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FORTUNE Small Business:

Finding the right sales software

There's life beyond QuickBooks. Here's your first step to finding what software is right for you.

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Get small-business intelligence from the experts. Here's a chance for YOU to ask your pressing small-business questions, and FSB editors will help you get answers from the appropriate experts.
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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I have a small electronics service company serving clients of the major electronics companies like Sharp, Samsung and Pioneer. A customer buys a Sharp TV, has a problem and calls Sharp, and Sharp calls me to go service the unit.

My problem is finding software that will allow me to enter customer information and be able to quickly look up the customer when he or Sharp calls to find the status on his product. I would appreciate your suggestions. I was thinking of QuickBooks, but that might not be the right system for my business. Thanks.

- Ti-Jay, Bronx, NY

Dear Ti-Jay: There's life beyond Intuit (INTU) QuickBooks. In fact, there are so many software options for small business owners that choosing the right one can be overwhelming. However there are a handful of web sites that have been created to help small businesses looking for systems; http://www.2020software.com/ is the most popular.

"There are an awful lot of choices out there," says Greg Strakosch, CEO of 2020software.com's publisher, TechTarget. "What we do is try to make the process less daunting and more efficient."

The site is designed specifically for non-IT professionals. "Software can be so complicated," he says. "We present information in a way that makes it easy for business managers and business owners to find what they need."

As for the perfect system for your electronics service company? "There's no cookie-cutter solution from a software perspective," Strakosch says. "Each company is very different with specific requirements." Do you need Mac or PC? How many computers? How many clients? What type of information do you need to keep track of?

You can plug your requirements into 2020software.com and narrow down your options. The more you know about what exactly you need to make your business run as smoothly as your repaired electronics, the more the website helps narrow down your choices.

"You'll see side-by-side comparisons and learn about free demonstrations all in one place, instead of having to go to 12 different websites," says Strakosch. Once you've winnowed down your options to just a few software systems, you can click to contact vendors directly.  To top of page

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