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This would have helped me

New Member
Posts: 14
Country: USA

This would have helped me

I'm new to ACT!  These tips would have helped me a lot.


  • Figure out how you want to measure your performance, and the performance of initiatives you take. 
  • The core of the program is Opportunities
  • Create an opportunity for every prospect contact you enter.
  • User-defined fields in Opportunities are more useful than user-defined fields in contacts 
  • Make your own sales process, with your own stages
  • Each stage should represent what the prospect is doing, not what you're doing. For example, if you send samples, you should have a stage called "Evaluating Product" or "In discussion" or "Unresponsive." If you have a stage called "Sent Sample" you won't know what's going on with your customer and you won't know what to do next.
  • I have a stage called Lost. To me, it makes sense as part of the stage progression.  I double-enter it as Opportunity Status,also.
  • Send all your e-mails through ACT!  That's the only way to get the whole history in ACT!
  • Every time you receive an e-mail from a contact, add it to their history manually (Attach to Contact).  Incoming messages from customers MUST BE ADDED TO THEIR HISTORY MANUALLY.  Messages you send will go there automatically.
  • You can't access the SQL tables via ODBC, so you're stuck with their queries (which are a little esoteric).  This is a major weakness for reporting.  You can't group contacts and compare progress between groups (was I more successful at the Vegas show or the Atlanta show?).  You can't connect group to contact and contact to opportunity stage and use it as the basis of a single report.  At least I haven't figured out how, without a real query engine.
  • The ID/Status field in the contact record is for high-level, slow-changing classification only, i.e. friend, vendor, coworker, prospect, customer, etc.  You won't be able to find out opportunity stage information broken out by that Status.  For example, if you classify "cold lead" and "hot lead" and later want to compare your close rate between those two, you can't.  Same with contact user-defined fields.  To get this kind of selling performance data, you have to stay inside the Opportunities fields. That's where to keep customer progress information that changes through the sales cycle.
  • I have no idea what a group opportunity is.
  • Always update the Last Results field for a contact.  It's the best place to put that one-line description of their situation.
  • Every time you interact with a customer, make sure that you:
    • update the Last Results field
    • add (or check) the Activity records (what's your scheduled next step)
    • update the stage of your sales process they're in
  • Before you open a closed opportunity, note the date you closed it.  It's cleared if you re-open it (which you must do to correct info, for example).  So 1) note the date, 2) re-open it, 3) correct whatever, 4) close it 5) re-enter the date.

That's all for now.  I'd really appreciate it if someone shared their own do's and dont's.





Copper Contributor
Posts: 42
Country: United States

Re: This would have helped me

Wow - This is very interesting.  How long did it take you to get all of these issues handled?  Could you explain how one of your Opportunity ideas helped - benefited - the work you do with a customer?
New Member
Posts: 14
Country: USA

Re: This would have helped me

I've been using ACT! for about three weeks.  I'm selling from it, moreso than managing relationships.  People visit my website and they contact me.  Then I send them a sample, give them choices, find out how I can customize my product for them, etc.  For me, it's mostly about keeping all the different customers straight and not forgetting where we are in the process, not sending them samples twice or asking them the same questions over and over.  I need to know if the customer is interested and talking to me, or is unresponsive, or has paid already, or has received a sample, and so on. 


Does that answer your question? 

Copper Contributor
Posts: 42
Country: United States

Re: This would have helped me

If you learned all of this in three weeks you are a skilled computer person. You did answer the basics of my question. You did not mention how you think all this has helped the customer - it does show how it helped you. Good luck and great selling. Brad
New Member
Posts: 10
Country: USA

Re: This would have helped me

I am an long term ACT user and will share with you a way of solving a current situation.  


PROBLEM  you have to schedule several activities (one after the other) that make part of a BIGGER activity and I want to know how the bigger activity was solved alltogether.  For Example "Make a Cake" is made up of several smaller activities like 1) get ingredientes, 2) mix them, 3) bake and 4) eat the cake.


MY SOLUTION instead of creating 4 different activities and clearing them out one by one, I create a one activity and write the BIG TASK followed by the smaller task.  As I advance in the process, I change the smaller task and re-schedule the next task and ALWAYS record my advance in the "Details"  In this way I only control 1 task rather than 4 (in this example) and at the end I get my BIG task completed.  Example:  MAKE A CAKE - get ingredientes.  When this is accomplished I then rename the task MAKE A CAKE - mix ingredientes (and will register in the "Details, with a time stamp what I already did)



Copper Contributor
Posts: 172
Country: USA

Re: This would have helped me

Wow - enlightening !!
New Member
Posts: 14
Country: USA

Re: This would have helped me

I've created a couple of standard processes. This has been very helpful so I'll share it. Since doing this, I can count on certain fields being filled-out completely and correctly (for reports or lookups, e.g.). This keeps me from forgetting something important, like attaching the incoming e-mail to their history.



