Author : Jeremy Mozlin

Zoho Creator Record Templates

Zoho Creator Record Templates make your custom apps even more personalized

When you think of Zoho, you undoubtedly think of a few different words or phrases.  One of those is very likely “customizable.” When you use Zoho, you know you have all sorts of options for customizing all the apps in the suite.  Following that tradition, Zoho has brought customization to record templates in Zoho Creator, so you can customize even more of your experience – or, in this case, your customers’ experience.

zoho creator record templates

Custom Record Templates in Zoho Creator? What for?

Zoho Creator record templates behave pretty similarly to Zoho CRM custom inventory templates.  Those custom templates allow you to customize what your customer sees when you send them an invoice, for example.  You may track all sorts of information related to your invoice in the CRM – but, how that invoice appears to your customer is very much up to you.  Place information exactly where you want it on your template with merge fields in Zoho Creator, just like you would on inventory templates in Zoho CRM.

But, wait. Why use Zoho Creator for this stuff at all?

It’s a common question: Zoho has so many different ways of doing nearly anything.  Why use Zoho Creator to create these record templates when you could just use the CRM?

You’ll want to use Zoho Creator when you have particular business needs that standard Zoho apps won’t meet.  Creator can be customized much more heavily than even very malleable Zoho apps, so the possibilities for your custom app are far greater.  At the end of the day, you’ll likely store some data in the Zoho Creator app instead of a standard app like the CRM.  Zoho Creator record templates provide a way to act on the data in that system so you don’t have to transfer it to the CRM first.

Sound confusing?  We hope not – but if so, just ask us and we can walk you through it.

zoho creator record templates

Create all kinds of record templates

The possibilities are endless; here are just a few you could use in your own apps:

  • Estimates or custom quotes
  • Brochures, catalogs, or sell sheets
  • Certificates
  • Newsletters or campaign emails
  • Name tags

These templates will all be tied to different record types.  For example, you may keep records in your Zoho Creator app called Estimates, Brochures, Certificates, or Newsletters.  The templates you design will allow you to customize how each of these records look.

Starting is a cinch!

Creating your own Zoho Creator record templates or modifying pre-built templates is easy:

  1. Navigate to your Creator app Settings menu and select Record Templates.  
  2. Click the New Template button, where you’ll choose between modifying a pre-designed record template, or creating a brand new template you can mark up as needed.

The drag-and-drop interface makes creating or editing record templates simple.  And, if you’re somewhat code-savvy, you can even drop HTML into the templates. Then your record templates are ready to use.

Once you’ve created and distributed records as needed using the record templates, you or your customers can print or export individual records as PDFs (just like inventory templates or emails) using special Zoho Creator URLs.

zoho creator record templates

The hits keep coming

With Zoho, the world really is your oyster – and this new feature in Zoho Creator reinforces that notion, making Creator an even more versatile platform on which to build custom applications.  There’s a lot you can do with Zoho Creator; in fact, we’ve even built our own vertical software for field services and construction companies on it.

In a bind? Contact us!

Let us know if you need any help architecting your own custom app – or just need help with Zoho Creator record templates – and we’ll plan it all out with you.  We can even build it for you if you so choose.

Zoho Premium Partners and Software Commoditization

You Want It, They Got It – And, Now What?

Why having one of the Zoho Premium Partners by your side means more than ever today

Rest easy!  This is only a 5-7 minute read.

zoho premium partners

When you think of the word Zoho, chances are you also think of the word choices.  Within its library of 45+ apps (which expands nearly every month), Zoho also offers a number of subscription editions, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.  And, nearly limitless customization possible in each respective edition. So, when planning to introduce your business to Zoho, the average consumer (or even the above-average one) faces the daunting task of not only keeping that business afloat as usual, but learning a brand-new software system with all its idiosyncrasies, and keeping track of the constant growth and development of that software, too…

It’s a lot to get your head around.  Frankly, I don’t know how anyone goes into a Zoho implementation themselves with even a slight degree of confidence – unless they are already intimately familiar with the system from a previous job.  Self-deployment usually comes with a lot of hard knocks.

But, this post isn’t just a commiseration session.  Instead, I want to bring to light just why this limitless library of software means you need a Zoho consultant in your life.  And, not just any Zoho consultant, but a Zoho Premium Partner.

Really So Obvious?

While it’s true that, yes, you need someone to help you with Zoho because there’s potentially a lot of software to deal with, that’s not the end of the story.  There’s a reason why this is the case.  Something known as the “infinite store shelf” has severely disrupted all sorts of businesses – most notably software vendors.  

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane…

zoho premium partners

The theory goes that we used to just walk into stores to make purchases, and even with larger catalogs, the array of items to choose from had a limit.  And, expanding upon that, people knew the purpose of what they were trying to buy, so there wasn’t much confusion.

Now, in the present day, the situation has completely changed.  Search engines have brought us all much, much closer together. Plus, we’ve brought all the products we peddle along for the ride.  When software companies in particular create new products, other software companies (wisely looking for a piece of the profit that comes with a new product) then offer their own takes on those products.  Then, before you know it, you – the consumer – are in a world with infinite software choices. And furthermore, the moment you learned all there is to learn about, say, one software app of your choice, you then learn the app has been updated, or it’s spun off another, similar app that may be better, or…

Did I mention it was a lot of work?

(This is why Zoho’s own business model of providing more than just a single software app, like CRM, works so well.  Choice paralysis is very real, so if you’re going to bombard someone with options, the least you can do is make them all easily accessible from underneath your own family of products.  This is what Zoho is aiming for with their Zoho One suite of apps.)

The Harsh Bite of Reality

zoho premium partners

Now, just imagine having to do all that preparation, not just for Zoho CRM, but for Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Books, or even Zoho MarketingHub.  It’s not possible to take on yourself unless doing so is your sole job.

The idea that once a new product is born, it turns into something everyone has to have is called software commoditization (or commodification).  We’ve talked about software as a commodity before, but not at this particular angle.  And, I’m guessing you’re working out why this software commoditization makes having a Zoho consultant so important.

So, that’s easy enough, right?  Why shouldn’t you just pick from a list of Zoho consultants?

What Zoho Premium Partners Mean in the World of Software as a Commodity

zoho premium partners

The overall problem with software as a commodity is that with nearly infinite software choices, the learning curve for your system is potentially infinite as well.  Getting help from a Zoho consultant may get you started on the right foot, but that’s only half the battle.

Zoho Premium Partners like ZBrains are distinct from other Zoho consultants in the breadth of their achievements for other clients.  To achieve the rank of Premium Partner (Zoho’s highest current designation for partners, replacing the old Alliance Partner title), a partner must:

  • Not just generate, but grow Zoho licensing revenue for the clients they serve by $200,000 from the previous year
  • Develop not just on Zoho CRM, but on Zoho Creator as well
  • Produce a number of case studies per year

So, what do all these statistics mean?

