Every entrepreneur is somehow in sales. It doesn't matter what your company does or whether the product you sell is yourself or a tangible item. Whatever it is, it has to be sold.
Why not get an edge on the competition by staying on top of your sales with a sales automation program (also known as contact management software)? And, if you have a sales force, you can make its success all the more likely by giving salespeople the right tools to get the job done.
This column reviews three popular off-the-shelf contact management programs. If you have unique needs these programs can't meet, try searching trade magazines for industry- and need-specific programs available from specialized software companies.
All three programs reviewed here (TeleMagic, GoldMine and ACT!) have recently been upgraded, making this a good time to compare them. Both GoldMine and ACT! have made the leap into full Internet support, including e-mail functions and some Web site data features. Also, both GoldMine and ACT! are true 32-bit applications that run under Windows 95/NT, while TeleMagic remains a 16-bit application that runs under Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.
All three programs offer networking capabilities for sharing data and resources between groups. The networking functionality is designed to help a team work more productively together by sharing information, schedules, tasks and more in a cohesive manner.
The trick with these programs is getting people to use them. It can take some cajoling and convincing to get salespeople to embrace a new way of working. For that reason, we'll take a serious look at the ease-of-use features in these programs.