When sample is requested by e-mail:
  1. Open the message
  2. Create contact from sender (Action Menu)
  3. Attach e-mail to the sender (Action Menu)
  4. Close the message
  5. Move e-mail to “All Messages” folder
  6. Locate contact record (return to ACT window, Lookup menu, Contact, enter firstname)
    1. Wouldn't it be nice if you could be reading an e-mail and click "Go to this sender's record"??
  7. Set user: ID/Status to Prospect
  8. Set user-defined field #5 to “Sample Request”
  9. Create Opportunity:
    1. Set product to Dozen pack
    2. Set quantity to 10 dozen
    3. Set close date to 1-month from today
    4. Set stage=Requested Sample
  10. Create Follow-up for this opportunity
    1. Type = e-mail
    2. Date = next day or 2
    3. Regarding = Send Sample after Clarification.
  11. Create e-mail from template: Sample Autoreply; subject = Sample question
    1. I do this to make sure they're committed enough to respond to a simple question.
  12. Update Last Results in contact record: “Waiting for clarification”
  13. Click ‘Save’ icon



When clarification is received
  1. Attach e-mail to sender
  2. Move e-mail to “All Messages” folder
  3. Open contact’s record
  4. Open opportunity
  5. Change the opportunity name from “New Opportunity” to something like “Gala dinner" or "Daughter's wedding"
  6. Set value of Opportunity user-defined field #2 to "Owned" or "Leased"
  7. Estimated Close date: If event date is known, choose 1 month before. Otherwise, leave it.
  8. Change stage to 4. Sent Sample
  9. Click Activities tab
  10. Clear the "Send Sample after Clarification" activity (click box at far left)
  11. Click Follow Up button
    1. Activity type = e-mail
    2. Start Date = 7 days hence
    3. Regarding = “Has Sample Arrived?”
    4. Click OK to save the follow-up
  12. Click OK to clear the “Send Sample after Clarification” activity.
  13. On Contact record, set Last Results = “Sent Sample”
  14. Click diskette icon to save this record
  15. Address sample and mail it!


Bronze Contributor
Posts: 955
Country: Australia

Re: This would have helped me

While I think your methods are sound I have stopped using the last results field for a number of reasons


a) While it is recorded to history you have to then select to schedule the next history

b) there is limited space to record the interaction with the contact


I prefer to recommend using record history in every case and move the history TAB to the front. Therefore


a) you can record the big picture result in the regarding field and then much more detail

b) You can schedule the next follow up directly from this screen

c) Record histroy can be opened from just about anywhere with right click or CTRL H

d) In later versions you can also attach documents to each interaction if necessary.

e) When recording histroy you can specify the activity type and even use your own if you have added some activity types which you cannot do with last results


Paul Buchtmann Australia
Australia's First ACT Consultant (1989)

FREE Record History to change default to Call or To-Do for ACT! 2010-2012 versions. Custom versions also available.
New Member
Posts: 14
Country: USA

Re: This would have helped me

thank you, thank you, thank you.  I'll try it.


Here's a usage question from a recent situation:

Is it possible to create a look-up from the activities reminder pop-up?  I may have 5 e-mails scheduled for a certain day - intending to send a templated message like "have you received your samples yet?".  All 5 activities come up in the activities reminder window.  Then I have to write them down, create a look-up by picking them out one-by-one, then create a mail-merge to them.  It would be much better to select them all (or some) RIGHT THERE in the reminder list, and create a mail merge right from there.  Or at least create a look-up so I could do the merge next.


ACT! reminds me to mail these 5 people; then makes me do it all manually. 


Any techniques or methods to recommend?



New Member
Posts: 1
Country: United States

Re: This would have helped me

I recommend customizing the activity regarding drop-down lists to manage repetitive tasks.  For example, if you are using "To-Do" as the activity type and choose from your customized regarding drop-down "Rec'd Sample Follow-up" (or something like that), you can schedule those all day long.  When you are ready to actually do your mail merge, go to the task list and sort by the regarding columnm (click the column header).  All of your "Rec'd Sample Follow-up" activities will be listed together.  Highlight them all, then right-click "Go To Contact" (Create Lookup will create a lookup of all contacts on the task list, but Go To Contact will create a lookup of only those highlighted.)  There's your lookup for your mail merge.  Easy! 


Don't forget to clear your activities when you've done them.  You can clear them all at the same time also by highlighting them on the task list and right-click "Clear Multiple Activities"


As a side note, I do not recommend using alarms on activities if you don't actually need to be alarmed.  Utilizing the power of the calendar and task list will keep you in control of your day and your activities.  You'll spend more time getting things done and less time being interrupted to hit the snooze button.

Tami Sauer
CrossMark Consultants, LLC (ACT! Certified Consultants) * 877-885-4228