Justify SFA With Business Process Reengineering

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How’s this for justifying an SFA project: “We’ll use business process reengineering (BPR) to ensure that the new SFA application increases sales productivity by 5%.”

So you go to the head of sales, saying that the new software will make your 100 salespeople 5% more efficient, meaning you can fire five of them, or increase everyone’s quotas by 5%. The trouble is, no head of sales is going to get very excited about that, and if you pursue either option, you’ll upset almost everyone.

The Sales Sponsorship Shortfall

In such situations, more sales leadership is required. To paraphrase one business luminary: “If I fired someone every time new technology was going to make them redundant, I’d have no one left.” In other words, sales leaders need to see the bigger picture, not least of which involves understanding how better SFA will not only benefit the business, but sell the project.

Furthermore, when it comes to justifying a new SFA project, there are only three approaches: wait for a breakdown, support a business transformation, or use business process reengineering (BPR) to maximize results by increasing productivity. That makes BPR the optimal approach.

For other parts of the business — besides sales — BPR is already widely embraced. Implement a new management system for $500,000 that saves $300,000 in inventory carrying costs per year, and everyone’s happy. Ditto for implementing new financial management software that bills customers three times more quickly. But when it comes to using BPR to justify SFA, projects too often hit the shoals, principally because sales VPs fail to support the endeavor.

Enter Business Process Reengineering

With those challenges in mind, using business process reengineering to justify SFA requires mastering these four strategies:

1. Take the long view. With SFA, you need a 5-year ROI model, to allow benefits to accumulate over time. Most companies settle for a 3-year ROI approach, and that’s fine, as you’ll typically achieve ROI in that timeframe. But you might also scare away the sales team, because the timeline is aggressive enough that you’ll be asking the VP of sales to assume more risk.

For example, say your company books $100 million in sales per year, and is talking about investing $500,000 in SFA, adding up to $1 million over five years, including all add-ons. Would you rather face an ROI horizon of five years, or just three? Unlike the VP of manufacturing, who typically doesn’t take home less pay based on how they manage inventory, the VP of sales will be putting their own paycheck on the line over SFA. It’s no surprise they’ll be more risk-averse.

2. Create a cross-business vision. Having a longer project timeframe makes SFA projects easier to justify, because it gives you more time to link in other departments. Determine how SFA will help enhance service, product development, or targeted marketing. Ease the BPR justification pressure by always detailing how SFA will help the organization at large.

3. Study sales productivity. I can’t tell you how often I hear this: “If we make our salespeople more productive, won’t they just spend more time on the golf course?” My answer is, maybe you’re right. So, let’s also take away all of their cell phones and iPads, and give everyone quarters for the payphone.

Work with me, people. If you don’t have lead-eating, money-focused sales reps who conquer new accounts before breakfast, then you have much bigger issues to worry about, starting with sales leadership. Otherwise, take the time to review research on sales productivity. Understand what SFA can truly enable.

4. Take a leap of faith. At some point in the SFA justification process, you’ll just have to jump. There are so many variables involved, many of them outside of the direct control of sales or IT groups, that at some point, you must go with your gut. Furthermore, SFA programs always get ranked lower by the finance group than other business systems, such as inventory management. Accordingly, sales leaders — with a coherent justification plan in hand — must be ready to demand SFA.

Bank Uses BPR To Justify SFA

How does justifying SFA by using BPR work in practice? One financial services firm, for example, thinks it has a competitive advantage because its entire team works from inside one facility, located in a historic city neighborhood. The firm wanted to retain that approach. But at the same time, the business was growing and adding more clients. Accordingly, it needed to increase sales efficiency.

To help, Innoveer applied its sales excellence framework to enable the firm to rationalize its sales program. Innoveer’s assessment isn’t predicated on just increasing productivity, say by 5%. It also digs deeper to study an organization’s effectiveness at the five core competencies that make SFA programs excel. Likewise, it assesses whether any breaks exist between these practices.

With the results of this analysis in hand, the financial services firm identified, and then bolstered, two below-average sales competencies, as well as links between its sales, marketing, and service programs. As a result, the firm found new ways to make its existing sales force more effective, and avoided having to hire more people and expand into new offices. All it took was vision, and a bit of reengineering.

Learn More

What’s the next, best step for your organization’s SFA program? To answer that question, take our SFA program quiz, which is built using our benchmarks of the CRM practices of hundreds of companies. We’ve used those best practices to build Innoveer’s CRM Excellence Framework, which identifies where your current SFA program excels, or needs work.

For more on justifying SFA, see the first part of this two-part post: 3 Techniques Alone Justify SFA.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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