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Small Business Ideas Forum

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Old 28th February 2006, 02:13 PM   #1
NM agent
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Default Looking for better customer database

I posted this in the "computer software" area and didn't get a single response. I know some salespeople use customer databases, if so, I need a suggestion, thanks.

I have been using ACT 2000 as my customer database for several years. It is good but it takes over my computer. For instance, when I try to print a mail-merge from it, it says my spooler isn't working. Then I have to reboot before I can use the printer again with any other program, such as something I've typed on Word.

My boss tells me that the last salesman here had the same problem. His computer was always having problems until he finally got rid of ACT. After he got rid of ACT, he had no more problems. So he told me last week to find and buy some other customer database program and stop using ACT.

I have to agree, I like ACT but I hate that it screws up my computer.

I looked at a couple of other programs like Goldmine but I don't like the way it looks and besides, I have to buy an additional program to get it to transfer my files from ACT.

Does anyone know of a good program for this? ACT can do mail merge (if it worked), keep records of appointments, notes, etc. I want a good program capable of different tasks. Not like Outlook, that doesn't do as much as ACT.
Thanks.

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Old 1st March 2006, 03:30 PM   #2
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I am also interested in your answers. Used ACT for years and had similar problems. I found that if I got rid of some of the cheep programs I had collected through the years that helped. Free stuff is another head ach. ACT ties in with everything. I am no longer running a business that uses ACT, thank goodness. They used to have a web site you could ask the FAQ on. That sometimes helped. We did not have a service contract. Good luck, I still think it is the best database out there.

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Old 3rd March 2006, 12:50 PM   #3
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Ralph,

Thanks for responding...I was beginning to wonder about this forum. I mean, you'd think that every salesperson and small business owner would have a customer database program.

I like Act for what it does but I can't believe no one out there knows anything about this type of program.

I hate what it does to my computer! My biggest problem is that it won't print in ACT. It says I don't have a printer hooked up. So I have to cut and paste letters, faxes, everything I do in ACT and paste them into word 97.

Regards,

NM Agent

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Old 3rd March 2006, 03:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NM agent
I mean, you'd think that every salesperson and small business owner would have a customer database program.
Actually, I think that is an area that many small business owners could use more education to understand the true value of a program like that.

This may be way off, but have you looked at salesforce.com? I've looked at their site a few times and am intrigued by what they offer but always draw back because the minimum fee is $65 per month.

Of course, it's a service and not software so that may or may not be appealing to you.

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Old 4th March 2006, 01:35 PM   #5
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Default

It's refreshing to read people who understand the importance of customer resource management (CRM). I used ACT way back when but gave up on it because of the free stuff that's out there.

The issue is the learning curve for many. ACT is sleek, easy to use and built for the sales person. It's easy for the most part.

I have found that Outlook is an easier option for the end user only because most of my clients are Office users. They are already using Outlook for basic email and the newer version (2003) is a little more CRM friendly.

Another suggestion, depending on your invoicing software and methods, you might consider hiring a local company to create a CRM for you. Many times it's not as complicated as it sounds, only takes a few weeks and if you compare the price verses buying dozens of licenses of ACT, it may even be cheaper. The bottom line is if it is built around your core data, to do exactly what you want it to do and in a manner that is comfortable for you, it may be worth 10 times the cost of a boxed solution.

My advice, "keep it simple." It's commonly the most obvious answer that is obscured by complexity.

-----------------

On a common thread, I've decided to use a local company who will integrate the CRM with the phone system, QuickBooks and MS Office. It's almost too good to be true. I've seen it in action and it blew me away. I'll post more on it when I implement it. I'm giving it a 90 day trial for my small office and if it does what I hope, I will add the software and hardware to the travel agency and a large retail organization I am influential with.

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Old 4th March 2006, 05:29 PM   #6
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For a hosted solution Salesforce rocks. It's pricey -- but truly excellent.

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Old 5th March 2006, 06:41 PM   #7
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Any Mac users around? ACT! does not appear to be available for Macintosh, so what do you guys use?

There is no real need for this type of software for Noss Galen Baby, but we will be in severe need of a great solution once the first Galactic Frontier book is ready for distribution this fall.

Thanks!

- Paul

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Old 6th March 2006, 07:17 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for your comments.
I work for a small company so can't use CRM software that costs every month.

I like ACT because it is a great way to keep everything together. Write letters, make notes, do call reports, make appointments, it also alarms when I need to remember to do something, does mailers and...

But I still hate that I'm having problems printing with it. I have to write the letter in ACT, then cut and past the letter to Word, then print it from Word. Which is annoying, at the least.

And since ACT sold to some other company, they no longer answer problem questions, like mine. So I can't do a mailer!!!

For anyone out there who doesn't use a CRM (Customer Relationship Database), you are missing the boat. You just can't be as organized or as efficient without one!

As for learning how to use it, I bought an ACT for Dummies book. But I still can't get it to print mailers. (it used to, but doesn't anymore)

I tried Goldmine and Sales Pro but they have to be learned too. And I wasn't able to import the data from ACT into either Goldmine or Sales Pro so lost interest fast.

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Old 22nd February 2007, 01:16 AM   #9
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Default List Resource

One resource that I have found extremely valuable is to go to the Community Economic Development and ask them for a list of all of the businesses in the area along with the owner/GM, phone #, address, etc. Some of the lists are even posted online. It is great for B2B selling.

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Old 1st April 2007, 08:34 PM   #10
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I would agree that there are plenty of reasons for small businesses to take advantage of CRM offerings. I would agree with SoKy that keeping it simple is a smart move. Over-engineering has been the death of many a CRM implementation.

In addition to those ideas listed above, I would recommend taking a look at FreeCRM and Zoho CRM. Both have good CRM functionality and pricing models that are attractive to small businesses.

I would also try doing a Google search to see if there are any CRM applications that may be specific to your industry. That can often be one way of avoiding paying for a lot of functionality you won't have any use for.

Good luck!

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