The Best Sales Force Automation (SFA) Software and Solutions: The 2023 CRM Industry Leader Awards
Research firm IMARC Group valued the global sales force automation software market at $7.5 billion in 2022 and expects it to reach $14.7 billion by 2028, growing at a compound annual rate of 11.6 percent.
Sales force automation software automates workflows, streamlines sales processes, manages leads, and enhances team productivity. It helps sales teams build a complete history of customer interactions, creates tasks, sets reminders to follow up with leads, and now, with the influx of artificial intelligence, generates lucrative recommendations to increase profits. Among the key uses, companies are relying on SFA solutions largely for managing leads, sales forecasts, and opportunities. Businesses are also using SFA for processing orders and invoices and sharing information with sales personnel.
IMARC also sees the rising incorporation of cloud technology in SFA software as key for furthering growth of the market.
THE TOP FIVE
Dynamics 365 is the main CRM product in Microsoft’s arsenal, but it has other entries, such as Viva Sales, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and Sales Copilot, that also warrant consideration. Tie-ins to other Microsoft products, including the Office suite and Teams collaboration platform, and a new focus on AI also make Microsoft a strong contender. “Dynamics CRM Sales was always a very good product,” says Paul Greenberg, president of the 56 Group. “They have a genuinely valuable product that is built for the salesperson to be more effective and efficient.” That is accomplished, most notably, by Copilot, Microsoft’s generative AI engine, which Kate Leggett, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says “connects the marketing-sales-service continuum, facilitating personalized customer interactions of significant value.” Jim Dickie, research fellow at Sales Mastery, adds that “Dynamics 365 offers a comprehensive set of core CRM functionality, and along with Viva Sales gives users of Teams and Outlook a system of record for their workflows.”
Oracle has a strong foundation in the data realm, and that provides a huge advantage for its Fusion Sales product. “Oracle offers AI-driven activities, such as quotas, forecasts, and territories, that are grounded in historical, current booking, and behavioral data. It surfaces data signals from accounts to manage account health and flags market expansion opportunities,” Leggett says. “Fusion Sales is a solid option for sales teams looking to give salespeople access to technology to support the configure-price-quote process,” adds Jim Dickie, research fellow at Sales Mastery.
Salesforce has obvious roots in SFA, but its recent moves have brought far more functionality into the mix. “Einstein and Einstein GPT are real game changers, but so is Slack Elevate, which enables sales users and managers to automatically update multiple records at the same time and get automated alerts and updates within Slack,” says Rebecca Wettemann, founder and CEO of Valoir. Dickie agrees, noting that “the continued introduction of leading-edge AI capabilities into Sales Cloud makes it not only the system for meeting current needs but future ones as well,” he says. For Leggett, Sales Cloud “offers robust across-the-board sales capabilities, infused with prepackaged AI scenarios and nascent generative AI capabilities, such as lead and opportunity scoring; account, pipeline, and forecast insights; and tooling to create predictive models.”
SugarCRM built its reputation on open-source software, and the company pivoted adeptly as industry needs changed. Today, Sugar Sell “is one of the most feature-solid,” Greenberg says. “It has one standout that is really almost unique in the midmarket: It’s got both sentiment and predictive analytics built into the solution.” Marshall Lager, an independent CRM analyst, agrees that Sugar’s got it all. “SugarSell covers all the chief promises of sales automation and does it both well and affordably,” he says.
Zoho, some would say, has everything needed in a small package. “Integrated collaboration, an AI assistant, high usability, and a low price point continue to make Zoho a popular option for sales automation,” Wettemann says. Greenberg points out that while Zoho is geared more for small and midsize firms, “they are providing the most effective possible SFA, giving those businesses exactly what they need.”