Sales Force Automation vs. CRM Software: What’s the Difference?

woman typing on laptop researching the difference between crm vs sfa software

What is sales force automation in the context of CRM? Sales force automation (SFA) is a specific type of CRM (customer relationship management) software, used primarily by B2B companies to support sales teams by managing the data and tasks involved in lead generation, opportunity tracking, sales activity, etc.

On the other hand, the most common type of CRM software for B2C companies supports customer engagement in their contact centers and is quite different from sales force automation tools. It tracks information such as customer profiles, purchase history, and behavior data, to enable personalized marketing and customer service.

Primary Functions of SFA CRM Software

In general, sales force automation CRMs are used by sales departments. Their primary features include:

  • Providing actionable goals and targets for each sales team member
  • Recording cold calls and lead generation activities
  • Storing contact information
  • Scheduling and tracking appointments
  • Managing pipelines, opportunities, and workflows

Primary Functions of Customer Engagement CRM Software

Customer engagement CRMs, on the other hand, are used by customer service departments and contact centers, and offer services such as:

  • Storing account data and e-commerce transactions
  • Creating customer profiles based on purchase history, behavior data, demographics, and more
  • Monitoring service and support interactions
  • Tracking responses to sales and marketing campaigns
  • Providing a contact center desktop and related tools
  • Gathering voice of the customer (VOC) information

This type of CRM can also integrate with call center solutions like telephony, as well as software for knowledge management, social media management, marketing automation, and much more.

A Practical Look at SFA vs. Customer Engagement

Take a look at the following real-world examples for a better understanding of how your company might use customer relationship management software (based on a list developed by sales consulting firm Priority Solutions).

Customer Engagement CRM

Attracting new customers can be up to seven times more expensive than keeping existing customers. CRM software provides tools for building relationships with customers to increase retention and drive loyalty.

Marketing and customer service departments can use the software to answer questions like:

  • Has the customer registered their product or asked for support to set it up?
  • How many times have they contacted you about the same issue, what were the results of each interaction, and which channel(s) did they use?
  • Is the customer a loyalty program member?
  • How do customers feel about your new product?
  • Should you be aware of any trending topics that might indicate a potential crisis?

Sales Force Automation CRM

The key word in SFA is “automation”—it streamlines processes, helps sales teams work together better, and ensures you’re working with accurate information.

Sales departments can use CRM software to answer questions like:

  • What is each salesperson’s target this month, and what progress have they made?
  • What responses have you gotten from the latest cold-calling campaign? What worked and what didn’t?
  • Who will take over a specific lead when it moves from cool to hot?
  • What’s the most up-to-date pricing, including active promotions?
  • When is a salesperson scheduled to meet with a specific customer?

Which Solution Do You Need?

As you can see from the questions above, CRM solutions for sales force automation vs. consumer engagement are very different tools. And determining which one you need depends on a variety of factors. You can start narrowing it down by asking yourself the following questions:

Do you need to keep better track of service interactions, monitor the effectiveness of your sales and marketing campaigns, and gain a deeper understanding of who your customers are? If so, you should invest in a customer engagement CRM.

Do you need tools to help your sales team measure performance, improve processes, and optimize every lead? If so, you should invest in an SFA CRM.

Integrating CRM Solutions

But unless you’re a small company or just starting out, it’s likely that you need features from each of the two types of CRM software. It’s a common situation, which is why so many vendors offer a solution that combines the two, or ensure that their software can integrate with others’.

For example, Astute’s CRM is a fully loaded customer engagement solution that’s designed to work in contact centers. It can integrate easily with SFA CRM software (as well as other CRM types like marketing automation and e-commerce). Learn more and request a demo today.