Sales Force Automation Software, or SFA software is a solution that helps field-based teams do their job more effectively. It is called Sales Force Automation software because sales teams were the first and are still the largest set of users for this type of software, but there are other types of teams such as visual merchandisers, BTL marketers, service and support teams and many others who also use software with similar functionality. A more technically correct definition would be Field Force Automation Software - but SFA is the generally accepted term.
The first generation of SFA used specialized devices for use by the field sales teams and needed to be connected to a computer at the end of the day for syncing data. The newest solutions, however, use Mobile apps for the field teams and sync data with servers in real time using GPRS/3G/4G connections. A combination of mobile and web based interfaces is used for the backend and for viewing reports.
Lets try to understand the functionality with the example of a field sales person, who we will simply refer to as a user.
This user's typical daily work is to visit a set of customers and execute a sales process such as explaining the product, showing a demo and collecting the order. An SFA application can be used to help plan which customers should be visited today (for example, according to geography or according to priority). When visiting the customer, the SFA software can show past customer history so the sales person can run an informed sales process and finally when the customer places an order, the SFA software can record that order and also seamlessly transmit the order to be made ready for production or shipment. This is the core SFA workflow.
However, there are many added functionalities that are built into SFA to meet business requirements. For example, it can be used for collecting stock reports, for conducting audits at customer locations and for tracking competition. Since SFA is used by field teams who usually work without close supervision - SFA is also used to monitor things such as geolocation, time worked, user photos etc. as a mechanism for ensuring field team discipline and productivity.