    1. Generating Zoho revenue: This means that clients under our watch have successfully grown their businesses with Zoho, to the tune of over $200,000 higher than the previous year.  That doesn’t take into account the number of clients a partner serves; it’s just an overall revenue figure – but, it sets us apart from other Zoho partners who may not have as much experience.
    2. Developing for multiple apps: Zoho CRM is a fantastic hub for most any business, but many businesses need help with more than just customer relationship management.  Choosing a partner who works with multiple Zoho apps, including Zoho Creator (Zoho’s platform as a service), significantly expands your software customization options.
    3. Case study production: Case studies are a great way for Zoho Premium Partners to demonstrate how they’ve helped past clients.  Other types of Zoho partners aren’t required to produce these.

With all that said, we don’t take our distinction as one of the Zoho Premium Partners lightly at all. We worked hard to get to where we are now, and we too attended that school of hard knocks.  But, now we’re here, and our sole purpose is to help you deploy software in the best way possible for your business.

zoho premium partners badge

Bringing It All Together

In summary, the “infinite store shelf” and the general turning of business software from a luxury item into a commodity, makes it much more difficult to master – let alone select – the program(s) your business will end up using.  The more traditional buying experience may be gone, but that doesn’t mean you’re entirely in the dark. You just need a more qualified software consultant to help you deploy your Zoho apps. And, Zoho Premium Partners have more of the necessary qualifications to ensure your deployment not only goes smoothly, but is correct for your business.

Three Reasons to Process Credit Cards in Zoho

Today’s blog post is a guest post brought to you by our partner, Century Business Solutions.  Century is a technology-based merchant services provider that specializes in software integrations – kind of like we do.  Aside from being a partner of ZBrains for years, they provide credit card processing integrations to programs like QuickBooks, Sage 100, Microsoft Dynamics – and even Zoho CRM.  Because of the similarities in how we think, this post is in line with lots of other material you’ve probably read on this blog – and expands upon the topic of processing credit cards in Zoho much further.  So, without further ado…

——————————————————————————

3 Reasons to Process Credit Cards in Zoho

process credit cards in zoho

Running a business is hard. But, you probably already knew that.

Despite the challenges and the late hours, you keep striving to bring success to your company. The reason you get out of bed every morning might be as basic as needing to keep food on the table or as visionary as wanting to change the world.

Whatever your reason, you want your business to do well.

Processing credit cards in Zoho is a simple adjustment that will save you time and money and make your work life more efficient.

ZBrains, a Zoho Premium Partner and Zoho consulting company, can set you up with a payment processor that works seamlessly with your Zoho CRM software.    

But before we discuss that further, let’s dive into the three main reasons to process credit cards in Zoho.

Lower Processing Costs

Money is always a big concern for businesses. Companies should take opportunities to cut costs whenever possible. And if you’re currently using Zoho CRM but are processing payments outside of your CRM account, you’re probably paying a lot more than you need to.

Why is that?

It has to do with the level at which a card is processed.

process credit cards in zoho

All card transactions fall into one of three processing categories: Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. The higher the level, the lower the processing fees.

Integrated payment software solutions are designed to pull all relevant customer data, merchant information, product specifications, tax amount, and more from your CRM software when processing a credit card. When you send more line-item details with a transaction, the card is qualified at a higher level, and you pay less in credit card processing fees.

When your payment processing is separate from your CRM system, your cards are qualified at lower levels (Levels 1 and 2) because key information is not automatically sent with transactions.

All of this is to say that when you sign up with a reputable payment processor that integrates with Zoho, you’ll cut down on monthly processing costs. Not to mention you’ll also save a ton of time through automation, so you won’t have to manually re-enter transactions into your CRM account.

Which leads us to our next point…

No More Double Data Entry

process credit cards in zoho

The dreaded double data entry dilemma.   

An unfortunate struggle known to all who process credit cards outside of their Zoho CRM system.

If that’s you, then don’t lose hope. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel: an integrated payment solution.

An integrated payment solution enters into your CRM system and allows the two systems to work as one. Which means—drumroll—no more double data entry!

It’s a fine thing when you can run a card and your CRM automatically reflects the transaction.

Go ahead…imagine what that would mean for you.

At the end of a long work day, instead of expending time and energy manually re-entering transactions into Zoho, you and your team could work on growing the business.  

Not only will integrated payment processing save your business a considerable amount of time (especially for businesses with a high transaction volume), it will also prevent human mistakes from occurring by automatically updating information directly in your CRM software.

Convenience is Key  

process credit cards in zoho easy button

Time moves fast. And when you end up wasting a lot of it, you can feel pretty defeated.

That’s why products are geared towards providing convenience and saving you time. Microwaves make heating up food a cinch, phones make it easy to contact someone, and your car gets you around town within minutes—granted the traffic is light.

Time saving products and services aren’t just beneficial for your personal life. Your business can be hugely impacted by simple changes, like utilizing a payment processor that works in Zoho.

Think of it like this. An integrated system will keep all your payment processing in one place, so you don’t have to switch between systems when taking a payment. It will make it easy for you and your team to stay organized and reduce the chance of human error. And it will allow you to set up recurring payments for customers who have repeat orders.

process credit cards in zoho tokenization

Integrated systems also use tokenization to make processing payments more convenient. Tokenization is a method of creating a unique string of numbers and letters to replace a credit card’s information. The token is used when a customer pays an invoice or when the merchant charges their card. The actual card number and CVV code are stored securely in the payment processor’s vault.

Tokenization reduces the amount of time and energy you and your team spend re-entering card information. Once a customer pays an invoice or the merchant enters the card information into their integrated payment solution, their card data will be stored as a token for future purchases.

Sounds pretty good, right?

If you’ve been processing payments without an integrated payment provider, then you’ve been doing things the hard way. But thankfully, making the switch to an integrated solution is easy.  

Start Your Journey Today

If you’ve been nodding your head while reading and are ready to learn more about how to process credit cards in Zoho, then:

  1. Contact our partner, ZBrains.  They’re experienced Zoho consultants, and as such, they’re equipped to customize your payment needs and add efficiency to your business.
  2. Allow them to set up the payment integration for Zoho CRM.
  3. Sit back, relax, and watch as your payment processing gets a whole lot easier.

Using Zoho eCommerce Quoting to Increase Website Conversion Rates

Using Zoho eCommerce Quoting to Increase Website Conversion Rates

Or, “How do you get more sales? I’ll let you know in a micro-moment.”

Get comfortable!  This is a 10-15 minute read.

zoho ecommerce quoting

It’s no secret people are spending more time online than ever before.  And, that number is only set to increase as the years go by.  You’ve spent time and money researching the best way to position your brand so it’s accessible online – and you’ve spent an equal amount of time designing your website so it’s easy for customers to navigate.  But today, customers are bombarded with so much content, it leads to a sort of paralysis if they don’t like something about their shopping experience – and this leads to abandoned shopping carts galore.  As a Zoho user with an online webstore, how can you use Zoho eCommerce to help your case?

