I used the Q&A product until the demise of my AV contracting company sometime in 1996. When I started my new job as the low voltage systems manager at an established electrical contracting firm I believe that the company had a copy of ACT for Windows as the CRM “platform”. There was no network and nothing was linked with anyone else in the company but I figured out how to automate the basic fax and letter chores that were part of my daily job.One of the things that always bothered me about ACT and other contact management programs was that they assumed that a contact was a single entity not related to any other entities. CRM on the other hand always has or should have the ability to relate contacts to companies or contacts to projects and to be able to categorize customer usage patterns.
During this time at the electrical company I became aware of a product called Visio and created what turned in to the D-Tools SI product line.
When D-Tools first launched in 1998 CRM was still a term that had not taken over the SMB market space. We used a combination of ACT, Excel and QuickBooks to manage our business process. I automated ACT to the point where we could get a pretty decent quote out via fax or email but all it was really doing was storing the contact information. All of our deals were placed in a clear folder that was hand carried with all the documentation as each deal progressed. We still have a file cabinet with about 500 file folders with each deal from the dead tree days.
Once again I was looking for the perfect solution that would automate all of these disparate lead to cash processes and get us out of looking up stuff in a folder and double entering data. I was looking for something that would marry CRM and accounting but at the time there was nothing around.