Sales force automation (SFA) systems are information systems used in customer relationship management (CRM) marketing and management that help automate some sales and sales force management functions. They are often combined with a marketing automation system, in which case they are often called CRM systems.
The more customer data you get and store, the more your organization needs a tool to automate workflows, communication, data collection, and analysis. Have you ever faced such issues as losing a deal because you simply forgot to follow up or wasting precious time searching for the files before calling the prospect?
If this sounds familiar to you, then sales automation can be an answer to these miseries. Based on data found on Instapage.com, automation is proven to boost sales productivity by 14.5% and reduce marketing overheads by 12.2%. It can lead to a 30% increase in deal closures, an 18% reduction in the sales cycle, and a 14% reduction in sales administration time.
All automation systems fall into three main categories: those designed for marketing, sales, or service. However, they shouldn’t be confused with CRM systems.
Initially, CRM systems served for centralized data storage, contact management, or reporting. They encompassed a wider range of feature areas compared to automation tools which also existed as purely stand-alone systems. However, now, most CRM system vendors offer product suites with integrated marketing, sales, and service automation tools as well as pre-configured fields, objects, and workflows.
For example, in Salesforce, these product groups are called Sales, Marketing, and Service Clouds.
If you want to learn more about the Salesforce product family and its ecosystem, jump to our blog post: What is Salesforce?
This article will dwell on solely sales force automation and review the most popular CRM solutions with their functionality. And also cover:
- What are sales force automation and its purpose?
- What are the features of sales force automation?
- Sales force automation weaknesses
- Top 3 Sales Automation CRM comparison: Salesforce Sales Cloud, Zoho, and Pipedrive
What is Sales Force Automation and Why Your Business Needs It Right Now
Let’s disclose what Wikipedia says about sales force automation systems:
Put simply, sales automation helps your team free up more time and resources by streamlining recurring, time-consuming manual sales and prospecting activities.
For 25 Years in CRM consulting business, we’ve dealt with the top sales management solutions like SalesLogix, Act!, Goldmine, Salesforce, and MS Dynamics 365. But’ve chosen only two of them: Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, for strategic partnership. Here is why
Purpose of Sales Force Automation
The key purpose of Salesforce is to sell more in less time by preventing contacts from slipping out of your funnel. Thanks to sales force automation, you can remove time sinks by streamlining lead nurturing, sales routing, and task tracking.
A CRM with sales automation features makes your entire sales process seamless, and you don’t need to dig through emails or chase down your past activity. It empowers you to manage everything from a single platform and see a complete lead’s history or entire sales pipeline.
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Functions of Sales Force Automation
Sales automation in CRM is in charge of:
- Recording the stages of a sales process,
- Sales lead tracking,
- Sales forecasting,
- Order management,
- Product knowledge.
It is closely intertangled with contact management systems that monitor all contacts that have been made with a given customer, the goal of the contact, and if any follow-up is required. Automation software guarantees that you won’t contact the same account twice and won’t annoy your customers.
Sales automation systems vary significantly in their functionality and complexity. Some can be easy to set up and manage but limited in seats and customization capabilities. Others can be flexible in terms of customization and business sizes they can serve but are difficult to implement and manage without professional help.
There are thousands of sales automation technology providers, but both enterprise-level and SMB solutions have these features:
- Contact management automation
- Lead management automation
- Communication automation
Besides that, your systems help you automate:
- Lead segmentation by location, the product/service of interest, and other criteria
- Lead prioritization by probability to close
- Sales alerts by specifying lead activity
- Record creation
- Activity logging
- Task assignment
- Data entry
- Data analysis
- Report generation
- Sales research and forecasting
In today’s market, the cornerstone aspect of any automation technology is its capability to integrate with other solutions to supercharge its fundamental potential. Its agility ensures its complete adoption across various departments that have already established their own processes with selected technology products.
What should be highlighted is that sales automation can’t substitute human interaction with qualified leads. Also, it can’t guarantee an automatic increase in sales numbers just because you use it. But, definitely, the sales automation systems will be paid off if you use them intelligently.
Remember that no software is perfect, so a dynamic sales strategy is a must for effective operational actions.
Sales Force Automation Weaknesses
As with any activity, there can be too much of a good thing, and there always should be a place for hyper-personalization and critical thinking. Unfortunately, even the best solution on the market is still a solution that can’t replace human relationships and involvement in communication. Otherwise, all the interactions will be too robotic and artificial.
So, if you are just bombarding all your clients with the same automated emails, you’ll be dragged down the slippery slope and never achieve high conversion rates. People appreciate you treating them as individuals. If you put too much into automation, it will be easily spotted and your reputation may be ruined.
