Sales reps frequently comment that entering contact information, as well as updating and adding tasks and activities in a sales force automation (SFA) system, can be arduous and time-consuming. SFA vendors have taken notice. This year, a core focus area for SFA vendors has been to enhance sales rep productivity to allow more time for core selling activities. In fact, as we evaluated the major SFA vendors through client interviews, vendor briefings and surveys, we noted several productivity features that are new to the marketplace:

Sales Force Automation Vendors

Voice data capture.

Since speaking is typically faster than typing, reps may be more inclined to enter customer interaction data using their voice, especially when they’re working with a mobile device. Allowing sales reps to create and update contacts, tasks, opportunities and notes through voice interaction removes the burden of having to manually record sales activities.

Automatic mobile call logging. 

Automatic call logging is a valuable and time-saving feature that enables field sales reps to capture their daily interactions with leads, contacts and opportunities on their mobile device. After opening a record and placing the call within the mobile interface, sales reps are prompted to log their interactions after completion of the call. The system populates the corresponding lead, contact or opportunity record in the database, and the sales rep has the opportunity to provide additional information before and after the call has been logged.

Email integration. 

Although this is not a new concept, native integration with email and calendar applications enables sales reps to use the full functionality of their SFA applications (e.g. creation of leads, contacts, accounts and task reminders). Today, email senders are automatically recognized and converted to leads, opportunities or cases by the SFA. Additionally, calendar appointments can be created and synched with SFA data.

Increased sales rep productivity is a trend we expect to see moving forward. For example, dynamic guided selling (a concept highlighted by Mark Levinson at our annual summit) will require SFA platforms to become interactive tools that proactively deliver data-driven insight in real time, enabling sales reps to sell more efficiently and maximize the time they spend with buyers.