Microsoft to Release Sales Lead Software

SAN MATEO (01/25/2000) - Microsoft Corp. this spring will debut a Web-based, sales-lead clearinghouse package for small businesses, dubbed ClearLead, that will import leads from Web sites and run with third-party and Microsoft server software.

ClearLead will be aimed at small and medium-sized companies, Microsoft officials said. ClearLead is designed to be integrated with the offerings of third-party developers and solution providers for vertical industries.

The ClearLead package has already garnered the support of the MSN (Microsoft Network) CarPoint online Web site, the first service to commit to the ClearLead platform, Microsoft officials said.

The updated version of the DealerPoint lead management system will run with the ClearLead package.

The new package also has won the support of VerticalNet, which will license the software so that its business-to-business trading community participants can use the platform to help their small-to-medium clients manage customers in a variety of vertical markets, according to VerticalNet and Microsoft officials.

While Microsoft's offering amounts to an adequate lead generation system, it falls far short of enterprise-level CRM (customer relationship management) systems, one analyst said. The latter systems tackle the difficult tasks of integrating disparate customer and product information, and other data sources, and permit organizations to efficiently track and use individual customer profiles, said Michael Goulde, an analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston.

Further information about ClearLead is available at http://www.clearlead.com/.

Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, is at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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