Need Zoho information or help due to COVID-19? Let us know.

Category : Certified Zoho Consultants

CRM Activity Managment Blog Header

Activity Management in Zoho CRM: Overview 

Understanding task management is an essential part of making your CRM successful for your business and your users. The data captured here informs your sales pipeline, the activities of your sales staff, and can even tell you if any clients are being left behind. Keep reading to learn about CRM tasks in Zoho CRM.

What CRM Tasks are in Zoho CRM?

The activities you can create in Zoho CRM are Tasks, Meetings (formerly Events), and Calls.

  • Task: Use tasks to organize the things you need to complete within a certain time frame, but maybe not at a specific time. And remember, these can even be recurring. For example, schedule a recurring task for yourself every Monday to review all of your deals with an expected close date this week. Then schedule a Meeting or log each Call…
  • Meetings: The previous name for this was Events, an update was made July 2020. This is an activity that takes place at a certain time and place, and can include invitees. These can also be recurring for things like your weekly sales meetings, or quarterly reporting deadlines.
  • Call: This one probably doesn’t need further explanation. However, the important thing to know about Calls is that it is used for easily logging inbound and outbound calls to and from your clients as they happen.

 

Creating CRM Tasks For Yourself

You can create tasks, calls, or meetings from anywhere in CRM using the “+” button on the upper right of the main navigation. (Look just to the left of your avatar image.) This will pop up the activity, and you then enter in all of the relevant information, including Account, Contact, and/or Deal to be associated with your activity.

To cut down on the data entry, you can also create tasks from any Account, Contact, Lead, or Deal record. Navigate to the “Open Activities” section of the page and click the + next to Task, Call, or Meeting. Doing so will generate a pop up with relevant Account, Contact, Lead, or Deal data pre-populated in your activity.

 

Where to find Activities in Zoho CRM

Great news here! This feature is baked right into Zoho CRM in a module aptly named Activities! Within you can see and manage tasks, meetings & calls.

The Activity View lets you filter records based on activity parameters such as date, time, type, etc. You create filtered views here like “Today’s Activities,” “Tomorrow’s Activities,” and “Overdue Activities” and save them for quick reference.

The CRM View can be applied to any Activity View using your choice of two formats.

  • The first view format is the “Tabular View.” This view presents as a list which can be sorted by column in whichever ways are most meaningful for you.
  • The second view is the Kanban view, which groups your selected Activity View into four categories: Customers, Open Deals, Leads/Contacts, and Others. Within those categories, activities are sorted with the latest at the top.

For both, clicking on any record will open the detail view for all the information and notes about your activity.  Which leads us to…

 

Managing Your Zoho CRM Activities

Now you understand where to find and view calls, tasks, and meetings in the Zoho CRM Activity module. Next, let’s talk about the details within these activity types and why they’re important to that clean flow of information your business needs.

In the detail view of Zoho CRM activities, you find areas of information for the following:

 

  • sales person's deskBasic Details & Task Information: This area provides details like Task Owner, Due Date, Status, etc.
  • Notes: It is best practice to include some notes for your interactions with clients, or to add in details you would like to reference in the future. Keeping in mind that information here can be utilized by others in your organization should the account change hands, or require assistance from other associates on your team.
  • Attachments: Here you can add any documentation pertaining to your task, call, or meeting.
  • Links: Use this to configure custom links for your activity.
  • Upcoming Actions: Pending actions related to this activity.

 

From this activity detail view, you can close your task, call, or meeting and the system will mark the status as Complete. At this point, you’ll also see a prompt to schedule a follow-up activity. On tasks, click the “Reminder” toggle to select the time you’d like to receive a task reminder pop up. For Calls and Meetings, select the reminder time from the drop down menu. For Meetings, you can set a self reminder, and use “Participants Reminder” to send a reminder to invitees.  (A good example of why two reminders might be used: set your self reminder 30 minutes prior to prepare, and send your attendees a reminder 10 minutes before so they can join on time.)

 

Creating Tasks for Other Users

In Zoho CRM, don’t forget that you can schedule activities for other users! You can cut down on the emails you’re sending internally by using the Activities function in this way. It creates a record of information hand-off, giving more visibility across teams. Here’s the quick info on how it works:

  • Tasks: Schedule tasks for other CRM users by updating the Owner field on the Task Information pop-up. Remember to check the “notify owner” check box.
  • Meetings: If you’d like to schedule a meeting for another user, put their name in the Host field when you create the meeting. On the meeting Information pop-up, choose “Add more details” to enter more information for the host in the Details field.
  • Calls: Call Owner is the field to update if you wish to create this activity type for another user. It’s important to note, you won’t see this option until the Call Start Time is set to a future time.

