When Trilogy unveiled its Selling Chain software suite this year, it declared that the tightly integrated modules would enable companies to "reinvent the links to their customers." The software is designed to integrate sales and marketing processes -- the front end of the business -- in much the way that enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) systems have integrated engineering, manufacturing, and distribution on the back end. The fast-growing Texas-based company, which pioneered the market for off-the-shelf product-configuration software with its SalesBUILDER package, added new functionality -- including Internet capability -- in creating Selling Chain. "We saw the front office as the next great opportunity for corporations," says Ajay Agarwal, vice president for Trilogy's Selling Chain operation. "Many companies have spent a lot of time and effort on the back-end processes like ERP and supply-chain management. But in most companies the front office has been largely ignored. Business processes like pricing haven't been managed with as much rigor as has been applied to the manufacturing process." One benefit of Selling Chain, Agarwal notes, is that it enables companies to quickly implement price changes. Rather than taking six weeks for an IS department to implement a price change, "with our software a pricing manager can do it in seconds -- and in plain English. You don't have to do any programming." The pricing engine in Selling Chain -- SC PRICER -- can calculate on a laptop up-to-date prices for a given sales transaction, and take into account all the rules on such things as quantity discounts, freight charges, currency conversion, and customer-specific discounts. The Selling Chain suite includes an upgraded version of SalesBUILDER, which gathers customer requirements and automatically generates product configurations, price quotes, and 3-D graphical representations of the selected products -- in essence, customizing complex products at the point of sale. One of the new modules is SC WEB, which supports interactive sessions over the Internet. While most Web sites are static -- simply presenting pages of information -- the Trilogy software can "dynamically create a solution for the customer," Agarwal notes. And the SC ORDER module enables a seamless flow of information between the point of sale and back-end order-management systems. In October, Chrysler Corp. announced plans to deploy Selling Chain to "redefine the customer buying process" -- as well as to manage its products, pricing, marketing, and incentive information on a "real-time" basis. With Selling Chain, Chrysler will enable customers to specify the vehicle and options they desire and get a price quote -- on terminals in dealer showrooms, at kiosks in shopping malls, or on the Web. "Assembling the specifications of the exact car for a particular customer today could take a salesperson hours of searching through data books and product catalogs, then looking up the latest pricing and marketing incentives," notes Steve Torok, Chrysler's director of sales and marketing. But using Trilogy's software, he says, it can be done "in a matter of minutes." Moreover, through links to dealer-inventory databases, Selling Chain can deliver information on the availability of a particular model configuration. And, by capturing data on consumer preferences, the Trilogy software gives companies a new source of intelligence to improve their forecasting and business planning.