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CWC to debut sales tools

The new version of CWC?s Signature Plus, to be released tomorrow, helps sellers of complex products and services by extending the abilities of sales forces.

    Business software maker CWC tomorrow will roll out Signature Plus 4.5, the latest version of its sales management tools.

    Signature Plus 4.5 is a product line developed by the Minnesota-based company to help corporations beef up sales management and extend the reach of their sales forces.

    "What we're doing is trying to help VPs do what they can do to close more deals and sell more goods," said Dave Lundberg, director of marketing for CWC.

    Analysts group products developed by CWC and its competitors, such as Trilogy and Concentra, into a market called ?technology-enabled selling.?

    Chris Selland, an analyst with Yankee Group, said CWC's release is a boost for companies trying to sell complex products or services. "The more complex the service or product, the more something like this helps."

    He said that with a product like Signature Plus 4.5, a salesperson for an airplane manufacturer can go out to the customer and spec the product, build it, and paint it to the customer's liking.

    "It allows a company to get to market faster and build to order. This technology will play a vital part of e-commerce in the future," Selland said.

    Tomorrow's release consists of Signature Plus Sales 4.5, a Java/HTML-based user interface that allows customers to modify the look of their sales system and create and control the interface design, color, and information fields within each system component using Active X controls and GIFs. It also supports ODBC as well as other programming languages such as C++ and SQL. In addition, it supports the use of multiple languages simultaneously.

    The product line also includes Signature Plus Web 2.0, which will enable companies to spread their sales processes to the Internet, enabling their customers to buy their products on the Web. It will also let customers access product, pricing, warranty, and other sales information, as well as search for local product dealers.

    Signature Plus Web 2.0 client software runs in any Java-enabled Web browser. The server software runs on Windows NT-based Web servers and requires 100MB of RAM and a minimum of 2GB of hard disk space.

    The final piece of tomorrow's product line release is the Signature Plus 4.5 Toolkit, which will enable users to manage their own Signature Plus package and product data without third-party help, the company said. The Toolkit also has foreign-language translation options.

    Lundberg said CWC has developed a product that pays a lot of attention to the mobility of today's sales forces by providing a means to bring product data out to the salesperson on the road.

    Signature Plus 4.5 implementation typically costs $3,000 to $5,000 per seat, depending upon the level of functionality selected, according to the company.