Sales Force Appraisal System: Integration and Automation

Sales Force Appraisal System: Integration and Automation

K. Prakash Vel (University of Wollongong in Dubai, UAE) and Amith Raman (Sales Analyst, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6635-1.ch022


Performance appraisal is an important control tool in all functional areas of an organization, more so in sales management, as it is an important area to be considered for an organization's bottom line, sales revenue, and profits. Having an integrated and holistic approach to a Sales Force Appraisal System (SFAS) is useful for motivating and retaining the sales force in a competitive environment, particularly with the use of IT in the appraisal process, referred to in the current context as automated SFAS. In this chapter, the authors look at the importance of such a system and how this approach has helped reap benefits in one of the organizations in the pharmaceutical industry. This model has immensely transformed the organization's environment into a high sales performance culture. Additionally, this model can serve as an addition to the existing literature on sales force performance appraisal and its role on sales management.
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In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US, around 13.8 million people are employed in a sales and related occupation (, 2013). In any commercial organization, the sales force plays a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the organization in terms of realizing its marketing and hence corporate objectives. Right from the initial days of professional selling, the sales force has always faced challenges in the way it goes about doing business. As part of the evolution, it has used the advancement of technology to its benefit, to be more effective and efficient and provide value to the customers and in the process, outperform the competitors. Sales force nowadays like to see data in real time and use shorter time to understand and analyze the information (Eggert & Serdaroglu, 2011). Automation is one way of doing tasks without any human intervention. This is indeed made possible with the help of Sales Force Automation (SFA). SFA broadly is the application of technology to the selling function (Buttle, Ang & Iriana, 2006). SFA can enhance the quality of the interaction by increasing selling time, enrich communication through relevant information sharing, and expand the level of interaction through faster and smoother access to sales information. In the future, more investments are likely to be seen in the advancement of SFA technology despite economic fluctuations in worldwide markets. The current appraisal systems are looking at short term objectives and do not integrate the SFA in to the picture. In this chapter we are looking at one such case where a SFA system has been successfully implemented.

The main focus of SFA is on having effective and efficient customer interactions that are helpful in better assessing the situation and develop a good rapport with the customer (Eggert & Serdaroglu, 2011). The SFA focuses on effective processing of internal activities and not limited only to e-mail systems, online training, sales analysis, trends and forecasting. Customers are the primary touch points with the sales force of an organization. Hence, it is vital for an organization to integrate customer management activities into the selling function. Customer relationship activities are crucial and the sales force is not only the organization’s customer relationship managers but also carry the feedback from customers that is very critical for understanding how customer needs can be met. The sales force understands that all customers are not having the same sales potential but at the same time all customers are important for their business. Hence tactical and strategic plans have helped sales force locate and manage customers through a well-defined CRM program that is vital for implementing the strategic objectives of an organization successfully (Landry, Arnold & Arndt, 2005).

Both these tools SFA & CRM have helped enhance the skills of the sales force. The SFA focuses on being effective during the selling process and the CRM captures tasks directly related to the customer that includes understanding the customer needs and arranging and coordinating activities around the customer (Ko & Dennis, 2004). In this chapter, we would like to take a look at various drivers of an effective sales force that will help us to formulate a modular approach, essentially integrating into it the roles played by SFA & CRM.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Key performance indicator (KPI): A type of performance evaluation measurement set by the organization or industry.

Information technology (IT): Application of computer hardware and software to help business to perform effectively and efficiently.

Sales Force (SF): The people responsible for the selling function of the organization.

Key Appraisal Factors: Factors that are selected and evaluated for individual performance.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Process of carefully managing detailed information about customers and their touch points to maximize loyalty, usually done through tools from IT.

Sales Force Appraisal System (SFAS): A tool used to reward the Sales Force for achieving the individual and corporate objectives and varies from organization to organization.

Sales Force Automation (SFA): Application of technology to the selling function.

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