Top 3 Sales Automation CRM Overview
Your CRM platform is the lifeblood of any sales-related activities. Without CRM, you can hardly keep the whole system working.
Common Sales Automation CRM Types
Based on the key features, sales automation CRM fall into the following categories:
Operational CRM – these systems allow automation and optimization of sales, marketing, and customer service efforts. Thanks to them, you can simplify tracking the customer journey down the sales funnel and remove all the roadblocks.
Analytical CRM – This type of CRM solution is designed to collect and organize data for further analysis. With this detailed analysis, you can create more in-depth reports, place them on custom dashboards for regular tracking and make more informed business decisions based on accurate and updated data.
Collaboration CRM – As implied by the name, this platform focuses on improving and synchronizing communication across sales, marketing, and support teams.
This classification, however, is rather vague because modern CRM solutions usually combine all these tools and represent an all-in-one platform for sales and marketing teams.
Sales Automation in CRM Benefits
Sales automation CRM has a myriad of advantages. The most noticeable ones are:
- Building a complete customer profile (including information like Full Name, Job Title, Social Profiles, Phone Number, specific for your business information, buying signals, etc.)
- Keeping all customer records in one place
- Unifying communication channels
- Centralizing task and document management
- Quotes and proposal automation
- Automated follow-up sequences and task creation
- Automated approval management
- Transparent activity tracking and monitoring
- Simplifying report creation, editing, and sharing.
- New team members onboarding and in-app guidance
Besides that, sales performance automation in CRM has the following benefits:
- It cuts down expenses on manual workforce
- Sales automation CRM increases the quality and accelerates the speed of lead generation as a result of better distribution of sales resources and improvement of sales staff’s performance
- It enhances the customer experience via syndication of the contact info and offering the most personalized solution in a matter of minutes
- Such platforms help to ensure that your leads won’t fall through the cracks and improve the quality of data and tasks performance
- This solution helps to forecast sales rates based on deal & sales funnel stats and spot the gaps in the early stage
- Automation software enables the collection and precise database segmentation
- With the help of such systems, you can be sure that your data will be consistent across your departments
Now, let’s jump to the overview of the top 3 best CRM for sales automation.
1. Salesforce Sales Cloud
Salesforce Sales Cloud is a multifunctional CRM solution for sales agents. For several years it’s been recognized as the #1 CRM platform and geared the world’s top teams of all sizes, industries, and geographies. Together with a top-rated sales automation CRM, you get access to a 2 million supporting community of platform fans, industry-specific apps on AppExchange (Salesforce app store), an education portal (Trailhead), and unlimited guides, tutorials, and best practices from Salesforce and its consulting partners.
Salesforce is everything your business needs to manage the sales processes effectively. It centralizes all your customer data sources with automation tools and makes your CRM a heartbeat of all your sales and marketing operations. With Salesforce, you can easily automate task management and simplify organization, tracking, and nurturing your leads.
You can forget about tiresome activities like prospect outreach or scoring lead conversion probability and direct your energy on nurturing business relationships instead. Salesforce Sales Cloud is designed specifically for sales teams to increase their productivity and performance quality.
Watch a short demo of the Salesforce Sales Cloud:
This sales automation CRM has limitless capabilities as a mix of the powerful CRM platform and comprehensive automation tools.
Salesforce Sales Cloud core features are:
- Contact management
- Data management
- Document management
- Reports and dashboards
- Sales process automation
- Account, Contact, Opportunity, and Lead management
- Lead registration and scoring
- Sales forecasting
- Workflow and approval automation
Salesforce offers almost infinite infrastructure and integration opportunities with over 3,500 free and paid ready-to-install apps on AppExchange.
For example, if you need to boost your email marketing efforts, Sales Cloud can be further enhanced through the integration with other Salesforce products like Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Pardot, third-party apps from AppExchange (e.g. with Mailchimp (solution for mass email marketing or Ascendix Search (advanced Salesforce search and reporting tool)), or other not listed solutions via custom coding or integration solutions like Zapier.
Here is an example of how to use the Ascendix Search tool for effective data management in Salesforce:
All types of Salesforce integration services and ways how to syndicate systems within the platform are described in our Salesforce Integration Guide.
Moreover, Salesforce partners like Ascendix can build custom tools to smoothly sync with your Org or adjust it to your needs through configuration or customization. Learn in greater detail about our Salesforce integration and Salesforce App Development services.
“ Extremely versatile; user friendly; the mobile interface is great; great admin-oriented automation platform with Process Builder and Flows that don’t require developers to use; connectivity with many things and fantastic ecosystem in the app exchange. So much help is available on the web since it’s such a widely used platform.
