CRM vs SFA – What’s the Difference?

I’ve recently had a lot of questions about the difference between CRM and SFA and which one is right for your company. "CRM" is so broadly used these days it’s really hard to completely wrap your head around it.

Let’s start with a couple of basic definitions:

  • CRMCustomer Relationship Management is about finding, getting, and retaining customer relationships.
  • SFA Sales Force Automation is about managing and supporting sales reps. Generally consists of contact management, opportunity management, and pipeline management.

CRM is more centered around the customer and consists of modules to handle tracking customer support issues, order tracking and datawarehousing. Customer focus can be used to describe most parts of a CRM system. Some examples of data collected by CRM systems include:

  1. Campaign tracking
  2. Purchase history
  3. Shipping history
  4. Account data
  5. Sales data

SFA is more centered around making sales, sales people, improving close rates and managing the day-to-day of getting sales done. SFA is included in CRM in a lot of cases and since SFA usually handles much of the same data collection that a CRM system would, it makes sense to purchase a CRM system rather than a standalone SFA solution.

Companies like Siebel or offer excellent hosted CRM solutions with feature-rich functionality well within your budget (starting around $65/user/month).


4 thoughts on “CRM vs SFA – What’s the Difference?”

  1. This is a great article David. I was pretty unclear on the differences until now. I’ve heard is a great CRM solution. Siebel has gotten really bad customer reviews so I’m staying clear of them. Thanks again.


  2. Generally I agree with the distrinction made here between SFA and CRM. However, this is an arbitrary divide. NetSuite provides both CRM and SFA and in doing so there is no distinction in the system when you are working with SFA and CRM. Therefore when managing a pipeline I can drill down to see each of the potential customers and identify what needs doing to satisfy each of the potential customers’ needs. There really need not be a division there.

  3. Good post…a further distinction is: “CRM is first and foremost a business philosophy to create and sustain long-term, profitable customer relationships. It’s a business philosophy. CRM technology exists as a tool that helps us with that philosophy.”

  4. The same questions have come up in some of my client engagements. This is very clear distinction. Now my other question is SFA versus I got corrected in a meeting and I still do not know why.

Comments are closed.