Author : Jeremy Mozlin

3 Reasons to Use a CRM Consultancy When Implementing Your CRM

3 Reasons to Use a CRM Consultancy when Implementing your CRM

crm consultancy

No matter what kind of business you run, implementing a CRM correctly is no small feat.  Sure, it may seem tempting to ease your way into any CRM by simply turning it on.  But then, the wealth of features you’ll probably see before you might just make you hang up your hat before you even get started.

Working with a product like Zoho, which advertises itself as DIY, we see this kind of thing happen a lot.

And, we get calls about it weeks, months, or even years after the initial projects start.  It’s still not off the ground, or No one is using the system correctly.  People lose faith in themselves at that point.

Well, I want to tell you not to give up.  Most CRMs are tricky to use correctly because they’re very powerful, and Zoho CRM is no exception to this.  Play around with Zoho One long enough and you might get really confused at the array of 45+ apps.  It’s not your fault.  And, I believe software as powerful as Zoho should come with sufficient resources to help you along the way.  Chances are you believe that too, if you’re reading this blog post.

With that in mind, let me tell you three ways using a CRM consultancy (like us!) helps greatly with proper CRM deployment.  You may get some ideas of your own from this.

#1: Your CRM consultancy will make sure you’re using your system in the best way possible for your business.

crm consultancy

Even with loads of documentation available, deploying a CRM and related business apps by yourself is at best a chore, and at worst a show-stopper.  And, with no one at your side to help, it can be pretty difficult to know if you’ve deployed your software the very best way.  Tech-savvy team members certainly do help, but unless they themselves are CRM experts, that’s only one piece of the puzzle.  Having someone on staff who has worked previously with the CRM you’re deploying is closer to what you’ll need – but, if they too worked with a faulty system in the past, they may not know the very best way to do things either.  Your best bet at a successful CRM implementation is with a CRM consultant at your side.  If you plan to deploy Zoho CRM, for example, you’ll want a Zoho CRM consultancy to assist you.

Ordinarily, using a CRM consultancy helps with figuring out the best way to use your CRM by exploring just how you do business. That can involve everything from a business process analysis, review of current software systems and purposes, and interviewing key personnel to gauge their responsibilities.  It also takes into consideration the business owner’s vision for the company moving forward, as this vision usually highly impacts how your business software is utilized.

Once this analysis is complete, your CRM consultancy will have everything they need to present you with a clear plan for moving forward, and you’ll have what you need to make an informed decision on what exactly you’d like to do, which parts of the plan make sense, and which parts need revision.  It’s not a simple process, but it’s necessary for you to get the very most out of your new system.

#2: Your CRM consultancy will make sure you have a high adoption rate so you don’t end up with another failed project.

crm consultancy

Even if your new CRM is set up correctly, that doesn’t guarantee your staff will use it the right way all the time.  We’re all human, but sometimes we find our customers’ Zoho CRMs set up in ways that actually hurt productivity.  And, it’s not their fault!  Those people just did what they thought was easiest and best, and no one was there to tell them yes or no.  And, of course, CRM usage (adoption) eventually dwindled because the CRM wasn’t deployed in a way that actually provided value to the users.

While a good CRM consultancy likely won’t recommend bending the rules of CRM to fit someone’s arbitrary desire, one can usually account for quirks by setting up additional reminders, workflow automation, and the like, to steer things in the proper direction.  Setting up the system the right way ensures the CRM works better without needing additional customizations that end up bloating the system and making things more confusing in the long run.

Your CRM consultancy will be able to figure out the extent of the “quirks” during the business process analysis and interviews, and make recommendations to set up workflow automation, reminders, or custom function that actually help your team’s performance and make them want to use the system more.

#3: Your CRM consultancy will ensure your system stays up-to-date and scalable, depending on your plans for the business.

crm consultancy

Aside from helping to solve your current problems and make sure your new CRM has a high rate of adoption, the next-most important thing a CRM consultancy can do is make sure your system can also solve future problems.  And, it’s not as if your system can anticipate problems before they come up all by itself.  Rather, the system needs to be configured to act that way!  And, the way a consultancy does this is simple in theory, but a little complicated in practice.

