Vantive Corp., a Silicon Valley company tapping into the growing demand for sales and marketing software, said it has made major technical and functional advances with the introduction of Vantive Enterprise 7.

Released last week, the product consists of several components and modules that company officials expect will generate considerable interest in call centers and other aspects of financial institution marketing and customer service.

One part of the offering, Vantive Sales 7, combines comprehensive tracking of sales contacts with customer information files. It is said to focus staff on selling rather than administrative tasks, and thereby promote customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Such products and promises are proliferating as companies retool their marketing and delivery systems for an electronic era. Customer management technology for call centers, from vendors like Scopus Technology Inc. and Versatility Inc., were on prominent display at the Bank Administration Institute's Retail Delivery '97 conference this month in New Orleans.

In stressing the "enterprise" nature of its front-office or customer asset management systems, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Vantive tries to distance itself from companies that serve single niches such as customer service, sales and marketing, help desks, field service, and inventory management.

"Financial institutions really need the entire suite and we are the only company that provides it," said Vantive product manager Michelle Banzon.

Since its start in 1990, Vantive has insinuated itself into financial services-a sector accounting for 12% of its business-often by starting small.

"Most customers will use (Vantive) in one area and then take additional applications, as Charles Schwab & Co. has done," said Mark Troester, another product manager.

Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco began with Vantive in an internal help desk operation, which responds to calls from 35,000 employees. It later extended Vantive software to its wholesale banking group and for customer service in its on-line banking program.

With its ability to track sales leads and support customer service, among other functions, Vantive "can help differentiate Wells from other financial institutions," Mr. Troester said.

Wells Fargo has a reputation for interactive marketing innovation. Aside from being a leader in Internet banking, Wells this year agreed to pilot the Brightware 1.0 system that automates responses to on-line customer service inquiries. The product from Brightware Inc. of Novato, Calif., could complement Vantive Enterprise.

Other financial services clients include Aetna International, Chase Manhattan Bank, Deutsche Bank, Fidelity Investments, and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.

The software, financial, outsourcing, telecommunications, and manufacturing industries each provide at least 11% of Vantive's $100 million of annual revenue.

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