Business leaders can all agree that time management is a crucial factor to increase sales. That being the case, sales force automation systems have become popular amongst salespeople who spend the majority of their time on other tasks rather than increasing their revenue.

With the help of sales force automation tools (or commonly known as SFA tools), sales teams can now afford to focus on growing their sales without worrying about the required administrative tasks that come along with it. In this article, we will discuss what makes sales force automation systems essential to companies that value their sales performance.

Sales Force Automation: Benefits and Features

Contact Management

The current customers are the company's best lead generators. For a business to grow, every present client needs to be fully engaged, supported, and well taken care of. The sales force automation system allows sales representatives to nurture their relationship with their clients through contact management without exerting too much effort.

The sales force automation system stores essential data from customer interactions and sales activities. With this, sales representatives can engage with their customers better by tracking their conversations and providing each one with a personalized experience.

Pipeline Management

The sales force automation system provides the sales team exclusive information about a potential client through pipeline management. This feature is useful to monitor the sales process starting from the general inquiry right on to closing the deal — it helps identify the company's weak spots, strong suits and determine the latest trends.

Task Management

To make a seamless sales process, sales force automation systems create a simplified and highly profit-driven workflow for the sales team. The settings can be customized to track all sales-related activities or follow up on a lead.

To sum it all up, a Sales Force Automation System or SFA tools are designed to construct a trouble-free workflow process for the sales team that will lessen the manual labor required in selling a product or service. The advantage of using this software is that it can be tailored to meet all the tasks needed in business operations that will increase sales. Some of the benefits to investing in an SFA tool is that (1) Increase productivity (2) Decreases costs of sales (3) Gain more data and information regarding your sales (4) Reduce response time (5) Keep records and collect data, and (6) Minimize human error and bias.

The main difference between the Sales Force Automation System (SFA) and the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is that they are used by companies for specific purposes. In a nutshell, the focal point of the SFA is on the sales process of products or services to existing clients and managing leads. The goal is to increase sales and enhance conversion by turning a prospect into a customer. CRM on the other hand focuses only on managing customer relations.

Sales force automation systems can be used for different tasks like (1) activity tracking and alerts (2) sales process automation (3) opportunity tracking (4) dynamic pipeline management (5) sales reporting (6) client prospecting (7) lead tracking and scoring (8) scheduling meetings and calls (9) collecting data from meetings and calls (10) deal management (11) sending outbound emails (12) request for proposals or RFPs (13) creating contracts and deals.

What is Sales Force Automation?

One of the most common dilemmas in the workplace is poor task management. A sales force automation system is designed to construct a trouble-free workflow process for the sales team that will lessen the manual labor required in selling a product or service. The advantage of utilizing SFA tools is that every sales-related data like contact management, task management, pipeline management, or sales and marketing forecasts can be found in one place. This simplifies the job for everyone involved and increases the overall efficiency rate in the workplace.

A perfect example is when the sales team is loaded with work, a task can be easily overlooked. The sales force automation tool improves the task management process by sending a reminder to the person assigned to follow up on a lead and book a meeting with them. On the other hand, it can also be programmed to send a follow-up message to potential clients that did not respond to the first action taken.

Another incredible feature is that the software keeps track of the company's sales status. It provides detailed analytics that allows the team leaders to monitor the metrics and pinpoint the strategies that work and don't work in their favor.

What is The Purpose or Advantage of Using Sales Force Automation Systems?

Investing in a sales force automation system is essential for businesses that consider sales and client relationship management as the backbone of their company. The more effort the sales team puts in to generate sales, the more likely they will have at least two or three more tasks to add to their workload. Situations like this will jeopardize the overall productivity and revenue of the company.

Sales force automation systems can be tailored to meet all the tasks needed in business operations that will result in an increase in sales. It compiles all the components of the company in a well-ordered manner to have a more consistent flow of information through various branches. Just by having this individual system, companies can manage their sales structure better and allow them to make data-driven decisions to improve their sales process.

