The Best Sales Force Automation (SFA) Software and Solutions: The 2022 CRM Industry Leader Awards
Grand View Research valued the global sales force automation (SFA) software market at $7.3 billion in 2019 and predicted that it would reach $13.8 billion by 2027. Fellow analyst firm Market Research Future projects the market value to hit $18.7 billion by 2030, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 10.6 percent.
Key to this dynamic growth is the increasing availability of cloud deployment options that are making solutions more affordable and manageable for smaller companies. Cloud deployments currently make up more than 60 percent of all SFA rollouts, and those numbers are only expected to rise.
Larger enterprises had held roughly a 60 percent share of the market, but those numbers are starting to even out as more small and midsize firms see the advantages to be gained from SFA technology.
Among the biggest use cases is sales forecasting, which gives leaders a real-time view into past and current trends to help reps capitalize on growth opportunities. With developments such as Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, sales forecasting applications are expected to be enhanced. The market is also seeing rising demand for predictive lead scoring and smart recommendations.
The Top Five
The SFA portfolio within Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 was already quite impressive, and with the software giant’s launch of its Viva Sales add-on in June, it just got a whole lot better. Ray Wang, founder and chairman of Constellation Research, calls the Viva Sales add-on “a joy to use for most customers wanting to help salespeople, not managers.” But in gaining that edge in usability, Microsoft hasn’t scrimped on features and functions. “Advances in conversational intelligence and activity management are helping keep the platform current with the expectations of the marketplace,” says Jim Dickie, a research fellow at Sales Mastery. Kate Leggett, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, agrees, adding that “Microsoft very effectively showcases how analytics transforms selling,” particularly in the areas of territory planning, forecasting, pipeline inspection, relationship insights, account health, engagement frequency, and coaching.
Some have called Oracle’s new Fusion Sales a departure from traditional SFA approaches, but that doesn’t seem to be hurting product sales. In fact, a new user interface, automated proposal and quote management, and integrated AI-driven coaching and recommendations are “driving greater productivity and effectiveness for sales teams,” says Rebecca Wettemann, founder and CEO of Valoir.
Most analysts agree that Salesforce defined the SFA category decades ago and has dominated it ever since. Wang, for example, calls it “the undisputed leader in the space,” and Wettemann says it remains in its longstanding leadership position by continuing to “invest in capabilities to drive greater user adoption and productivity,” bringing in collaboration and visibility capabilities from its Tableau and Slack acquisitions. Sales Cloud, Leggett says, “offers robust across-the-board sales capabilities, infused with prepackaged AI scenarios, such as lead and opportunity scoring; account, pipeline, and forecast insights; and tooling to create predictive models.” It also benefits from native telephony, automated support, work queue prioritization, and coaching, she adds.
SugarCRM’s Sugar Sell product is being hailed as the hands-down favorite among companies looking for lower-cost alternatives that don’t lock them into long-term deals. As is the case with most of Sugar’s products, flexibility is the key to market adoption. “For companies looking to tailor an SFA system to their unique needs, Sugar Sell offers a high degree of customization,” Dickie says. Leggett hails it for “providing consistent, easy-to-use experiences for sales teams.”
Zoho has been moving upmarket for some time, and its products are finally taking hold in an industry looking for alternatives to the big three vendors. “Zoho offers a streamlined yet comprehensive SFA product that supports embedded AI to prioritize leads, product recommendations, and seller actions—all strengths of the solution,” Leggett says, adding that the mobile app is rich with features like conversational AI, voice notes, call logging, check-ins, navigation, and more. Wang calls the company “the up-and-coming player to watch,” particularly as more companies in the enterprise space start adopting its solutions.