CRM vs. SFA: understand the difference and find out the best solution for your business

This is a common question: Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are the same thing? If not, how do they interact with each other?

The two systems do not play the same role in companies, each having its function. However, the truth is that some developers actually use the two terms in a similar way, or create softwares with feature sets that lend each other functionalities. This causes a lot of confusion for the customer, who sometimes ends up acquiring a CRM that has SFA functionalities or vice versa.

One of the main differences between Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is that while the SFA looks at the entire sales process and tracks all salespeople’s efforts, especially in the final stretch of the sales process, CRM already works totally focused on the customer itself. In CRM, the total focus is on the customer. In SFA, the focus is the sale.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

CRM has become one of the most prominent enterprise management softwares. Even in its early versions, when it was still unsophisticated, it was already possible to recognize its qualities to manage customer service. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has always been a customer-focused tool, and focuses primarily on the relationships between a business and its consumers.

One of the most classic functions of CRM is the customer profile detailing. Many softwares have been adapted to present dashboards – with a detailed insight into customer preferences and actions – that are consulted by call centers attendants as they talk to the consumer himself. This makes the company save time and allows a much more assertive service.

Another important function is the history, an extensive report with client behavioral data and your purchasing information and contacts with the company. Everything is stored in individual accounts to help the salesperson understand the true customer’s motivations in relation to the business.

SFA – Sales Force Automation

The way the SFA works is part of an entirely different strategy. Analyzing each company’s sales process, it seeks to automate many steps that used to be done manually. Sales Force Automation (SFA) addresses logistical issues and practices involved in generation of leads, negotiation, and closing sales.

The main point to note is that SFA and CRM originally have platforms with different sets of features.
As already mentioned, CRM is customer-focused. Therefore, many of its key features include different customer profile tools, focused on both obtaining and maintaining and tracking its communication. The idea is to know more about what it has to say at every possible point of contact with its company.

However, what would be a unique feature of SFA?

It actually needs to be thought of as a set of features for seamless management of sales processes. These solutions can provide pricing tools, call center functions, or even workflow management features. Often they monitor the sales funnel and help make operations more transparent while implementing automation functions that eliminate the complexity of manual intensive sales maintenance actions.

These are just some of the technologies delivered by the SFA. It is not a CRM, it’s a much more comprehensive sales support. Much of its resources are focused on in-house operations, tracing quotas and aiding sales competition. Overall, the SFA makes sure the business is doing everything possible to increase its profits with effective sales force management. The primary benefit of SFA solutions is the substantial increase in sales force productivity.

Working with both platforms in an integrated way demands a lot of care in the time of purchase. Several companies sell CRM and SFA solutions with similar names that can confuse the consumer. At this point, it is better talking to your supplier and ask for details on each solution.

Carefully analyze your company’s need and purchase the platform that best suits your reality. You may notice that you need more than one SFA with some CRM functions or that you want to work integrally with both platforms, but separately. Find out what kinds of tools will be most useful to your business and good sales!

By Marcos Póvoa, CEO of MC1 Win The Market

Brazilian multinational focusing on business intelligence processes using technological mobility solutions. Present in more than 21 countries with field team management solutions for sales, trade marketing and services.

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