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What to look for ...
By James E. Powell, Northwest Bureau Editor
PIMs (personal information managers) can help you organize your life and, if you’re in business, make sure that you don’t let a crucial appointment slip through the cracks. They’ll keep important details about your contacts, including when you should follow up with a potential customer or check up on existing clients to ensure that they’re still satisfied with your products or services.
The first step in purchasing a PIM is to determine your own needs. PIMs come in three varieties:
- If you need an address manager or telephone directory, you’ll probably be satisfied with one of several products devoted solely to this purpose. Metz Phones, for example, can track names, addresses and phone numbers, then lets you add notes about each contact. It does not, however, schedule appointments.
- If you want to manage names and appointments, think about a true-blue personal information manager. Products such as Starfish Software’s Sidekick or Baseline Data Systems’ Office Accelerator combine both contact information and appointments.
- If you manage a sales process, you may be happiest with a contact manager. Products in this category include GoldMine, ACT and WinSales; they distinguish themselves by helping you manage a sales cycle. For instance, with WinSales you can define a cycle to include four or five steps (send brochure, write a follow-up letter three days later, call customer after a week, etc.) and then add the customer to a sales cycle--all the necessary appointments and tasks are added at once. GoldMine is particularly suited to salespeople who can evaluate opportunity costs, spotting the best contacts to keep in touch with (based on likelihood of a sale) when time is limited.
Once you’ve decided on the type of program you need, it’s time to go shopping. Here are some of the features you should look for. Remember, PIMs are as individual as your customers and the information you store about them. No single PIM is perfect for everyone.
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.