Invest Will Add Hyperlinks to Product Vendors' Sites

Article excerpt

Invest Financial Corp., a third-party provider of investment products through community banks, has developed software to give its sales staff easier access to research, product information, and sales materials.

The software, to go into use next month, will link bank sales representatives directly to specific sections of a product vendor's Web site.

From the sales rep section of Invest's Web site, a rep will be able to select a list of vendors with mutual funds, for example, that Invest makes available.

Clicking on a vendor's name will call up a template divided into "research," "marketing tools," and "fulfillment." Within those categories are links to sections in the vendor's site. For instance, clicking on the fulfillment section's "literature center" will take reps to the section where they can order prospectuses. Another click might take them to a section where they can look up the performance of the funds they are researching.

The idea is to increase investment product sales by cutting the amount of time that sales reps spend on each customer transaction, said Sandra K. Tuell, Invest's Web content manager.

Currently a contact page on Invest's site gives sales representatives a list of telephone numbers and Internet addresses and, in some cases, links to product providers. Reps then have to poke around on the provider's Web site to find the information they need, Ms. Tuell said.

With the new software, Invest's "product portal" will take the sales rep directly to the relevant section of the provider's site. In most cases, the software will automatically plug in the password necessary to access the reps-only portion of the site, Ms. Tuell said.

The next step, planned for the third quarter of 2001, will be to tweak the software so that it can help reps make recommendations to clients, Ms. …