Managing or Transforming? SFA or CRM

Are you focused on sales transactions or growing customer lifetime value?

When it comes to selecting the right technology for managing external business relationships, it’s important to understand the differences between sales force automation and customer relationship management software. While they each can streamline business processes, they have different levels of sophistication and impact on long-term growth.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to manage all the interactions and touchpoints between your company and your current or potential customers. It aims to improve your business relationships with tools for contact management, sales management, productivity, even predictive recommendations.

Sales force automation (SFA) is a subset of CRM software more specific to sales team activity, lead generation, and opportunity tracking.

While each serves unique purposes, their functionalities can often be steered toward (or away from) maximum revenue impact by your business priorities. The level of investment by executive leadership and organizational decisions regarding implementation and usage will dictate whether a program has the limited value of SFA or serves as a true CRM.

For example, some groups use their CRM as nothing more than a fancy contact and account management system, basically an SFA. However, to really increase business efficiency (and ultimately help the bottom line), a CRM must be wholeheartedly used and embraced throughout an organization. The overall CRM investment should be viewed with a broader understanding of how its implementation affects more than time-cost savings and IT infrastructure; it impacts overall business growth.

To quote noted author David Taber, thought leader and expert, “CRM systems have loftier goals than just sales productivity: the system helps to convert content (expertise) into conversations, moving the customer toward shared experiences (and values), proceeding to relationships, and finally creating a long-term revenue stream as a trusted advisor.” A truly powerful CRM touches the customer from many directions: sales, marketing, social, support, partner channels, and potentially other internal units such as accounting and legal.

At Virsys12, we believe that, when it comes to using an SFA and a CRM, the true power is in maximizing both. When consulting with our customers on the SFA v. CRM continuum, we ask:

● Do you try to monitor sales rep behavior (SFA) or understand customer behavior (CRM)?
● Are you working to manage the transaction (SFA) or grow customer lifetime value (CRM)?
● Are you more focused on quarterly revenue (SFA) or annual profitability and long-term growth (CRM)?

Where customers land on this scale may change day to day since the progression from SFA to CRM is more about your behavior than a toolset. At Virsys12, we know through experience and application that using Salesforce (named the global #1 CRM provider by IDC for the fifth consecutive year) as a true CRM can ease the pain of shifting a business mindset from short term to long term. Bottom line, changing your mindset is key.

With this new strategic viewpoint, you’re likely to see improvement and hopefully, transformation in your business. Transformation is a core value of Virsys12 and we’ve seen this basic shift in thinking revolutionize our customers. You can read about some of them here. As you’ll note, many of our clients are using the Salesforce platform well beyond its core CRM functionality for managing provider networks, referral processes, contact centers, analytics powered by AI and more as they move toward more unified data in cloud-based systems. More on that in another blog.

By Laura Heffelfinger


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About the Author

About the Author

Tammy Hawes is CEO and Founder of Virsys12, a Healthcare Focused Salesforce AppExchange and Consulting Partner. Hawes launched Virsys12 in 2011, with a track record of more than 25 years of executive success.

About the Author