What is SALES FORCE AUTOMATION?
A Sales Force Automation System (SFA), typically a part of a company’s customer relationship management system, is a system that automatically records all the stages in a sales process. SFA includes a contact management system which tracks all contact that has been made with a given customer, the purpose of the contact, and any follow up that might be required. This ensures that sales efforts are not duplicated, reducing the risk of irritating customers. SFA also includes a sales lead tracking system, which lists potential customers through paid phone lists, or customers of related products. Other elements of an SFA system can include sales forecasting, order management and product knowledge. More developed SFA systems have features where customers can actually model the product to meet their required needs through online product building systems. This is becoming more and more popular in the automobile industry, where patrons can customize various features such as color and interior features such as leather vs. upholstered seats. An integral part of any SFA system is company wide integration among different departments. If SFA systems aren’t adopted and properly integrated to all departments, there might be a lack of communication which could result in different departments contacting the same customer for the same purpose. In order to mitigate this risk, SFA must be fully integrated in all departments that deal with customer service management.
Sales force automation systems can also create competitive advantage:
As mentioned above, productivity will increase. Sales staff will use their time more efficiently and more effectively. The sales manager will also become more efficient and more effective. This increased productivity can create a competitive advantage in three ways: it can reduce costs, it can increase sales revenue, and it can increase market share. Field sales staff will send their information more frequently. Typically information will be sent to management after every sales call (rather than once a week). This provides management with current information, information that they will be able to use while it is still valuable. Management response time will be greatly reduced. The company will become more alert and more agile. These systems could increase customer satisfaction if they are used with wisdom. If the information obtained and analyzed with the system is used to create a product that matches or exceeds customer expectations, and the sales staff use the system to service customers more expertly and diligently, then customers should be satisfied with the company. This will provide a competitive advantage because customer satisfaction leads to increased customer loyalty, reduced customer
acquisition costs, reduced price elasticity of demand, and increased profit margins. Detractors claim that sales force management systems are:
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difficult to work with require additional work inputting data dehumanize a process that should be personal require continuous maintenance, information updating, and system upgrading costly difficult to integrate with other management information systems
Canon Marketing Japan Incorporated (Canon MJ), a core business of the Global Canon Group, provides customer solutions in three areas—business solutions, consumer equipment, and industrial equipment. In recent years, the company has focused on transforming itself into a provider of information services. As part of this transformation, Canon MJ implemented Salesforce CRM as its front-office system. The company integrated key data from 36 million customers with Salesforce CRM, and built a shared group database. Using this system, the company has mobilized sales to focus on key customers and manage opportunities with laser-like precision. Salesforce CRM is Key to Responding Rapidly to Changing Business Models In 2005, Canon MJ launched a company-wide project to reorganize its customer response processes. One of the most important themes for this project was building a customer database leveraging CRM and SFA. “At our company, we keep enormous amounts of data on our multi-function machine customers,” says Hiroaki Sasaki, business solutions administration director, and project manager for Canon MJ’s business solutions company. “However, that data was used for billing and maintenance, and did not satisfy the demands of a shared group CRM/SFA system.” In a market where competitive dynamics and business models are constantly changing, information that helps solidify customer relationships is the foundation of a business. If companies do not share information among different teams, customer service suffers. Inefficient servicing is also problematic from a resource distribution standpoint. For these reasons, managing customer data was a top priority for the Canon MJ. To create a customer database, the company had three choices--develop its own application, purchase packaged software, or use a hosted, cloud-computing solution. Developing its own application was not an option due to time constraints. The company estimated it would take two to three years, starting from gathering information on specific requirements to completing development. Furthermore, it would be difficult to satisfy all the diverse needs of multiple divisions within the company. Packaged software was also problematic because the company would have to depend on numerous systems engineers for customizations and ongoing fine tuning. The system would not be able to keep up with business requirements. Canon MJ determined that the cloud-computing model would best suit its needs; the company chose Salesforce CRM, the cloud-computing pioneer. Salesforce CRM Enterprise Edition was the only solution that had a flexible enough architecture to make changes for specific users or company divisions. 4