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We will help you to implement Salesforce in your organization, train your team, and ensure they adopt it. Request a consultation.
In our blog post “Salesforce Pros and Cons: The Bright and Dark Sides of a CRM Market Superhero,” you can find about Salesforce advantages and disadvantages according to customers’ opinions and how Ascendix helps maximize your CRM investment.
Salesforce Sales Cloud pricing starts at $25 user/month and can reach up to $300 user/mo. However, after the trial period, you’ll have to pay not on a per monthly basis but for the whole year upfront.
More about the license cost of the key Salesforce products and their editions you can find in our Salesforce implementation cost guide.
2. Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM is another best CRM for sales automation on the list. It is a cloud-based, integrated customer relationship lifecycle management solution that serves the needs of businesses and industries of various sizes and types.
Zoho CRM key features include:
- Contact management,
- Automated sales funnels,
- Pipeline management,
- Task management,
- Workflow automation,
- Reporting & analytics
- AI-powered conversational assistant,
- Sales forecasting.
Here is a more comprehensive overview of Zoho CRM:
Here is a Zoho CRM user’s feedback of this sales automation software:
“ Zoho fields are very customizable and additional fields are easy to use - allowing you to organize your information in a variety of ways and in the most efficient manner for your use. Overall the CRM has a lot of robust capabilities.
We've run into a lot of issues with Reporting. You can only report on certain things at a time. For instance, we are a website development company - we can't report on the domains we manage and their account owners at the same time - meaning that our Domain entries have to hold duplicate information as the main account information to pull the information we need. ”
Compared to Salesforce’s Sales Cloud integration capabilities, Zoho has much more limited offerings and can sync with only 500+ business apps.
Besides offering a free version of the CRM solution, Zoho has 4 pricing plans ranging from €14 to €52 user/month (all the prices are stated in Euro and GBR only, so if you’d like to specify licensing cost in US Dollars, you need to contact Zoho directly). Similar to Salesforce Sales Cloud, Zoho CRM subscriptions are paid annually.
Learn how we can help with migration from Zoho CRM to Salesforce
Pipedrive is one more sales automation CRM choice designed to enhance Leads and Deals management, centralize relevant client information, and arrange deals in pipelines to adjust the stages and fit them into the sales cycle.
Pipedrive CRM Key Features:
- Lead, deal, and sales pipeline management
- Data import and customization
- Document and contract management
- Workflow builder with triggered automation
- Reports and dashboards
See Pipedrive CRM in action:
Pipedrive CRM can be linked with 275 business apps, and currently, it is app integrability maximum.
Pipedrive Pricing goes from $12.50 per user per month (billed annually) for an Essential Plan and goes to $99 per user per month (billed annually) for an Enterprise Plan. The free trial – 14 days.
Here is what Pipedrive user thinks about this CRM as a sales automation software:
“ Pipedrive has a really simple filtering system, with various team members being able to create their own custom filters, then share them (or keep them private). This is incredibly useful and easily converted into data that's transferable to Sheets or Excel with minimal effort.
The main downside of Pipedrive lies within the interaction. If your marketing/sales stack uses a lot of tools and programs, it can often be difficult to get automation processes working with Pipedrive. Third-party and custom solutions exist, but these can become frustrating - especially when dealing with 2 programs, to begin with. ”
Ready, Set, Automate!
Sales automation tools help you nurture and follow up leads in the right way without annoying them and understand better their purchase behavior and intent. Such technology gives you the power to pre-empt their next move and adjust your sales strategy accordingly without wasting much time on testing your hypothesis.
If you are on the hunt for the best sales automation software, Ascendix will help you:
- Identify how your sales objectives can be met with automation platforms
- Select the best sales automation CRM edition and/or additional automation tools to maximize its benefits
- Assess your software for extending sales automation capabilities
- Migrate to Salesforce Sales Cloud or other Salesforce product suits from your current solution
- Migrate from Sales Cloud to another Salesforce solution or link them together
- Re-implement or recover your Salesforce instance
- Set up the chosen solution, configure or customize it based on your needs
- Optimize reports & dashboards features of your CRM tools to analyze the input and output standards of your current CRM to modify the further course of actions
- Tune the workflows to fill the gaps in the solution operations
- Supervise all uncertain environments and the processes to eliminate all the solutions problems before they occur
Still battling with low sales numbers and spending too much time on contact chasing and lead nurturing? Contact us, and we’ll tell you how to overcome your challenges!
Anzhelika specializes in B2B content marketing and has in-depth expertise in promoting the company's products and services through high-quality content. On the Ascendix Technologies blog, Anzhelika shares her insights of Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM tips & tricks as well as overviews of new CRM tools and technology trends on the market.
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