Benefits of Sales Force Automation

Increase Productivity

When manual tasks are automated, it eliminates the additional labor added to the daily task of the sales team. This will allow them to focus all their energy and time on creating bulletproof strategies or meeting with potential clients.

There are also some SFA tools that can be used in smartphones to maximize the sales representative's productivity. This feature grants the user easy access to a client's information, sales verification, or company campaigns with just a few clicks. Users don't need to open their computers to retrieve essential information when it can easily be pulled up in their devices.

Decreases Sales Costs

Time-consuming manual tasks hinder the growth of the company's revenue.

When the selling structure is automated, the process becomes quicker, more reliable, and efficient.

SFA tools can help save hours and hours of the sales team's time and decrease sales-related costs by creating a seamless, revenue-driven process that makes every salespersons' performance even better.

Gain More Data and Information Regarding your Sales

Possessing a sales force automation system can provide exclusive insights that can help the sales representatives and sales managers create a strategy that will increase their sales reach in the future.

An SFA-driven solution will give the team leaders each of the clients' data and purchase history that will serve as a basis for the company's next business agenda.

Keep Records and Collect Data

The moment a potential customer lands on the company's website, the sales force automation software immediately gathers every essential information about them. The system tracks the products they look at and what they keep going back to. It creates a profile that can help enhance the on-site sales performance of the company.

Reduce Response Time

The sales process itself is made easier not only for the sales representatives but also for the customer. Given that the customers' information is already available in the system, sales force automation partnered with conversational AI's can respond to a customer in a snap. Having consistent, fast, and reliable customer service will increase the customer satisfaction rate in no time.

Minimize Human Error and Bias

Even the smallest human error can piss off a potential customer. For example: not attending a meeting on time. It's clear that these small factors caused by human errors and biases can greatly affect the likelihood of making a sale. With sales force automation systems, it will minimize involuntary human mistakes to maintain a professional image to the clients. Remember, keeping your customers happy means more revenue for you.

Sales Force Automation Systems vs. Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)

The main difference between the two is that they are used by companies for specific purposes. In a nutshell, the focal point of the Sales Force Automation (SFA) is on the sales process of products or services to existing clients and managing leads. The goal is to increase sales and enhance conversion by turning a prospect into a customer.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) on the other hand focuses on managing customer relations. It refers to the advanced technologies and strategies the company uses to monitor their interactions with the customers. It provides detailed reports on how to retain customer satisfaction without offering the full functionality that helps the sales team manage and maximize their sales. The objective is to improve the relationship between the company and the customer.

Sales Force Automation Systems Pros and Cons


With the assistance of the sales force automation system, the sales team can easily develop reports and graphs instead of manually collecting the information from multiple platforms and encoding them into the spreadsheet.

The SFA tool has statistical features and analytic tools that the managers could use to examine various information and data about the latest marketing trend, new products, and their competitors in just a few minutes.

Advanced sales force automation models provide the team leaders access to the sales productivity report. They could monitor the revenue per sales district, income per salesperson, and the total number of phone calls made per day, and how much they cost. It also provides an overview of the clients' accounts and complaints.


SFA tools that have all the best features are expensive. This discourages small and medium business owners to adapt to a highly advanced technological field. Transitioning to an advanced platform with a budget restriction would make it harder for these businesses to thrive.

Several automation systems are more complex than they need to be. It takes time to get the whole team onboard and familiarize themselves with the tool. This demands more active training on the managerial side.

If this software is not onboarded to the team properly, miscommunications can happen. This could result in multiple representatives getting in touch with a specific customer for the same purpose.

Customer Relationship Management Pros and Cons


Getting access to customer-centered information based on first-hand customer interactions enables the company to form a clearer picture of who their primary and secondary customers are and what pleases them. This provides insights on who the most profitable market is and a strategy on how to get more clients like them.

The CRM system maximizes every client opportunity, especially if it's paired with the SFA tool. When these two are integrated into a marketing campaign, it enhances the overall sales experience of the client without taking too much of the sales team's time.

A huge advantage that comes along with the CRM software is that it is remotely accessible. It allows the company to make use of the benefits through several geographical locations. The sales team will be provided the facility they need to spend time with their current clients and leads.