 

What Zoho CRM activity shortcuts or tips were you able to find in this article? 

Whether you’re questioning how to get the most out of your CRM data or looking to make improvements to your sales dashboards and activity reporting capabilities, the ZBrains team of Premium Partner Consultants  is here to help. Don’t hesitate to let us know how we can help with your digital business transformation along any step of the way from implementation and customization to consulting. Contact us any time!

Zoho CRM Implementation

9 Reasons CRM Projects Fail

CRM implementation failures can happen for many reasons. Most often CRM projects fail because the solution is ineffective and doesn’t improve your processes, the project was late, or it was over budget. Another indicator of failure is low user adoption.

If you’ve found this article, there’s a good chance you’re just starting to research Zoho CRM or Zoho One and how to implement it, or you’re down the road a bit further and you might need some help. We hope the information here about common reasons CRM projects fail and what to look out for will provide the insight you need to start off on the right foot – or even better – can help you get back on the right track with your project! Keep reading for 9 reasons CRM implementations fail, and the considerations you should address to ensure a successful Zoho CRM or Zoho One implementation. 

 

#1) Not having a goal from the start

Every successful software implementation, especially customer relationship management software, begins with your business goals. Ask yourself: 

  • What are the important success indicators or KPI’s for my business and sales teams? 
  • How do I want my business to look in 12 to 24 months? 
  • …5 years from now?

Make time to invest in your vision, and document it.  Your vision for success, the targets you wish to achieve, and making sure you are specific about them in planning will have great returns in your CRM implementation.

 

CRM Failure #2) Not customer focused

computer and glasse

We’re talking here about the experience of your system users and external customers. A successful CRM will make the work inside your business easier and more efficient for your associates by providing a trustworthy source of truth with the data it records. And the outcome is that your external, or paying customers, gain the benefit of working with a well-organized firm that provides excellent customer service as a result of having useful insight about them. Remember to give attention to both the users and external clients who will be impacted by CRM implementation. 

 

#3) Lack of planning

The best foundation for your CRM implementation is impeccable planning, whether that’s Zoho CRM or another product you might be researching and learning about.  Your plan should include:

  • Developing and understanding your goals (see CRM Failure 1).
  • Selecting a team or partner to see you through the journey and beyond.
  • Examining and documenting all workflows for every team using or inputting to CRM (see CRM Failure 2 & 4).
  • Fully understanding and documenting your organization’s technology stack.
  • Having a plan for testing, training & deployment. 
  • Keeping the vision for your business’ future in sight.

 

CRM Failure #4) No one is using the tool (i.e. Poor User Adoption)

CRM User Adoption

Involve your CRM users from the start and utilize their input and experiences as a part of the overall goals to gain buy-in for a system upgrade. Learn what is important to your users and important to your business, then plan for evolution. Consider the required phases to reach your goal. Think “crawl, walk, run”, and how a multi-stage plan will help with Zoho user adoption. (Tip: Watch out for scope creep here. Bad planning also causes scope creep. Don’t look at CRM implementation as a single project, rather a tool that you want to grow and improve with your business over time.)

Understand their challenges, workflows, and how a positive outcome will impact your business (greater efficiency!). Involving your teams in this process does help with overall adoption – and bonus – you may uncover new ideas to improve workflows with CRM! For example, data around processes like sales qualification can easily be entered, tracked, and reported in a CRM. No more managing clients through email inboxes. In the right CRM, your reminders, tasks, and saved filtered views can help deliver useful information at-a-glance.

 

#5)  No Support (Yes, this includes training!)

Starting off knowing your internal champions and whether or not you have executive support for a CRM project is paramount to its success. In your planning phase, identify internal champions keeping in mind you may have more than one depending on the complexity of your business and the teams who will use your new CRM. Additionally, executive support will be indispensable when it comes to your implementation. In our experience here at ZBrains, this high-level buy in – not only regarding budget, but for strategy and execution – can make or break an implementation.

