The CRM market is mature and the subsection of that market focused on sales, sales force automation (SFA), is even more mature. This market has lumbered along for the past 20+ years, but the dynamics between buyers and sellers today has brought upon the need for a new evolution. We’ve included 10 vendors in the Forrester Wave: Sales Force Automation Solutions, Q2 2017 who have initiated and are driving the next evolution of sales via CRM.


Why now?

Today’s buyers’ experiences are being shaped by the digital tools around them and experiences the have in all aspects of their lives. And although everything would be done via self-service in an ideal state, the fact of the matter is that just isn’t feasible in today’s world. So what are we left with? We’re left with buyers who have heightened expectations working with sellers who are left leveraging outdated technology.


What does this evolution look like?

It’s time for companies to look at SFA through an entirely different lens. This means the focus of new investments must be made based on the needs of your customer engagement professionals on your front line: your sales reps. For far too long your sellers have been overburdened and under supported, and the impact is your customers notice because the experience is not up to their needs.


How does this evolution happen?

There is no magic wand to wave and transform your sales technology strategy into one marked by employee and customer obsession. In our evaluation, we saw the following three trends stand out to help improve both the employee and customer experiences: 

  • SFA delivers experiences to support new and emerging sales roles. There is no singular role of salesperson. In today’s world, sales roles can include sales development reps, account executives (field and inside), customer success managers, sales operations, and many more. These solutions are building out experiences that deliver against the needs of each of these roles.
  • AI starts to shape the buyer-seller dynamic. With names like Einstein and Watson making their name in the mainstream, buyers almost expect AI at this point. Every vendor has something to share with regards to AI, but few have a track record of being able to drive valuable recommendations like next best actions or offers, detect potential opportunities, and proactively determine the likelihood of winning a deal.
  • SFA must have an ecosystem to fill its gaps. SFA will not become a seller-focused technology overnight. These systems will need to support an ecosystem like Salesforce’s AppExchange where customers can select, provision, and connect third party solutions to SFA to deliver a richer experience for sales reps.


Have a look at our evaluation to determine whether your SFA approach will enable you to support the future needs of sales. Feel free to comment below or on Twitter (@john_bruno) and let me know your thoughts.