A good CRM consultancy will be able to predict what problems can come up based on how you already do business, and how you plan to grow your business.  To understand these parts of your business, a CRM consultancy will carry out interviews of key personnel to understand their current business responsibilities, current system duties (if any), and their trajectories in your business.  Then, based on business knowledge, the consultancy will put a plan in place that accounts for those future problems.

Future-planning like this can solve problems as large as a planned change in your business model in five years and as small as how to organize the departments in your website chat widget once you ramp up your website traffic to a certain number per day.

Looking to the future

crm consultancy

As proper deployment of your CRM can lead to success for years to come, it’s not something to be taken lightly.  You may very well have the time and ability to tackle your deployment head-on, but if you’re unsure about anything, it’s best to contact a certified CRM consultant.  Around half of IT projects fail to some degree, whether out-of-budget, working only partially, or a complete loss.  You stand a much better chance of succeeding by putting your own business sense together with someone who has CRM sense.  Together, you really do have the best of both worlds.

On that note, will our worlds collide anytime soon?  Contact us and let’s see if we’d be a good fit for your CRM system goals.

Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One Review

Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One

Zoho is at once an amazing and frustrating product.  You probably have some idea of this, or maybe you’re still in the dark – but, the truth is out there.  

crm plus vs zoho one

Zoho is incredible in the scope of what it can do and at the price you pay for it.  

There are very few, if any other platforms that provide so many different software apps, and so much useful functionality, for such a low price, comparatively.  But, at the same time, Zoho’s various products – whose functionality often overlap – and software bundles with the very same issue, are often not explained in enough detail for potential customers to make informed buying decisions.

There is so much information about Zoho products available.  How can none of it accurately tell you the difference between, for example, Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One?  It’s enough to drive you up the wall.  

When comparing CRM Plus vs Zoho One on the surface, the offerings seem similar enough: Bundles of Zoho apps for members of your company to use.  But, one bundle includes many Zoho apps (Zoho One) and one includes comparatively fewer (CRM Plus).  And, Zoho One is more expensive… Unless you get your whole company on the software, in which case it becomes much cheaper.  Is this gaming the system? What gives?

Well, not quite.  There’s actually a method to the madness that is the different pricing and different apps present in the Zoho One and Zoho CRM Plus bundles.  In this post, we’ll address the two problems that seem to arise from having different bundles with seemingly (but not actually) illogical pricing models.  Then, we’ll lay out some facts to help you determine which bundle is best for your business. Finally, we’ll give you a bit of history that led to the introduction of Zoho One at all.

crm plus vs zoho one

One problem: Why are Zoho offering two different bundles at all?

The answer here is simple on its surface.  Zoho One and Zoho CRM Plus exist to meet two different distinct software needs.

What is Zoho One? 

Zoho One is Zoho’s all-inclusive bundle, boasting 40+ fully-featured apps, all Enterprise-level (Zoho’s top tier of features).  You can purchase a license for any number of employees at your company for $90/user/month. However, if all employees at your company use Zoho One, the price is only $35/user/month.  Obviously, that’s a substantial difference.

What is Zoho CRM Plus? 

CRM Plus is the original Zoho bundle: Nine essential Zoho apps, all Enterprise-level, for $60/user/month, regardless of how many employees use the apps.  This gives companies a better overall cost than they would get from buying different Zoho apps a la carte. (Apps include Zoho CRM, Campaigns, Zoho Desk, SalesIQ, Social, Projects, Survey, Analytics, and Motivator.)

So, we can see these two bundles serve distinct purposes.  We can deduce from the pricing info that CRM Plus is an intuitive choice for a company looking to save on licensing for many of the apps they would need anyway. But, they might not want to give all of their employees a license.  This situation comes up frequently for manufacturers, who often have many employees who work in a warehouse or factory and never interact with computers at all.  There’s no point in those employees having Zoho licenses they will never use.

Zoho One, on the other hand, is a great choice for a company that is either:

  1. Looking to save tremendously on business software licensing costs by buying licenses for all employees, even if not all of them use the software,
  2. Needs all of their employees to use Zoho One anyway, or
  3. Stands to save a considerable amount of money by allowing some of their employees to use Zoho One rather than CRM Plus or a la carte apps.

zoho crm plus vs zoho one

The Devil’s in the Details

This is a lot to unpack, but…better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right?  Strap in and let’s examine the three Zoho One use cases posed above.