The CRM software is an extremely reliable system. Although, if a salesperson depends too much on the software, it limits their flexibility in dealing with different customer queries. When faced with questions that aren't in the system, the representative becomes helpless and this will leave a bad impression on the client.

There are CRM models that come with an automatic backup system, but not all of them have this feature. Technical problems related to interrupted server connections and unstable internet connections is one of the main causes in losing all unsaved data.

Automated responses are without a doubt faster and more efficient but they can take away the human element in it. A perfect example is when you talk to a recorded message over the phone, the robotic responses still cannot compare to human interactions.

SFA Tools vs. CRM Tools

SFA Tools

CRM Tools

Automates manual sales process

Stores all the customers' activity

Focused on increasing the company's revenue

Monitoring the company's support and services

Tracking and scheduling meetings with a client or lead

Storing important client data

Provides measurable goals and target for each sales representative

Tracks every customer transactions

Simplifies pipeline management, customer management, and task management

Provides insight on how to improve customer service

Use Cases for Sales Force Automation Systems

Activity Tracking and Alerts

The SFA tool allows the sales teams to keep track of their current situation with specific customers while making sure that they are taking the best steps to increase conversion. More importantly, the tool sends automated alerts to the salesperson if the next step required to make a sale needs to be done right away.

Sales Process Automation

The SFA tool automates the most tedious part of the sales process — emailing every client and lead. The system sends out the emails on behalf of the user and records the client's response directly to the customer relationship management software.

Opportunity Tracking

Manually tracking every leads' actions and engagement with your products and services is impossible to do consistently without the help of SFA tools. The SFA system can monitor and prioritize the leads that are the most beneficial for the company and keep track of the new potential ones.

Dynamic Sales Pipeline Management

The sales pipeline management is customized to alert the sales team whenever a lead moves on to the next step of the pipeline. By simplifying this task, it delegates the next steps to take for those who are involved.

Sales Reporting

Accomplishing a sales report that is based on the reliable metrics from the SFA tool is a huge win for managers that want to monitor their sales team's performance. This will give the management an advantage when they analyze the performance of each member of the team and create well-structured plans that will further improve the company's sales performance in the future.

Client Prospecting

With the help of the SFA system, sales teams can easily point out who are the best market leads by monitoring their engagement with the company. The best example is when they browse the products and services available on the website or on social media platforms. This will help the team leaders distinguish which ones should be the primary and secondary target market.

Lead Tracking and Scoring

Distinguishing who the valuable leads are based on their identification (business firm, location, role in the company) and by monitoring their course of action on the companies' website, the SFA tool will send a notification to the sales representative the best time to reach out to them.

Scheduling Meetings and Calls

Sales force automation systems can post the key salespersons' calendars on the company's website or social media pages on their behalf. This will make the process of booking a meeting or scheduling a call with the representative a lot easier for the clients.

Data Collection from Meetings and Calls

Gone are the days when you have to manually input the data you collected from a client meeting or call in the system. The sales force automation system will collect and automatically import every essential information directly at the CRM system on your behalf.

Deal Management

With the help of sales force automation systems, recording phone calls, emails, and handling contact management and order management will require little to no effort on the representatives' side. The SFA tool monitors every deal made with each client and provides a detailed recommendation list the sales team can pitch next.

Outbound Emails

Setting up an email campaign manually is extremely monotonous. The SFA system helps reduce the number of work hours each sales representative puts into manually sending emails. Automating email campaigns that send out personalized messages to specific clients once they've done a desired action saves time and enhances customer service efficiency.

Proposals and Requests for Proposals (RFPs)

One of the sales processes the SFA systems can automate is the Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The RFP process is a project funding announcement posted by the company for which other companies can place their bids. The sales force automation system will track the results and collect the important data.

Creating Contacts and Deals

Users can construct a ready-to-go email agreement template with the sales force automation system and send them automatically to the leads who met the standard once an opportunity arises.

How to track customer engagement

Sounds great, right? I know, but where can you start with this information?

