What is SFA?

SFA (Sales Force Automation) is a sales support system  https://slimtime.co.jp/  , a tool to accumulate and analyze data related to sales activities and to automate business processes. SFA was first introduced to Japan in the mid-1990s, but it is said to have only really taken off after 2010, when the PC penetration rate increased. SFA has been introduced to companies as a tool to visualize sales activities, which have tended to be individualized, and to share them within the company, thereby contributing to the improvement of the sales organization and further expansion of sales and profits.

SFA is mainly equipped with functions for customer management, deal management, action management, forecast management, and report management. By inputting data such as the customer's contact person, negotiation history, level of interest, and progress of the case, and visualizing the data in real time, future sales policies and strategies can be formulated without losing track of time. Also, by sharing the sales status with other departments and divisions, it is possible to standardize and improve sales skills and strengthen the follow-up system for customers.

In this way, SFA makes it possible to "visualize" items related to sales activities to "streamline" and "standardize" activities, but in order to achieve these effects, it is absolutely necessary to input highly accurate data on a daily basis. In order to achieve the expected results after the introduction of SFA, it is necessary to clarify the sales issues of the company in advance and to create an environment in which employees can utilize the system properly.

In business meeting management, it is necessary to understand which status a business meeting is in and then provide information on the current status and what the next action should be.

The most basic function of business meeting management is to view individual business meetings in a list, but it is also necessary to check the records of individual business meetings by linking them with relevant and important information.

For example, by linking customer profile information, you can learn about the customer's preferred proposal patterns and important points from their past negotiation records. Also, by linking the profile information of competitors and services, you can learn the strengths and weaknesses of your company in the current negotiation.

Business meeting management should also provide sales managers with the necessary information. For example, by knowing the number of business meetings and the expected amount of money for each status, the sales manager can understand the difference from the target and the status of progress, and make strategic decisions such as "focus on closing" or "need to replenish new business". In addition, by assigning a priority level to each negotiation, you can obtain information that can be used to make decisions on which and how much resources should be allocated to which of the many negotiations.

Another important function provided by negotiation management is the analysis of lost orders. By narrowing down the information on past business negotiations stored in Shokai Management to specific products, customers, and competitors, you can analyze the reasons for lost orders or orders received, and improve your chances of winning in the future.

In the sales process, even if different people are involved, such as sales representatives and back office staff, the series of operations from quotation to order, delivery, billing, and payment must be seamless. However, in many cases, the sales force automation (SFA), sales management, and accounting functions are separated in the system.

In particular, sales force automation (SFA) and sales management are almost always built as independent systems, and they are not linked as they should be. With such systems, problems such as discrepancies between quotations and order amounts, discrepancies between quotations and purchase orders, and discrepancies between contract terms and conditions are more likely to occur, and the workload to deal with such problems is greater.

Document Management

Throughout the sales process, various types of documents, such as quotations and proposals, are generated. These documents are usually managed individually by each sales representative or sales department, and even if they are physically shared on a file server, it is difficult to view or reuse them except for those documents that you are personally involved in.

The document management function needs to centralize the management of major documents so that they can be accessed "from anywhere" and "at any time" when needed. It must also be able to create and manage multiple classifications as needed, such as by customer, product, competitor, etc., to improve viewability and reusability.

With these functions in place, it is possible to easily view and reuse past documents according to the target customer, product, or competitor in new business negotiations, thereby increasing productivity and improving the quality of sales activities.

In terms of security management, it is also necessary to set access permissions for each document and automatically record the revision history of shared documents and data.

I hope you will use SFA well to improve your business performance.

Business related blogs