  • Businesses stand to save a good deal on Zoho One even if not all of them use the software.  This would happen in situations where a company with fifty employees had thirty of them in need of the software, and twenty with no need for Zoho One licenses at all.  In this case, it makes more sense to eat the cost of ten additional licenses than only buy licenses for forty employees.  This is because for only forty employees, the cost of the licenses increases by nearly a factor of three!
    • 30 users * $90/user/mo (Zoho One flexible user count) = $2,700/mo in licensing
    • 50 users * $35/user/mo (Zoho One for all employees) = $1,750/mo in licensing
  • You can benefit from Zoho One for certain if you need all of your employees to use the software anyway.  No matter how many you employ, the offer is $35/user/mo if you purchase a license for all your employees.  Especially for smaller companies, this seems almost too good to be true – and, more on that below, shortly.
  • For some companies who only need some of their employees to use business software, Zoho One may make more sense than CRM Plus simply because the $90/user/mo price provides more needed functionality than would be available with CRM Plus, or CRM Plus and a combination of a la carte Zoho apps.
    • 10 users of Zoho CRM Plus with Zoho Finance Plus and Zoho Webinar ($60/user/mo + $149/company/mo + $39/user/mo) = $600/mo + $149/mo + $390/mo = $1,139/mo
    • 10 users of Zoho One (flexible user count) ($90/user/mo) = $900/mo

Remember, before deciding about Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One, it’s always best to get some Zoho CRM Plus consulting, or Zoho One-specific help.  You can use that consulting time not only to set up the apps you need, but to get an expert’s recommendation on which bundle to pick, Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One, if either are a good idea for you.

Now that we’ve gone into great detail about the different apps and scenarios when one might be better than the other, there’s still one nagging question…

Another problem: Why are Zoho losing their shirts by offering Zoho One at such a discount compared to CRM Plus?

[caption id="attachment_3832" align="alignright" width="400"]crm plus vs zoho one Okay, not quite 80% off…but darn close.[/caption]

At first glance, this looks positively insane, and you’ll be certain you’re gaming the system by buying Zoho One.  This is especially true if you run a smaller company. Imagine having so much functionality that every employee can enjoy for only $35/user/month!

But, it’s not a mistake.  Zoho has a very, very good reason for doing this.

They’re playing what’s known as a long game.  And, to put this game into context, we have to imagine what life was like before Zoho One.

The good old days

Believe it or not, there was a time when Zoho One was but a twinkle in the eye of Zoho Corporation CEO Sridar Vembu.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, Zoho Corporation noticed something quite significant in their sales.

They were losing the attention of smaller businesses.

crm plus vs zoho one

A la carte apps and CRM Plus (the original bundle of apps offered by Zoho) were great for some companies.  But, for others who needed a lot of functionality to help them off the ground, Zoho’s cost for entry was simply too high.  Zoho likely lost a good number of clients to attrition during this time, and certainly lost many who simply could not stomach the price of CRM Plus, or even a handful of a la carte apps.  Others probably liked what they were getting with the a la carte apps but found themselves unable to scale, so they abandoned the platform.

In Zoho’s eyes, this was an untapped market.  And, Zoho’s idea was not just to make a bigger, badder bundle that would accommodate the needs of companies who needed more functionality.  No. They were going to offer everything they had, at a price even lower than the cost of their next-best bundle.

Consider all this:

Zoho Corporation makes its living on recurring revenue from their software.  They want businesses to use their software as long as possible by providing customers with value.  And – this is a big one – according to NAICS, there are about 1.5 million businesses that have more than 10 employees in the USA.  

This number, 1.5 million, is essentially who Zoho was marketing to in the USA with their CRM Plus software bundle.  But, if you follow the link you’ll see that there are just as many businesses in just the 5-9 employee count category.  As if that’s not crazy enough, look one row up and you’ll see there are seven times as many businesses listed as between 1-4 employees.

Again, what an enormous market.

