SFA technology must shift its emphasis from facilitating administrative tasks to increasing salesperson effectiveness, according to the recent Yankee Group report “Sales Force Automation Must Close the Gap Between Administration and Effectiveness.” The report is based on a survey of 500 marketing and sales executives from various industries on the performance of different SFA technologies, and found that SFA has been very successful at reducing the time that salespeople spend on administrative tasks—which accounts for the majority of the respondents reporting positive SFA performance. However, according to the data, salespeople spend only 16 percent of their time on administrative tasks, as compared with the 42 percent they spend actually selling and preparing to sell.
Salespeople are not primarily concerned with administrative tasks but rather with tasks directly related to facilitating their sales, according to Sheryl Kingstone, customer relationship management program manager and author of the report. While sales methodology tools and sales and marketing portals are most successful at increasing revenue per salesperson and improving win rate, Yankee’s data reports that salespeople rank improving effectiveness, increasing the rate of deal closure, decreasing costs and improving solution selling as their major concerns. Administrative tasks are marginal. For an enterprise to truly benefit from SFA solutions, the solution must facilitate salespeople’s stated needs.
According to the Yankee Group, SFA technologies, thus far, have only slightly reduced costs for enterprises and have done little to increase sales rates. “There are ways to add niche solutions that add complementary technologies to SFA and allow companies to provide more support to salespeople,” says Kingstone.
The report details how salespeople use their time during the day, as well as what they consider their pressing needs. “Too often, companies purchase a sales force automation system without understanding their company’s sales processes,” says Kingstone.
—Robert A. Bryn