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-- by James E. Powell
As your business expands, keeping in contact with customers and clients becomes more difficult. Most contact/sales-management systems aren't scalable, so you'll be stuck doing painful upgrades and conversions to a client/server product. Not so with ClientVision 4.0, a powerful client/server sales-management system that grows with your company.
ClientVision is a SQL-compliant version of WinSales 4.0, a standalone Microsoft Access Jet engine-based sales-management tool. The beta version of ClientVision that we tested supports SQL statements in fields so you can display legacy data from other applications. For instance, you can create custom fields to view or update a customer's current credit limit from your accounting system (but there are no customizable input forms). In addition, you can easily migrate from a non-client/server contact manager.
Another notable new feature is the Universal Outbox, which allows you to read and automatically respond to e-mail sent from your home page. It can now be loaded on the Web server's system, so you can send messages directly to SQL Server. This eliminates an import step required in WinSales.
The Trigger Development Language (an option at an additional cost of $995) now supports full SQL statements, as well as the complete DB-library for Visual Basic for Microsoft SQL Server.
We tested a prerelease of ClientVision on a Micron Pentium 200 with Windows NT Server 4.0 and SQL Server 6.0. We ran the program across a 10BaseT network using Intel NICs and hubs. Performance was remarkable, even for a beta product. ClientVision was easily twice as fast as WinSales on queries and lookups.
The beauty of ClientVision is that it looks exactly like previous versions of WinSales. Thus, no user retraining is required. Speedy conversion (less than 3 minutes for 5,000 customer records) also contributes to its scalability.
Standard contact-management features are all here: field-, table- and function-level security; custom fields (with user-defined validation); a custom report writer; queries; and even charting support. Action Plans automatically take action as a customer moves through a sales cycle. For instance, if you add a new client, this behind-the-scenes feature can schedule a follow-up call in three days and mail brochures in five days from that call.
Building relationships with your customers is vital to your company's success. We highly recommend using ClientVision, which joins our WinList, to help manage these relationships. Its ability to scale means you won't easily outgrow it. In addition, easy conversion from non-client/server systems means you'll preserve your data investment.
ClientVision harnesses the power of SQL Server for a truly scalable sales-management tool.