Ensure your vendor can train your teams on Zoho and offer ongoing support, if you need it. And chances are that you really will because after the switches are flipped, your teams need to be ready to go. Vendor support is crucial when taking into consideration the plan for your CRM and your business goals. Have you selected the right software and partner?  We mentioned this in planning, but it cannot be stressed enough: CRM implementation shouldn’t be considered a one-off project. Look for a partnership that aligns with and enhances your business.

 

CRM Failure #6) It’s the wrong software

CRM Failure FrustrationYou find yourself thinking, “it just doesn’t do what I need it to do” and you’re putting workarounds in to practice left and right then chances are it hasn’t been built or customized to envelop your workflows.  This goes back to project scope. Was an important process or workflow not considered during planning? Be sure that you are talking to your software consultant or partner about planning phases for your CRM implementation, and ensuring that each stage aligns with your business goals so you don’t end up with a software that isn’t helping you like it should.  You need a software that works for your business and improves your work. Avoid applications that things down, or make straightforward tasks or reporting convoluted and difficult. 

After you’ve implemented, you might find yourself thinking, “It’s not being widely used (by everyone) in my organization.” Be sure to check in: does everyone understand their role in using the CRM, and do they have the proper training to utilize the software in the best way possible?

 

#7) Your data is weird

When data is not well organized or largely incomplete, just because you put it into CRM doesn’t mean you’ll get great results. Knowing what data your business is tracking and why will help you understand the best way to organize it. Knowing what you want to get out of a CRM will absolutely impact what needs to go in, both in terms of the implementation and the data itself. CRM is often expected to be a single source of truth. This means that all of your associates must be on board with standards, governance should be deployed, and training is essential so that all of your teams have a similar sense of the data being entered, and how it is intended to be used. It’s an old adage you’ve heard before, but it’s still true: “Garbage in, garbage out.” When you have data integrity, your CRM implementation and results will shine even greater.

 

CRM Failure #8) Your vendor doesn’t get your goals

Successful Zoho Partner

Have you found the right vendor for your CRM implementation? When you’re using lingo from field services and construction industries, or distribution and manufacturing, do they know what you mean? The right vendor already knows your language. They’ll use their time getting to understand your unique business needs even better. Here are some things to look for (and avoid) in a partner:

  • Avoid boilerplate solutions or partners who won’t take the time to meet you and investigate your operations. 
  • If planning isn’t a priority for them, buyer beware. They may just wish to capitalize on scope creep. A consultant worth their weight will tell you, you can never give them too much information about your business and your goals.
  • Be sure to ask your potential consultants for references from businesses in industries like yours. Contact them.
  • Look for vendors who are interested in your partnership from consulting and implementation, through to future customization and optimization. Select a partner that wants to celebrate your growth and successes.  

 

# 9) You’re trying to do it on your own

At your organization, maybe you’ve done a project like software implementation before, or maybe you haven’t, but you’re convinced to shave some expenses off the top by trying to do an implementation on your own. Be sure to ask yourself the right questions: 

  • Are your key stakeholders available to commit the time needed to implement a new CRM?
  • Would this project take them away from their normal responsibilities and have a negative impact on your business? 
  • Does your team have the necessary skills to scope, plan, implement, train, and support a new CRM implementation? 
  • What would happen if any one of the team were to leave in the middle of the project? Could the others cover this gap in both skillset and time commitment? 
  • If you honestly evaluate the internal costs (expense and timeline) against the cost of hiring a consultant, are you still saving money and time?

Do your answers to any of these questions leave you feeling wary? Consider finding a partner for your project. If you’re still searching for a partner, or you want assistance with a CRM implementation that didn’t meet your expectations, drop us a line. We’d love to get to know you better. Contact us any time.

zoho for enterprise businesses

Zoho Aims for Enterprise Businesses

Zoho Corporation is looking to revamp its image as it grows, adding more partners who service larger businesses.  Historically, Zoho has been known as an inexpensive software option, especially useful for smaller businesses.  However, when enterprise-level customers do come knocking, they’re frequently impressed.

Zoho has done just fine by gathering up smaller businesses, making the relationships “sticky” with suites of apps like Zoho One, and growing with (until recently) hardly any US advertising.  But, Zoho is showing Salesforce isn’t the only game in town for larger businesses.

So, what does this mean for Zoho Corporation, for you (whether part of a small business or a larger one), and for us as Zoho consultants?

