TURNING CARDS INTO BUSINESS

Look in almost any desk drawer and you'll likely find them, a collection of business cards that have been saved with the very best of intentions. We dutifully collect cards from potential clients and customers at every opportunity, often scribbling short reminder notes on the back. At the time, we are absolutely committed to entering these potentially profitable contacts into our contact managers for follow up in the near future.

Still, countless desk drawers contain stacks of missed opportunities, representing a potential fortune in lost sales and commissions. Someday we'll clean out our desks and dispose of these old cards, but an odd combination of guilt and hope will prevent most from disposing of these "lost business" cards anytime soon.

However, there are a growing number of desks (occupied by the technology enabled) that are devoid of such a card collection. The owners of most of these empty drawers likely use a simple product know simply as CardScan, from Corex Technologies.

At first glance, purchasing a $250 device capable of scanning nothing more than business cards might seem just a bit unnecessary. After ten minutes of actual use you will likely see things from a much different perspective.

I personally tested the CardScan "Executive" model and was amazed by the efficiency of this high tech tool.

Installation of the scanner and related card-recognition software was both simple and quick, but what came next made me wonder how I had lived without such a wonder for so long.

Grabbing ten cards from my own personal desk drawer, I found the unit could scan them just about as fast as I could feed them into this smartly designed unit. After scanning, CardScan's software then "reads" the cards and inserts the data into their desktop software, which is designed to look very much like a standard index-card file. Total time to scan ten business cards was less than two minutes.

I then spent another two or three minutes double-checking the accuracy of CardScan's recognition software, correcting some simple errors and moving the data around just a bit. This is the real wizardry of the CardScan product as it does a truly remarkable job of figuring out which lines of a scanned card contain the contact's name, company, phone number, address, email, and so on.

While some mistakes are made, particularly with excessively graphical and "over-designed" cards, moving the information around within the software is infinitely faster than typing the same information by hand.

Many business users might be perfectly satisfied using this software to store, organize and retrieve contacts. However, those with professional contact managers such as ACT!, Goldmine, (and quite a few others) will gleefully appreciate CardScan's ability to quickly and accurately export these new business prospects into their existing databases.

In my case, CardScan efficiently added these ten new contacts into ACT!, and did so in less than 60 seconds.

In order to evaluate the true value of this technology, I simply need to think of all of the business contacts I will make in the future, and then envision my two options:

  1. I can continue to collect business cards from prospects, and then either manually type each one into my database, or add them to the growing collection in my desk drawer.

  2. Alternatively, I can return from an appointment, business meeting or social event with a handful of cards and have them scanned, analyzed and automatically inserted into my contact manager within five or six minutes.

While the first option spares me the roughly $250 investment, it doesn't take much calculation to realize that using CardScan's technology will add up to substantially more than this in future business. This being the very reason I would ask someone for their business card in the first place.

For more information and software compatibility, visit CardScan's Web site at: www.cardscan.com

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale