CRM: Salesforce Automation

Salesforce Automation (SFA), typically a part of a company’s customer relationship management system, is a system that automatically records all the stages in a sales process. SFA includes a contact management system which tracks all contact that has been made with a given customer, the purpose of the contact, and any follow up that may be needed. This ensures that sales efforts are not duplicated, reducing the risk of irritating customers.

Salesforce Automation

Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is perhaps the most consistently misused term in our industry. The ‘Customer Relationship’ that is being managed by a software category is an exceedingly broad term that must be narrowed in order to make sure we are comparing similar software. ATG breaks CRM into four distinct categories, based on the channel that is being used to manage the customer relationship. The categories are:

Sales Force Automation (SFA)

The tools used by Sales teams to managed sales people, prospects, and opportunities.

Call Center | Customer Success

The tools used by Customer Service agents (historically in a Call Center environment) to manage customers.

Customer-Initiated Interactions

The tools used by a service provider’s customers to manage their own services or accounts.

Partner Relationship Mgmt.

Tools used by a service provider’s Partners to manage customers.

CRM – Salesforce Automation Components


A Prospect in the service provider realm is any person or entity that is not yet a customer.

Prospects can be people on the internet searching for a service your company provides, people that drive past your business, the entire population of attendees at a trade show, or any number of other general scenarios that could possibly end with them actually expressing an interest in the products and services you offer.

If you picture the sales process as a funnel with paid orders at the bottom, small end of the funnel, prospects are at the opposite end. It is most often a marketing organization that is responsible for identifying prospects and moving them further into the funnel.


Generally speaking, a Lead is a person or company that has an expressed or implied interest in the services you provide. Among those that should be considered a lead are, for example, internet users that click through to your web site from a link, folks that speak with your representatives at a trade show and exchange business cards, or somebody that calls or stops by your place of business.


A potential customer becomes an Opportunity when the selling begins. The selling process may be overt or subtle, but when benefits are discussed and interest is expressed, an opportunity is at hand. Examples of an opportunity include internet visitors to specific pages on a web site with a “Buy” button, or verbal exchanges with sales and support staff in which the Lead asks closing questions such as “When can I have service connected?” or “How much does this cost?”

Opportunities are also often with existing customers. They could be accounts with expiring contracts, upsell and cross-sell potential, or avid promoters of your company that provide additional pipelines of opportunities for your organization.

Opportunities typically involve numerous stages, with each stage having a different probability of close. For example, a typical set of stages, with the probability to close, may look like those shown in the graphic at right.

Companies often use the stage and associated probability that comes out of the box from the CRM/SFA tool. Others leverage common selling methodologies provided by Sales Effectiveness companies such as Miller Heiman, SPIN Selling, Target Account Selling (TAS), and Consultative Selling.

Closed: WON
Proposal/Price Review
Value Proposition
Needs Analysis


Quote is the presentation of pricing, and terms and conditions, based on the customer or client’s stated wants and needs. In the world of internet shopping, this could be as simple as the shopper adding the product to the cart, but in many service-based organizations, quoting is where customers are made or lost.

Customers may not commit to the first version of the quote or seek to negotiate additional terms/services. Quotes should be able to be easily changed or reconfigured to represent any additional changes at a near real-time rate.

For many service providers, Quoting is such an integral area that they require additional rigor around the process that goes beyond what is typically available in most Sales Force Automation solutions. The term CPQ, or Configure Price Quote, has evolved to handle complex Quote processing. This area is covered as a specific ATG Monetization Ecosystem™ domain, which can be found here.

ATG recommends that the quoting process follow the FACT framework – Fast, Accurate, Clean, and Transactable.

Every company is intentionally or unintentionally balancing the need for speed, quality, accuracy, and efficiency. For example, every sales rep will tell you that the fastest way to get a quote out the door is to eliminate any approvals, but typically business stakeholders accept that there are financial or legal or other risks that need to be mitigated, hence the need for at least some approval process to ensure quality and accuracy.

Are there too many approvals in the process? Too few? What about data? Should addresses be validated up front, or only at Order time? Should customer credit be checked? If yes, should it be early or late in the process? Each of these factors must be balanced to ensure an optimal selling environment.

FACT Framework

Quote process is as responsive as the customer requires.


Provisioning and Billing Information are complete and accurate.


Quotes and proposals are professional and add credibility to the selling process.


