Choosing Your SFA

Through my subscription to cool US rag Selling Power, I got an enticing offer to read all about the 100 key questions SFA consultants are paid to ask, courtesy of one of the plethora of crm vendors; Entellium.

Was this was an innovative angle in the tired marketing world of crm, or was it merely re-pumping an old trombone? So I downloaded. I’ll try an make this next bit as objective as possible. Mainly because someone, somewhere, probably fairly junior, sweated blood and tears, more than likely a lot done in their own time, to craft this. And endeavour is something I always approve. As for impact? Geez. Here’s the twelve categories into which questions are sorted:

  1. Solution Depth & Deployment Options
  2. User Interface
  3. Activity Management
  4. Marketing Capabilities (getting bored yet?)
  5. Customer And Contact Management
  6. Lead Management
  7. Sales Process And Opportunity Management
  8. Tracking Revenue And Forecasting (please stay awake)
  9. Business Intelligence And Reporting
  10. Document Management And Collaboration
  11. Set-up And Customisation
  12. Support & Help

I wonder what the compiler’s target market is? The only people that would think in these terms, or more pertinently, feel thinking in such terms right, would be precisely the people that render most sales software installs disasters. Namely marketing or IT guys. And it’s not their fault, after all, they are not paid to understand ‘sales’.

I’m bashed and bruised through seeing literally hundreds of sales force technology implementations go sour. Nowadays I’m mainly a close-by observer without a vested interest, but occasionally it’s my kit involved and let me tell you, following the checklist in the above categories would not have made a slight bit of difference.

I really believe the technology-based approach of the above is folly. Chief Exec Benioff himself when presenting clearly doesn’t feel features and technobabble are important. Knowing that many of the people that sign his orders like that kind of thing means they will talk such nonsense of course. But, and call me old-fashioned here, any implementation of anything, whether it’s a pro forma spreadsheet or a million dollars worth of bespoke hand crafted code, that doesn’t have the CSO’s stamp on it is doomed. And one way to get this focus, is by asking a different set of questions:


  • How Will It Make Me Money?
  • How will it reduce my sales cycles and increase my close ratios?
  • Which one closest resembles my guys’ routines?
  • Which one will save them the most time?
  • Which one will encourage my guys to use it the most?
  • Which one can I live with the smallest number of keystrokes being used in?
  • When my boss asks me how we’re doing, which one can give me the best answer with the minimum clicks?

I could go on, but you probably get the picture.  I’m off for a “Klippies & Coke” to wind down and wonder when England will ever be able to play one-day cricket 🙂

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