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Stop Quoting This Way (Unless You Like Wasting Time)

The Onset of Dread

Don’t you hate it when you walk into work and, before your morning coffee even has a chance to settle –


You’re inundated with tasks, and by the time you’ve come up for air, it’s already lunchtime. And, you’re still grinding away.

As part of a sales organization, you might be used to fast-paced work and doing lots at once, but it starts to lose its luster a bit when it feels like you’re just treading water…

At ZBrains, we hear this story so many times per month, even per week – but, it’s never worse than when we hear of a business sending tens – or hundreds – of superfluous quotes out every day. That’s because in those situations, business owners and salespeople alike might not even KNOW they’re wasting time and literally leaving money right on the table.

Think about it: Most of the time, quotes aren’t so easy to make. They have to be compiled, customized, revised, then sent out. Sometimes the process isn’t even integrated with the CRM. So, imagine when we hear that someone’s sending out fifty of these per day, and they get…one accepted quote. That’s one sale. Or, zero. No production for the day on a sales cycle that’s…less than a day long?

The time lost every day on something like this is enough to make you really sweat.

Especially as a salesperson, when time is money.

It’s also very interesting because, most of the time, business representatives don’t contact us because they’re sending out too many quotes per day. Rather, they contact us because there’s a more general issue, like sales figures being down since adopting a new business process, or knowing that their CRM use could be a little better, but they just aren’t sure what to change. Most never think they’re wasting time in their own business process…

Which is why something like quoting the wrong way can be so harmful to you.

So, what to do if you have this problem?

Many Means, One End

If think you’re having massive troubles at the level of quoting, you’ll want to examine exactly what goes into creating a quote. It actually encompasses a lot more of your business than you might realize at first. For example, your sales coming from quotes could be lacking because:

1. Your leads aren’t qualified. A qualified lead is someone who has been contacted and has been shown to be an ideal (or at least adequate) customer for you. If you spend all of your time selling to unqualified leads, you’re basically just treading water, and any sales you make are purely luck. Unless you’re in a line of business that necessitates cold-calling from lists of unqualified leads, you’re better off forcing your leads to conform to your process or your numbers will simply be stagnant.

2. Your leads are qualified, but your quotes take forever to make. Maybe you’re an expert in the CRM, but your quoting process happens outside the CRM…and you’re using a spreadsheet to calculate everything manually, and you copy and paste gobs of info from the CRM into this external sheet. Then, there’s the matter of copying this spreadsheet into your clients’ folder for reference. With just a few steps, you already have a 15-30 minute process, and in your fast-paced environment, you probably get pulled away more than a couple of times a day. What happens if that quote doesn’t get to your customer by EOD and your ideal sales cycle is less than a day? You can kiss that one goodbye.

3. Your sales team puts up piddling numbers compared to the top sales rep, who absolutely slaughters everyone else. It’s great to have a star on your team, but if the rest of your crew doesn’t understand the sales process your star follows, or aren’t motivated naturally the same way the star is, your situation will never change – until your star takes off for greener pastures, and then you’ll be in a world of hurt. And, you can’t reasonably depend on that NOT to happen – it’s just the way of the world.

So, you probably get that none of these situations are good. But, how do you rectify them?

It’s Not You. It’s…

You’ll be happy to know (and perhaps you were even anticipating the notion that) all three of these issues can be treated just by changing what you’re doing in the CRM. That means your business model is NOT, in fact, flawed. But, it means you may have a bit of work cut out for you. Try these suggestions on for size:

1. Instead of offering a quote to everyone you contact – or even everyone who contacts you – change your CRM to make it necessary to properly qualify a lead before they are allowed to advance to the quoting stage. At ZBrains, we have something like this already in place! For example, if someone calls us asking for Zoho consulting, we speak to them further, but if they call ZBrains asking for a cup of coffee, we point them next door. This is a very basic example focused on need, but what about authority? Required budget? How about timeline? All four of these are areas about your prospect to consider before ever sending them a quote, and if you’re sending quotes out without first gathering this information and making sure it conforms to YOUR business model, you’re doing too much work.

2. Instead of using an outside system to create and customize your quotes, bring it under the Zoho umbrella. Whether you’re using the CRM’s own Quotes module to send out templates with HTML markup or you’re using a third-party integration or completely custom CPQ tool, anything is possible, and (nearly) anything is better than doing it manually and spending 30 minutes on each one. The CPQ tool, for example, is great for very customized quotes with many possible options, and you can even integrate it with your website, making it so prospects can basically assemble their own quotes – and pay for their products – right there on the spot.

3. Instead of praying the rest of your staff can catch up to your golden calf, standardize a sales process using Blueprint and workflow automation. Chances are your top salesperson has a process that works, so it may do you good to sit down with them and see what it is they do to be successful, then make it imperative that the rest of your crew follow that very same process. Implementing Blueprint in particular means your salespeople have a clear path to follow on each lead and each deal, and makes it so they spend less time THINKING about what they need to do and more time doing…because the required actions are right there in front of them.

