UGH! What is this and how is it a benefit?
I still get that question a lot, and I must confess that I even asked a few similar questions. That is, I asked before I started playing around with it and seeing ways that it can be used.
In its most simple form, "Companies" is simply another way to gather up a bunch of contacts. But is can be so much more...
Take for example, that your product or service is commonly used by many employees within a company, thus you normally deal with many contacts within each company. The Companies feature allows you to gather all the info in one place, and more conveniently... in one Act! report.
First step first: Let's set up a Company: Select Companies from the menu bar on the left, right click the background or select Companies from the menu on the top near the left (yes, there are at least 2 ways to do this), and select "New Company".
You may also wish to set up a Company from within the Act! Contact Detail: Simply select Contacts from the top menu, and Create Company from Contact at the bottom of the list.
Once you arrive at the new screen, simply enter the company specific info. Notice there is a Company Info tab too, where you can even add the industry, annual revenue, etc. What you cannot add here, is a Contact name.
After you have the Company set up, you can add Contacts to the Company either in a Static (manual "onesie" manner) or Dynamically (automatically) based on criteria you set.
To set Dynamic criteria, go to the Companies menu up top or to the Contact tab (yes, there are at least 2 ways to do this too!) and select "Add/Remove Contacts". Oh, you can right click on the background, select Company Membership, and "Add/Remove Contacts" there too. However you choose to get there, a window will open allowing you to... you got it: Add/Remove Contacts!
Somewhere near the middle of that window on the right, notice "Edit Criteria". When selected, this window is where you tell it the criteria. For the purposes of this example I have added the company "Dynamic Inc", and the criteria I would set would be this: "Type" is Contacts, "Field Name" is Company, "Operator" is Contains, and "Value" is Dynamic Inc. Once entered, select "Add to List" and "Ok" to save the criteria (you can add more criteria if you wish, but pay close attention to the "and" or "or" between each listed). With this alone, any Contact who is entered with the Company name "Dynamic Inc" will automatically be in the Company that was previously set up.
Important to Know: The Contact and Company must be associated "from both sides" for any reports to accurately pull information. If I ruled the world, thus would be automatic. (When the Contact shows associated with the Company in the Companies view but does not pull into the Reports, check the Contact's Detail view and see if the Company is "hyperlinked". If not, click the box on the right of the Company field within the Contact's detail view, and select the company from the list.)
While this all seems cumbersome when we have always been able to simply lookup a Company, a little set-up can pay off in increased efficiency... Depending on how YOU use Act!
Please call or e-mail if you have questions: I am here to help.