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sales force automation (SFA)

Sales automation software is a type of program that automates business tasks such as inventory control, sales processing, and tracking of customer interactions, as well as analyzing sales forecasts and performance. Businesses may have a custom version developed specifically for their needs, or choose from among the increasing number of sales automation software products, such as Interact Commerce's ACT! and GoldMine Software's GoldMine. Sales automation software is sometimes called sales force automation (SFA) software, and sometimes called customer relations management (CRM) software.

Sales automation packages typically include a Web-ready database, an e-mail package, and customizable templates. A three-tiered architecture is typically used to separate the database, server, and application to reduce programming demands on clients. A module-based design is generally used, to allow users to customize the package to suit their needs.

In August 2000, Oracle released a free CRM software package, OracleSalesOnline.com which makes information - such as contacts, schedules, and performance tracking - available online through the included database program. The package is designed for medium-to-large enterprises with mobile work forces. All data and storage are based at an Oracle facility, similar to the application service provider (ASP) model, which means that data can be accessed from any Internet connection and that the client doesn't need special hardware or

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software. The Oracle package also includes online staff training.

This was first published in September 2001

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