The Fragmenting SFA Ecosystem

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Sales organizations, for the last couple of decades, have used sales automation (SFA) to manage account and contact data, sales pipelines, territories and more – all inside-out capabilities that help optimize their productivity, The problem is that today, customers control the conversation that they have with companies. Customers increasingly demand effortless sales interactions that increasingly trend toward self-service. They demand interactions tailored to their particular industry, pain point, and profile. They want streamlined interactions that value their time, such as a simple, efficient quote-to-order process or a contract renewal process.

Today sales organizations struggle to provide sales experiences in-line with customer expectations. They cant:

  • Support buyers on their terms. Buyers increasingly leverage mobile touchpoints, self-service, and digital channels to interact with companies which sales organizations cannot support.
  • Get sales representatives to follow consistent processes. Sales managers have sales reps of different calibers, and they must up-level a team’s performance. Also, without a consistent sales process that clearly articulates conditions for the different stages, managers can’t accurately qualify their pipeline. This affects forecasts, valuation, and profitability.
  • Personalize conversations with stakeholders. Sales reps don’t have near real-time information about their prospect’s company or industry or about a particular stakeholder to make conversations more relevant. They may not understand relationships between stakeholders that are involved in a purchase. They often lack insight about the effectiveness of sales collateral for different stages of the sales journey.
  • Maximize revenue. Sales teams may leave money on the table if they lack historical insight about acceptable discount thresholds for similar customers or past contacts with the current customer. They can’t increase deal sizes if they don’t know how customers have historically purchased products together or how they use current products to deliver value
  • Increase productivity. Sales reps often spend too much time on manual tasks that take away from selling. Often, they can’t access CRM data in the field or build a comprehensive profile of an account.

So what have sales organizations done? They  have built up an ecosystem of applications around core SFA that extends the power of core SFA and allow sales organizations to better support the modern buyer. These apps are lightweight cloud solutions that address a specific pain point or a subset of pain points that sales organizations face. No single solution offers the needed breadth of capabilities.

Forrester classifies the extended sales ecosystem solutions into eight categories. They include: sales content management; configure-price-quote (CPQ); contract life-cycle management (CLM); partner relationship management (PRM); sales performance management (incentive compensation, territory management, and sales productivity); sales acceleration (productivity, predictive analytics, and prescriptive analytics); market intelligence; and customer success.

What does this mean? You need to choose technologies from the extended sales automation ecosystem carefully to support the various roles within a sales organization. Look at standardizing a set of solutions across roles and do not allow rogue purchases by individuals that create data siloes that the broader team cannot leverage.

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