Sales Force Automation (SFA) is a computerized system for tracking sales leads, sales, service requests, and other sales-related information. The primary tools of sales force automation are the customer’s contact record, a sales opportunity form and sales stages with milestones for easy tracking.
Implementing SFA is challenging. On average, it takes three tries to successfully implement a new SFA software system. Approximately 80% of first time efforts fail. Why is it so difficult?
1. Failure To Analyze Existing Processes.
An operating sales team has imbedded processes that are hard to change. Analyzing these existing processes is an essential first step. You have to know where you are to know where you’re going. Fix the wholes in the existing process before you implement a new one. Putting good processes on top of bad processes won’t solve your problems. Spend time to map out the existing process. Understand your gaps and where improvement is really needed.
2. Not Enough User Involvement
Resistance to change is the number one problem with implementing new sales software or improvement programs. It’s hard for people to change their routines and habits. About 20% of sales people push back hard. They’ll literally quit if forced to change. About 60% of sales people resistant but will change slowly. The remaining 20% are ready for change and are willing participants. Getting the users involved is a requirement. Create awareness of the initiative and then provide the necessary knowledge to see the benefit of the change process.
3. The Information is in Their Heads
Like all of us, sales people tend to manage their business in their heads. Only the sales person knows the details of existing sales relationships and opportunities. Identify ways to get necessary information out of a person’s head and into a digital format so it can be used. For example, sales people typically keep customer data in their heads. Filling out a new contact form is often considered tedious and time-consuming. If a sales person has 300 contacts, it’s going to require some time. Use a card scanner to easily input basic contact information. It maximizes the rep’s time.
4. Running Before You Walk
Sales force automation is always more complex that people realize. It’s only after the fact that people see how much is really involved. Implementing a new automation system in a few months always sounds good but it’s not the reality. That’s why it’s a good idea to run a pilot project. Setup a test of a new system and give it a trial. See how people respond and where challenges lie. It’s very insightful. It creates a positive environment for change.