Opportunities, Quotes, Contracts, and Orders are integrated with limited need for redundant data entry.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is taking a company’s tribal knowledge, aggregating it, and then pointing it both internally and externally. From a Customer-Initiated Interactions point-of-view, it means creating a digital library of product and service manuals, FAQs, white papers, case studies – really any non-proprietary information that a customer could use to answer their own questions without needing to use company call center or sales resources.

In a CRM – SFA environment, Knowledge Management is typically used by sales professionals to help them identify solutions for their clients, and handle typical questions that arise during the wants and needs analysis of the selling process. Win themes, value proposition, competitive intelligence, and technical product details are often leverage in SFA Knowledge Management environments.

Beyond just gathering the data and making it available electronically, it needs to be easy to use and easy to find.

Good knowledge management solutions, whether built in-house, used as-a-service, or purchased to deploy on-premise, need to be well organized, use common speech search, and offer a quick connection to a chat or email resource should the current KMS not fulfill the customer’s needs.

Customer Service

From a CRM/SFA perspective, Customer Service means having the ability to have a comprehensive view of the customer. If it is a new customer, there may be limited information available. If it is an existing customer, it is important to have a comprehensive view of customers’ interactions with the company.

For example, if you are trying to get a customer to renew a service that has two open trouble tickets, and a billing dispute requesting a credit for poor service, you may be in for an uphill battle.

The Customer Service component of CRM/SFA is the linchpin of the recurring sales cycles. Often, the best opportunity for a company to win new business from an existing client is by providing superior customer service to that client from the beginning of the relationship. More and more, service providers are relying on renewal, up-sell, and cross-sell processes to expand revenue from their existing client base. This pressure leads to increased focus on customer service.

In complex service provider B2B selling, CRM/SFA has traditionally focused on simply winning the first deal. In today’s omni-channel customer maintenance environment, salespeople, and the SFA function, are one cog of a complex, collaborative team structure required to effectively manage the entire customer lifecycle.

Case Management

Case Management is a broad term that can included Issue Management, Trouble Ticket Management, Exception/Approval Management, and Dispute Management. It is simply a mechanism for creating, managing, and completing requests initiated by, or on behalf of, a customer.

Case management allows ‘cases’ to be captured, then distributed to the necessary individual or team for resolution, while providing visibility of its ongoing status. There is typically a strong audit trail to document what was done, when, and by whom.

Effective case management provides an excellent opportunity to take a potential negative with a customer and turn it into a positive.


The quote should provide an area for the customer to easily agree to the terms provided. This will facilitate the provisioning, activation, shipping, etc., necessary to provide goods and services quickly and easily to the customer. The approvals are retained for future reference.

Approvals are typically needed for quote processing within the CRM/SFA realm. Approvals often ensure that quotes are accurate, meet internal revenue standards/margins, can be delivered with quality, and with appropriate terms and conditions. The approval process should involve the appropriate level staff and be clearly communicated as quickly as possible. Approvals are retained for future reference.

Certain customers require special care. These customers may receive appropriate discounts added to their quotes, special services, or renegotiated price rates outside of what is available to the sales team at that time. These require even more speed and efficiency as well as thorough review at the appropriate levels.

Quoting and Approvals associated with quotes can reside in CRM/SFA, Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) or sometime both.

Reports & Dashboards

CRM/SFA is the home for Reports and Dashboards. Both public and private companies rely on sales forecasting to provide transparency for internal groups (for example what sort of demand will be in store for products and services) and external groups (for example the investment community).

Sales management uses CRM/SFA reporting to track progress/status at the company, unit, division, customer, and individual sales rep level. CRM/SFA tools typically provide several out of the box reports, as well as Dashboards that can be prominently displayed upon login. They also make tools available easily build custom reports and dashboards that are tailored to their particular business needs.


In a CRM/SFA context, Pipeline refers to the funnel of potential sales that may be coming to fruition. Pipeline begins with high volume/low probability Prospects, which winnow their way through Lead and Opportunity objects, which ultimately close out as deals that were Won, Lost, or Abandoned.

Typically, Pipeline reporting focuses on the Opportunity object, which contains Opportunity Amount, Date of expected Close, and Probability of close. These combination of attributes can be used to ‘value the pipeline’ to predict how many deals (opportunities) will close, when, and at what total amount.