Let's begin with an overview of ways you can track/assess customer engagement. We will first define the following terms, and follow-up each definition with an explanation of why it is an important metric.

Bounce rate — the percentage of visitors who leave (or “bounce”) after visiting the first page of a website without entering further or taking action

This can act as a great indicator of how strongly your website is motivating visitors to find out more, explore your brand and offerings, or make a purchase.

However, keep in mind that the relevance of this particular metric to your brand is dependent on the organization of your website and the flow of the purchasing process. A high bounce rate is not necessarily bad in all cases, nor is a low bounce rate the only sign of success.

Guest checkout rate - the percentage of customers who complete a purchase without registering/creating an account

While it may be optimal to have your customers create an account with you in order to communicate more effectively, keep them up-to-date, and maintain that relationship, it has been shown that allowing guest checkouts can decrease the cart abandonment rate, the percentage of people who leave the site without making a purchase after putting items in their cart. The rate of cart abandonment is surprisingly high, as shown in the graphic below (from SalesCycle) indicating the average cart abandonment rate by industry:

Average cart abandonment rate by industry. The percentage of checkouts that are abandoned before completion is surprisingly high, and could be an indicator of what you can improve the streamline the checkout experience. Graphic by SalesCycle.

While forcing guests to create an account can increase the likelihood of cart abandonment, customers with an account are more likely to return and make another purchase.

A common approach combining the best of both worlds is to always offer guest checkout, but to include an offer at the end of the process for the customer to “save [their] details for faster checkouts in the future” or “sign-up to make sure [they] don't miss out on exciting new products and promotions. Making the sign-up process as quick and painless as possible at this point will increase the chances of the customer being willing to do so. Other benefits you can tout include enhanced ease of tracking orders, streamlined customer support, and rewards or loyalty programs.

Purchase Frequency — how often your customers make a Purchase

Knowing the average time it takes for a customer to return for their next purchase means that you can launch marketing campaigns, sales, or effective messaging tactics during this interval to remind them or show that you're paying attention. You may even be able to shorten this interval, but at the very least you will gain insight into how engaged they are; something that works as a great starting point to determine appropriate (read: effective yet respectful) next steps for that particular customer.

Growth rate in social interactions — increase or (hopefully not!) decrease in likes, shares, and comments on social media platforms over a given period

Growth in social engagement is a strong indicator of brand equity and customer engagement. If you're garnering more attention on these frequently used platforms, chances are that more people coming in to check out what you have to offer.

Study the tactics of successful brands. It's not always necessary to reinvent the wheel, and there have been many great examples of expertly designed social media contests and promotions that have driven huge increases in sales.

Cross-platform engagement is an even stronger indicator that a particular customer is really interested in what you are doing.

Customer reviews — reviews left by your customers, either directly on your sales channels (i.e. your website, Amazon, etc.), or on Google or your brand's social media pages such as Facebook

These are a great reflection of what your customers think about your product or service, and serve a dual purpose in helping other customers make their own choices. Tracking this metric, both quantitatively (average ratings, rates of increase in reviews over time) and qualitatively (specific likes/dislikes, and especially direct feedback regarding how you can improve) gives you valuable insight into how engaged your customers are, as well as what you can address to improve customer engagement by being more attentive to any shortfalls in the customer experience you offer.

How to engage customers: Develop a customer engagement strategy

Now that you know why customer engagement is important and what you can monitor to assess how you're doing, how can you use all of this information to the benefit of your brand and your current and future loyal customers? In other words, how can you increase customer engagement? You'll want to devote some time to developing a well thought-out customer engagement strategy. You most likely have some degree of strategy already in place, even if you've never thought about it in these terms. The optimal method for increasing customer engagement will depend largely on your specific products/services and your customers' needs. Identifying it may take some time, and it will likely (even should) be a dynamic/iterative process. Nonetheless, this is time well spent, and is absolutely sure to pay off if done well.

With that said, we are now going to cover the essential concepts to keep in mind when developing and revising your strategy. You can use the points from the list below as a checklist to guide and assess the development of your customer engagement platform. Most importantly, don't get overwhelmed. Be realistic, work toward incorporating these aspects at a pace that's healthy for your business, and be sure to monitor periodically to understand how it's serving you and your customers!

