It’s the middle of the holiday period, so it’s a little bit surprising to see Gartner release another one of its Magic Quadrants. This time it’s the Sales Force Automation quadrant that features quite a number of the vendors we've seen in the customer experience management space, except this one has a slightly different focus.

The number of vendors that appear in this Quadrant are considerably fewer than normal Quadrants and are divided -- with a couple of notable exceptions -- into those that fall into the Leaders Quadrant, and those that are niche players.

Gartner’s Sales Force Automation

If you’re not clear how sales force automation is different than other customer relationship management technologies, let’s look at Gartner’s definition of it:

Sales force automation (SFA) applications support the automation of sales activities, processes and administrative responsibilities for B2B organizations' sales professionals. Core functionalities include account, contact and opportunity management.”

That’s not all though, and as might be expected, SFA technologies can also include add-on capabilities that focus on improving the effectiveness of sales people like content management, proposal generation, sales configuration and sales performance management support.

As you can see it is closely aligned to the wider CXM market and the vendors that are playing there. Before looking at the leaders in this Quadrant, though, let’s see what’s happening in the market.

Sales Force Automation Market

The market context of the SFA Quadrant is that all of the vendors mentioned, whatever quadrant they fall into, have an extensive customer list with products that are successfully being used at the moment by enterprises.

It includes a wide, cross-section of vendors that offer a range of different delivery models including on-premises, SaaS and hosted, with different levels of functionality, breadth and sophistication.

As ever Gartner recommends that the Quadrant be used in the context of enterprise needs and not based on where the products or vendors fall in the Quadrant. As a result, Gartner recommends that enterprises look at all offerings, and not just those of Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and Salesforce that made it into the Leaders Quadrant.

However, just because the Quadrant was released during the holiday period, or appears to be a subset of the wider CXM market, its value should not be underestimated. Over 2011, more than US$ 5 billion was spent in sales force applications with SFA technologies focusing primarily on accounts, contacts, sales opportunities and selling process technologies.

Enterprise SFA requirements are unique and depend on the enterprise maturity and the sales culture of each organization, how it uses technology, sales practices and how it envisages ROI from technology investments.

Gartner says it has noted an increase in the focus on sales performance management capabilities that compliment core SFA objectives with the conversation around smartphone and iPads continuing to dominate the discussion around mobility.

Like other technologies, it’s all about different strokes for different folks. Product-driven transactional sales organizations will find value in opportunity management capabilities; large organizations generally need role-specific functionality as well as scalability; other organizations will base their decisions on prices; others on the volume of data that the enterprise needs to manage.

A successful vendor selection strategy will assess providers that support data requirements, access modes and functionality for each sales role. The sales processes will dictate the functional components on the technology selected.

Sales Force Automation Criteria

So what criteria do vendors need to meet to get into the Quadrant in the first place? To be included in this Magic Quadrant, a vendor must demonstrate that it:

  • Can deliver an opportunity management system with software released in the past 18 months
  • Has at last five new, named customers delivered over the past 12 months
  • Has customers using B2B opportunity management as the primary sales
  • Has at least US$ 15 million in annual company revenue
  • Has customer presence in more than one of the following regions: North America, EMEA, Latin America.

Evaluation Criteria

On top of that there are a number of evaluation criteria that they also need to meet:

  • Must meet a wide range of complexity and able to serve several distinct industry sectors
  • Vendor's ability to ensure continued vitality of a product, including support of current and future releases
  • Must provide global sales and distribution
  • Clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to deliver the vendor’s message
  • Feedback to Gartner on vendor’s products
  • The ability of the vendor to meet its stated goals and commitments.


And there are more. The final aspect that Gartner evaluates is the vendor’s completeness of vision for the new application. By completeness of vision, Gartner means:

  • Offering (Product) Strategy: Vendor should demonstrate vision for new applications and functionality
  • Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated marketing strategy with a set of messages that appeals to selling organizations and is consistently communicated throughout the organization
  • Sales Strategy: A network of direct and indirect sales and marketing services.
  • Business Model: Need to provide clear business plans as to they intend to achieve stated business plans.
  • Innovation: Demonstrate ability to develop new products or expertize for competitive advantage
  • Geographic Strategy: Demonstrated means to service geographic areas outside its immediate region.

Salesforce Automation Leaders

Those that made it into the Leaders Quadrant have been able to pull all these elements together to provide a market-defining vision of how technology can help sales personnel achieve business objectives. They provide this through their portfolio of products.

This year only four vendors made into this specialized space. In alphabetical order they are:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

To appeal to mobile users that are not using Windows, Dynamics CRM will expand its platform and include native deployments for non-Windows devices. This will greatly increase the number of organizations that will consider using it.

  • Strengths: Integration with the Microsoft technology stack including SharePoint as well as accessibility for Outlook clients. It also comes with a very broad partner network, add-ons and vertical expertize. Available in Microsoft Dynamics 2Q12 Service Update, Power View is an extension of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and contains good reporting capabilities,
  • Cautions: Depends on solution providers to furnish a complete solution. Although it provides a native Outlook client, customers also need to use partner solution for direct server-to-server integration.

Oracle Siebel CRM

Oracle Siebel CRM will continue to be a viable option of complex on-premises deployments for the foreseeable future and has the broadest set of functional footprints for SA. Oracle will continue to invest in Oracle Siebel CRM and offer what Oracle calls Oracle Fusion Modules as add-ons.

  • Strengths: Demonstrates a proven, deep and broad sales functionality in multiple verticals for large enterprises. It offers flexible configuration and customization, and makes good use of Oracle infrastructure and middleware. Remains one of the few on-premises software options for large-enterprise, large-scale deployments.
  • Cautions: Customer says it is easier to integrate with non-Oracle applications than existing Oracle applications. Deployment complexity reported with enterprise-class applications, while its territory management is rule-based and can be difficult to manage.

Salesforce, as might be expected, is top of the SFA market, a fact that is underlined by its business growth and innovation. It’s still expensive, though. Enterprises invest because of the brand and the track record over years. It also has strong ecosystems of ISVs.

  • Strengths: Continues to innovate and continues to push its breath and capabilities in the social technology space. It offers improved application agility through, as well as an integrated and customer service platform. It has a proven infrastructure and reliability.
  • Cautions: The Unlimited Edition is expensive, so Gartner recommends looking at the lower-end editions before committing to the Unlimited Edition. With the Social Enterprise License agreement, Salesforce says enterprise should be careful about over subscribing. It also relies heavily on AppExchange vendors to provide a complete solution.


This is the first time that SAP has made it into the Leaders Quadrant in this area, which indicates a product that is evolving. It has been included on the basis of strong business results as well as integration with SAP ERP and a broader mobile vision.

  • Strengths: It comes with real-time integration between SAP CRM and SAP ERP, not to mention other SAP applications and infrastructure. Future releases aim to use Hana real-time analytics and mobility while broad CRM includes a marketing, customer service and sales functional footprint.
  • Cautions: The Outlook integration needs to become more reliable while many users continue to have problems with client-side integration. Managing the cost and complexity of enterprise applications and dependencies on other SAP is still a challenge. Gartner also says it needs to clarify its mobile strategy.

And there are the Leaders. However, there is a lot more in this report and worth an examination, especially in the Niche Quadrant. If you’re interested in accessing a free copy you can download it after registration on the Salesforce site here.