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Make Contact

New and improved, these sales management programs help you close the deal.

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.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Make Contact.

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