Engage. The strategy should focus on making it simple for your customers to get involved in the evolution of your brand, to the point that they can't help but become advocates

If customers feel that their needs/feedback are being incorporated into product developments, and are excited for what's to come, they will follow your brand and develop a sense of trust that will make them more likely to hype you up to people they know.

Relating this back to the previous section, you can encourage customers who have made a purchase as a guest (without an account) to make an account, with incentives for doing so. In that way, they will be connected more closely to stay current with updates or offers you may wish to send their way.

Engaging customers across multiple social platforms is another way to keep them excited and up-to-date. It is simple to link content between different platforms, and you can leverage giveaways, tag-a-friend promotions, and other interactive and engaging content to incentivize customer interactions with your brand through these publicly visible channels.

To go a step further, don't forget to respond to your customers. Remind them that you're people too, that you appreciate them and their investment in your brand, and that you're there for them, listening to their feedback and being excited about their enjoyment of your products or services. After all, they are the reason your brand exists!

Define your customer journey

Think like one of your customers. Identify the primary need, the emotional factors involved in a decision to purchase, and try to be objective about the customer experience you currently offer and what can be improved to make it more personalized.

Identify points of interaction

From where do your customers arrive to your points of sale? Are they seeing ads on Instagram, are they clicking over from Google searches (were these searches for your brand or one of the products you offer in general?), or are they typing in your online store address directly

Understanding the dynamics of how people come across your products can help you strengthen the main avenues to become even more attractive and effective, and make sure you aren't wasting time trying to attract people from the wrong places or in ways that simply don't work.

Monitor customer interactions with these various points of interaction. This will give you further feedback regarding the success of promotions or campaigns and how your brand's reputation or popularity is developing over time, and will be extremely useful for planning and acting accordingly to stay up to date with trends and demand.

Observe behaviour in real-time

This refers to the concept of interacting with the customer with appropriate context. In a face-to-face interaction, there is much more information available for you to use to interact appropriately with a customer. In the digital world, this is slightly more challenging. However, you can infer many things about a customer (their personality, motives, needs, etc.) based on their interactions with your various platforms.

From that point of enhanced understanding, you can then communicate in a timely and relevant manner. Today's world is extremely fast-paced, and if you extend that helping hand at just the right moment, it might be exactly what the customer needs to feel seen and thereby enhance their trust in your brand.

You can also closely observe how individual customers interact with your platforms, watching for things such as how long they spend on the site, whether they are comparing products, if they complete a purchase or leave items hanging in the cart, whether they simply look at your social media accounts or take action by liking, sharing, etc. All of this information can help you better understand their inner workings and how you might be able to assist or motivate them to act further.

Offer personalized service

This is closely related to the previous point. Try putting yourself in your customer's shoes, and then ask yourself what would help you make a decision or complete a purchase — “Was I lacking information, did I need help with something, or what could have worked as the final push for me to follow through? Does the competition offer something more suited to my needs, or that is more attractive to me? Would they treat me better?”

There is plenty of data that can help you learn about your customers, and adding that personal touch of attention/assistance/understanding is what will make you memorable to those who were on the fence (and help your loyal customers remain that way).

A great example of action on this point is setting up a chat window that pops up automatically if the customer is displaying certain behaviors such as hanging on the same page for an extended time, going back and forth to the cart, etc. You can define and decide when it's appropriate to offer assistance, without being pushy or disruptive to their experience.

For offers/promotions/campaigns — Observe how many prospects accept the offer and take action 

If you have started a new offer or campaign, the rate of positive response can be a perfect hint at what works and what could be improved.

Use this information in an iterative and perpetual journey of improvement. If an offer wasn't popular, try to go into the minds of your customers and find out why. Make sure your offers are timely (i.e. seasonal products), enticing (no one is going to get too excited about a 1% discount), and relevant (to current trends, destined to the appropriate audience, etc.).