Detailed: People | Process | Technology

CRM SFA is typically the domain for a service provider’s direct sales force. This usually includes field sales reps, sales engineers/pre-sales, sales management, sales operations, inside sales, and often account management. Often, the Marketing organization is involved as well in their responsibility for Campaign and Lead Generation.

In complex product and selling environment ‘opportunity teams’ can be expanded to include Product, Engineering, Legal, and Operations, often for additional configuration or approval of a product or service. Finally, numerous users consume reports coming out of the CRM SFA function, including Finance and Marketing Communications for reporting to the investment community and commissions.


ATG maintains a set of 75 key business processes to support management of Customers and Revenue for Service Providers. Twenty-eight of these processes originate, or are impacted by, the CRM SFA function. Below are the key processes that touch CRM SFA, categorized by the Organizational Unit that owns the process:

Sales Organization

Opportunity Management – prioritizing, tracking, and managing of sales opportunities.

Partner Management – management and integration of any of a host of third-party resellers and partners business models and oversight.

Quote: Product Configuration – configuration of feature and attributes of products and services prior to a sale.

Quote: Product and Service Pricing – configuration of product and service pricing available through the quoting tool.

Quote: Product and Service Discount – configuration of product and service discounts based on certain criteria (e.g., volume discounts, geography).

Order Entry – creating a new service for a customer, including capturing the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.

Up-Sell Processing: Initial Order – selling a customer a separate, better product or service from what they had originally expressed interest in during the needs assessment.

Cross-Sell Processing: Initial Order – selling a customer a separate product or service from what they had originally expressed interest in during the needs assessment.

Partner Transaction Management – oversight and integration of any third-party re-seller or partner transactions, including selling, licensing, and billing.

Renewal Processing – methods used to continue a customer’s services beyond the contract’s expiration period. May be an automated or manual process.

Customer Service Organization

Up-Sell Processing: Ongoing – the primary method for increasing Average Revenue per User (ARPU), and is the process of moving a customer to a better product or service at some point during their relationship with your company.

Cross-Sell Processing: Ongoing – the primary method for increasing Average Revenue per User (ARPU), and is the process of moving a customer to a similar product or service at some point during their relationship with your company.

Knowledge Management – the ability of a business to identify, create, and distribute information quickly across their customer base and internally through the organization.

Customer Inquiry – the process of routing customer questions and concerns to the right solution and then tracking the outcome.

Order Entry – creating a new service for a customer, including capturing the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.

Renewal Processing – methods used to renew customers’ services, either manually or utilizing automated processes.

Product Organization

New Product Introduction Process – configuring attributes and introducing new products or services to the product catalog.

New Product Monetization Process – the configuration of pricing for a new product or service.

Bundled Product Introduction Process – the configuration and introduction of grouped products and services to the product catalog.

Promotion and Discount Process – the configuration of promotions and discounts to new or current products and services.

Marketing Organization

Lead Management – the process of identifying and nurturing potential or current customers.

Finance Organization

Credit Check Management – the oversight of processes surround checks to clients’ or customers’ credit history and worthiness.

Commissions Processing – the processing of tracking sales commissions and sales reward programs.


Maintenance and Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem – processes around ensuring that all touch points and connections within the ecosystem are optimized to their fullest potential.

Vendor Management of Monetization Ecosystem – oversight and communication duties of ecosystem software components and their vendors, including management of vendor road map and change logs and general relationship nurturing.

Cross-Training of Monetization Ecosystem Components – process for training organizational resources on the appropriate software systems.

Security Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem – process for maintaining and controlling access and permissions to ecosystem components.

Data Stewardship Across Monetization Ecosystem – process of assigning ownership and sources of truth for data within the organization.

All Organizations

Daily, Periodic, or Ad Hoc Reporting (Extraction, Load, Report, Dashboard) – movement of data between domains to create single source of truth for reporting and dash boarding.

CRM SFA is a mature technology space, that has a number of key providers, with a few dominant players. This function has historically had one dominant provider, with several major players vying for second fiddle. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Oracle Siebel was the dominant provider, but over the past 10 years has assumed the top spot.

In the Service Provider space (Telecom, IaaS, SaaS, Digital media) enjoys a significant majority of top clients, with Microsoft, Oracle, Netsuite, SAP, and others sharing the remainder.

CRM SFA is also very mature as a proven SaaS/Cloud solution, with all key solutions in this space being offered with multi-tenant cloud options.

