For decades, projects that involve some kind of computer technology and information systems of any nature have inexorably fallen into the realm of the information technology department in order to be analyzed and approved or rejected.
When business areas begin to evaluate a new application for use, the first question asked — is IT involved? Perhaps the better question would be, does IT need to be involved? Today, an accurate answer should often be no. It is time to renegotiate the relationship between business areas and IT departments whose protocols still seem to be stuck in the last millennium when the ubiquitous internet, the Cloud, and mobile devices and apps were all still the future.
It does not seem to matter how much the applications have evolved, or that they have turned into self-installable packages, safe and certified for the environments where they will be domiciled. They are still regarded as IT issues. And they no longer are. They are business tools, available to user areas, and not technology projects. It is necessary that IT departments accept this new scenario and create rules so that these applications may be acquired and analyzed and implemented. But they cannot continue to insist on turning all these processes in technology projects. The backlog would be unbearable, unnecessary and would harm the business.
When it comes to sales force automation, it is important to understand some important aspects. It is common to confuse sales automation with sales management processes and with customer relationship programs. Although complementary, these are three distinct disciplines.
Sales Management involves streamlining the administrative processes that underlie the salesperson´s activity: proposal preparation and control, promotional material provision, permits, PO generation, among other back-office tasks. As it often involves integration with the company´s legacy systems, the automation of operational processes can turn into a project where IT plays an important role and needs to be involved.
Customer relationship and post-sales service also need, in most cases, integration and require IT intervention. In both cases we are talking about CRM applications such as Salesforce.com, Sugar, Siebel, among others. The return on the investment in these implementations is difficult to estimate because the metrics spread through the whole organization, and IT must participate in the evaluation and decision.
True sales automation is a resource that only offers the salesperson tools for him to manage his opportunities, to improve his ability to predict outcomes, to be more assertive in the sales cycle, and to generate better results. It’s as simple as that. It is an application, and not an information system. It need not have any integration with legacy systems, it does not involve the whole company, and especially, it has a huge potential return due to its direct impact on the selling outcome. To be applied with precision, the application needs only to have been built with focus on the sales professional, to be based on a method and on a consistent and business-compliant sales model, and to be easily understood and used.
It may, but it doesn´t need to be, integrated with CRM. If it is, it has to be in a transparent, automatic way, like any modern app for Android or iOS. It may also already integrate with environments such as Google, Salesforce, and others. If it is designed and available for the CRM you use, why not install it and use it today?
Sales automation generates direct results for sales, CRM generates results for the organization and indirectly for sales. The adoption of sales automation, integrated or not with CRM, is an investment that only the sales area has the capacity to assess and measure. It is a business issue and not a technology one and, as such, it is an issue that IT departments have no way to measure or decide on.