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The Best Sales Force Automation (SFA) Software and Solutions: The 2019 CRM Market Leader Awards

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THE MARKET

Today’s sales teams spend about 30 percent of their time on manual, administrative tasks that take them away from selling activities, according to a recent SiriusDecisions report. That’s a lot of wasted time. Fortunately, the right sales force automation tool can alleviate some of this load, and the vendors in this category pride themselves on offering the most intuitive and intelligent technology capable of doing just that.

From artificial intelligence-powered tools that enable salespeople to be more proactive in their upselling and cross-selling efforts, to sales performance technology that helps the sales force continue to improve, the capabilities in this category get better every year.

THE LEADERS

Bpm’online has a stable of very satisfied customers, and the analysts have noticed, giving it a score of 4.4 in customer satisfaction. And it excels in depth of functionality as well, garnering a 4.1 score in that area. “Bpm’online delivers a wealth of packaged sales personas and processes as well as a community-driven library of sales force automation extensions geared toward shortening customer time-to-value,” says Kate Leggett, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Analysts did express, however, that the tool can be tough to use. “It’s fairly complex for small businesses,” says Jim Dickie, cofounder of CSO Insights and independent research fellow at Sales Mastery.

Oracle has broad and deep sales force automation capabilities, suitable for enterprise teams, analysts agree. Plus, Oracle extends the value of its Sales Cloud with partner relationship management (PRM), sales performance management (SPM), customer data management (CDM), and configure-price-quote (CPQ) capabilities, all on a single platform, according to Leggett. The company earned a 4.4 in depth of functionality and a 4.0 in company direction, the latter thanks to an internal staffing change. “The arrival of Rob Tarkoff has helped bring much-needed leadership back to the customer experience team,” says Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Salesforce.com, our winner last year, receives praise from customers for its Einstein artificial intelligence technology, and analysts have taken notice as well. “Einstein AI plays a big role in how customers transform their sales processes,” Wang says. The vendor earned a 4.1 in customer satisfaction and a 4.3 in company direction, both of which were, no doubt, influenced by Salesforce’s Trailhead tool, which helps newbies learn the ins and outs of its many offerings. “Trailhead is a great resource for small businesses using Salesforce,” Dickie says. “Customers remain enamored with the Trailhead experience and the community and support around enablement,” Wang agrees.

Though Zoho’s sweet spot is the SMB space, bigger clients are noticing the vendor as well. “Zoho has built a solid product for the small-business market that has potential in the midmarket,” Wang says. Zoho received its highest score (4.5) in cost, and the vendor held its own in the other criteria as well, receiving a 3.9 in both depth of functionality and customer satisfaction. “The integration between all of the Zoho suite tools makes it very productive and easy to use,” Wang adds.

THE WINNER

After years on the leaderboard, Microsoft has earned the coveted winner’s crown, thanks largely to the extensive integrations and extensions it now offers its clients. Customers have benefited from integrations between sales tools and other parts of the Microsoft business portfolio, extending the feature functionality of its core sales force automation tool, according to Wang. “PowerApps, Flow, and PowerBI have helped enhance the overall offering as well,” he adds. The company earned its top mark (4.5) in depth of functionality, and posted a 4.3 in cost. There is room for improvement, however—Microsoft earned its lowest score (3.7) in company direction. Nevertheless, analysts are optimistic about its future. “The vendor shows considerable maturity in both its execution and vision for how advanced analytics and AI will transform selling,” Leggett says.

ONE TO WATCH

Freshworks makes its debut in the sales force automation category this year, earning a 4.1 in company direction, customer satisfaction, and cost. Though the vendor is relatively new to the category, its “AI-based lead scoring puts Freshworks SFA at an advantage to legacy re-architected SFA products,” according to Wang.

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