Up a Creek

It’s one thing to teach a man to fish, and quite another to outright give him the fish. In this case, we’re talking about different fish restaurants, but we haven’t even decided where to go yet, and on top of that, you’re probably not even sure what kind of fish you want either way.

To rectify this fishy situation, we’d like to talk to you and hear about where your inefficiencies are, and then take some time to totally understand how you do business. That way, we’ll know exactly where the problems lie, and you’ll know exactly how to fix them.

Call us toll-free: (888) 207-4111 and mention “Quote Smarter” for a free 1-Hour CRM Consultation to get the ball rolling for you.

Zoho Social adapted for digital agencies calendar

Zoho Social: Now Adapted for Digital Agencies!

To say social media has evolved dramatically since its inception would be quite an understatement.  Indeed, social networks have transformed from something secondary into something intricately interwoven into the fabric of society – and, to some, something integral to how they do business.  Digital advertising agencies, for example, work very closely with the social media presence of all sorts of companies – and, whereas Zoho’s answer to this business model would have been to implement Zoho Social for each managed brand, this isn’t such a scalable idea.  So, to remedy this, Zoho has released a new version of the Social app built especially for digital agencies to work even better with their clients.  It’s the same Zoho Social you know and love, but with a few more bells and whistles to make life much easier.

Here’s exactly how Zoho Social has adapted for Digital Agencies!

Zoho social brands screenshotManage all from one.

No more logging in and out of different accounts and platforms. Now your Digital Agency can manage all clients and brands from one place! Manage your clients and your team from the Zoho Social platform. Monitor their activity and reporting with real-time updates and analytics. Manage and schedule their posts using Social’s intuitive publishing calendar, ensuring that your clients’ content pipeline is always running smoothly.


Your Agency, Your Brand.Zoho social brand customization

As a digital agency, you know how important it is for your branding to always be at the forefront. Make sure you stay at the top of your clients’ minds with custom agency branding. Customize your name, logo, and favicon from right within Zoho Social. Reinforce your brand identity with your clients by sending them custom branded emails. You can even brand all reports you generate in Social when sending them out to clients.  

Collaborate with your team and your clients.

Make sure your team is always in the loop! Zoho Social for digital agencies now makes collaborating with your team even easier. Share ideas and start discussions with @mentions and invite your clients to the decision making process by @tagging them. As an agency, you also have the ability to specify roles for your team members and assign them to clients! With designated and organized roles, your client relationships will be better than ever.

zoho social integration with facebook lead adsFacebook leads integrate to your CRM!

This new feature is one that we are most excited about! If you are using Zoho CRM, you can now integrate leads from Facebook campaigns! Running a campaign or lead ads for your clients? Well, now you can save yourself time! You no longer have to manually download leads from Facebook – instead, they will push directly into your CRM. This new integration also allows you to more closely monitor the performance of your campaigns in real time!

Pricing for Zoho Social Agencies starts at $320/month for 5 users and 10 brands*. And other agency pricing is available by request. *Pricing updated June 2021

Interested in learning more? Contact a member of our team! We are Zoho Certified Consultants here to help. Give us a call at (888) 207-4111 or click the button below and we will call you!


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What not to look for in an IT Consultant Zoho ZBrains

What Not To Look For In An IT Consultant

Hiring an IT consultant, whether for a short-term project or a year-long contract, can be an overwhelming experience. You place so much trust in a consultant to work on critical tasks, the configuration of your software, and more – ultimately, the foundation of your business. While you know what you should look for, have you ever thought about what you shouldn’t look for?

At ZBrains, we’ve partnered with businesses to help understand and enhance efficiencies within companies, so we’ve truly seen it all – including what not to do.

Here are 5 things not to look for in an IT consultant.

1. You shouldn’t hire a consultant who won’t train your staff.

If an IT consultant comes in to assist with your business process or software implementation, they need to train your staff in the process. If a consultant is not open to training your staff, it is a clear indication that you should stay far away. A consultant typically has an end term or a contract. If your staff is not trained on the projects or software that the consultant is implementing, your employees will be unsure of how to move forward once the contract is over and the consultant is gone.

2. You shouldn’t hire a consultant who is wary of confidentiality agreements.

Confidentiality agreements and nondisclosure agreements will help you sleep better at night – plain and simple. They ensure that your business strategies, customer information, and any other sensitive business information remain secret. With access to sensitive information within the IT sphere of your business, it’s important to have a complete and total understanding of confidentiality with your consultant. Ensure your chosen consultant signs on the dotted line.

3. You shouldn’t hire the most inexpensive consultant on the market.

With adequate knowledge and experience comes a financial investment that you can depend on. Focus on hiring a consultant who has experience within your particular industry and environment. He or she should be able to navigate the complex areas of IT and truly understand what you – and your clients – need. Being attuned to you and your business’s needs will heighten your chances of success when working with a consultant. Be prepared to seek expertise and experience, not always price.