No matter what, Zoho still wants to help you

Businesspeople shouldn’t look at this move by Zoho as an eschewing of the company’s roots.  Rather, smaller businesses make up the vast majority of the global market.  And, chances are larger businesses have even more connections to smaller businesses that Zoho can use to its advantage–namely for referrals.  So, no, Zoho won’t likely turn into a one-dimensional company from this move.

zoho for enterprise businesses

Is it better to be big, or small?

The question remains: Is Zoho still better suited for larger businesses, or is it better for smaller ones?  Zoho purposefully paints with a very broad brush, offering software packages suited for both larger and smaller enterprises, with pricing plans to match.

The answer is it doesn’t really matter, and it all depends on your preference–as always.

Zoho purposefully gears themselves towards smaller organizations.  

Their competitive price points make the barrier to entry very low.  As well, Zoho’s plasticity makes it easy for some businesses to turn on an app and start using it in production right away.  And, suites like Zoho One or Zoho CRM Plus provide a whole system of apps for less than their constituent parts combined.  Recent additions like Zoho Remotely and the Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP) ease small business pains related to working from home, or from the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

zoho for enterprise businesses

Zoho Corporation clearly values their SMB clients greatly.  However, they expect some companies to grow larger as a natural function of their success.

Zoho’s customizability makes it a perfect choice for enterprise-level companies.

Anyone can turn on Zoho CRM and start tracking lead data.  However, many Zoho apps boast a slew of features specific to automating workflow and simplifying processes for large departments.  (Take blueprint, for example, available in Zoho CRM and Zoho Desk too.)  Many Zoho apps can communicate with each other.  Others can also integrate with third-party apps like QuickBooks Desktop.  Furthermore, Zoho’s platform-as-a-service, Zoho Creator, puts it on par with Salesforce by allowing for creating custom apps and connecting with Zoho CRM.

zoho for enterprise businesses

Clearly Zoho has designed their apps with both small and large companies in mind.  Some businesses may have growth plans that don’t include Zoho.  And, for some, that is to be expected, a natural part of growth.  But, Zoho purposefully designs software to last, and includes “sticky” apps that companies won’t want to stop using after starting to use them!  So, even if some companies actually plan not to use Zoho forever, they sometimes find their plans change due to their users benefiting greatly from using the software.  Again, this is a natural part of growth as a company.

What does this push to enterprise businesses mean for us as Zoho consultants?

As Zoho consultants, our job hasn’t changed.  No matter the size of your business, our job remains to devise the best Zoho solution for you given your business goals.  We’ve done this for one-man shows and we’ve done it for companies with hundreds of users.

If Zoho begins to attract more large companies, however, Zoho Corporation will likely begin expanding upon newer apps like MarketingHub. They’ll also probably offer more industry-specific solutions, and improve upon Zoho Creator.  Zoho will probably release those improvements to larger and smaller companies alike.  And this, in turn, makes our job that much easier, as it makes Zoho that much easier to sell.

And, whether Zoho adds functionality to Zoho Creator itself or creates new apps specific to industries like field services, construction, or manufacturing, larger companies have everything to gain.

Reasons to use a Zoho Consultant

3 Reasons to Use a CRM Consultancy When Implementing Your CRM

Why Use a CRM Consultancy When Implementing Your CRM?

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 documentation, deploying a CRM and related business apps by yourself is at best a chore. At worst, it’s a show-stopper.  With no one to help, it can be 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 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 CRM is set up correctly, that doesn’t guarantee your staff will always use it the right way.  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 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. They will complete interviews, and make recommendations. This is 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. They can help with how you plan to grow your business.  To understand these parts of your business, a CRM consultancy will carry out interviews. They speak to 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 leads to success for years to come, don’t take it lightly.  You may have the time and ability to tackle your deployment head-on, but if you’re unsure, 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 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 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 Zoho 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.

Why do business owners need a CRM?

Why Do Business Owners Need a CRM?

What is CRM? A way to Save Time, Money, and Gain Functionality

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Unfortunately, that phrase fails to address which way is best. Over time, business owners have found countless ways to run their companies, using a various combination of roles, software, and automations to increase their bottom line. In the end, business owners often fail to optimize their strategy for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they figure they don’t have the time to optimize. Maybe they are set in their ways and are not open to change. This leads us to the question:

‘What are the benefits of CRM?’

