These products include: ACT!, from Symantec Corp., Cupertino, Calif.; MultiActive Maximizer 3.0, from Maximizer Technologies, Vancouver, British Columbia; and ECCO Pro 3.0, from NetManage, Cupertino, Calif. They range in price from $149 to $200. More sophisticated high-end products include the WebTrak Internet Marketing Module from Aurum Software, Santa Clara, Calif. Unlike the lower-cost tools, WebTrak is designed for large corporations desiring integrated soup-to-nuts sales automation that includes marketing, telemarketing and customer support. It sells for $7,500 to $10,000, depending on the configuration.
"There has been a lot of money put into building home pages. A lot of large companies are spending upwards of a couple hundred thousand dollars, and they're trying to figure out where the payoff is," said Matt Duncan, director of marketing at Aurum. "It would be nice if we could get some productivity out of the Web pages we're doing today."
Users can use a product like ACT contact management software to exchange leads via e-mail. Once leads are downloaded into ACT's contact management program, they can be manipulated in various ways. For example, a salesperson could use the program to send an e-mail letter to a select list of hot prospects.
MultiActive Maximizer 3.0 for Windows 95 provides similar e-mail functionality. In addition, users can take advantage of the software publisher's online Eagle database of 11 million businesses in the U.S. and Canada to search for prospects.
The database can be probed by SIC code, ZIP code, contact title or other criterion. The cost to download contact information is 35 cents per record with a contact name or 18 cents without.
ECCO Pro 3.0, a personal information management product for Windows, offers other features, including an Internet address book loaded with more than 2,000 Gopher, World Wide Web and FTP sites. The sites are organized into categories such as business, computers, government, science and art.
From within ECCO Pro, users can go directly to a selected home page using a Web browser. They can then download information from that site into ECCO Pro, where the information and its Internet address are stored. ECCO Pro's developers call the software tools behind this capability "shooters."
Gary Ellenbogen, a software trainer based in Winooski, Vt., was so taken with ECCO Pro as a user that he now trains others to use the product. For his own business, ClicksRight Computing, Mr. Ellenbogen uses the product to prospect online.
"I find leads on CompuServe, on the Internet and in newsgroups," he said. "When I find leads, they go by shooter into my ECCO file." He then uses ECCO Pro to follow up on sales leads with phone calls, fulfillment packages, letters and other materials.
Aurum Software's WebTrak, which automates lead qualification, enables companies to capture vital lead qualifying information from visitors to their home page.
One of Aurum's customers, Netscape Communications Corp., Mountain View, Calif., uses WebTrak and a sister software module to manage the thousands of customer leads generated daily by Netscape's site.
"People are finding that the Internet is a great way to do business," said Stephen Brooks, marketing manager at Maximizer Technologies. "And I don't mean by selling things. I mean by marketing over the Internet."