Technology Trends 29 Apr 22 Ayan Mishra

A lot of people are confused about whether Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are the same things. They are not. So which one is actually relevant when you consider getting one for your organization? We’re going to answer that question for you up ahead:

The two systems do not play the same role in companies (specially in Retail Organizations), where each has its own distinct function. But the truth is that some software vendors actually use the two terms interchangeably, or create software with feature sets that have overlapping functionality. This causes a lot of confusion for the customer, who sometimes ends up acquiring a CRM with an SFA functionality or vice versa, which unfortunately doesn’t deliver against all their requirements. 

One of the main differences between Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is that while the SFA looks at the entire sales supply chain processes and tracks all activities related to a sale, CRM focuses on the customer itself.


Over the years, a CRM tool has become one of the most prominent enterprise management software and an essential part of an organization’s overall business strategy. Even in its early versions, when it was relatively unsophisticated, it showed great potential in managing customer service efficiently. 

One of the classic functions of a CRM is the detailing of the customer profile. Many software has been adapted to present dashboards – with a detailed insight into customer preferences and actions – that are consulted by call centre attendants when they talk directly with the consumer. This makes the company gain time and allows for a more personalized, one-on-one service.

Another important function is the historical, extensive reports that a company is able to create on client behavioural data and their purchasing information and their past experience with the company. Everything is stored under individual accounts to help the salesperson understand the true motivations and purchase triggers of the customer in relation to their business.


A Sales Force Automation Software works on an entirely different strategy.  Analyzing the sales process of each company, it seeks to digitize and automate many steps that are done manually so as to improve efficiency and increase sales revenue. Sales force automation solutions address challenges around sales workflows like getting retail intelligence from the field, improving the performance of your sales team, maximizing the width and depth of retail distribution as well as building better relationships with distribution channel partners. The main point to note is that SFA and CRM are platforms with different sets of features.

So what does an SFA offer that a CRM usually doesn't?

In a retail landscape where traditional or Kirana retail commands 90% of all FMCG business,  having a sales force automation tool is imperative specially for CPG companies. 

  • There is a mountain of data that gets generated from thousands of outlets every day. An SFA can capture and validate all that data, and generate powerful analytics that can help companies offer their customers the right products on the right shelves at the right time. 
  • For every individual outlet, an SFA can offer intuitive order booking based on that outlet’s historical data such as SKU wise sales, and sales orders for the past 10 visits.
  • The salesman can see all applicable schemes and promotions on his smartphone app which he can inform the retailers about and possibly make higher sales.  You can run geography-wise or outlet category-wise tor channel type schemes to get better tertiary offtake.
  • The mid-managers can view real-time MTD sales in the field, and get an eagle’s eye view of how every geography, team or product category is performing. 
  • The salesperson gets to see his targets, how much he has achieved, and the distance and time left to achieve his goals. Using gamification and contests within the SFA can entice the team with monetary rewards and boost productivity while also giving them social recognition and accolades.

Read More: How to Efficiently Manage Sales Territories in Retail Business?

Overall, an SFA makes sure that the business is doing everything it can to increase its profits with effective sales force management. The primary benefit of SFA solutions is the substantial increase in sales force productivity.

So if you are looking to improve your sales,  you need to be very careful what type of solution you are buying. Several companies sell CRM and SFA solutions with similar names and features that can confuse the consumer. At that point, it is best to talk to the technology partner and ask for detailed features of each solution.

Carefully analyze the needs of your company and acquire the platform that best suits your reality. You may notice that you need an SFA with some CRM functions or that you may need both platforms but for different purposes.  But if it's a sales improvement you are looking for, we can help you find the best solution for your business. Reach us.

Ayan Mishra

Designer at FieldAssist. His voice in our team is direct advocacy of end user. He helps us in building effective interaction models which are low on cognitive load and emotionally delightful. Passionate evangelist of design thinking and lean user experiences.

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