Case Study: ACT! 4.0

Whether in Essex or China, ACT! 4.0 helps NCD Infrared Engineering to look after existing customers and generate sales

Whether in Essex or China, ACT! 4.0 helps NCD Infrared Engineering to look after existing customers and generate sales

NDC Infrared Engineering is a leading supplier of infrared and nucleonic gauging instruments: large sensors that measure the levels of different substances in products by bombarding them with infrared light or strontium 90 atoms. Such sensors are used in many diverse industries, from measuring the level of alcohol in beer to gauging the moisture levels in the production of tobacco.

The company sought to implement a company-wide information management system that would process contact details and store information on current marketing campaigns. Previously, the company employed a paper-based system, storing budget details in ledgers and keeping track of mailers in a series of files. They then decided that they needed a new company-wide system that would standardise information management and be accessible by both office employees and mobile sales personnel. They chose ACT! 4.0 from Symantec.

Infrared Engineering maintains a networked ACT! database of approximately 15,000 contacts at their UK headquarters in Malden, Essex. The database contains contact details of suppliers and clients, grouped as either Active contacts (existing clients with a record of previous purchases) or Marketing (contacts that may have an interest in the company's products).

On a day-to-day basis, the sales and marketing department share this information through the company's local area network (LAN), with each worker given responsibility for updating the database as details change.

Successful management of this information is essential during an ongoing marketing campaign. ACT! was used to monitor the status of the campaign. Potential clients listed in the ACT! database are sorted by a number of criteria, predominately by the nature of their business. ACT can then generate personalised mailers and promotional material of suitable products which can be dispatched.

Norman Cook, sales and marketing systems consultant explains: "From both Sales and Marketing viewpoints, ACT! allows individual users to manipulate the stored data to precisely identify a very selective set of contacts by using ACT!'s very flexible Advanced Query utility. If a salesman wanted to find all the contacts held in the ACT! database that brewed beer in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, that have not yet purchased our LIQUIDATA system for measuring alcohol, then a simple Advanced Query would look up all contacts that met the desired criteria."

ACT!'s History function is used to log which clients have received different types of sales information, what telephone calls have been made to them and how they have responded to Infrared's mailers. This data is located within the client's contact record, allowing all dealings with a particular customer to be centralised.

Infrared Engineering employs a number of mobile sales personnel who regularly travel throughout the UK, Europe and the Republic of China, visiting factories and demonstrating products. These workers run ACT! on notebook computers, both to maintain their unique schedule and task list and to consult and update the corporate contact database. When away from headquarters, mobile workers can synchronise their own contact database with the company's by accessing Infrared Engineering's LAN through a remote access server. These two sets of information are then synchronised automatically by ACT!, which sends changes via modem. Not only does this give mobile sales personnel the advantage of working to a constantly updated schedule and contact list, but it also allows the company's UK management to keep abreast of progress, no matter how remote the location.

By Richard Pitt

This was last published in July 1999

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