(Quickly, before we go too far down the rabbit hole: Zoho has recently pushed out an eCommerce app called Zoho Commerce.  This post is not about that app!  We may cover it later, but as the app is still fairly new, we’ll want to give you something a little more substantial on it later, perhaps.  Instead, this post is about designing your company’s website – your customer’s experience – to increase conversion rates, all while using what Zoho already provides, and with a little additional help from us at ZBrains.)

As usual, I’m not going to simply present you with a concept and hope you understand it.  It’s important to give a bit of background on the issues at hand before we dive into a solution.  So, strap yourself in and let’s get started.

Just in case: What does a Zoho eCommerce Quoting Tool do for you?

zoho ecommerce quoting

When businesses sell products that are very complicated and customized, for which SKUs don’t exist, those businesses typically endure a pretty painful quoting process.  Not painful as in difficult – more tedious and time-consuming. And, why isn’t it easy to just spit out a quote? Let me tell you just a few potential reasons:

  1. Logic doesn’t exist to produce a quote on-the-fly, so the info has to be emailed to someone, who then crunches the numbers themselves, puts the info onto a formal document, then sends it to the prospective customer manually.
  2. Pictures of the item(s) in question don’t exist on the website because they’re custom products, so the pictures have to be rendered individually and then sent back with the quote.  Or, they can’t be rendered at all, so that part of the quote simply doesn’t exist.
  3. Info about pricing is spread across departments, so a salesperson needs to consult someone in the production department to figure out how to assemble a quote.

And, I’m sure you can think of other reasons why the typical custom quoting process is slow and painful.  That’s why CPQ software is becoming more and more popular!

Now, let’s put this idea of quoting software into the present day.

Think You Have a Captive Audience?  Well, Not Anymore!

zoho ecommerce quoting

In the age of online shopping, capturing your attention is the name of the game.  From big, colorful banners, to auto-emails, to push notifications, to “Wait! Before you go…!” all vying for your eyes, that much is perfectly clear.  And, it seems if you don’t play your cards right, you could lose your customers’ attention as quickly as you garnered it.  

See, customers browsing the web are poked with all kinds of stimuli as they look at your page, and if you don’t provide it when it’s best – or you don’t provide it at all – customers’ attention falters and you’re left with an abandoned cart, or no cart at all.  These miniature stimulations of your audience as you lead them through your buying funnel have been dubbed “micro-moments.”  

Just think: Every banner, picture placement, headline, review, and call to action on a well-designed site has been perfectly placed by a company to in effect read your mind and make you want to buy products or services, and make the most of all the micro-moments you spend on that company’s website.  Don’t feel too self-conscious, now.

When in Rome…

The thing about these micro-moments is that everyone uses them to market to their customers nowadays, all the way down the marketing funnel.  This isn’t some new-age flash in the pan – Google even has a section on their business content arm devoted to it.

How does this all pertain to Zoho?  And, to you as a business owner?

Of course, this isn’t a general business consulting website, and, while you may wish to go ham and optimize your entire website to delight all your customers, we aren’t so prepared to give you mountains of advice pertaining to all of that.  But, we’re going to stick to one specific micro-moment you can manage.  That’s your customer-facing quoting process.

Why Optimize your Zoho eCommerce Site for Quoting?

The short answer: Because you too can profit from “hacking” people’s subconscious minds and making them want to buy from you!

And, ZBrains offers a tool that can help you do that – just by having it available on your website.  Enter the Zoho eCommerce integration for quoting.  This tool helps you in three distinct ways.

#1. Takes advantage of people’s visual nature

zoho ecommerce quoting

If you sell a product that’s pretty customizable, you may want to consult your customer directly before they cut you a check.  They’ll probably want to get to know you a bit, too, if they’re a new customer. That’s all pretty regular. But, people are already very visual creatures (why do you think Google prefers image- and video-rich pages over pages with just text?), and a study shows that the newest generation of consumers highly prefers buying visual content over any other kind of content.

Car companies already know this trick.  Just think of when you visit the website of a car manufacturer: many of them offer detailed pictures of each model sold.  The very best quoting engines even have ways to customize the look of the cars on the fly, so you can see exactly what your purchase would look like.

So, how do you get your website to do that?

You have an option in the Zoho eCommerce integration for quoting.  We developed the Zoho quoting tool especially for situations just like this, where you offer a product with many possible customizations, and you want to give your customers a visual representation of what they’re buying.

Sure, you’ll still want to get to know them and confirm their purchase before they buy.  Or, maybe they won’t click “Buy” at all, and will instead be redirected to a consulting call with you to iron out details.  But regardless, letting your customers see the products they’re planning to buy beforehand will give them the confidence they need to complete the purchase, ultimately.

#2. Gives instant gratification – to your customers and to you

[caption id="attachment_3583" align="alignleft" width="400"]zoho ecommerce quoting Okay, maybe not this instant. But close.[/caption]

Even the thought of younger people today wanting instant gratification may have turned into a meme at this point.  But, that doesn’t make it any less true – and, the more people can find things easily using their handheld pocket computers that double as phones, the more that sentiment will prevail.

The very nature of your Zoho eCommerce site, when equipped with a powerful CPQ tool, will support that idea.  Even without a visual aspect, letting your customer select all the various options they want for a particular product of yours – and then letting them see how each option affects the final price – carries so much more weight than a simple “Call us for a consultation.”  

If your pricing can be expressed with business logic of any sort, why not express that logic in a Zoho CRM quoting app?  And, following that, why not use a Zoho eCommerce integration to put that quoting app directly onto your website, to feed back into the CRM?  The Zoho CPQ tool does just that, giving both your customers and you the information you need to perform your next actions.

#3. It’s mobile-friendly

zoho ecommerce quoting mobile

While conversions from traffic on a desktop computer still reign supreme, mobile traffic continues to grow and grow, year over year.  We may be able to infer from this data that although the majority will ultimately make purchases on desktop computers, people might still give your products preliminary glances on their mobile devices, then return to their desktops to make official purchases.  Eventually, we’ll reach a point where mobile buying confidence eclipses desktop buying confidence.

In that light, the Zoho eCommerce quoting app is already mobile-optimized by default.  All we need to do at ZBrains is customize the tool for you based on your business processes.  The tool will behave the same way on a mobile device as it does on a desktop computer – and it will give your customers the same information, either way.

How about Zoho CRM quotes?

