What is SFA?

 SFA is an abbreviation for "Sales Force Automation", which in Japanese means "sales support system". SFA is said to be indispensable for improving sales efficiency, and the number of companies introducing SFA is increasing every year, but the benefits of SFA  https://slimtime.co.jp/  and how to introduce it are still not widely known.

Here, I'll give you an overview of SFA, the differences between SFA and CRM/MA, as well as the functions of SFA tools, and introduce how to utilize SFA and how to implement it efficiently.

SFA is the abbreviation for Sales Force Automation, which translates to sales support system. It refers to a method and a tool for supporting sales, visualizing the progress of sales from the start of a business meeting to the receipt of an order, and managing the activities of the sales force.

The work of salespeople covers a wide range of tasks, such as creating customer lists, making telephone appointments, preparing proposals, quotations, and plans, sending information to potential customers, visiting customers, handling complaints, and following up with existing customers.

If this part of the process can be automated, salespeople will be able to concentrate on their core tasks such as approaching promising prospects, which will lead to increased sales.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is often referred to together with SFA.

CRM is called "Customer Relationship Management" or "Customer Relationship Management" in Japanese. It is a customer-centric marketing method that aims to record and manage customer attributes and their contact history with the company through various channels, and to increase the number of fans through customer-specific communication, leading to increased sales and profitability.

In a broad sense, CRM includes the support and management of sales activities, so I imagine SFA as one of the parts that put CRM into practice.

MA (Marketing Automation) means "automation of marketing" in Japanese, and the idea is to use IT tools to automate part or all of the process of marketing activities in order to streamline marketing activities, increase sales, and improve profitability.

SFA aims to improve the efficiency of salespeople who are in charge of closing potential customers, while MA aims to improve the efficiency of marketing activities aimed at acquiring and nurturing potential customers, so these are side-by-side relationships.

SFA tools are IT tools for SFA, and although Excel can also be used to record sales activities, SFA tools generally refer to sales support systems with a variety of functions.

The main functions of SFA tools are as follows

Customer management

In CRM as well as SFA, obtaining and managing customer information is of utmost importance, and SFA tools also have functions to centrally manage customer information. By centrally managing and sharing information such as company name, location, contact information, name of the person in charge, attributes of the person in charge, as well as inquiries and transaction history, it is possible to prevent mistakes such as duplicate sales by sales staff or lack of succession when the person in charge is changed.

Case Management

Case management is a function to centrally manage the detailed information of each case. In conventional sales methods, the details of each case are often known only to the person in charge, which tends to lead to inadequate responses when the person in charge is not available, or to salespeople relying on their own experience and intuition.

By visualizing the progress of each project through project management, we can accumulate sales know-how as an organization. By analyzing the past negotiation history and contents, it is possible to derive the most appropriate approach.

Quote creation

SFA tools are also equipped with a function to issue quotations quickly and in a timely manner. By providing quotations at the right time when customers are eager to buy, you can increase the likelihood of closing the deal and prevent customers from drifting to your competitors.

Behavior management (process management)

Behavior management is a function to visualize and manage the business process of sales representatives. Behavior management is a function to visualize and manage the business processes of salespeople. It quantifies and manages actions and results, such as the number of tele-appointment calls, the number of visits, the number of business negotiations, and the closing rate. It can be used as a standard for personnel evaluation and also helps to find bottlenecks.

Sales forecasting and forecast management

SFA tools have functions to visualize sales forecasts and actual results based on various criteria, such as by sales representative, by department, by customer, and by product/service. This makes it easy to compare forecasts and actual results, so you can smoothly measure the degree to which you have reached your goals.

Schedule and Task Management

The centralized schedule management function helps managers in sales management. It also enables more efficient collaboration by sharing schedules among sales representatives.

Task management helps each sales representative to focus on high-priority tasks, and can also be used for task management by managers.

Daily and weekly reports

Daily and weekly reports are functions that are built in to fit Japanese business practices. They are useful for managers to understand and manage the actions and results of each sales representative.

Aggregation and analysis reports

Some SFA tools even have the ability to analyze data and create aggregate reports using AI. Some SFA tools even have a function to analyze data and create aggregate reports by AI. It is possible to analyze the data from various angles, such as by product or area, and create reports, which is useful for preparing meeting materials.

The merit of introducing SFA tools is that they ultimately lead to increased sales and profitability by streamlining sales activities.

SFA tools have a wide range of functions that can help improve the efficiency of routine tasks, such as creating negotiation lists and quotations, and managing schedules. Also, by sharing information, it is possible to gain know-how from past cases and the actions of senior staff.

By visualizing the sales process, it is easier to get accurate advice from supervisors and managers, which leads to improved work efficiency. Salespeople will be able to spend more time on their core tasks, such as approaching promising customers and communicating carefully with them.

By recording the activities of each sales representative, it becomes easier to check business processes and find bottlenecks. By eliminating bottlenecks, sales can be expected to increase.

By analyzing accumulated information on deals and negotiations, it is possible to extract approach methods with high probability of success, thus increasing the reproducibility of sales. By sharing know-how within the company, it is possible to reduce the sense of personal strengths and weaknesses and to conduct sales without relying solely on the intuition and experience of individual salespeople.

