Put A Prophet in Your Outlook

Lauren Simonds

Updated · Dec 15, 2006

How much time do your employees — particularly your sales people — spend in Outlook? Given the popular e-mail client's ubiquity, chances are the answer is — a lot. Avidian decided to better leverage that time in Outlook by turning the personal information manager into a full-fledged sales CRM application. Prophet 4.0, the latest version, offers what the company calls advanced contact management features plus expanded search and platform capabilities.

When it comes to office workers, you can't ignore Outlook, says James Wong, Avidian's CEO. “You have to talk about it because people are in it all day long,” he says. The problem, as Wong sees it, is that Outlook is a PIM and not a sales tool. “Most people end up using a combination of Outlook and a CRM package such as ACT, Goldmine or SalesForce.com and moving between the two apps. It's not at all efficient,” he says.

Avidian built Prophet into Outlook, which Wong says gives sales people an application with one database that covers sales, contacts, tasks, e-mail and calendaring — in a format they already know how to use. Wong points to a study conducted by Best Practices, LLC that said 70 percent of CRM programs fail because people within an organization simply won't use it.

“Sales people want simple, easy tools, and Outlook is an application just about everyone already knows how to use. We don't change how you use the software,” Wong says. “We leverage what you're already doing in Outlook and make it a sales tool.”

4.0 Features
Like any good CRM program, Prophet lets you manage contacts, track and manage sales opportunities, share sales information and generate pipeline, forecast, summary and even custom reports. Version 4.0 also offers the following features and capabilities:

•Sales CRM Automation
Set specific follow-up actions at each stage of your sales process. Create automatic discrete e-mails, tasks, reminders or appointments for each step.

•Expanded Search
Prophet Toolbar lets you find specific contacts or opportunities with a single search from anywhere in Outlook.

•Expanded Platform Support
Prophet 4.0 supports Microsoft Mobile Devices and Terminal Server along with Windows Roaming Profiles.

•Usability Improvements
Add date/time stamped notes to contact files, ability to re-size company and opportunity windows and new Sales Data Importing Wizard.

•Improved Report Creation
The advanced report wizard includes more templates, filters and report types plus simple sales forecasts, account details.

Avidian designed Prophet 4.0 for small businesses with anywhere from one to 200 employees, and Wong says the average number of sets it sells per company is 10. You can buy various versions of Prophet 4.0 including Prophet Personal ($149 per person), Prophet Personal Pro ($299 per person) , Prophet Enterprise ($399 per person). PDA versions include Prophet for Palm, Prophet for Windows Mobile and Prophet for Pocket PC, which sell for $99.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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