Choose the best fit: CRM and sales force automation are not the same thing

Choose the best fit: CRM and sales force automation are not the same thing

CRM and sales are pretty synonymous in most people’s minds, but that doesn’t mean that CRM and sales force automation are the same thing!


CRM – or customer relationship management – and sales force automation (SFA) sound like they do the same thing, but while the two platforms might have some things in common, some overlap, they have very different purposes.


So what’s the difference?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a process that businesses use to administer their interactions with customers, using data analysis. This is usually an automated process – a CRM system will compile data from a range of different communication channels, such as the organization’s website, phone, email, live chat, marketing materials and even media.


The goal of CRM is to help companies to learn more about their target audiences and how to best cater for their needs, and the CRM platform is usually used by employees who grow the company’s relationship with existing clients.


A sales force automation (SFA) system, however, is a tool to make salespeople’s lives easier, and to run their processes more efficiently. SFA automatically records all the stages in a sales process. It might include a contact management system, to track all contact with a specific customer, as well as sales forecasting, order management and product knowledge.


So while it’s important that these two platforms talk to each other, they have different goals and are typically used by different teams within a company.


What CRMs can and can’t do

Good CRMs are a kind of company library – they store all of your client information, and if the data is well analyzed, they can help you to gain a good understanding of your customers. But there are many things they can’t do – for instance, they can’t manage, measure or maximize the performance of your sales team.


In fact, as many as a fifth of companies in the market for sales force automation already have a CRM platform – but it’s not giving them the functionality they want. They’re a great source of intelligence about current customers, but they don’t help the reps out in the field.


What SFA can do for you

Great sales force automation is a custom solution built specifically to facilitate smoother, more streamlined sales activities. And there are five broad services SFA offers, according to SiriusDecisions:


  • Lead management

  • Account management

  • Contact management

  • Opportunity management

  • Reporting


Here’s how SFA is different from CRM: it’s about increasing revenue generation through empowering the sales team rather than nurturing customer relationships. Great SFA will increase your sales reps’ productivity, streamline your sales processes, help you to communicate better internally and externally, reduce the burden of manual admin and reporting, and change sales (micro)managers into team coaches.


It’s “both/and” not “either/or”

Another major CRM vs. SFA misconception is that you need one or the other. The reality is that they work well together, and work best if they are integrated. That way companies can provide valuable, current, and useful information to both their outside sales teams and other customer-facing employees – which means happier staff, happier customers, and all-round improved service and revenue.


If sales reps understand which customers are unhappy with the sales process and why, they can do better in future, and target their approaches to the right kinds of prospects. And if customer success teams know what happened in the run-up to the client signing on the dotted line, they can manage expectations better, and onboard and retain clients more satisfactorily.


Of course, different companies have different platforms, and their sales teams have different needs. That’s why Skynamo’s field app is designed to integrate seamlessly with most CRM systems and finance packages to give your reps all of the information they need while out on the road, in the palm of their hands.


Comparing SFA and CRM might be like comparing apples and oranges, but if you understand the unique purpose of each, and how they can work together, harnessing their power can really take your business to the next level.



Are you looking for the best SFA compliment to your CRM needs, or simply want to explore your options further? Get in touch with Skynamo today and we will walk you through the options that can help you empower your field sales team and understand your customers better.