Deep Impact

One entrepreneur uses innovation to help others make a lasting impression without the headache.

What: Service that helps salespeople manage relationships with prospects
Who: Morris Shepard of Impact Systems Inc.
Where: Littleton, Colorado
When: Started in 1995 keeping in touch with prospects

Keeping in touch with prospects can be a daunting task, and nobody knows it better than Morris Shepard. Having worked as a stockbroker and a sales manager for car dealerships, Shepard knew from past experience how difficult it was to maintain regular correspondence with customers.

In fact, Shepard often thought about doing something to simplify the process. In 1995, Shepard got the idea for a new software program that would automate the process. And with the expertise of a software developer, Shepard's signature program was born and christened the Sequential Client Contact System.

Today, Shepard's business uses that software to make it easier for salespeople to stay in touch with prospects and forge new potential business relationships. Because of the new program, gone are the hours spent drafting thank-you notes and letters for countless customers on a recurring basis. For a mere $95 per salesperson, Impact Systems does all the work instead.

Shepard, 48, makes daily trips to clients' offices, picks up prospect contact information from salespeople, and then enters the information into a database. Notes and letters--a total of 15 over a five-year period per prospect--are printed out on either letterhead or card stock. These are delivered to the client, who simply signs the correspondence and drops it in the mail.

The software also allows Shepard to track the overall effectiveness of advertising, such as which models sell well in specific ZIP codes. He provides this information free of charge to customers, which include car and motorcycle dealerships and mortgage companies.

Sales for 2001 pushed past the $200,000 mark, and 2002 sales are expected to increase nearly 30 percent. Shepard is currently working on modifying the software so realtors can use it as well, and eventually he would like to license his software to other entrepreneurs who are interested in starting similar businesses.

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This article was originally published in the April 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Deep Impact.

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