Feel free to leverage some behavioral science! FOMO, or fear of missing out, for example, can be strong motivator. No one wants to fall behind the trend or miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

For offers/promotions/campaigns — Observe how many of the engaged users bounced without taking action

Consider engaging these customers to find out if they needed help or further incentive to follow through with their purchase.

If an offer was not popular, then this should be a good indicator that something needs to change. Use all of the data at your fingertips to find out how you can improve for the next one, and don't get discouraged.

Be realistic; you can't expect to sell everything to everyone all the time. Celebrate the successes, and be motivated to stay ahead of the competition and have the happiest and most loyal customer base.

Be open to feedback

While it can feel harsh, criticism can be your best friend. As applies as a general rule in life, don't take it personally. Use it as the tinder to your company's fire of constantly improving, excelling, and staying one step ahead of the competition.

To take it one step further, respond to the feedback you receive, whether positive or negative. Your customers will appreciate it, and new prospective customers will notice as well. This is another win-win tactic, offering that personal touch and attention, and at the same time getting free publicity.

Customer engagement best practices

Get to the point

We live in a time of hurry. Be concise and crystal clear with your messages. Such messages are not only easy to understand and retain, they're also more enjoyable to read, and people appreciate you respecting their time.

Keep your communications action-oriented. The idea is not to bother your customers with irrelevant information, but to spark action by hitting the right triggers and drawing a clear path to the checkout.

Adopt a personal tone

You can probably easily ignore a robot that keeps annoying you, but you wouldn't ignore a friend, right? Using a personal tone makes your communications feel more authentic and thereby your customers are more likely to respond positively.

At Ada, you can personalize the in-chat experience by using personalization tokens, images, gifs, and videos.

Make it relevant

There is already enough spam in this world; you don't want to be added to the list of spammers. Messages need to be relevant and appropriate for the individual customer.

Consider using segmented messaging, a strategy based on grouping your target audience into particular sub-groups based on any number of factors, including age, gender, prior purchases, location, or even aspects such as values and beliefs if you have access to that information.

With communication that is appropriate to the particular customer with whom you are interacting, you can help ensure that they resonate with your messages and thereby increase the likelihood of meeting their needs and leading to an eventual sale.

Consider cultural differences

Be aware of cultural differences that may impact your ability to sell into a specific area. It pays to be aware of the demographics to which you are marketing, as you don't want to offend or alienate potential customers, let alone suffer from the potential repercussions of an unhappy customer who had a bad experience.

Be aware of the timing of your message. We have touched on this already, but timing is extremely important. On the more obvious side, we could say that it would not be overly useful to offer promotions on a new line of premium Christmas decorations in January. On the more subtle side, however, the more you know about your customers, the more likely it is that you can hit them with that promotion or offer just at the time they are looking to fulfil that need.

Speak consistently

Create a company style guide to make the tone and voice of all your employees consistent.

Relating this back to the concept of personalization and the customer-brand relationship, we can see the brand as a person, or at least an entity with a particular personality that its customers enjoy interacting with. A person and their personality are defined by specific traits and characteristics, so if a customer gets an entirely different experience every time they reach out or interact with your brand, it's not going to be conducive to nurturing that personal relationship, and you will lose out on the benefits of a customer feeling emotionally connected to your brand.

This also helps you build your brand reputation and make future customer engagements more consistent — if someone feel ecstatic about their experiences with your brand, when they tell their friends about it, those friends will be able to have a similar experience and understand what their friend was so stoked about.


The primary goal of customer engagement is to foster a sense of emotional connection to your brand; a personal relationship between your customers, considering their needs and feedback, and your brand, with all it has to offer them.

We have covered a lot of concepts in this article, but remember not to get overwhelmed. Grow your customer engagement strategy step-by-step, seeing each progressive development as a win. Remember to treat your customers as people, and to get them to want to be an ambassador for your brand. Stand apart from the crowd by offering increasingly personalized and relevant service, resulting in a following of loyal customers who can't help but speak highly of your brand and your products. The graphic below may help to visualize the process, from capturing your customers' attention amidst all the information and offers available (at the top), to securing them as a loyal and happy personification of your brand's success.