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Avidian Technologies aims to wipe away the irritations that can sometimes come with using Outlook. Get ready to simplify.

Microsoft’s Outlook can be a valuable tool for salespeople who need e-mail, digital calendars, and a robust contacts database. Yet the application has many shortcomings that can prove frustrating. Seattle-based Avidian Technologies aims to wipe away those irritations with software that makes Outlook more useful. CEO James Wong talks about sales management, keeping things simple, and the need for a Prophet.

How did Avidian Technologies get started?

Avidian got started from listening to complaints about the potential of Outlook as a sales management opportunity application. There are many happy Outlook users, but they have to use other sales management offerings like Act or Goldmine when they would prefer Outlook as their only application. I kept telling them to wait until the next release of Outlook and that Microsoft would incorporate some of the sales features inside of Outlook. But each time, Microsoft kept disappointing us. So I created Prophet 2003.

Why do you think there’s a need for your product?

Most people are already doing 40 to 60 percent of their sales management functions inside of Outlook like e-mailing, scheduling, and managing contacts. We enhanced Outlook and added additional sales features like sales process management, date and time stamped notes, as well as the sharing of opportunities and contact info with team members, and the ability to run sales reports without creating them in Excel. People do not have time to learn new applications for these types of activities and if they are content with their use of Outlook, why fight it? We didn’t and that’s why there is a need for Prophet inside of Outlook.

How is Prophet unique in the marketplace?

Prophet is the first and only .Net developed sales management solution built totally inside of Outlook. Essentially, we turned Outlook into a sales tool designed from the ground up for sales professionals. Prophet is also unique in that we don’t change your Outlook even after you install Prophet. You can continue to use Outlook the way you’ve always use it.

How is the company faring in the current economic climate?

Amazingly well. With little or no money spent on marketing, we have hundreds of small businesses and individuals from all over the world using Prophet. We’ve found our customers making comments like “Where have you folks been all these years?”and, “This is the exact application we were looking and hoping for.” People are so excited about our product that we have over a 20 percent referral rate.

What are the largest challenges that you see in providing your product?

Getting the word out to the 150 million Outlook users about Prophet without the giant marketing budget is a challenge. Act and Goldmine have been around for many years and people are familiar with both of those products. However, it is widely known that there is wide dissatisfaction in the contact management space with these two players because of the separate learning processes and other tedious functionalities.

What are your goals for the company?

Our goal is “simple is beautiful” as people aren’t looking for more features, versions, etc. They simply want critical features that are easy to use now. People want to minimize administration time and conduct more sales and interactions, ultimately making more money. We see Prophet making Outlook users profitable, now and in the future.

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