As you can expect, our answer is multi-faceted. Put simply, a CRM (customer relationship management software) benefits a business by saving time, saving money, and adding functionality to it. Read on to learn about all the ways a CRM can benefit your business in the short and long term:

Organize Data and Prioritize Efforts

A solid CRM organizes your effortsBusinesses of multiple industries can benefit from CRM software. The simple act of organizing data into one centralized location will tremendously help you, your employees, and your overall process. In essence, the more you know about your customers the better you can serve them. Imagine arming yourself with knowledge of all their pain points, their inefficiencies, and archaic practices. Your employees can readily retrieve any and all information about each client, including purchases, preferences, and all other pertinent details.

CRM Software Helps You Gain Visibility

When you nurture a better understanding of your customer needs and behaviors you are better equipped to identify the correct time to promote your product. In this way you give yourself the best possible chance at increasing your revenue. Solid CRM software helps you achieve this better understanding, to the benefit of your entire team. If you are interested in learning more about Zoho CRM and how it can help your business our team of Zoho Consultants is more than happy to help!

Automate and Optimize

We live in a world that is more automated by the day, and it behooves you to follow suit to survive. Fortunately a CRM is the perfect tool for establishing multiple useful automations. It is especially useful for automating all the smaller tasks associated with a sale. Your team will appreciate the automated forms, reports, and follow-ups, taking these burdens off their collective shoulders. Furthermore, this allows them to devote more time to closing deals, resolving customer pain points, and upselling when appropriate.

Zoho CRM Integration with Other Applications

Ultimately, the integrations we’ve created for Zoho CRM make the software that much more valuable. From QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online and Sage Intacct to Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and a host of other integrations, there is a growing list of useful integrations that are bound to make your life easier.

Whether you are a veteran of CRM software, or a complete rookie, learning Zoho CRM can be a daunting task. Luckily, the ZBrains team is here to help! Take advantage of our Zoho CRM Training and enjoy 90 minutes of private training on Zoho CRM and all the applications that connect to it.

The Decline of Sage 100

What to Do When Looking to Transition Off Sage 100

The Decline of Sage 100

migrate off sage 100

Sage 100 has been on the forefront of accounting software for over three decades. But the unfortunate truth is that Sage Group is coming out of one of its most brutal years to date. For years Sage has worn their perceived “boring” company label as a badge of honor. Until recently they were one of two firms on the London Stock Market that achieved 10 years of uninterrupted earnings per share growth. A slow start in January 2018 coupled with a profit warning mere months later have spelled the beginning of the end for the once dominant Sage 100.

Reasons for the Decline

It took many years for the decline to really manifest, but longtime users of Sage probably could have seen the writing on the wall.  Sage took the plunge into cloud-based software relatively late in 2016 with Sage Live (now called Sage Business Cloud Financials), and, like relative newcomer QuickBooks Online, Sage Live did not have nearly the feature library as did its on-premise brethren.  It was simply a case of too little, too late.  Sage’s bread and butter was and still is this on-premise software, and once the last users migrate away, Sage won’t have much to show for their efforts over the years.

The decline of Sage likely has many long-term Sage users wondering: now what? Fortunately, Zoho Corporation entered the cloud-based software game years before Sage did, all the way back in 2005 (with a rival to the Microsoft Office Suite; Zoho CRM was launched in 2006).  For that reason, Zoho has had much more time to build out their list of features, expand their applications, and offer a piece of software that can hold its own against many other cloud-based – and even on-premise – accounting systems.  Zoho Books, Zoho’s accounting system, offers a host of great features to meet your basic and advanced accounting needs. The following is a road map to help you know your options when looking to transition off Sage 100 and onto something a bit more modern.

The Zoho Advantage

Zoho Books has multiple significant advantages over its Sage 100 competitor (which we discussed in our Zoho Books vs Sage 100 comparison). The Zoho accounting software is easy-to-use, inexpensive, and cloud-based. Though it may not be capable of handling Payroll in all US states just yet, Gusto is a viable option. Moreover, the built-in API makes Gusto an alternative we can integrate with. (Currently Zoho only handles Payroll processing in California, Texas, and Indiana).

