The newfound enthusiasm for SFA has led to strong interest in augmenting their basic functionality. Near the top of the wish list agenda for SFA users is analytics. Managers and executives believe that knowing more about pipeline status, order patterns, success rates and other metrics will help them achieve their two highest sales priorities – increasing revenues and enhancing sales effectiveness.
Here's a table that indicates some of the most popular SFA augmentations on the short-term priority list:
Source: Ventana Research
Don't think that a 61% satisfaction rating means that everything is peachy keen in the world of SFA. The rise of SaaS and several other factors has led to some data integration challenges. Finding sales-related information – RFPs, RFIs, proposals, PowerPoint decks and the rest of the stuff in the 21st century Willy Loman's briefcase – is often a major headache, along with the integration of an organization's ERP data with a cloud-based SFA.
"Making it easier to synchronize data among applications is one of the top three issues companies face," Smith says. "Everyone is enamored with the usability of cloud-based apps, but they forget about the synchronization."
Another impediment is the Frankenstein monster in the room (Full disclosure—I borrowed this idea from Ventana, which is using this image in its upcoming survey presentation). The majority of organizations continue to use spreadsheets to manage their sales operations, at least occasionally. And almost half of the survey respondents say "reliance on spreadsheets made it difficult for sales to manage efficiently."
The Ventana poll indicates that the reliance on spreadsheets as a SFA tool is declining, but the pace is glacial. It will take decades to fix this.
Let's hope it takes less time than the improving of SFA.