So, now we know what a Zoho eCommerce quoting solution can do for you, and why CPQ software in general is helpful.  That’s one thing. But, a Zoho quoting tool that can connect to your website and connect to Zoho CRM?  That’s even better. That’s why I think you’ll be pleased that you can use the aforementioned Zoho eCommerce tool inside Zoho CRM to create your Zoho CRM quotes.

zoho ecommerce quoting

I won’t go into a whole song and dance about this subject, as we’ve covered it in depth before.  But, in case you aren’t familiar, creating quotes directly in your CRM with this quoting tool provides value in a few different ways:

  1. Gives your salespeople the exact info they need to assemble a quote for customers themselves.  That means no more shuffling around between departments to get proper quoting formulas, pictures of items, and the like.
  2. Gives you an audit trail for quotes.  When salespeople use their own spreadsheets to put quotes together, you don’t have any insight as to how or when they arrived at their numbers if there’s ever a problem.  Putting quotes together in Zoho CRM gives you direct insight into your every salesperson’s quoting process.
  3. Cuts down on licensing costs.  You may have solved points 1 and 2 with an outside quoting system.  But, keeping everything on Zoho helps the pocketbook like nothing else!  Zoho Creator licensing costs, especially when combined with other Zoho licensing with the Zoho One package, tend to be quite inexpensive.
  4. Integrates with Zoho Books.  One of the very worst things about having separate software for quoting and finance is reconciling quotes with actual work orders or sales orders at the end of the day.  By quoting through the CRM, quotes flow automatically into Zoho Books as estimates. And by the way, this same principle applies to Zoho eCommerce quotes.

When it comes to Zoho CRM eCommerce and Quotes, don’t be afraid

zoho ecommerce quoting consultation

Diving into a mountain of statistics and reports and trying to relate that to building some kind of initiative for changing your quoting process isn’t always the easiest thing.  And, maybe this exposé on eCommerce trends and quoting tools left you with even more questions than answers (though I certainly hope not).  

If you’re looking for a helping hand to guide you through the chaos of setting up a quoting tool for your CRM system, our Zoho CRM consulting can help.  If you need a Zoho eCommerce tool, something customer-facing, to help make their experience better, that’s perfect.  And, if you need something for your salespeople to help them put quotes together for prospective clients, that’s also great.  You can use the same tool to do both jobs! And, we can help you.

Please let us know you visited by contacting us!  Use the button just below this text, and we’ll be back in touch in 24 hours.

Getting Buy-in When You’re Just Starting on Zoho

Getting Buy-in When You’re Just Starting on Zoho

On a time crunch?  This is a 7-minute read.

If there’s one thing we’ve said before but really can’t stress enough, it’s the importance of proper adoption when deploying Zoho apps for the first time.  Don’t worry, I can already see your eyes glazing over with that barrage of buzzwords. Because I understand your pain, I’ll try to make this “Zoho for beginners” article as painless as possible while also being informative.  The truth is there are several solid suggestions to ensure you have the strength of your whole team behind you when getting started on Zoho – and you can avoid spitting instructions at a bored or disgruntled room.

We may be salespeople here at ZBrains, but we aren’t psychologists, so there won’t be any Jedi mind tricks here, aside from those already built into Zoho’s software (they are the clever ones).  Without further ado, let’s get started!

zoho for beginners canary in coalmine

Zoho Cliq: Your Canary in the Coalmine

Before you buy a new car, you’ll probably want to test-drive it.  In this case, I want you to think of Zoho Cliq as a precursor to more involved Zoho apps like Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, Desk, Projects, and others.  Cliq, as you may already know, is Zoho’s answer to Slack, a popular intra-office chat software.  

Cliq is nice because it does basically the same thing as Slack, but it comes pre-integrated into Zoho CRM, Zoho Desk, and Zoho People – the idea being that your staff who use primarily one app the whole day don’t have to log into another app just to chat with other folks in the office.

The other nice thing about Cliq is it’s really darn easy to use, at least for most people.  You could add a safeguard against low adoption to your Zoho rollout by choosing to deploy Cliq for your whole team first, then letting the questions roll in.  And, if there aren’t any stragglers, you can safely assume you can roll out more difficult and important apps like CRM with only the usual training-related questions.  (And, fortunately for you, we provide Zoho training, so that’s even less on your plate.)

zoho for beginners training

Zoho Desk: like a Miniature CRM

Ready for yet another driving analogy?  Good, I’m not either. But, the fact is there’s another way to prepare for something as complex as Zoho CRM.  Rolling out Zoho Cliq first is great at letting you know who your “problem children” might be, but it’s not the same as sticking them into the fire, so to speak, and watching them try to survive.  And, I don’t want you to think about doing that. Instead, consider deploying a slightly more complex app, something that has a lot of the same features as the CRM without being the CRM itself.  That app is Zoho Desk.  

Desk has ways to sort through customers, prioritize emails in the form of tickets, and progress tickets through a series of possible actions with Blueprint, a feature that was first introduced in Zoho CRM.  From an administrative standpoint, it even includes workflow automation, so your CRM admin-to-be can get their feet wet with that, too. That way, they can be better prepared  for working with it more heavily in the CRM.

Even if Zoho Desk isn’t quite as easy as Cliq for year team to get their collective head around, it’s what our Chief Solutions Architect James Converse calls a “soft landing” point.  Essentially, if you’re gonna crash-land, make it on a nice comfy mattress instead of the hard asphalt.

All Done Testing? Time to Implement in Earnest

If you’ve already gone through these motions and it looks like your staff is ready to roll with you on Zoho, then that’s great!  Staff buy-in is one of the most important pieces of a successful Zoho deployment, especially if it involves using more than one Zoho app.

When it comes to Zoho implementation, you have the option to do it yourself or hire a consultant to help you.  There are advantages and pitfalls to both ways of doing it, so we’ll analyze those here:

zoho adoption consulting

Ensuring Zoho Adoption When You Implement Yourself

We usually tell people the most important part of any Zoho implementation isn’t the deployment of their specific custom fields, modules, and screens.  Nor is it the programming of workflow automation and blueprint (when necessary), or the writing of custom functions to ensure their system adheres to very specific business logic.  It’s not any of that.  Actually, it’s a lot more basic.

It’s the training.

Training in this case is almost like buy-in, and sometimes the two are interchangeable!  Some of your staff will give you their buy-in from being trained, and others will need to buy into an idea before opening themselves to the idea of learning a new system – but, it all looks the same in the end.

In any case, properly training your staff ensures everyone uses your system the way it was meant to be used.  You’ll probably need to train administrators at your business and have those admins train your other staff members.  Maybe you’re the only admin – and, that’s fine too. But, you’ll need to confirm that each person using a specific app knows exactly what to do in that app and when to do it.  

For example: in Zoho CRM, you might want to impart to a salesperson how to enter leads into your database, how and when to convert them to contacts, accounts, and deals, and how to use the Activities module and tasks to structure their day.  And that’s just a small portion!

Obviously, administering training for a Zoho app yourself is a big deal.  It isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re already trying to run a business.  You just don’t have time!

Zoho adoption training

Ensuring Adoption When Using a Zoho Consultant

Fortunately, you don’t have to work terribly hard to ensure proper Zoho adoption if you hire a Zoho consultant to help with system deployment.  That’s our job! We’ve done Zoho implementations many, many times, and while no business is exactly the same as the next, basic training on Zoho CRM and other apps tend to be pretty regimented.  We almost always give training sessions in advance of the actual app deployments.  And, we allot some time at the end of our training sessions for a Q&A session.  The answers to those questions usually get everyone’s noggins joggin’, and this makes the following Zoho consulting sessions to configure custom fields and screens that much more fruitful.

