Can you tell me about companies who have used salesforce automation (SFA) to shorten the sales cycle and how? We're getting a lot of pressure from upper management to turn over our sales more quickly, and I'd like to know if we could use the software to better advantage for making more sales in a shorter amount of time.

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For starters, I applaud your thinking of salesforce automation (SFA) technology as an enabler. But let me point out that there is no SFA software on the planet that will, on its own, shorten a sales cycle. The SFA software is definitely a piece of the answer, but it must be considered only a part of the solution. The other pieces include having a single, structured sales methodology, appropriate training, alignment of business goals and compensation and reliable forecasting.

Also keep in mind that the sales cycle isn't entirely dictated by the sales reps or the company; there's a large dose of uncertainty that must be built into goals for sales attainment and company performance.

This was first published in December 2006

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