The Multiactive Software company markets Maximizer 7.0 as a mere contact manager, yet this program also offers a healthy set of tools that will appeal to e-commerce entrepreneurs. The program skillfully integrates a Web store with an offline CRM tool. But Maximizer's lack of detailed documentation makes it intimidating. So, unless you need comprehensive Web store tools, try GoldMine instead. The Multiactive Software company markets Maximizer 7.0 as a mere contact manager, yet this program also offers a healthy set of tools that will appeal to e-commerce entrepreneurs. The program skillfully integrates a Web store with an offline CRM tool. But Maximizer's lack of detailed documentation makes it intimidating. So, unless you need comprehensive Web store tools, try GoldMine instead.
Fast import; slow setup
Due to its installation file's huge size (200MB as opposed to GoldMine's 50MB), Maximizer takes longer to load and set up. It took us a total of 15 minutes in our test, while setting up GoldMine took us only 5 minutes. However, Maximizer's simple installation process didn't cause us any technical problems. This app offers context-sensitive help throughout, and its customizable, Outlook-style interface is relatively easy to navigate on your own. It's a good thing setup is so easy because the program's hard-copy manual and help files aren't very useful.
If you already store your contact database in another program, you won't have to spend lots of time importing it into Maximizer. Like other CRM tools, Maximizer lets you import data from a number of sources, including Act, GoldMine, and Microsoft Access as well as ASCII and dBase file types. And since Maximizer integrates perfectly with Microsoft Office, it's a cinch to pull data from Outlook, including contacts and schedules, and automatically add Maximizer buttons to your Word toolbar.
Track customers and coworkers
As you might expect, Maximizer provides you with all of the standard contact management features, including an address book, a calendar, and to-do lists. It also contains reminder alarms and the Peg Board window, which tells you when your team members have appointments. For mobile employees, the Palm-sync product ($49 or free with your Maximizer registration) easily syncs contact data back and forth with your handheld.
Maximizer's CRM tools are quite effective. Marketing teams will appreciate having the ability to run sales and other reports, plan marketing campaigns, and store workgroup documents in a public folder. Maximizer contains more than 90 standard reports and includes a handy report customization tool so that you can create your own.
Find contacts online
Although we appreciate Maximizer's marketing tools, the program really goes all out with its sales features. It has all the basics, such as revenue and cash flow forecasting, plus an e-commerce site builder, EcBuilder 6.0 Lite. EcBuilder helps you create a 25-item catalog site that can process secure credit card transactions. And since EcBuilder is completely wizard-driven and offers 40 premade templates, it takes just a few minutes--15 minutes for us--to build a good-looking, functional site. The Order Desk feature, which you must enable during setup, sends you a detailed e-mail alert for every order.
Account me out
Unfortunately, while Maximizer helps you build an e-commerce site and collect orders, it doesn't currently integrate with any major accounting software package, so you'll have to manually enter Maximizer sales data into your accounting program. The company plans to increase accounting integration in the next release.
All registered Maximizer customers get limited free phone support, which is available from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, PT, for 30 days after registering the product. Afterwards, you can purchase single- or multi-incident contracts, which range from $45 to $200 per incident. Multiactive Software even charges for minor, common problems, such as lost product serial numbers ($25), password recovery ($45 for single users, $200 for network users), and replacement CDs ($25). You're probably better off using the online FAQ and other tech-support documents on Multiactive's Web site.
Since it takes a while to learn and doesn't let you link to accounting programs, Maximizer won't work for tiny companies that need an easy way to exchange sales data back and forth. If you're just looking for contact management and simple CRM features, you're better off with an easier, all-around package such as GoldMine. But Maximizer is a reasonably priced, effective tool for small businesses that need to manage both a live sales force and a Web presence.