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Five Reasons Why Your SFA Implementation May Fail


Importance of a Sales Force Automation solution in any sales organization is no longer a topic to be debated on. It’s a no brainer that if implemented rightly, it not only enhances productivity of the sales team, but also provides major input for many strategic decisions to be taken up by the company.

Five Reasons Why Your SFA Implementation May Fail
Importance of a Sales Force Automation solution in any sales organization is no longer a topic to be debated on

But the last ‘if’ is an important one and deserves some serious thinking. As per some independent researches, failure rate of such implementations is alarmingly high – anywhere between 50 per cent to 70 per cent depending on the geography. And we all know what it means if an IT initiative fails in any organization.

So, it goes without saying that it is very important for us to know why an SFA implementation may go wrong so that necessary preventive measures can be taken well in advance. Here we have listed down five most important factors based on our experience of managing numerous SFA implementations across different industries and geographies.

1. Lack Of Long-term Vision And Objective

While the bullet point above may sound very cliché, most of the times a decision to implement SFA is taken without having a definitive answer for the question ‘Why’. Companies are not sure about their end objective – do they want to police their sales team or they want to enable them with a tool that will make their life easier or they want to utilize the data collected from the point of sale to make important decision? There are many examples where even though sales team is capturing order from the retailer using an SFA, they are informing distributors about the order details using some other channels as well. What’s the point of asking sales team to punch in order data in an SFA app, if the same is not integrated with a DMS solution or at least if distributors are not intimated with a summarized email containing order taken from different retailers?

2. SFA Is Not A CRM Solution

While a CRM system is primarily designed to help sales team sign-up more customers, an SFA is more about tracking end to end sales of your existing customers right from order placing, inventory check to fulfilment and payment. An SFA integrated with an DMS is basically transforming your business for the future. However, in pursuit of tracking sales reps with some sort of geo-tagging, many times it is decided to implement an SFA while all that was required was a CRM solution to track life cycle of deals.

3. Bottom-up Approach For Driving Adoption

To ensure sales team is using SFA mobile app, their KPI is set with the parameters related to data reporting using SFA. But these KPI parameters are not rolled up to their supervisors or higher-up and that’s a gross mistake. It’s very critical that senior leaders drive adoptions and facilitate change management.

4. Poor Master Data Management

More than 50per cent of IT implementation failures are because of poor quality of master data and SFA is not an exception. An SFA solution is going to be as good as the master data going into it and the longer you ignore data issues, the more complex the clean-up can be. And it’s not just about the data, but the data structure also. Important data structures such as number of levels of product hierarchy that you want to capture, number of different store attributes on which business team may want to slice and dice the data are to be answered in the very beginning. Data concerns and data integrity must be taken seriously, otherwise it may jeopardize the entire implementation on a later date.

5. Lack Of Focus On Training and Support

This is one area that many companies put in a back seat and that’s a perfect recipe for a disaster. Success of an IT implementation depends on the end-user adoption which in-turn depends on how comfortable they are using the system. As far as SFA is concerned, it makes more sense if the trainings are interactive (either classroom or through video-conferencing) with live demo of the system. It’s also very important to have an ongoing and effective support available for the end users to immediately resolve all the teething problems in the initial days and any other issue going forward.

In summary, it’s prudent to spend some more time prior to the implementation to finalize the nitigrities rather than hurrying into things which may lead to negative ROI and many other pains. It’s all about asking right set of questions and then brainstorming to find out right answers. That’s what is required to make your SFA implementation successful!!