Like Miracle-Gro for Small Biz

zoho crm plus vs zoho one

Zoho came up with this fantastic Zoho One package because they knew businesses needed some help just entering the world of Zoho. That way, they could not only realize immediate benefits of using the software, but also see what benefits they’d reap if they grew their companies.

Many small businesses remain one size forever because that’s what works for them – but, for companies that start small and grow with Zoho, those are customers Zoho never would have had access to previously.

Add in the fact that happy customers are prone to talking with their like-minded friends who run businesses, and suddenly Zoho has potentially increased their reach by millions in the USA alone.  Perhaps tens of millions worldwide!

By offering Zoho One, Zoho is betting you’ll start small with them and then grow into something that may not have been possible without the software.  Starting with Zoho and using it to grow makes it less likely you’ll use another platform in the future. If it works for you, why try anything else?

The Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One Review

Zoho CRM Plus and Zoho One may seem pretty confusing in how similar they are.  But, if you look beyond the names of the familiar apps, analyze the pricing a bit, and consider Zoho’s history, you see the distinctions between the two packages are pretty clear.

The Road Ahead

crm plus vs zoho one

All this, however, doesn’t mean we expect you to read this blog post and suddenly know just how to decide between Zoho CRM Plus vs Zoho One!  You’ll still have to prepare your own cost breakdowns according to what you need. And, if you don’t have time to put all that together, let alone examine your own business thoroughly to determine that exact need, this all may not have helped your stress levels.

So, let’s turn that around!  We’ve helped lots of businesspeople who were strapped for time, not only in determining which Zoho apps would work best for them, but which exact package would be best.  Is it Zoho One? CRM Plus? Maybe neither of the two? It remains to be seen, but we can show you the way so you turn from would-be Zoho user to Zoho Hero.

Then, if you need help with Zoho implementation or Zoho training, you can rest assured you made the best software choice, so you’ll have the best chance of really growing your company with Zoho, as opposed to just getting by.

3 Things a Zoho Campaigns Consultant Does For You

Zoho Campaigns Consultant = Peace of Mind

If you’re reading about marketing strategies in a blog that’s specific to Zoho consulting, chances are you’re looking for some help with Zoho Campaigns, or one of the many other apps in Zoho’s marketing stack.  And, we can definitely provide that to you. But, what you may not know is that using a Zoho Campaigns consultant is about more than just getting your Campaigns app set up the right way. It’s about giving you confidence in Zoho’s flagship marketing app (well, at least until MarketingHub usurps it) and taking stress off your plate.  It’s about giving you peace of mind in an area where you previously didn’t have much.

zoho campaigns consultant

What can a Zoho Campaigns Consultant do for you?

Zoho Campaigns gives you a lot to play with, especially during setup.  Upon first login, you’re greeted with an enormous dashboard and no good place to start.  What’s to do?

Well, that all depends.  In order to know what exactly to do with setting up Campaigns, you (or your consultant, in this case) will want to take a step back and consider some questions:

  1. What is your marketing objective by using Zoho Campaigns?
  2. How frequently do you want to email your prospects?
  3. What metrics do you use to measure marketing success?

The reason for asking these questions is simple.  Anyone can set up Zoho Campaigns so it works “correctly.”  But, whether or not the system is set up for your business’s needs is something else entirely.  Your answers to those questions will help your consultant set up Zoho Campaigns for you.

Diving a little deeper…

Let’s explore these questions in a little more depth.

  1. What is your marketing objective by using Zoho Campaigns?  
    • Believe it or not, your answer matters here.  For example, your app will need a different configuration for garnering new leads (outbound marketing) than it will for contacting lists of customers or prospects who already know you (inbound marketing).  You’ll use different aspects of Campaigns, either way. And, your answer will inform what kinds of information you’ll need synced to Zoho CRM.
  2. How frequently do you want to email your prospects or customers?
    • Zoho’s pricing model varies depending on the number of emails you’d like to send per month – or, the number of contacts you’d like to be able to send emails to.  For emailing large numbers of contacts, you may want to set up segments for your mailing lists. And, to protect against spam reports for very large lists, you may want to vary your sender name or even your email domain in some cases.  This ultimately protects your domain and your brand so you can use Zoho Campaigns without worrying about being blacklisted every time you hit Send.
  3. What metrics do you use to measure marketing success?

zoho campaigns consultant

    • The stats you want to track to measure your own success will dictate how Campaigns is set up.  For example, maybe you measure success in the number of signups you get for a service, or maybe you’re only tracking email opens – or, maybe you want your email marketing to lead your prospects down the entire sales funnel.  Of course, you’ll modify the content you create based on these goals too, but your Zoho Campaigns consultant will recommend a slightly different setup depending on your goals.