Now, you’re probably wondering how we find out about your business enough to recommend a Zoho plan that includes training on it, right?

The Truth About Our Zoho Consulting

It’s true that (nearly) everyone needs proper Zoho training, but after the training sessions our consulting sessions become much more tailored towards your business.  Zoho can be both a blessing and a curse in that it gives you multiple ways to do almost anything in business.  The question is always:

“What’s the best way to do all these things in the context of my own business?”  

We figure out exactly which way to go with you by sitting down for a consulting session called a Business Process Analysis.  In a BPA, we spend time with you and your team in order to get our heads around your whole business – then we make our formal recommendations to you, kind of like a doctor.  Only, this isn’t just a five-minute wham-bam appointment. And, there’s no smelly waiting room either.

You may be starting to see just how much goes into deploying Zoho.  It’s not something we take lightly, and you shouldn’t either. We’re here to help you every step of the way, from planning, to training, to deployment – and beyond.

zoho for beginners getting buy-in

To Recap

We covered a fair bit in this article, so to recap, we:

  1. Suggested implementing Zoho Cliq or Zoho Desk as a way to prepare your staff for a more complete Zoho deployment
  2. Demonstrated training as a way to get ultimate staff buy-in
  3. Discussed the value of a  business consulting session to get a plan in place to ensure you do everything the right way.

This isn’t a call to carry all these out yourself, of course. In the grand scheme of things, you may be working with much more than Zoho CRM, Cliq, and Desk.  (There’s Zoho Books for your finances…and 40+ other apps in the whole Zoho One suite.)  And, as Zoho consultants, we’d probably do it in a reverse order (point 3, then 2, then 1).  But, that may not be your style, so if you don’t want to engage with a Zoho consultant like us, you could really do any of these to help ensure buy-in from your staff.  Regardless, as mentioned before, hopefully these points on Zoho for beginners get the old noggin joggin’.

Let us know if you need any help with Zoho by clicking the Contact Us button in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Zoho CRM vs Close.io

Zoho CRM vs Close.io CRM: Different Strokes for Different Folks

zoho crm vs close.io

In the search for the best CRM for your business, you have more than just a handful of options – and more of them are popping up every day.  Beginning in 2013, Close.io has emerged as a competitor to Zoho, so it’s time we took a good look at both platforms to determine the pros and cons of Zoho CRM vs Close.io.  

In the spirit of delivering instant gratification (it is 2019, after all!), I’ll say this to start: Choosing between Zoho CRM vs Close.io really depends on the type of business you run.  Even more to the point: Do you run a call center with very few business software needs aside from the CRM? Then, consider Close.io.

What makes Close.io so appealing?

zoho crm vs close.io

In a word: Simplicity.  When people come to us at ZBrains with some questions about getting Zoho to work best for their businesses, they often remark that Zoho seems simple, but in taking a look under the hood, they realize there’s a lot than can be done to customize or improve the software, and the DIY approach that Zoho Corp themselves like to tout isn’t always the best.  Not to mention Zoho CRM can connect to a slew of other Zoho apps, potentially.

Conversely, with Close.io CRM, the interface looks very simple and easily customizable – perhaps even on your own.  Close.io is very direct in its approach to selling you, the consumer, on their software, too: whereas Zoho is a family of apps, Close is a CRM equipped with a powerful phone integration, SMS integration, and email integration – and, that’s it.  For some businesses, this is enough – at least to start with. But, it’s probably not for everyone.

How do the features of Zoho CRM vs Close.io stack up?

Close.io is banking on its simplicity to entice potential customers, so I’ll go through the list of features advertised on Close.io’s own website and compare those to anything Zoho offers in the same realm.

[caption id="attachment_3507" align="aligncenter" width="600"]zoho crm vs close.io Close.io’s pipeline management[/caption]

Workflow and pipeline management

Close comes with a feature akin to Zoho CRM’s Feeds called Timeline View to make sure you see what you’ve already done (and, likely show an administrator what you’ve been up to as well).  You can manage your pipeline with a built-in feature that reminds me of Zoho SalesInbox, which organizes emails in order of importance, by associated deal size, etc.  

Close.io also includes canned and customizable reports, a search tool that covers the whole CRM, as well as custom lead module views so you can filter through leads easily and see only the ones you need.  All of these are useful features to have, but nothing revolutionary.

The Phones: Where Close.io Shines

The chief difference between Zoho CRM vs Close.io CRM, other than the latter’s lightness, is its native power dialer, predictive dialer, and SMS integration.  Power dialers are very useful in situations when you have a sales staff that needs to spend as much time on the phone as possible, as it automatically dials numbers and minimizes the time your team spends disconnected, as it were.

Close.io combines this power dialer with a predictive dialer (in select software editions), which takes the power dialer up a notch by only dialing numbers that have the best chance of connecting.  This, in turn, allows users to have more successful phone conversations, and also reduce the number of calls that don’t connect.

Lastly, Close.io CRM packs a built-in SMS message integration, which allows users to send texts straight from the CRM – either individually or in bulk.

[caption id="attachment_3506" align="aligncenter" width="600"]zoho crm vs close.io Zoho CRM’s phone integration[/caption]

Zoho, while sporting many native phone system integrations such as RingCentral and Jive, doesn’t have a built-in power dialer or predictive dialing system of its own.  (You can use the Zoho Twilio SMS integration to send text messages for an extra development fee, however.)

The Integrations: Close.io CRM vs Zoho CRM

zoho crm vs close.io

Both Close.io and Zoho CRM boast a fair number of native integrations, but Zoho’s advantage in this regard is almost unfair.  This is because Zoho isn’t just a CRM but an entire family of apps designed to support each other. With Close.io you get their CRM, of course – and you get access to help desk integrations, marketing campaign tools, a website messaging app, lead generation apps, reporting apps, and even third-party sync tools like Zapier – to connect other third-party apps.  Some of these integrations are native and others are third-party.

Zoho’s native integrations help its case significantly

On the other hand, with Zoho, you also get access to many of those same kinds of tools: a help desk (Zoho Desk), marketing automation (Zoho Campaigns), website messaging (Zoho SalesIQ), advanced analytics, and about 35 other apps.  The difference with Zoho is all of their apps integrate natively and, in many cases, have the same UI so the user experience is much more unified than it would be otherwise.

The importance of your software being able to communicate natively with other apps in the same family can’t be understated – take it from someone who regularly counsels business owners on whether to use Zoho Books in conjunction with CRM or use a Zoho CRM integration with QuickBooks.  Sometimes the QuickBooks integration is the only way to go – and we’re happy to supply the integration to those in need – but whenever the business has a choice, we always recommend going native and staying away from third-party integrations, as those are inherently less stable than something that’s already part of your software system.

