What is an SFA (sales force automation) system?

 Many companies may be facing the issue of sales activities being too personal. If the sales process is dependent on the individual's intuition and experience, the reproducibility of sales activities that lead to results will remain low.

A sales support system (SFA)  https://slimtime.co.jp/  can be used to solve such a situation. SFA (Sales Force Automation) is a tool that automates some of the processes of sales activities and aims to equalize the performance of sales representatives. By recording and accumulating data on daily sales activities such as the preparation of quotations, negotiations, and the number of deals closed, the sales process of each sales representative can be visualized.

Since both the good and bad parts of the sales process are visualized, the bad parts can be improved and the "good parts," or the sales activities that lead to results, can be easily analyzed and universalized. By sharing this information with the sales team, it can be reproduced and used to improve the performance of the entire sales department.

This article introduces the basics of SFA and the major tools available in Japan, and is a good reference for those who want to use SFA to improve their own sales activities.

SFA stands for "Sales Force Automation," and in Japanese it is called a "sales support system. It is a tool aimed at improving the work efficiency of sales representatives.

The use of SFA begins with the recording of data on daily sales activities, such as appointments, quotations, negotiations, and the number of closed deals.

As the data accumulates, it becomes possible to visualize the success patterns of sales activities. By comparing the data of salespeople whose sales activities are going well and those whose activities are not, it is possible to clarify the problem areas.

In the field of sales and marketing, you may have heard the words "CRM" and "MA" along with SFA.

SFA → Sales Force Automation (sales support tool)

CRM → Customer Relationship Management (Customer Relationship Management)

MA → Marketing Automation (automation of marketing activities)

It is the marketing department that first interacts with the "unspecified consumer". It is the marketing department that first interacts with the "unspecified consumers" by reaching out to them through tools such as blogs, email marketing, and LPs to encourage them to visit web pages. The automation of some of these marketing activities is called MA (Marketing Automation), and the software used to execute and manage it is called MA tools.

The sales department is responsible for fostering prospective customers into customers based on the lead information inherited from the marketing department. By using SFA here, the sales process can be visualized, analyzed, and shared with the team in order to improve results and operational efficiency.

So MA is mainly a tool to support the activities of the marketing department, while SFA is a tool to support the activities of the sales department.

CRM is a tool that aims to improve customer satisfaction and build good relationships. CRM is a tool to improve customer satisfaction and build good relationships.

By utilizing this information, we aim to improve customer satisfaction by providing the most appropriate products and services at the most appropriate time. Ideally, CRM should be shared not only with the marketing and sales departments, but also with departments that do not directly interact with customers, such as the development department and the information system department.

Advantages of implementing SFA

Now that we have confirmed the differences between SFA, CRM, and MA, let's get back to the main topic. Here, I will explain three advantages of implementing SFA.

Problems in sales activities can be visualized.

Improves the repeatability of sales activities and increases the order rate

Members can focus on sales activities.

Problems in sales activities can be visualized.

By using SFA to visualize the sales process, problems in sales activities can be brought to light.

By having management check the sales process displayed in real time, they can discover bottlenecks in sales activities that can easily become black boxes.

Sales representatives are not the only ones who can benefit from SFA. Management will also be able to shift from relying on "intuition and know-how" to data-based management.

Improved sales reproducibility and higher order rates

SFA has the characteristic of being able to visualize both the good and bad parts of the sales process. By accumulating the know-how of excellent salespeople and sharing the know-how with all salespeople, the sales performance of the entire department can be improved.

If sales activities continue to be carried out in an impersonal manner, as if sales are entrusted to a few excellent salespeople, sales activities will be severely hampered and know-how will be lost if that person leaves the company.

By "visualizing" sales activities with SFA, you can accumulate know-how of successful patterns and use it to improve the performance of existing sales staff and train new employees.

SFA tools have the following functions.

Prospective Customer Management

Case management

Behavior management

Forecast and Actual Management

Quote creation and approval flow

Task Management


There are differences in the functions included in each tool, so it is best to understand the basic functions and then narrow down what you need.

Prospective Customer Management

This is a function to manage the basic information of your prospects. Information such as names, ages, and positions can be visualized in a centralized manner. If you have a huge amount of information about your prospects, a tool that allows you to create a database just by scanning business cards is useful.

SFA not only consolidates the information, but also helps to share the information afterwards, preventing multiple salespeople from approaching the same potential customer.

Case Management (Order Forecasting)

This function is used to manage and understand the current status of projects that are currently underway. It allows you to visualize the sales process up to the point of making a deal, as well as information such as the person in charge, the proposed product, and the probability of receiving an order.

Sales managers are the main users of the form management function. This function is mainly used by sales managers to predict whether there are any backlogged deals, how many deals they can expect to receive in the next month or this month, and to manage sales and costs.

Behavior Management

This function categorizes each sales representative and visualizes their specific activities. The information that can be visualized includes the number of visits to sales destinations, the number of products proposed, and the percentage of orders received.

The progress of each sales representative can be checked, and appropriate advice can be given to each of them. If there is a sales representative with a poor closing rate, we can identify the problem based on the data from the action management and make improvements.

Forecast and Actual Management

This is a function to manage sales forecast and forecasted results by grasping the progress of each person in charge. In addition to the budget and expected sales, you can also check if you can achieve the KPI (target indicators).

For example, by entering the estimated order amount data for each project on the screen, the monthly sales forecast can be shared within the department. Sales managers will be able to constantly plan optimal sales strategies and allocate personnel while monitoring the real-time situation. Furthermore, by analyzing the difference between forecasts and actual results, the accuracy of sales forecasts can be improved.

Quotation creation and approval flow

This is a function that allows you to create quotations according to the templates provided in the tool, and visualize the process leading up to approval. It is also possible to register templates that are used on a regular basis. The advantage of this feature is that each sales representative only needs to fill in each item according to the template, which not only improves the efficiency of document creation but also prevents human errors.

In addition, the approval flow allows departments to approve each other's quotations. This simplifies the process of getting multiple supervisors' approval stamps and eliminates the need to print out the documents. 

Task Management

This is a function that allows you to list the tasks (TODO) to be done by each sales representative.

In addition to the workload and resource status of each person, the priority of the tasks can be visualized. By checking the tasks of each sales representative, the sales manager can make decisions in real time, such as dividing the workload with other sales representatives or changing the sales representative.


This function allows you to aggregate and analyze your daily sales activities.

Reports can be categorized by various segments such as sales representatives, products, and deals, which is useful for analyzing sales results from multiple perspectives. Since only the necessary information can be extracted and printed, it is also useful for preparing materials for sales meetings.

Sales analysis can be solved efficiently with SFA

With SFA, all information related to sales activities can be visualized, which can greatly reduce the time required for data aggregation and analysis. For example, by analyzing the factors that lead to long lead times, you can plan and implement improvement measures that lead to shorter lead times.

Field staff can focus on sales activities

SFA tools have a full range of functions to support sales activities, such as negotiation management, quotation creation, and task management. Therefore, by automating the parts that can be automated, the workload of each sales representative can be reduced, and sales representatives can spend more time on their core business of communicating with potential customers.

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