What’s more, Zoho offers greater mobility, with a corresponding mobile app for each of its applications, including Zoho Books. Zoho Books can also handle multiple currencies, a feature that Sage 100 lacks, at least without the help of an expensive upgrade. Plus, perhaps the most significant benefit of the Zoho suite of applications is its inexpensive nature, especially in comparison to Sage 100. The bottom line is that with Zoho you get the valuable combination of saving money and gaining functionality. It’s a win-win that is hard to beat!

ZBrains Answers to Common Questions

Seasoned users of Sage 100 know that it can handle Work Orders and Material Resource Planning (MRP), while Zoho cannot. But what they may not know is that we at ZBrains offer Zoho ERP software that can do both of those things. This means you can manage them via Zoho without breaking a sweat.

Some users of Sage may be concerned about Zoho’s lack of fixed asset depreciation functionality. But the fact is that most small and medium sized businesses simply send their fixed asset depreciation information to their CPA. Maybe you utilize your own fixed asset depreciation software, in which case you can continue to use it because of Zoho’s shortcoming in this regard.

Next Steps

Ultimately, Zoho has a full arsenal of applications to help in your transition from Sage 100, whether you choose to do so now or later. (Learn more about what others are saying about Sage 100 here)

migrate off sage 100

Zoho Books, Zoho Inventory, and Zoho Creator all provide the same functionality lost when switching off Sage, at a fraction of the price. 

Still not convinced? Contact our Zoho consulting team to learn more and discover all of the top notch functionality of Zoho, in an effort to land on the answer to the eternal question: What can Zoho do for you?

Our teams would be glad to help you as you make this decision. Contact us any time!

 

Connect with Us

 

Zoho Books vs Sage 100

Zoho Books vs Sage 100

Zoho Books vs Sage 100: A Tale of Two Software Programs

Tax season is upon us, which means tracking down all financial statements and ensuring your accounting needs are fully met. Whether you are evaluating your current financial software for deficiencies or simply looking to manage your finances better in 2019, we hope this comparison of Zoho Books vs. Sage 100 is beneficial. Follow along as we evaluate the features of these two pieces of software and provide insight into their similarities and differences. Tax season may be upon us, but hopefully one of these programs can help make your life that much easier.

The End of an Erazoho books vs sage 100

Sage 100 appears to be on its final legs, a quiet exit from center stage on its descent into obscurity. This software used to be the cream of the crop, known as MAS 90 (Master Accounting Series of the 90s). Given the typical shelf life of 10 years for an ERP, this software has been around for 3 lifetimes! Given that extended time on the market and the lack of new features, the writing is on the wall. Sage 100 will soon be put out to pasture.

Where Sage 100 Went Wrong

That decline in popularity raises the question: Where did Sage 100 go wrong? For starters, Sage 100 is overblown for many smaller businesses, which means companies are not often implementing it new. Not only is it an on-premise software, but it is overwrought, and more expensive than Zoho Books. Zoho Books has multiple advantages, being inexpensive, easy-to-use, and cloud-based. On top of all that, Sage continues to increase maintenance prices year over year, making it increasingly and frustratingly more expensive.

The Major Differences for Zoho Books vs. Sage 100

There are multiple significant differences between these two pieces of software:

zoho books vs sage 100Mobility: Everything Zoho does has a corresponding mobile app; unfortunately Sage 100 is noticeably lacking in this arena.

Native Integrations: Zoho Books again has an edge, boasting the ability to integrate with Amazon, eBay, Avalara, and other payment gateways. With Zoho, you can avoid kicking everyone out before installing.

Multi-currency: Quite simply, Zoho Books operates with multiple currencies and Sage 100 does not.

New Features: Zoho is known for their innovation, their push towards a better, more efficient product. They unveil new features on a regular basis, whereas Sage is once again bringing up the rear. Sage is happy to announce a new feature that adds very little value such as adding character limits to a custom field.

Overall Comparison: Zoho Books vs. Sage 100

In the end, it is clear that there are stark differences between these two pieces of software. Sage 100 is in the sunset of its run and Zoho Books consistently churns out new inventive features. 

Whether you are a seasoned user of Zoho or branching out to find a CRM that works for your business, we at ZBrains are happy to help. Allow one of our Zoho experts to analyze your company and determine the strengths and weaknesses with a comprehensive business process analysis (BPA). With the power of Zoho consulting, we can help you use Zoho Books to your advantage and enjoy all of the functionality and benefits of the Zoho system.