By coordinating with a Zoho Campaigns expert, you can make sure your marketing app will be set up according to the answers to these questions, and more.  Proper training would of course cover the whole spectrum of the app, but that too would be tailored to your needs somewhat to avoid confusion.

Let’s reframe: What happens without a Zoho Campaigns Consultant?

A number of things can happen.  From best to worst:

  1. Campaigns won’t be set up according to your needs – so, even if it’s somewhat effective for boosting business, you may have untold room for improvement.
  2. Your staff will find the software too difficult to use due to improper training – or lack thereof entirely.
  3. Your customers will be confused by your marketing efforts because of misunderstanding the software’s purpose, and you could actually lose business.

Don’t fall victim to improper Zoho usage!  Your success is imminent.

zoho campaigns consultant

Good email marketing can mean the difference between a flat year or a banner year for your business – and, you have the power to decide how it all goes.

If you’re like most people involved in a business, you don’t have time for another set of responsibilities, or at the very least you’d like having some work taken off your plate.

Don’t stand for figuring out another piece of marketing software on your own.  Get an assessment at ZBrains and begin your journey with a guide.

Zoho Commission Calculator Webinar – Thursday, June 6th!

Stop wasting time with calculations – Start paying your employees easily

Our in-depth webinar on the Zoho commission app shows you just what you can do

commission calculator webinar

It’s a shame that after all the hard work you can do in building and improving different facets of your business – whether through optimizing sales processes, increasing efficiency in operations or fulfillment, or making sure you retain the clients you worked so hard to earn – employee payments tend to be one of the most overlooked, and most inefficient parts of a company.  Of course, everyone you employ gets paid.  Maybe you even get everyone paid on time, every time.  But, how much time do you spent calculating payments or doing manual work to prepare payments so you can be on time?

If you have a complicated commission structure, chances are you spend a lot of time doing just that.  Maybe you even have someone who works full-time doing that for you!

Now, we aren’t in the business of putting people out of work, but we do like to help people better their businesses, and that includes making processes more efficient – including commission calculation. To that end, we’ve developed commission calculation software on Zoho Creator that helps do just that.

We’ll be demoing the commission calculator and going through all its various features during a Live Commission Calculator Webinar on June 6th at 10 AM PDT.  

What’s so hot about this particular commission calculator webinar?

Aside from the fact that we built this app on Zoho Creator (so it integrates with Zoho CRM and other programs), this commission app is part of a software suite called FieldTech.  FieldTech is a software bundle built on Zoho that improves the functionality of Zoho, especially for service, construction, and manufacturing/distribution companies.  You don’t have to use all of FieldTech to use this commission calculator.  But, if you need to, the option is there – and we consider it a great “gateway” to the FieldTech suite, for those looking to refresh and optimize their business software suite.

Some features we’ll be going over in the webinar:

  • Calculating commission based on a fixed amount, revenue amount, or profit margin
  • Spiffs and incentives
  • Splitting commission between multiple reps or teams
  • Commission overrides
  • Commission approvals
  • Clawbacks or credits for refunds
  • Sales rep portal for up-to-the-minute commission totals
  • Emailed commission statements
  • Integration with Zoho CRM
  • Integration with Zoho Finance

commission calculator webinar

Stay right there for the Q&A session after the walkthrough!

After we show the features of the commission calculator, we’ll be answering any questions you have about the app.  Stay tuned in so you can ask us questions about the app, as well as listen to others ask questions of their own.

==> Register for the webinar here.

Thank you for stopping by this post, and we’ll see you on Thursday!

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…

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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 Zoho Books, Zoho Inventory, Zoho 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 and Inventory 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.