Key Vendors

Below are the key CRM SFA technology providers for the service provider community

Salesforce Sales Cloud

Founded: 1999
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.salesforce
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud Sales Cloud is a cloud based Customer Relationship Management tool that prides itself on helping companies close more deals, accelerate productivity, make insightful decisions, and get more leads. Some of the solutions the company offers include:

Contact Management – a complete view of customers, including activity history, key contacts, and internal account discussions.
Opportunity Management – manage sales deals while staying connected to the people and information needed to close sales from anywhere.
Lead Management – show the impact of marketing activities on sales pipeline and invest time on the hottest leads.
Sales Forecasting – get a real-time view of the entire team’s forecast, including inline forecast adjustments. Sales Cloud targets companies looking to grow sales. This includes a variety of different industries such as Healthcare, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Communications, Media, and Retail.

Stanley Black & Decker – industry-leading power tool manufacturer
CareerBuilder – online job posting site
Canon – Japanese multinational corporation specializing in the manufacture of imaging and optical products
CenturyLink – communications company
Delta Airlines – major American airline

Microsoft Dynamics

Founded: 1975
HQ: Redmond, WA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Microsoft Dynamics provides scalable, adaptable business solutions, which help companies understand their customers through a range of software products. Dynamics focuses on connecting businesses with potential and current customers, and translating customer data into understandable and presentable reports.

CRM – convert leads into relevant and valuable customers. Utilize a variety of platforms for providing excellent service, and building strong customer relationships.
Business Intelligence – transform business processes, increase productivity, and manage operations with heightened business analysis.
ERP – capitalize on business opportunities through integrated technology solutions, optimizing internal organizational performance.

Microsoft Dynamic’s target market ranges from enterprise and SMB companies operating within the Software, Manufacturing, Networking/Storage, High Tech Equipment, Healthcare/Medical Devices, and Business Services industries.

Toshiba – multinational digital innovation product developer and manufacturer
Dow Chemical Company – chemical product manufacturer
Asurion – digital device protection and support service provider
CSX Corporation – rail-based transportation service provider

Oracle Sales Cloud

Founded: 1977
HQ: Redwood Shores, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Oracle Sales Cloud allows companies to engage customers earlier and close deals more often. Equip teams with the proper processes, tools, resources, and intelligence to increase revenues.

Sales Automation – Lead and opportunity management, configurability, sales representative prospecting with new up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
Sales Performance Management – Optimize sales coverage with balanced territories, align sales teams with equitable quotas and company goals, affect sales behavior by improving sales and maintaining competitive advantage
Partner Relationship Management – Detailed account management, scalable partner enrollment programs
Social Collaboration – Leverage purposeful social networking to close deals faster, enhance cross-team knowledge by integrating CRM conversations with other business processes

Oracle Sales Cloud’s target market is industries and companies of all sizes looking to increase sales efficiency and effectiveness, modernize sales processes and equip teams with tools, resources and intelligence to increase revenue.

Atradius Collections – a leading collections agency captures the voice of its global customers and delivers the best customer service
Batesville – a leader in the funeral industry uses Oracle Sales Cloud to provide managers and representatives with access to analytics, and increase sales efficiency and effectiveness
Hitachi Consulting Corporation – an international management and technology consulting firm gives teams the data necessary to grow their respective business

Oracle Siebel

Founded: 1977
HQ: Redwood Shores, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Oracle Siebel is a robust CRM software solution, available to companies in both on premise and on demand (cloud) formats. While Siebel helps businesses generate more sales and pull in more revenue through customer experience management, the software provides further value through integration with Oracle’s full suite of IT solutions. Some standout features of Oracle Siebel are:

Sales and Marketing Management – Heighten sales efficiency by optimizing the sales pipeline for success.
Customer Order Management – Create and manage customer accounts, and map relating products and orders efficiently.
Customer Relationship Management – Cut costs and increase customer satisfaction through the effective management and analysis of customer, product, and market information.

Oracle Siebel’s target market tends toward industry leaders and enterprise companies. Oracle tailors CRM designs aimed at specific industries such as the Telecommunication, Financial, High Technology, and Logistics industries.

Smiles SA – a leading coalition loyalty program in Brazil

City of Atlanta – major metropolitan city in the US

Arcor SAIC – major producer of sweets and chocolates in South America


Founded: 1972
HQ: Waldorf, Germany
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products) is a market leader in enterprise application software that provides a business suite comprised of (ERP) software used to integrate back-office functions and CRM solutions.

