The 2015 CRM Market Leaders: Sales Force Automation

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The sales force automation market continues its shift toward mobility, as salespeople seek convenient ways to access data and analytics on the go. Research from Frost & Sullivan indicates that the prepackaged mobile SFA market is expected to rise from $1.84 billion in 2013 to $4.13 billion by 2018. As cloud-based solutions become widely available, "small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) [will be convinced to] try mobilized SFA," says Jeanine Sterling, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

Increasingly, sale reps are pressed into service on tasks outside their job description, such as researching prospects and generating leads, which takes them away from more important duties (like selling). A priority for organizations of all sizes is to reduce the amount of time sales reps spend on data entry. As marketing, sales, and service technologies become more aligned, salespeople will be able to make better use of their time, and as a result, "we will see selling time going up," says Jim Dickie, managing director of CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global.

Dickie adds that "a small but growing number of companies are creating applications to help salespeople do comprehensive needs analysis, configure solutions, generate proposals, [and] process orders." As such capabilities become more widely available to sales teams, "mobile [adoption will] explode," he says, as "that type of functionality helps salespeople actually sell."


Bpm'online scored well in cost (4.1), though, like Zoho, it rated comparatively low in depth of functionality (3.7). Leslie Ament, senior vice president and principal analyst at Hypatia Research Group, points out that the vendor is "particularly strong in underserved industries such as real estate, financial loan origination services, and distribution manufacturing."

Oracle earned high marks in depth of functionality, scoring an impressive 4.4. Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of Nucleus Research, says that Oracle's robust Sales Cloud gives the vendor "the fullest SFA capabilities," including incentive compensation, analytics, and coaching, among other features. Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, lauds the improvements Oracle has made to its Fusion lineup over the past 24 months, noting that Oracle is "starting to win new logo deals [and] convert [the] Siebel base." Oracle scored low in company direction (3.5), though, which suggests the vendor needs to better communicate its plans for the company"s diverse product line.

Despite Salesforce.com's relatively high cost, the vendor managed to firmly secure a spot on this year's Sales Force Automation leaderboard. The company posted one of the highest functionality scores (4.4), largely because of the wealth of add-ons provided through the Salesforce AppExchange. Dickie says that customers "value the fact that integration work has been done for them by Salesforce and their partner network." Salesforce.com also scored high in direction (4.3) and customer satisfaction (4.0). "The investments Salesforce is making [in user interface] with SFA, as well as its Wave capabilities, bode well for a strengthening position in SFA-only or SFA-led decisions," Wettemann says.

Zoho earned a very high score for cost (4.6), as it "continues to improve its offerings and [provide a] good cost-to-value ratio," Wang says. Ament adds that Zoho's affordability and flexibility make it an ideal SFA and CRM solution for small to medium-sized enterprises.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM snatched the top spot from Salesforce.com this year, earning strong marks in company direction, customer satisfaction, and cost. Nucleus Research's Technology Value Matrix for the first half of 2015 notes that Microsoft is "adding support for greater collaboration between sales and marketing." Microsoft users' access to its large portfolio of products and Office 365 confers a big advantage, and analysts also praise the Parature acquisition. 


SugarCRM posted its best score (4.1) for cost; John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), notes more generally that "[the SugarCRM] platform has evolved considerably, with larger enterprises using the tool and finding rich functionality and low ownership costs." This suggests that medium-sized companies looking to grow could find SugarCRM a cost-effective solution. Wettemann notes that "SugarCRM is having success with customers that still want significant customization capabilities and the ability to leverage it as a platform."  

[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]

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