 

Connect with Us

 

Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online: Two Titans of Accounting Software

It’s true every tax season and usually the times in between, managing your finances has never been more important. But how do you tackle such a task? QuickBooks Online is used by more than 2.5 million companies, an impressive number. However, how many of those business owners are truly satisfied? How many are getting the most out of their accounting software? Zoho Books offers a few very useful features that QuickBooks lacks, especially when under the larger umbrella of Zoho Finance. Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online is a veritable clash of titans, and both bring particulars to the table that appeal to wide audiences. 

Our goal is to help you make a more informed decision about your accounting software. Whether you are buying for the first time, re-evaluating your current tools, or simply seeing what else is out there, we hope this comparison makes your job easier. Join us as we navigate the waters of financial software:

Comparing the Significant Features of Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online

A great place to begin when comparing and contrasting these two is their nuts and bolts; in what they do best and offer to the customer. The three things that QuickBooks (QB) offers over its Zoho equivalent are:

Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online

  1. Payroll Processing
  2. Budget and Forecasting
  3. Online Bill Payments

Conversely, Zoho Books provides its own slate of unique features that do not exist in QB:

  • Workflows: Create different workflows based on your needs
  • Create Users: Add users to your organization for easy collaboration
  • Client Portal: Not only allows for communication with customers in an interactive portal, but you can also send them sales orders once they accept your estimate! Plus, this feature allows you to collaborate with clients by sending messages through the portal.

The Sales Orders issue is incredibly crucial, because QuickBooks Online is severely lacking in this arena, which translates to an inventory tracking system that is not robust. In this sense, the “inventory tracking” feature boasted by QB Online is misleading, because the software simply offers no way to reserve inventory! This inability to create sales orders and therefore an inability to track orders placed by customers is a not-so-subtle blemish on the QuickBooks image/brand.

There are a few other noteworthy Zoho features worth mentioning:

  1. Integrates with multiple shipping options out of the box, including FedEx, UPS, and USPS
  2. Offers a useful multi-currency option for balance sheet accounts (assets, liability, equity)
  3. Zoho Books allows for use with 6-10 payment gateways
  4. Zoho Books includes a Retainer Invoice- affords you the ability to track prepayments

Price Comparison of Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online

Zoho Books vs QuickBooks OnlineAny comparison is incomplete without evaluating pricing differences and similarities. In this case, if we view the price of Zoho Books on its own, it clearly is more cost-effective. Zoho Books’ standard price is $20 per organization per month*, which includes 500 contacts, three users, and 10 automated workflows. Meanwhile, the “Essentials” package for QB Online is $40 per month, their equivalent of the Standard package. Therefore in this specific price comparison, Zoho Books has the edge.

However, if you crave the full accounting power from Zoho (which includes a fleet of applications: Invoice, Books, Zoho Inventory, Subscriptions, Expense, Checkout), you will need Zoho Finance. Operating with the integrated capabilities of Zoho Finance Plus does require a more substantial investment, to the tune of $249 per month for 10 users*. This price includes 10 users and a slew of other fantastic features, all of which you can explore here. *Pricing updated June 2021

+ An important note about pricing: QB charges additional fees for data migration, Zoho Books does not.

Overall Comparison

Ultimately, one of the most difficult hurdles for users of QuickBooks is to even consider a switch to another software. Fans of QuickBooks often believe that a transition to another operating platform will be too much of a hassle (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!). But the truth is that Zoho Books has more than its fair share of advantages over QB Online, and the integrations with other Zoho software make it that much more valuable.Zoho Books vs QuickBooks Online

Plus, a nifty bonus of Zoho Books is that the mobile features can be accessed on phones from Apple, Android, and Microsoft, as well as Kindles (QB can only handle Apple + Android).

In the end, Zoho Books offers a reliable way to completely migrate off QuickBooks. Not completely sold? Check out our Zoho QuickBooks Online integration, which allows you to continue to use QuickBooks Online and share that data with the Zoho CRM.  Our team of Zoho consultants can tell you the best way to set it up based on how you conduct business.

The Joys of Using TaxJar are numerous, a fact which every accountant can get behind.

The Joys of Using TaxJar Part 2

Establishing Nexus and Complying with State, Local, and County Tax Laws

In Part 1 we covered why you should want TaxJar, how the ZBrains CPQ tool integrates with TaxJar, and who TaxJar is for. Join us as we move towards a greater understanding of TaxJar:

When it comes to calculating your taxes and taking advantage of the joys of using TaxJar, tax nexus is vital. Determining nexus is an important element of tax compliance, and how you establish nexus can vary from state to state. Most definitions of nexus include the terms “doing business” or “engaged in business.” This blog details all the specifics regarding the various state laws.