The company’s activities are broken down into two divisions: On-Premise and Cloud. The company’s On-Premise division is composed of two operating segments, On-Premise Products and On-Premise Services. The Company’s Cloud division is also composed of two operating segments: Cloud Applications and Ariba. SAP serves customers in 120 countries and employs more than 53,000 people.

SAP’s CRM solutions delivers functionality in several areas:

– Object-based and object-oriented programming
– Remote, real-time access to data
– Data modeling
– Sales, marketing, service, and customer interaction capabilities

SAP CRM tends to target companies working in energy and natural resources, consumer companies, manufacturing and services companies, government agencies, and financial services firms. The company has more than a quarter million customers.

Kellogg Company – American multinational food manufacturing company
National Instruments – data acquisition/storage, automated testing, high tech hardware
Bayer Material Science – global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture, and high-tech polymer
Family Dollar Stores, Inc. – American variety store chains

Sugar CRM

Founded: 2004
HQ: Cupertino, CA
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Sugar CRM provides open source software as a service for CRM solutions. The company’s leading product is Sugar UX, which provides an intuitive and consistent user experience to streamline CRM.

Sugar CRM targets a diverse range of companies, however this company mostly supplies functionality to small and midsize businesses.

BancVue – provider of banking products that help local banks and credit unions succeed
Hilco Global – provider of international financial services
Program Productions – producer of highly specific live events
Redglaze Group – provider of products and services to the construction industry
TengoInternet – leader among North American high speed wireless internet solution companies in the outdoor hospitality industry
VetAdvisor – provider of holistic, veteran-centric care


Founded: 1998
HQ: San Mateo, CA
Company Type: Public
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

NetSuite specializes in SaaS business management, especially CRM, ERP and Ecommerce. Some of the company’s core competencies include:

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – a method of managing a company’s exchanges with customers, both current and future.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
– a way for companies to collect, store, and manage data surrounding business activities.
Ecommerce – digital shopping for B2C and B2B businesses

NetSuite’s target market is midsize to enterprise businesses. They have a wide range of customers, from a professional sports team to manufacturers of electronic products.

GoPro – producer of cameras used in action sports
Oakland Athletics – American professional baseball team
Igloo – specializes in the manufacture of ice chests.
Epec Engineered Technologies – manufacturer and designer of custom electronic products


Founded: 1996
HQ: Pleasanton, CA
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Zoho CRM specializes within the sales cycle. This software helps all corporate players from sales reps to CEO’s generate, grow, and manage leads, opportunities, and accounts. A distinct focus on intuitive user interface and customer-engagement software integration helps users feel at home during the customer acquisition process.

Lead Management – generate, distribute, qualify, and convert leads while drawing from relevant analytics and reports.

Integration – connect with leads, opportunities, and current customers through integrated social media platforms, web ads, and professional communication applications.

Zoho targets small and medium sized companies, and they look to capitalize on market expansion in this space. Zoho also looks to expand revenues in the East Asia market, specifically, India.

Ingram Micro – electronics company and information technology distributor
T3 Direct – direct telemarketing company
Cleartrip – Travel management company
NIIT – Indian Multinational learning management and training delivery solutions provider
Pepperstone Financial – provides forex brokerage financial services


Founded: 2002
HQ: New York, NY
Company Type: Privately held
Cloud/On-Premise: Cloud

Infor CRM, formerly known as Saleslogix CRM, is a cloud-based software solution, which specializes in Sales and Marketing Automation. This CRM offering includes an integrated user interface through embedded Microsoft Outlook toolbars. With an emphasis on sales cycle management and opportunity development, this solution helps companies maximize profitability on potential leads and speed up sales cycles. Some other key features of Infor CRM are:

• Advanced Marketing Campaign Management
• Customer Service Management
• In-depth reporting and analytics

Infor CRM pairs its easy integration with Microsoft Outlook and Gmail to provide exceptional mobile and tablet functionality, as well as support, to help drive user productivity.

Infor tends to target SMBs within specific industries and niche micro-verticals such as equipment, manufacturing, healthcare, distribution, and public sector industries. Infor leverages its flexible software to customize and tailor a CRM solution in order to meet industry specific needs.

Quality Solutions Inc. – facilities Management Company
Big River Communications – commercial phone service Communications Company
Watlow – climate control manufacturer
Equifax – consumer credit reporting agency
Noble Systems Corporation – contact center technology service provider



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