Twenty years ago Sales Force Automation (SFA, or Sales Automation), was just about to gain traction. Everyone talked about it. It made sense because most people were trying to automate their sales teams, but were going about it the wrong way, by feeding their processes into inadequate Contact Management software. They thought this would fix their problems, but sales opportunities were still getting neglected, along with the strategies, skills and techniques that occurred in the sales cycle.
Just as software developers were coming to grips with these problems, up springs this concept of Customer Relationship Management. Almost overnight, SFA and CRM got hastily paired together in the growing e-business lexicon, and they came out synonymous. The industry, the experts, even the customers, used them interchangeably, believing them to be one and the same. But they are wrong. SFA and CRM are related, dependent and intertwined, but they are not the same thing, and it’s a disservice to the market to suggest they are.
Its time to clear the air. CRM focuses on building and maintaining good customer relations. On the other hand, SFA is about providing salespeople with the proper tools to win the all-important sales opportunity. The former takes on a relationship focus, while the latter promotes opportunity focus.
While these ideas aren’t mutually exclusive, they should not be lumped together. The industry is simply out of touch with this concept. Let’s put the spotlight back on SFA, and concentrate on making it work first. Along the way, we can figure out the ways it should synch with CRM.
More on this in future articles.