Sage software officially made Sage ACT! 2011 available for purchase through their early bird promotion program. Julie and I were involved in the beta program and we thought we'd share our take on this new version with our readers and subscribers. Also thanks goes out to the users on the ACT community site with suggestions for improvements.
Or view Napkin's Mike animated review here...
Here's an executive overview and some key points:
Sales and Marketing professionals will be able to get up to speed faster with helpful information about a prospect and their industry with the Hoover's data integration. The ability to import lists of target market companies and contacts will kick start lead generation. Smart tasks allow you to automatically stay connected to your contacts and be 'top of mind'.
Administrators will appreciate a streamline startup process, additional data security, improved screen layouts and ability to quickly create new fields in the database. Depending on your organization's level of integration with Outlook, the enhanced configuration options may also be useful. (more in future posts)
Yes, you may have noticed a slight name change. The product is now called Sage ACT! 2011 PRO or Sage ACT! 2011 Premium. The PRO version is for individuals or those in small work group of 10 or less. The Premium version is for those who need the enhanced work group features or access through their Web browser via ACT! for Web.
Disclaimer: As a small business, our Success with CRM Consulting, Inc. business uses ACT and we know the challenges of a small business. Our firm is also a Sage Select Partner and Julie and I are Certified Consultants for the ACT! product line.
There has always been a lot of benefits a contact management application such as Sage ACT! can provide business professionals and entrepreneurs. The 2011 edition extends the major functionality built into the 2010 edition and then some.
So what's new with ACT! 2011?
1. Improved Startup Wizard
Some of these features long time customers have been asking for and Sage has delivered:
Express Importing - which allows users to get contacts into their ACT! database faster with a redesigned import functionality. .
Import directly from Excel - this will especially help when many lists are used as when a commerical supplier of lead lists provides them in Excel or CSV format. Often we have clients that want ability to get a new lead list imported- this should help the process.
Improved Default Layouts for improved navigation - ACT! 2010 had user interface enhancements, and Sage has continued to improve navigation.
Redesigned Welcome Page- somewhat easier and more intutitive navigation. There seems to be less clutter and somewhat more useful getting started topics.
2. Sage Business Information Services
Have you ever heard or used Hoover's? If you are from the Sage SalesLogix world you also have heard about Hoovers. Well, Hoovers provides lead lists and business insights about companies around the world. This information saves a lot of research time for any business or sales organization.
Extend your depth of knowledge into an industry using First Research's trends, major players, and key challenges. Sage has partnered with Hoover's to provide access to Hoover's data within Sage ACT! 2011. (Sage SalesLogix support was also announced at Sage Insights in May)
Here is the business information the ACT customer gets with the subscription service:
Contact and company profile.
Company Financials, Contacts (org chart information) and Notes
Industry Information - useful for gaining an quick understanding of the prospect's industry and getting that conservation started. Quickly know the key trending that is occuring.
Search for new companies and Import New Leads (which is a big time saver) Its like finding more companies similar to your existing customers...
Email alerts of changes in the account
3. Smart Tasks - Automated Workflow.
This is one of the compelling reasons to upgrade to Sage ACT! 2011 and has the most options for enhancing productivity. Once you have your business processes defined, which in itself is a big competitive advantage, you can take it to the next level by automating the process with Smart Tasks - useful actions for your Keep in Touch" target="_self">Keep in Touch strategy. It is like having a virtual assistant helping you schedule activities and staying at the top of the mind of prospects and customers.
Here is an overview:
Smart Task Templates:
10 Pre-configured templates for common tasks, such as:
- Contacts with no recent activity
- New Contact Welcome
- High value opportunity alert
- Close opportunity follow up
- Birthday reminder
- Contacts with incomplete information
Useful out-of-the-box or edit to personalize
Suitable for general productivity or sales
Easiest visual designer for creating and modifying Smart Tasks
Drag/drop capabilities for Smart Task steps
Smart Task Operation Visibility:
Pause or Activate Smart Tasks
View pending Smart Tasks
Fully Extensible Engine:
Windows Workflow Foundation
4. Outlook Integration and Synchronization
In businesses with heavy use of Outlook the sync functionality may be the most important part. With several configuration options it will be much easier for users to move data from Outlook to ACT!
Create new Outlook contacts from Sage ACT! and new Sage ACT! contacts from Outlook. Everything will be kept updated in both places. Don't worry about duplicates.
Keep your busy schedule updated in both Outlook and Sage ACT! no matter where you add or modify activities and meetings.
Choose which contacts and activity types in Sage ACT! synch back to Outlook.
5. New Database Security Preferences
Security is especially a concern for attorney/CPA/financial services type firms and in larger corporate environments that deploy Sage ACT!. One aspect of that concern has to do with file attachments in the database. The following capabilities are now new database preferences:
Restrict emails from being attached to user records - addresses issue of one ACT! user reading another ACT! users (the boss, or colleague) correspondences via their user record.
Restrict email attachements in the database
Restrict file attachment in the database such as IE, Word, Notes, Histories, Activities, Mail Merge, ACT! Email.
6. There is support of Office 2010 in Sage ACT! 2011.
For those early Microsoft Office 2010 adopters, you can now use this productivity toolset with Sage ACT! 2011.
Check out the very active ACT community site for the latest.
Our main Sage ACT! site starts here: Success with ACT
Home for all things Sage ACT! 2011 here....
View Napkin's Mike animated review here...
Which of the above do you find the most helpful?