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Taking Account
Today's account management software tracks client information and history-all at the click of a button.
For the rest of the July 1999 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Saving time and energy has obvious benefits. At a leading copier manufacturer, sales and marketing personnel gained 26 man-days per year as a result of their sales and marketing automation efforts. At the core of these gains is solid account management software, specifically geared toward reducing repetitive, time-consuming tasks-giving sales reps more time to sell.

The software in action
Without account management automation, a lead might come from a sales manager in the form of a printed report. Typically, the sales rep qualifies the lead, sets up an appointment and then makes the sales call. Often the lead requests a quote, which the sales rep prepares offsite (i.e., at the office or at home). Then, the lead might wait several days for a quote while the rep gathers the necessary information to generate it. Throughout this process, there is always the risk that a competitive sales rep will appear at the lead's doorstep with the desired quote information in hand.

Through account management software, sales reps receive leads automatically via computer. The automatic lead qualification process mentioned in my column last month lets sales reps know which of these leads are worth pursuing. The reps then make sales calls prepared to present leads with quotes either on the spot or shortly thereafter. With automated order entry, reps input product, price, shipping and other related information into their account management program. This information, in turn, seamlessly integrates with back-end systems so that the reps can inform customers of financial terms, delivery date and more.

Count management software lets all the people who "touch" the customer share a common account record."

For complex sales requiring detailed proposals, a tool known as a proposal generator tracks a library of answers to questions inserted automatically into the proposal template. A proposal generator may be available within a CRM software's account management module or as a third-party add-on module. Two of the leading third-party proposal generators are Pragmatech's The RFP Machine and The Sant Corporation's ProposalMaster. Product and price configurators also offer proposal-generator tools as well, such as BT Squared and Newtonian. The proposal generator scans questions and inserts appropriate answers, significantly decreasing the time it takes to complete a comprehensive proposal.

Account management software lets all people who "touch" the customer-marketing, customer service, finance, manufacturing and other personnel-share a common account record and also provides the ability to input data into that record. This feature is particularly useful when a sales rep takes over an account and does not want to learn the account history from scratch, or when a busy executive needs to prepare for a visit to an important account.

The following is a summary of the main business functionality provided by best-in-class account management software.

Account information support
This function allows the user to better service the account and increase revenue by providing access to important information such as company name, multiple addresses, phones and e-mail. The unlimited predefined and user-defined fields and tabs expand the profiling functionality to easily record other more detailed information such as company/cultural values, special events and sales volume.

The following programs provide comprehensive account information support functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Avenue v. 5.0 by Saratoga Systems, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; SFA Plus v. 8.0 by PowerCerv Technologies, Inc.; and Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems.

Activity history
All account activity is automatically logged via a trigger and viewed in a grid that lists activities as line items, which can then be drilled for more detail. The user tracks activities by date, time, status, attachment, assigned representative, priority, completed by and rerouted from. Activities can be assigned to other users and linked to accounts, campaigns, action plans, opportunities, quality assurance and/or contacts.

The following programs provide comprehensive activity history functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Avenue v. 5.0 by Saratoga Systems, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; MarketForce v. 5.0 by Software of the Future, d.b.a. MarketForce; Onyx Customer Center v. 4.0 by ONYX Software Corporation; Pivotal Relationship 98 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems; Universell Business to Business v. 6.3 by MEI Technology Group; Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corporation; and WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corporation.

Order entry
The order entry function allows the user to track orders by multiple companies, multiple addresses, warehouses and shipping methods in a grid view by individual line items. The user can, among other tasks, track inventory on hand, promise dates, active ship dates, shipping instructions, as well as discount an order by item or by total. Also, the user can drill down into stock information across all warehouses to substitute accessories on the fly.

The following programs provide comprehensive order entry functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; *Marketing Manager v. 4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; Pivotal Relationship 98 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems; *Universell Business to Business v. 6.3 by MEI Technology Group; and WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corporation.
*Support available for fast-moving consumer goods.