What’s more: Custom Zoho apps make Zoho CRM a big winner

[caption id="attachment_3510" align="alignleft" width="300"]zoho crm vs close.io Make your own masterpiece (app) with Zoho Creator[/caption]

The thing that really separates Zoho CRM from Close.io CRM, however, isn’t just the number of apps it can plug into – it’s the ability to build your very own custom apps and connect them to the CRM, using the power of Zoho Creator.  Granted, you may need some Zoho consulting to determine the best possible way to build your app, or connect it to the CRM, using the context of your entire business.  But, the very possibility (and notable companies verifying its success) make Zoho an enterprise-level solution that Close.io simply cannot parallel, even with its collection of native features and integrations.

Zoho CRM vs Close.io CRM Pricing: It’s no contest

zoho crm vs close.io

Whereas in many areas, Zoho CRM and Close.io are pretty comparable, pricing is an area where Zoho shows its sheer power by not only undercutting the competition, but by offering much more bang for your buck.  

Close.io has three service tiers ranging in price from $65 to $145 per user per month.  For a team of ten employees, that’s between $650 and $1,450 per month in software licensing costs.  Add in the costs of any third-party connected apps, and you could be looking at several hundred dollars more per month in recurring costs.

Zoho, on the other hand, also offers different tiers of service, ranging from $18 to $45 per user per month.  But, this isn’t even where Zoho really shines. Zoho’s flagship offering, Zoho One – a suite of over 40 business apps whose numbers and features grow on a monthly basis – is just $35 per user per month, as long as all of your W-2 employees use the system.  (1099 contractors are not affected by this; only W-2 employees are forced to have accounts.) For a similar team of ten employees, you’d be looking at up to $350/mo. Even factoring in a few hundred more dollars for other apps you may need to use along with Zoho One, the costs are only comparable to the lowest level of Close.io – and you get so much more functionality.

Which one should you choose? Depends on your business trajectory

Despite the huge difference in pricing between Zoho CRM vs Close.io, and despite the gap in functionality as well, Close.io is strong in one very specific area: communication integrations.  Clearly, they are targeting a specific sort of business. The question is, do you run that kind of business?  And, will that type of business ever change or grow as you scale?

Close.io CRM is fantastic for heavy phone sales, and they give you the ability to connect to many different business apps you may already use.  But, Zoho excels in many other areas besides CRM, and their pricing structure makes choosing Zoho an absolute home run in the short term and the long run.

Zoho MarketingHub: Zoho’s Answer to HubSpot, Adobe & Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Zoho MarketingHub: Zoho’s Answer to HubSpot, Adobe & Salesforce Marketing Cloud

zoho marketinghub marketing automation

Unless you have some fantastic luck, you could say the beginning of every good sale starts with good marketing.  Zoho Corporation, as usual with their regular schedule of updates, is well aware of this fact, and have been putting together a very exciting new platform that aims to capitalize on this notion and give their customers more marketing power and control – and in that way increase sales and put more money back in their customers’ pockets.  

This brand-new addition to the Zoho marketing stack is designed to encompass every marketing tool they’ve built so far, combine those tools with elements of Zoho Analytics, then come with a very attractive, updated UI smacked onto it… The new tool’s name: Zoho MarketingHub.

Obviously, the implications of Zoho releasing such a tool in the context of its present suite of apps – not to mention the not-so-subtle jab at HubSpot itself in the app’s own name – are far-reaching.  

In today’s post, we’ll go through the new features Zoho Marketing Hub brings to the table, how the app can affect (and improve) use of Zoho CRM, and what the app’s existence means for other related Zoho apps.

zoho marketinghub collaboration

Solving a common problem: Lack of a Marketing Hub

Many of our customers already come to us looking for help connecting the various software components of their business.  The marketing “stack,” or suite of individual apps, is an important part of this – though with the sheer number of tools available to help, each with somewhat overlapping functionalities, your confusion over where to start and which ones to use would be forgiven.

And, Zoho has a reason for presenting all the tools to you in this way.  As businesses and commerce itself both trend toward being more digitized, it becomes more and more important to have all the digital tools necessary to market effectively to potential and current customers.  Previously, Zoho offered different apps to fulfill different marketing duties (like Zoho Campaigns for email marketing, and Zoho Social for social media posts and monitoring) – but even with integration between apps, it wasn’t the same as having everything controlled by a single app.  Zoho putting all these different tools together under one umbrella is their ultimate answer to the question, “how do I manage the entire marketing funnel effectively, from A to Z and beyond?”

What does Zoho MarketingHub bring to the table, then?

Marketing Hub covers all of a customer’s journey, not just some of it.

And, there are a lot of features to note here, so strap yourself in…

zoho marketing hub lead scoring

Lead tracking.  As with both Zoho CRM and Zoho Campaigns, Zoho MarketingHub provides webforms with which to funnel your prospects, leads, and contacts into different marketing “buckets,” each bucket with its own objective and type of content.  These webforms can be placed on your website, but they can also be integrated directly with services like GoToWebinar and EventBrite for a more unified experience. As far as features go, this is par for the course from Zoho, but this next one is downright exciting…

Web behavior tracking.  Once you’ve obtained a lead’s information via a webform, you can use Marketing Hub’s Web Assistant feature to tell you exactly where that person went on your website, how long they were there, and where else on your website they clicked.  This borrows a bit from services like Google Analytics, but, combined with information your lead already submitted, allows you to identify their path to becoming a customer. And, for everyone who didn’t submit information to you, Zoho MarketingHub still gives an aggregate page popularity map, page click-through likelihood tracker, and many other useful reports.  

zoho marketing hub website marketing

Custom email campaigns based on interest.  You can use behavioral data gathered by MarketingHub to send very targeted email campaigns based on the products or services your leads are most interested in.  Once they receive this info, you can give them lead scores based on how they interact with your content: did they skim or really read it?  Did they click a link and stay on the page for long? You can then choose to send leads who score the highest to your sales team automatically, ensuring the team doesn’t waste time reaching out to anyone unqualified.

Tailor the customer journey by persona.  You can also use Zoho Marketing Hub’s data to modify your website itself so leads convert more quickly and easily in general.  Modify your customer journeys not only by product or service interest, but by their very persona. This is one of those things that will make your potential (or current) customers more satisfied with your content and your company on the whole, though they may not know exactly why.  One of the few instances where mind games are okay to play!

zoho marketing hub lead nurturing

Continue engaging your customers long after they’ve bought from you.  When you look at a list of customers, you’re really looking at a list of people who already trust you.  If you have services or products that pair well with those that your customers have already consumed from you, you can use Zoho MarketingHub’s data to make decisions about sending more email campaigns, custom surveys, and other promotions to help you sell more and sell easily.  

Plan future campaigns based on your exact ROI.  Arguably the most important stat to a marketer, Zoho MarketingHub’s Marketing Planner calculates the ROI of individual marketing channels, and the respective campaigns within each channel.  This enables you to focus more of your effort on campaigns that deliver and kill off the ones that don’t produce.

These new features of Zoho Marketing Hub are sure to improve the lives of the marketers who plug it into their campaigns – not just by informing them of what’s working and what isn’t, but by telling them exactly how profitable they are to the company.  And from then onward, it’s incumbent upon the sales department to take all this great information that MarketingHub gathers, and run with it.