“We chose Salesforce CRM for three reasons,” says Sasaki. “The first was to satisfy many different business process needs. Although not immediate, we expected the need for upgrades. Secondly, we wanted a system that would run reliably. Lastly, we had an overwhelming number of users already, and wanted a system which translated their knowledge and wisdom into new functions. For these reasons, we decided implementing Salesforce CRM would be the smartest move.” “Each group company had created its front office system separately because each had different business processes," recalls Kimihisa Kotegawa, director, IT Systems, for Canon MJ. "In 2003, we integrated Oracle’s E-Business Suite (Oracle EBS) and unified areas such as orders and accounting, and the customer master database." It was Salesforce CRM's ease of customization that accommodated those different business processes. This was key for Kotegawa. Once he saw for himself how easy it was to customize the application, he became a strong advocate of Salesforce CRM. Says Kotegawa, “With Salesforce CRM, we can share one database, and at the same time satisfy each user’s needs by slightly adjusting the interface and logic.” The adjustments in interface and logic are a standard customization function available to users, so the IT systems division does not need to intervene. Salesforce CRM Integrates With Data on 36 Million Accounts in Core System Canon MJ integrated 22 file types managed by Oracle EBS with Salesforce CRM. The system is designed so the core system transfers data on customer information, maintenance agreements, sales results and authorized client terminals to Salesforce CRM. In turn, Salesforce CRM transfers data on sales opportunities to the core system, which then provides estimates and ordering processes. Over 36 million accounts are linked to Salesforce CRM through a tool called Data Loader, which updates customer information once every ten minutes, and sales opportunities once every five minutes. The core system and the data link use the Force.com Web services API. The company developed the system in approximately four months with five systems engineers who identified requirements and conducted all testing. “We did not create reports for defining business or systems requirements,” says Sasaki. “We developed the system working closely with users on a trial and error basis in a sort of ‘short story’ format dictated by CRM /SFA processes. Our needs change frequently, so and it didn’t make sense putting it on paper. This may seem like an arbitrary method from a systems developer’s point of view, but the process was quick, easy and smooth. It wasn’t really a problem. We developed the systems the same way we use Filemaker.” The front office system has the flexibility to support frequent business model changes. “When our needs change, front-office users can adapt to these changes. I like that flexibility,” adds Kotegawa.
Sales representatives in the field can also access Salesforce CRM from their mobile phones, and confirm their customers’ situations prior to sales calls. Since sales people can input reports and schedules via mobile phone, overtime work has decreased significantly more than expected. Canon MJ is now at the stage where sales representatives are testing reporting and scheduling functions. In the future, they would like to integrate activities information with sales opportunities and customer information to manage all opportunities in detail as well as streamline reporting. Furthermore, Canon MJ plans to implement a more coordinated marketing approach. “Our first phase is to manage sales opportunities in detail, and make our customer activities more precise,” says Sasaki regarding Salesforce CRM use. “Furthermore, we are planning to streamline our activities by improving communication speed and quality among the team. In our next phase, we want to use Salesforce CRM for strategies that a completely coordinated. Since we started using Salesforce CRM, we now see things that we could not see before, and I can now visualize things that I could not visualize previously. I expect great and interesting things for the future.”
Salesforce CRM Helps Canon Marketing Japan Integrate Data and Better Manage Opportunities Challenge
Canon Marketing Japan Incorporated (Canon MJ), a core business of the Global Canon Group providing business solutions, consumer and industrial equipment, required a new, centralized CRM solution to help it better manage opportunities. The company wanted to reorganize its customer response processes; Canon needed to integrate CRM with data on 36 million customers so information could be shared among multiple groups. Flexibility was key. Canon also desired a solution that could easily be adapted to fit the needs of different business groups and to address rapidly changing business requirements. The company required a solution that could be deployed and maintained with minimal IT resource requirements.
After it considered building its own application and purchasing an on-premise solution, Canon decided to implement Salesforce CRM instead. The company selected Salesforce CRM Enterprise Edition for its cloudcomputing model, ability to integrate with legacy systems, and reputation for reliable service delivery. Managers also appreciated Salesforce CRM’s flexibility and easy customization, and that the application could be extended to address business needs beyond CRM. Canon integrated Salesforce CRM with Oracle E-Business Suite to share data such as customer information, maintenance agreements, sales results, and authorized client terminals. Opportunity data is transferred from Salesforce CRM to Oracle to facilitate the ordering process. A proprietary tool developed using the Force.com API links more than 36 million accounts to Salesforce CRM. Custom interfaces enable different groups to access shared data through interfaces that best suit their needs. Users can easily make adjustments without tapping IT resources.
Mobile access lets reps view and edit key Salesforce CRM records from the road. The company is currently trialing reporting and scheduling functions. Canon managers plan to roll out Salesforce CRM Marketing, additional integration of activities with sales opportunities, and added reporting functionality in the future.
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Integrating customer information and CRM provides 360 degree customer views for more effective communications and better business planning. Detailed management of sales opportunities increases the number of quality sales opportunities and improves contract closure rate and group contribution. Easily customizable CRM interfaces drive high adoption rates without significant IT resource requirements. Mobile access to CRM has improved data collection and significantly reduced overtime hours.