Since the demise of Symantec's Act for Mac, there's been a dearth of Mac-compatible applications for managing sales relationships. Sure, you can use Microsoft Entourage to store contacts and schedule meetings, but if you need a history of client-related meetings, notes, e-mail messages, and letters, or if you want to track actual and potential sales for a particular deal, you've been out of luck.
Marketcircle's DayLite places the Mac firmly back into the hands of businesspeople who want to track detailed information about their clients. DayLite -- which runs only in OS X -- comes in two flavors: a Personal Edition and a server-based Business Edition. Both will keep you organized and productive. And even though the Business Edition is difficult to set up and is missing some key management features, it definitely has the potential to be the cornerstone of your sales operation.
Both editions of DayLite offer fare typical of any personal information manager (PIM): an address book, a calendar, and a task list. If DayLite's standard address-book fields -- name, e-mail address, and so forth -- don't suit your specific needs, you can customize the program in an infinite number of ways, creating as many new fields as you like.
DayLite offers typical calendaring features, letting you schedule appointments and tasks, as well as specify an associated alarm to alert you to impending deadlines and meetings. You can also create documents such as memos within the program and save them as templates -- these come in handy when you want to do a mass mailing, since you can merge data from your address book with your documents.
DayLite will import contact data from programs such as Microsoft Entourage, Act 2.8, and Now Contact, and it accepts exported Palm data. We imported Entourage data in a matter of seconds, without a hitch. But if you're always on-the-go, you'll be disappointed that you can't currently sync DayLite contacts and calendars with your Palm-based handheld -- Marketcircle says that this feature will be available once Apple's iSync leaves the beta cycle. Interestingly, you can sync DayLite contacts with Apple's iPod, but it's not possible to sync calendar information with either your Palm or your iPod.
You've Got the Power
The program makes a quantum leap when it comes to managing client relationships and tracking deals. It provides two helpful features: Opportunities and Projects. The Opportunities feature gives a complete overview of pending sales deals and allows you to track the progress of each one -- from your first meeting with a customer to the point where you finally close the deal. The Opportunities window lets you select the type of sale you're pitching from a customizable menu, and then select how many units of a product you expect to sell and at what price. DayLite also provides menus indicating where you are in the sales process, when you expect to close the deal, and what you think the probability of actually closing it is. Meanwhile, DayLite tracks every letter and e-mail message you send regarding a particular deal, as well as all pending appointments related to the deal.
Once you close a sale, the Projects feature helps you organize the tasks necessary to bring the sale to completion. Whether you need to write and publish ad copy for a client or order and deliver 10,000 widgets, Projects allows you to organize and view the tasks associated with a specific client in an outline format that makes it easy to see where you stand.
Keeping Good Company
In terms of functionality and appearance, the Business Edition is exactly the same as the Personal Edition. But in terms of setup and user management, it's not fully mature. The job of setting up the Business Edition on a stand-alone server with a static IP address was a bear, mostly due to unclear information on how to create the main database, connect the client machines to the server, and set up new users.
User management is dodgy. You can't give a user administrative capabilities, and there's no group function for creating a sales group, creating an administrative group, or providing permissions from the administrative level. You also can't delete users once you've created them. Moreover, the Business Edition doesn't offer the ability to create shared calendar items that other users can view.
Fortunately, the Business Edition includes a powerful "offline" database capability that allows you to change the database without being connected to the server. Once you reconnect, you can synchronize the changes made on the server, bringing both machines up-to-speed. Unfortunately -- and again because of poor documentation -- figuring out how to use this feature isn't easy.
Macworld's Buying Advice
DayLite's Personal Edition and Business Edition are well-designed and amazingly customizable programs that give you all the tools you'll need to manage every aspect of your sales from start to finish. But at this point, the Business Edition lacks the necessary security and basic administration tools that most businesses require in a centralized application.