So, how does that look, exactly?

Zoho MarketingHub feeds Zoho CRM.  Then, the CRM beefs up your sales potential

zoho marketing hub dashboard

If utilized correctly, introducing MarketingHub to your suite of apps has the power to turn a fledgling sales department into a breakout team, and an already powerful team into a group of downright all-stars.  And, while it’s true that MarketingHub integrates with CRM and can sync a good deal of information directly into the hands of your sales team, it’s not the raw data that concerns them most.

Of course, there’s value in knowing things like:

  • The amount of time a lead has spent on your website
  • The number of pages they looked at, and their exact click path
  • Which email campaigns they acted upon and which ones they ignored

But, it’s even better to combine this data with the power of Zoho CRM – and some workflow automation programming – to inform your sales team:

  1. Exactly how to open the lead based on how long they spent on your website
  2. Just what products or services to pitch based on the exact combination of pages viewed
  3. How likely that person is to become a customer based on their email campaign interaction – and when they might say yes based on behavior of others in that persona category
  4. Which warm leads to go after, and exactly when to go after them

Of course, a well-seasoned salesperson can glean a lot of this information by looking at the raw data from MarketingHub, but any salesperson worth their salt knows time is money – and, why spend time figuring out yourself what Zoho CRM’s calculations and workflow rules can figure out for you in a snap?  You could even integrate blueprint into the mix and place hotter prospects into different stages in the Leads or Deals module, and save even more time.  The sky’s the limit when it comes to translating the data from Zoho Marketing Hub into actionable CRM data for your team. (And, if you’re confused about what exactly to do, our team of Zoho consultants can help you with that and anything else.)

So, does this mean I can throw away Zoho Campaigns and Zoho Social?

zoho marketinghub

It’s not a bad question.  Earlier, we mentioned Zoho Marketing Hub combines many aspects of Zoho Campaigns with Zoho Social.  And, essentially, it adds a lot of intelligence to those apps.  But, does that mean you should just stop using Zoho Campaigns or Social?  

My answer: If you’re afraid Zoho is just going to turn off your apps or delete your old campaigns, I wouldn’t worry too much about that.  Zoho’s usual MO when it comes to building apps that improve upon existing ones is to either allow users the option to use either app (or both apps) in question.  (A good example of this situation is in Zoho Books vs Zoho Invoice.) Or, they may even choose to merge Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Social, and Zoho MarketingHub formally into one app.  

But, I would guess the latter move would be very complicated and labor-intensive.  Not to mention, having only MarketingHub as an option might even be overkill for some companies.  We wouldn’t want Zoho to turn into Salesforce…obviously!

Another value add: look for MarketingHub in Zoho One

zoho marketinghub zoho one cloud

Zoho Corporation will very likely add Marketing Hub to the Zoho One platform, as Zoho One has included all of Zoho’s apps up to this point.  This just further cements Zoho as one of the best values out there, in my humble (and admittedly biased) opinion. Leveraging the power of MarketingHub and CRM, you have the opportunity to feed data already coming from your website through both apps and present your sales team with new action items.  Nothing could be better for a sales department.

In Summary

In 2019, getting through 1000+ words might be a little too much to handle, so I’m happy to provide a short synopsis of this article.

MarketingHub is Zoho’s answer to the big marketing automation competitors like HubSpot, et al, and it packs the features to go along with its punchy name.  Apart from tracking click paths and seeing how to best convert web traffic, you can also send email campaigns and launch social posts right from the app, which means you could theoretically replace Zoho Campaigns and Social with MarketingHub.  With Zoho MarketingHub, you’ll get just what you put into it, so as long as you connect it to your website and allow the engagement and traffic data to flow in, the resulting reports should be pretty easy to understand – and, if they aren’t, you can always contact us and we’ll provide some Zoho consulting to you.

As always, we’ll keep you informed of any MarketingHub, CRM, or other developments in Zoho.  If you have any questions about anything here, we’d love to hear from you.

February 2019 New Feature Roundup: Zoho Books, Zoho Expense, and More

February 2019 New Feature Roundup: Zoho Books, Zoho Expense, and More

zoho books zoho expense

At a time when Zoho CRM has been dubbed either a “Leader” or “High Performer” in every business category according to a G2Crowd report, Zoho Corporation has used the momentum from their growing flagship app to push out some great updates to a different suite, the Zoho Finance Platform.  This suite, which includes Zoho Books, Zoho Expense, Zoho Inventory, and Zoho Subscriptions, can be used alongside the CRM to manage a business’s finances, while the CRM handles sales activities and forecasting.

Zoho is innovation at its core

Improving existing apps is the name of the game for Zoho, and this current round of updates should only strengthen Zoho’s brand in the coming months and years.  And given all that, we could not be happier to share these updates with you!

These are just some of the updates Zoho is pushing to their Finance Plus platform.  Keep an eye out for these and many more on the horizon:

zoho books zoho expense

Zoho Books

  1. File 1099s easily with a Yearli integration.  Yearli, which files 1099-MISC forms to the US federal government and applicable state governments during tax season, now integrates directly with Zoho Books.  This means no more double-entry between those two platforms. You can activate this integration from inside of Yearli and import data directly, where it will be ready to submit.
  2. Got new users?  Show them “What’s Next.”  Similar to the Zoho CRM blueprint feature, a new “What’s Next” tab in the Invoices module of Zoho Books tells users of your system the potential actions they can take next, related to an invoice record.  These actions are customizable based on any user’s permissions, and you can turn this new feature on and off as needed.
  3. Branding and Client Portal modules are combined.  Pretty self-explanatory; these modules had been separated, but now you can control the look of your customers’ invoices, actions customers can take, and your custom portal domain all from the same place.
  4. Get quicker answers to your Zoho Books questions.  Page Tips, available near the upper right corner of Zoho Books, now has a search bar that links directly to Zoho Books FAQ.  This will likely cut down on time spent calling your Zoho consultant for help (although we are always happy to hear from you too!).

zoho books zoho expense

Zoho Expense

  1. Different Expense categories = different experiences.  Now, you can personalize the expense creation experience based on the expense category selected by your staff.  Use categories to enable or disable certain fields, pre-fill values in fields, or add tooltips or hints to fields to streamline users’ experience.  This particular update for Zoho Expense is coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
  2. Use Web Tabs for a more integrated experience.  When you’re switching between related tabs in Zoho Expense, what could be better than having related websites directly integrated as you enter or approve expenses?  Use new Web Tabs to keep booking sites or other pricing sites you frequent close at hand, integrated with Zoho Expense.
  3. Do you use Xero?  Now you can integrate it with Expense.  This prevents having to enter expense info across two platforms.  The integration syncs Customers, Expense Accounts, and Categories between Xero and Zoho Expense.  Plus, all approved expenses can be synced to Xero automatically. Nice time saver!