Order history
The order history function tracks orders by date, time, product/service, contact, sales representative, opportunity, campaign, status and reference. The information is then viewed in a browse table, which allows for drilling down into a line item for more detail.

The following programs provide order history functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; Marketing Manager v. 4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; Pivotal Relationship 98 by Pivotal Software, Inc.; Sales Continuum 2000 by Pipestream Technologies, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems; Universell Business to Business v. 6.3 by MEI Technology Group; and WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corporation.

Lead tracking
Lead tracking functionality enables users to track a lead through an entire sales cycle, from initial contact to customer support. Leads are automatically qualified (e.g., attach an action plan or a sales methodology) and routed to a sales representative, sales team, channel partner and/or reseller for follow-up activities based on defined business rules. The system tracks leads by name, address, date, time, status, industry, product, service, territory, revenue and more. If necessary, ticklers and alarms can be assigned to any account, contact or activity to ensure that all phases of an action plan related to a lead are addressed. Finally, various reports or onscreen summaries measure the success of a campaign by querying lead-related information such as costs and generated revenue.

The following programs provide comprehensive lead-tracking functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Avenue v. 5.0 by Saratoga Systems, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; Client Management Software v. 4.0 by ON!contact Software Corporation; Enterprise Series v. 6.9 by Data Code, Inc.; Marketing Manager v. 4.0 by UpDate Marketing, Inc.; SFA Plus v. 8.0 by PowerCerv Technologies, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems; UpShot Sales v. 1.0 by UpShot; Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corporation; and WorldTrak v. 4.0 by WorldTrak Corporation.

Sales contract generation
This function integrates contact, account, opportunity and order information into a third-party, word-processing product for automatic contract and proposal generation. Sales contract generation is supported by a central knowledge base of responses to commonly asked questions, which is built from existing proposals or other MS-Windows OLE compatible content (MS-Excel, MS-PowerPoint).

The following programs provide comprehensive sales contract generation functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; ProposalMaster v. 4.0 by The Sant Corporation; Sales Continuum 2000 by Pipestream Technologies, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems; and The RFP Machine v. 3.0 by Pragmatech.

Sales cycle analysis
Analysis of the sales cycle gauges the effectiveness of a representative's and/or a company's ability to generate sales. Sales are tracked by account, account manager, pipeline stage, region, projected revenue and so on. Effective analysis also highlights the number of leads, prospects, customers and lost deals for any given time period, region or representative.

The following programs provide comprehensive sales cycle analysis functionality: Applix v. 7.0 by Applix, Inc.; Avenue v. 5.0 by Saratoga Systems, Inc.; Baan Front Office v. 98.4 by The Baan Company; Client Management Software v. 4.0 by ON!contact Software Corporation; Sales Continuum 2000 by Pipestream Technologies, Inc.; Siebel 99 by Siebel Systems, Inc.; Universell Business to Business v. 6.3 by MEI Technology Group; and Vantive Sales v. 8.0 by The Vantive Corporation.

Account management functionality remains critical to sales, marketing, customer service and any other functions that touch the customer-a fundamental component of any good customer relationship management (CRM) system. Most CRM vendors bundle account management software into their overall CRM software offering, usually within the sales portion of the application, and so it may not be a good choice to purchase a stand-alone account management system.

Next time: marketing automation, by far the hottest area within the CRM industry.

This regular column is based on how-to advice and software reviews that have been taken from ISM's Guide To Sales, Customer Service & Marketing Automation. After testing hundreds of packages, ISM has established selection criteria for software that takes into account business functionality, technical features and user-friendliness issues. The guide includes eight categories: customer service, contact management, account management, sales force management, time management, telemarketing/telesales, marketing and executive information. For more information, point your browser to www.ismguide.com or call (800) SFA-GUIDE or (301) 656-8448.

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