Friday, March 9, 2012

How Cloud Computing Can Help Your Company Track and Forecast Sales


For many salespeople, selling isn’t the hard part of sales. It’s the administrative work – managing accounts, recording customer interactions, tracking competitors and performing follow-up tasks. Additionally, forecasting sales is one of the biggest challenges that companies face today, given the numerous factors that influence the prediction of short- or long-term sales: changeable trends, increased competition, economic growth or recession, consumer confidence, advertising and potential recalls. When marketing managers, sales force managers and production teams face communication difficulties, accurate and reliable sales forecasting figures may be especially elusive.

Many companies are turning to the cloud computing model of sales force automation in order to achieve the twin goals of tracking and forecasting sales. Sales force automation is a platform which makes business tasks such as inventory control, order processing, customer management, information sharing, sales forecasting, and lead organization easier. Cloud computing can provide businesses with a way to increase capacity, add functionality, or provide their employees with new capabilities without investing in software, hardware or infrastructure.

In its simplest terms, cloud computing allows businesses to plug into a shared data center instead of buying an individual copy of a software or technology product. The cloud can provide business applications that can be integrated with commonly utilized devices and software that are already in place; they can be accessed from a web browser, whether through a desktop or laptop or through mobile devices, such as an iPhone or BlackBerry. Despite being shared, these applications are fully customizable: think of several small companies who occupy an office building together, sharing such services as security and maintenance, but whose offices all look very different and perform discrete functions.

The architecture of cloud computing lends itself well to sales force automation because sales reps need simplified, on-the-go access to a variety of applications. With the cloud, a rep can be connected to information, statistics, colleagues, partners, prospects, content and leads that might otherwise have been difficult to glean, especially while traveling.

Integration between all departments – sales, marketing, production, and even the boardroom – is one of the major advantages of sales force automation through the cloud. Comprehensive and customized applications can improve sales rep productivity, streamline processes, and provide access to key information, about any deal, to any manager or executive who wants view it. Because sales people are able to update statistics and customer information immediately, marketing and sales initiatives can be more responsive and up-to-date. In short, all the information and data that is generated or used by a sales force can be recorded, tracked, analyzed, distributed and compiled by a sales force automation platform. Disbursing it to the cloud allows for a wider range of access, as well as a streamlined approach to doing business.

Small businesses can benefit from cloud computing models of sales force automation because they can save capital investment and personnel, but major corporations also employ enterprise cloud computing in order to make their interdepartmental communication efforts more effective. Additionally, enterprise cloud computing sales force integration can be vital to a business which depends on global initiatives or expanding markets, in which sales reps are speaking different languages, using different technologies to manage information, and traveling frequently.
Sales analytics and forecasting can also be improved by sales force automation and the cloud computing revolution. Because sales reports and customer interaction can be updated in real time, and because enterprise applications can be customized to analyze and present specific data in easy-to-use formats, information can be shared across several departments. If any change occurs in the business climate, the production schedule, sales performance or inventory, or any other aspect that may influence current sales and forecasted sales, this data can be easily shared. The applications can also provide analytical tools to help accurately predict future sales. In these and other ways, the cloud presents a comprehensive and up-to-the-moment window into all aspects of the business.