zoho books zoho expense

Zoho Inventory

  1. Do you categorize your items?  So does Inventory.  This is a simple but much-needed update to organize inventory based on category.  Zoho Inventory allows you to run reports not just on items themselves, but on categories of items to gauge performance.
  2. Process only what you need, and nothing you don’t.  You can now manually add items to a package to ship, or even scan their barcodes for an even quicker experience.  This ensures you only process items you need to ship, regardless of the items’ quantity on a related Sales Order.
  3. Simpler orders?  Ship quickly and invoice instantly!  For less involved orders, you now have the ability to select a SO and create a manual shipment without needing to create a Package record first.  (You can also mark those shipments as delivered right away, manually.) Last but not least, create invoices directly from SOs without going through the usual invoice edit page.
  4. Never go Less Than Zero.  It’s easy to get bogged down when dealing with multiple orders at once, and it’s possible to exhaust your product stock when managing it on two different screens.  Now, you can restrict creation of a transaction when it would bring an item’s stock below 0 – and, you can turn this feature on and off as needed.

zoho books zoho expense

Zoho Subscriptions

  1. View all your credit notes as a list.  Now, instead of searching in different places for a customer’s credit notes, you can see them all in a list view.  Simple, but absolutely a time-saver!
  2. Extend subscriptions instantly.  Extending subscriptions when they were meant to be limited used to be a pain, what with having to create a new subscription record and crowding up your customers’ records.  Now, you can extend any limited subscription by a specific number of cycles, and you’re good to go.

zoho books zoho expense

Hop on this train before it leaves the station

Given all these updates to the Zoho Finance platform, and coupled with Zoho’s already inexpensive price point (for example, Zoho Books can be just $29/mo per company by itself), it’s never been a better time to get into Zoho.  Zoho CRM picks up market share seemingly daily, and the Zoho Finance apps will likely follow suit as their feature library continues to grow.  

Wouldn’t it be nice to get in on the ground floor…when it’s still on the ground?  If you’ve ever been curious about Zoho Books, Zoho Expense, or any other Zoho app, it’s a great time to contact us so we can show you how your business would run on Zoho. Whether you use a simple spreadsheet or you’re well-versed in all things accounting – there’s something for everyone here.  Contact us and let’s chat!

Zoho CRM Blueprint – The Blueprint to Sales Success

Zoho CRM Blueprint – The Blueprint to Sales Success

Hello, everyone!  This is the second post in a series on the latest new offerings in the realm of Zoho CRM.  Zoho has chosen to focus heavily on sales automation for this round of upgrades, and with good reason: as CRM is the most expensive and arguably most important Zoho offering, Zoho wants to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.  These new offerings are only available with Zoho CRM Enterprise (and now Zoho One), so the powers that be really want to entice you to use that version of the software.  And, for good reason – it’s already the best version of the system.  So, without further ado, let’s talk Zoho CRM Blueprint.

(You can find the first post of the series on Zia, the AI-powered sales tool, right here.)

I say Blueprint, you say…

When someone mentions a blueprint to you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Probably a plan to build a house or other structure, but it isn’t a full rendering.  Really more like a cross section showing all the walls, windows, and beyond… The guts of the edifice, where the wires and pipes go, the lighting fixtures – everything.

And so it is with your sales cycle, in a manner of speaking.  Even if you don’t see everything at once.

See, sometimes your salespeople need a blueprint to get from A to B.  Obviously they know how to sell, but, especially in today’s technology-driven work environment, outside stimuli are everywhere.  And, it can be easy to get distracted and lose focus.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if your salespeople had a blueprint, a sort of road map to get where they need to go, in terms of sales?

Obviously this is all a little abstract, but I’m hoping you’re with me so far!  This is Zoho CRM Blueprint:

zoho crm blueprint

What we essentially have here is a literal blueprint to success for your sales team.  This document has a few different color-coded blocks: White rectangles correspond to stages in the Deals module, while the gold parallelograms correspond to potential actions your salespeople can take in relation to those stages.

Now, ordinarily, your sales staff might have deal stages in front of them and just be expected to follow up with clients on a schedule, moving the deals stages accordingly when appropriate.  But, that isn’t always enough to ensure success, as general instructions aren’t always clear.  Even if you or your Zoho consultant of choice have set up workflow rules for your sales staff to let them know what tasks they need to carry out in relation to a deal, salespeople still have to access the task and click “complete.”  Zoho CRM Blueprint takes this routine a step further, making it possible to complete tasks directly from the Deal screen and giving those tasks a wider context from which salespeople can view them and understand exactly where they are in the sales cycle.

Zoho CRM blueprint allows for setting simple instructions, as the illustration above shows: Start.  Schedule Appointment.  Qualify.  And so on.  Like a Zoho training session, but better.

Drawing up your Zoho CRM Blueprint

Unlike conventional blueprints, using Zoho CRM blueprint doesn’t require the use of drafting programs to really nail down – in fact, you don’t even really need a steady hand.  It really is as easy as creating deal stages, creating per-deal tasks for salespeople (called “transitions”), connecting the dots, and doing a little drag-and-drop.  Observe:

zoho crm blueprint

You can give conditions to Zoho CRM Blueprint transitions, too.

Part of drawing up your sales process involves setting parameters, and of course you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page.  You can use these parameters to ensure that, for example, contracts are closed within a certain window of time, or that your sales staff doesn’t go crazy with giving out discounts.  When your sales team goes to complete a transition, they’ll see an additional dialog box if you choose to add one asking for some details:

zoho crm blueprint

Not only does this keep your sales team in line with your company vision, but it gives you even more data with which to build reports and gauge the health of your company.  For example, with the data collected from this dialog box to the right, you’ll be able to determine the average discount rate given by all sales team members, the average discount given by salesperson, and of course the amount of time taken to close a deal by salesperson and on the whole, if you aren’t already collecting that data elsewhere.

Thankfully, Zoho CRM anticipates this is just what you’ll be doing and created a screen just for drilling down into this data.  Kinda makes me want to go in and start playing with it right now… Either that or make some sales; I haven’t quite decided yet.

zoho crm blueprint

How do these Blueprints fit into Zoho’s ultimate vision for the CRM?

Again, Zoho’s game as of late seems to be taking the sales process and automating as much of it as humanly possible, so after implementation you hardly have to touch it at all.  After all, why spend any time thinking of what to do to improve sales processes if a machine can analyze your behavior and tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t?  Why fret over which tasks to complete in what order if you can have the Zoho CRM blueprint right in front of you?  Of course, Zoho recognizes that less time spent thinking means more time spent doing actual work, and since, barring your deftly-worded phone conversations, sales procedures themselves don’t tend to be all that individualized – that is, they tend to fit right onto a blueprint.

Hungry for more?

Well, that makes at least two of us.  I can’t wait to see what else Zoho has in store in terms of sales automation.  The very prospect is a little mind-boggling: someone had to design the sales process itself, but once it’s committed to the blueprint and you have a dedicated staff to carry it out, it arguably runs itself.

Stay tuned for more updates like these, and let me know if you have any questions by clicking the link below this post!