you can customize it yourself.

The best SFA for your company will vary from company to company.

After the project members have done a lot of comparisons, they should narrow down to two or three products or tools. After that, it is important to confirm the usability of the product through demo screens and hands-on seminars, and to evaluate the product using a trial period. Finally, check the usability in detail in a test environment before making a final judgment.

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