If information is managed centrally with SFA tools, the burden on salespeople can be reduced because they no longer have to input information and create documents for each purpose.

SFA tools have many advantages, but in order to gain these advantages, SFA tools need to be used effectively.

The following are the three main points to utilize SFA tools.

Follow-up with sales staff

Even if the introduction of SFA tools will lead to more efficient sales and increased sales in the medium to long term, it is expected that there will be opposition and backlash when changing the system that they are used to.

Therefore, when introducing SFA tools, it is important to share the purpose of the introduction with the sales force to gain their understanding, and to provide training on the introduction so that all staff can fit in smoothly. Until they get used to the system, it may be necessary to encourage them to perform daily input tasks. It is also effective for managers to take the initiative and show them how to use the SFA tool.

Of course, it is also important that the SFA tool is user-friendly, so that salespeople themselves feel that it is convenient and well thought out. When choosing an SFA tool, be sure to consider whether or not the product has an excellent user interface.

Set and Measure KPIs

In order to effectively use SFA, it is important to set KPIs, which are indicators for visualization.

KPI is an indicator to evaluate the degree of achievement of goals. In the case of sales, KPIs include the number of visits, the closing rate, the number of sales projects, and the amount spent per customer.

When setting KPIs, the first step is to get the current numbers together, such as the monthly sales target, the price of the product to be sold, the percentage of appointments made through telephone calls, and the percentage of sales contracts made through visits, and then calculate backwards from there.

For example, if the monthly sales target is 100 million yen, the number of sales representatives is 10, the unit price of the product to be handled is 2 million yen, and the closing rate from a visit is 20%, the number of products to be sold in a month is 50. Since the closing rate is 20%, 250 potential customers are needed, and the target is 25 visits per salesperson.

By setting KPIs, you can clarify the actions to be taken, visualize the process to achieve the goals, and improve the motivation and capabilities of the entire organization by sharing the goals.

In order to achieve the set KPIs, it is important to check the progress accurately, and the SFA tool will check not only the amount of business closed on the dashboard, but also whether the number of business negotiations on the forecast (expected/prospected) has increased or decreased. Also, in the 1-on-1 meeting with the manager, it is a good idea to use the SFA tool to check the achievement rate against the target and the status of expected achievement.

Run the PDCA cycle

The effects of implementing SFA will not be immediately apparent. In order to improve sales efficiency and increase sales through the accumulation of data, visualization of the sales process, detection of problems, and improvement, it is necessary to implement the PDCA cycle while measuring the effects with KPI.

Companies that provide SFA tools also offer consulting services and training courses to assist you in the use of SFA tools. If you want to get the most out of your SFA tool quickly, we recommend using this service.

How to implement SFA efficiently

Let's take a look at the main functions of MA tools, the benefits of linking with SFA, and the points to keep in mind when linking.

Linking SFA tools and MA tools

By linking SFA tools with MA tools, it is possible to automate everything from the acquisition of prospective customers, which is the stage before the sales team comes into play, to the customer nurturing process and follow-up.

If a meeting is held but does not turn into a deal, or if the consideration is cancelled or the order is lost, the follow-up can also be automated, allowing you to maintain the relationship and approach the customer again.

For example, it is possible to detect when a potential customer who did not turn into a case has requested information on the website again, so that you can approach them at the right time and with the right content.

The main functions of MA tools are as follows.

<The main functions of MA tools are as follows>

Lead (potential customer) management function

MA tools have functions to centrally manage lead attribute data, behavioral data, and communication history.

Scoring function

When SFA and MA are linked, sales representatives can check the MA scoring information on SFA, and efficiently conduct activities when developing new business or re-approaching lost order lists. In this way, sales representatives can efficiently conduct activities when developing new business or re-approaching lost orders.

Email distribution function

MA tools are also equipped with an email distribution function that sends out information according to the purchase motivation of the lead and the area.

There are various types of email delivery tools, and there are also low-cost tools that specialize only in email delivery.

The first is that you can use the SFA tool for segmentation; by synchronizing all the information registered in the SFA tool with the purchase intent based on the scoring mentioned above, you can directly use it for email delivery segments.

In addition to relatively simple segments such as by prefecture, it is also possible to segment only those who have been checked as "potential" by the salesperson in the SFA tool.

The second is triggered emails. Triggered e-mail refers to a system that automatically sends e-mails to prospective customers based on their behavior. When a potential customer downloads a document from a website, loses an order as a result of a business meeting, or receives a phone call, you can send an email at the right time with a content that matches the behavior, referring to the registered contents of the SFA tool.

Internal alert function

When a prospect or existing customer opens an e-mail or engages in web activities, an alert e-mail can be sent to the sales representative. By setting various conditions, you can make the emails more attractive to your sales staff.

For example, if you have an annual contract with another company, and you have entered the renewal month information and the name of the service you are using in SFA, you will be able to receive very precise alerts such as "A customer is browsing the website for the renewal of xxxx service in x month.

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