There are several new features of Sage ACT! 2011 that we are really excited about, some big new features, some small but thoughtful enhancements. As I was thinking about the laundry list of features and how to present those at our recent Sage ACT! 2011 Sneak Peak Road Show in San Francisco, I was struck by how much of the cool new “stuff” in Sage ACT! 2011 supports finding new customers. Maybe that’s because it’s a focus of many of our clients right now. With the economy showing some signs of improvement, many organizations that had been in customer retention mode are shifting to customer acquisition.
Best source of new leads? Referrals
I hope that you are utilizing the Sage ACT! Relationship tab - introduced back in ACT! 2009. With this feature, you can link contacts together and define their relationship. This is ideal for referrals. You can track all of the leads you get from a particular referral source, and when you pull up the contact record for that person, on the Relationships tab you will see a list of the other contacts this person referred you to which is great. The missing piece of the picture was the ability to create a lookup of that list of referrals. Now with Sage ACT! 2011 when you go to the Relationships tab, you can right-click and Create Lookup, bringing the contacts from the Relationship tab into the Contact List view where you can better work with them. This added Lookup Related Contacts function is one of those little enhancements that goes a long way.
Tapping New Lead Sources
If you look at your customer base, chances are you will start to see some patterns, industries or size of company or geographic tendencies. Most of our clients can easily identify their best customers – the ideal profile of a prospect. But how do you quickly and easily stack up more of those same types of potential customers in your sales pipeline? Well, first you gotta find ‘em.
Sage ACT! has introduced a number of what they call Business Services into the product. These are additional tools, some with an extra price tag, to enable you to do more with ACT! Sage E-marketing for ACT! is one example, this is where you can send e-mail blasts to your prospects & customers and track the response and results, or even automate your marketing with a Drip Marketing subscription. ACT! Mobile Live is another recent addition, allowing you to access your Sage ACT! data on your BlackBerry®, wirelessly.
In Sage ACT! 2011 the newest Business Service tool to be introduced is Sage Business Info Services for Sage ACT! – which is basically a bundled version of Hoover’s™, right in Sage ACT! For those of you who may not know, Hoover’s™, a division of Dun & Bradstreet, is a business research company that provides information on US & foreign companies. They have a database of over 65 million companies and 85 million people. That’s a lot of data. Now you can access that data from within Sage ACT! and search for leads that fit your perfect customer profile. Once you have refined your list of leads, you can do a fast & easy import of those leads directly into Sage ACT! Having at one time been the person in a company that did the Hoover’s™ research & imported leads into Sage ACT!, I can tell you that this link will save you time and money.
Smarter Follow Up
Follow up. It’s important, no argument there. How many times have I lectured on the “Don’t Let Your Follow up Tasks Fall through the Cracks”? Many, many, times. So why don’t ACT! users do follow up? Well, for one, we’re human. For another, it’s hard. And finally, you can never predict when some other crisis is going to crop up and wipe out your nicely planned follow up activities on any given day.
In Sage ACT! 2011 you can use the new Smart Tasks feature to design a series of follow up activities, and then launch them for a contact or group of contacts and have those tasks automatically run. You can take the list of leads you imported from the Sage Business Info Services for ACT! (Hoover’s™) and tell Sage ACT! to check every Monday for new Contacts, with the ID/Status of “Lead” and apply a list of follow up activities, including sending e-mails automatically, schedule reminder calls and to-do’s. So you’ll never miss a follow up again.
Smart Tasks won’t make you a vanilla soy latte on Monday mornings (I tried) but it will help you stay on top of important follow up tasks so you can convert more of those leads to customers.
Put Your Marketing Efforts on Autopilot
Not every lead converts. Shocking, but true. So, what to do with those unresponsive contacts? Delete them from your database? No! Just because they didn’t purchase from you now doesn’t mean they won’t purchase from you in the future. But when? The fine developers at Sage are still working on integrating the crystal ball app I have requested that will allow you to see into the future and know when your prospects are ready to buy. But in the mean time your best bet is to make sure that your organization, products & services are top of mind. The best way to accomplish this “top of mind” status is to regularly stay in front of those prospects by using the Drip Marketing service via Sage E-marketing for ACT!.
Drip marketing is like drip irrigation, delivering regular “watering” or marketing messages on a schedule. You can create a campaign and include e-mail messages, post cards and even telemarketing. You can then add contacts from Sage ACT! to that campaign and Sage ACT! Drip Marketing will automatically deliver those messages without you having to lift a finger. And you can generate nifty call lists based on the interest and responses to those campaigns so your Sage ACT! users can follow up with the “hottest” prospects.
Now, if you have been paying attention, you’ll know that drip marketing is available in EVERY version of Sage ACT! It’s powered by Swiftpage and we’ve been using this amazing tool for the past 6 years. With Sage ACT! 2010, Sage integrated this awesome function directly into Sage ACT! and added it to their Business Service offerings. And it's true that there really isn’t anything new on the drip marketing service specific to Sage ACT! 2011. I just think it dovetails nicely with the Hoover’s™ data and takes over for Smart Tasks when you need to automate your marketing efforts. The ROI on drip marketing makes it a no-brainer for most of our clients.
Sage ACT! 2011 Delivers on Customer Acquisition Tools
If you are (re)focused on acquiring new customers, then these great new enhancements in Sage ACT! 2011 will definitely assist you and your team. If you haven’t yet seen the new Napkin Mike video on Sage ACT! 2011, you should check it out. He talks about these features behaving like some genius robot. Which is cute, but true. As a seasoned sales professional myself, I am impressed by the direction these new product enhancements and see these features helping my clients find and close more new leads. Oh, and I think it will help my own business do just that as well!