The significant questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I have a location, warehouse, or other physical presence in a state?
  2. Do I have an employee, contractor, sales person, installer, or someone else working for me in a state?
  3. Do I have products stored in a state?
  4. Do my sales or number of transactions in a state exceed that state’s economic nexus threshold?
  5. Do I have a drop shipping relationship with a vendor in a state?
  6. Do I have an affiliate program with affiliates in various states?
  7. Do I cross state lines to sell my products at a trade show, craft fair, or other event?

Of note are the most common items that may not be taxable in some states:

-Grocery food

-Clothing

-Certain books (textbooks, religious books, etc.)

-Prescription and nonprescription medicine

-Supplements

-Magazines and subscriptions

-Digital products (books, music, movies, etc.)

Other Noteworthy Tax Nexus Issues

Once nexus is established it is crucial to do these three things:

-Register for a sales tax permit in that state

-Charge sales tax to customers in that state (regardless of how you sold them a product, or from where that product was shipped)

-File sales tax returns in that state

Perhaps the most obvious hurdle is the variability among state laws. For example, if you do not use TaxJar and have nexus in multiple states, you are forced to research the laws for each state on your own. This process can be tedious, especially when considering state, local, and county tax differences. Given all of this, the TaxJar automation of sales tax computation is truly an invaluable resource.

*Sometimes an identical product may be taxable in one state and non-taxable in another. A product may also not be taxable at the state level, but still taxable at the local level. *

Drop Ship, Ship Direct, and Multiple Warehouses with TaxJar

There are a few important scenarios to address when it comes to tax compliance. Drop shipping occurs when you use a vendor to ship an item directly to a customer. For example: you sell phone cases through your website and use a third party printing company to print designs on the cases before they are shipped to the customer.

Three things happen in this process: the customer buys the item from you, you buy the item from the vendor, and the vendor ships it to the customer. If your vendor has nexus in your state they must charge you sales tax on that purchase, unless you issue a resale certificate! The resale certificate indicates that the item you bought is for resale. This is where it can be complicated: you may be required to charge sales tax to your customer, and concurrently your vendor may need to charge sales tax to you.

Conversely, when shipping directly to the customer, you simply have to determine the sales tax in the buyer’s ship-to address.

Last but not least is the multiple warehouses scenario, which dictates that you must charge sales tax to buyers living in every state where your inventory is warehoused. A great example where this law may be overlooked is when sellers put their products Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). It is easy to forget that you need to charge sales tax for buyers living in each state that your goods are warehoused through Amazon FBA.

API and Customer Service

One beauty of TaxJar is the SmartCalcs Sales Tax service, which is very easy to utilize using modern restful APIs. Once integrated, it can easily determine if, when, and how much sales tax to collect. Collect the right tax amount every time you sell a product! It also makes sales tax reporting and filing easier for you or your merchants. The SmartCalcs Sales Tax service is clearly one of the best joys of using TaxJar.

The New Kid on the Block: Economic Nexus

As of June 21, 2018, a new law went into effect: Economic Nexus. This nexus law requires that sellers collect sales tax in a state because:

-They make a certain dollar amount of sales in that state (most common threshold is $100,000 per year)

-Have a certain number of sales transactions in that state (most common is 200 per year)

Approximately half of the states with a sales tax have economic nexus laws, and more states have announced they will soon also pass economic nexus laws or regulations.

The Shortcomings of TaxJar

Although this blog explores the joys of using TaxJar, we would be remiss if we did not mention any of the problems. Despite all of the areas in which it excels, there are some caveats. Most notable is that it is not very flexible. The good news is that within Zoho Creator, you can perform your tax reporting without going to TaxJar. From drag and drop reporting and ad hoc reports to all the transactions in Creator, the bottom line is that it is easier to use than TaxJar. Simply use TaxJar to acquire accurate percentages, and then store that data back in Zoho Creator to generate your own reports.

Whether you are trying to determine tax nexus or simplify your tax compliance process, TaxJar can get you there. Explore this handy software for yourself and ensure you calculate your taxes with accuracy.