4. You shouldn’t hire a consultant who is stuck in their ways.

Everyone has different ways on how to do their job – whether it be their process or their approach. Yet, innovation and ambition are key, and you should certainly search for a consultant who can deliver both of these attributes. A plethora of experience combined with an individual who will truly go above and beyond what is required of them will be a perfect match for your business.

5. You shouldn’t hire a consultant who has not yet worked within your industry.

The promise of research and adaptability might sound positive, but be careful – a consultant who has yet to work within your industry should be a red flag. They may not be familiar with all of the nuances and common challenges within your industry. Whether you are a marketing firm or a B2C retail business, experience within your existing software and industry is integral to success.

When it comes to hiring an IT consultant, there are plenty of qualities and characteristics to look for. With these 5 tips and recommendations, you will be set to embark on your next search for an IT consultant for your business.

At ZBrains, our Zoho consulting focuses on expertise, impact, and efficiency. Combined with our training services, Zoho deployment, and integrations we are adaptable to your business’s needs. To learn more about how you can get your business operating at its full potential, drop us a line and schedule a time to talk with a chat with a member of our ZBrains team today!

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IT Consultant

What To Look For In An IT Consultant

When the time comes to hire an IT consultant, there will likely be a plethora of questions running through your mind. Where should you start? Who should you look for? What do you need to pay attention to throughout the interview process?

Yes, the process – it can be overwhelming if your team isn’t prepared. Before you even begin your search, you must know what to look for in a consultant or team; if you don’t, you’ll be wasting a ton of time.

In this blog, we’ll give you an overview of what your team needs to look for in an IT consultant before you even begin your search. We know you’re busy, so efficiency is key. Read on.

Here are 5 things you need to look for in an IT consultant.

1. Your consultant has worked within your industry.

Nothing is better than industry experience. So, ask for experience examples within your specific industry/vertical. Your selected consultant should have worked within your vertical before. Even better, do they have experience with a similar project you’re seeking to complete?

When asking about past work, it is also important to understand if the consultant or team has a speciality. Understand their strengths, and align these strengths with what is needed for your project. As a consultancy, are they great with business process optimization? Accounting? Development? Integration?

2. They can provide references.

If your consultant or team can’t provide references, stop the interview right there. They should provide references when being interviewed (and ideally, they can provide references for companies within your industry.) This is truly the ultimate interview tool, so be sure to ask this question in the first round.

3. They have excellent communication skills.

Through email and phone, your IT consultant should have impeccable communication skills. While being prompt is important (and keep note of this) communicating effectively is even more important. Are they answering questions clearly? Do you require clarity during Q&A? Do you have a complete understanding of their experience and education?

4. They’ve been in the business for a while.

Much like references, being in the biz is integral to a consultant’s success. For your project, it might not be appropriate to hire an IT consultant straight out of college, for example. Instead, discover what you’re after – someone who has experience and a track record of commitment will help you not only execute your project efficiently, but also uncover additional areas of opportunity.

5. They’re up for the challenge.

Ask them – are they ready to help your team move the needle? Are they ready to create change?

Yes, yes, and yes!

Being up for the challenge is perhaps the most important part of the process. Gauge their level of interest and passion for your project. A consultant should not only provide expertise for execution, but also offer guidance on what’s possible and best for your business.

When it comes to hiring an IT consultant or team for your business, you must consider these five things when interviewing your potential partner. At ZBrains, we are proud to offer it all. From passion and leadership to experience and communication, we are pleased to work with leading businesses across their respective industries. Consider partnering with our team here.

ZBrains Solves Problems

How ZBrains Solves Problems and Provides Solutions

When searching for a partner, whether a marketing agency, software consultancy or strategic contractor, there are three key areas of consideration – expertise, impact and efficiency. Regardless of the type of vendor or partner, every company or contractor your business partners with should focus solving problems and providing the solutions you need. As one of Zoho’s top US partners, we are proud to do just that – ZBrains solves problems, and we consistently provide solutions. We focus on generating ROI and impacting revenue for every single one of our clients.

When we first meet with potential clients, we often hear the same five pain points (so, if you’re reading this and you feel one of the below, you’re not alone):

    • “Our team doesn’t have time for X”
    • “Our team is so busy doing Y”
    • “Data is spread across so many pieces of software”
    • “We need education on X and Y”
    • “We have experienced massive growth, but we need something scalable”

These are the problems we hear, and these are the solutions we solve.

But, how do we as consultants truly find solutions for our clients? In this blog, we’ll take you through four solutions we use for clients across a plethora of industries and verticals. This will help you and your team consider pivots in process, planning and strategy as we move into the year ahead.

Here are four ways ZBrains solves problems and provides solutions.

1. We focus on bridging the gap.

As consultants, we truly focus on bridging the gap between business needs and technology solutions through open collaboration and business process analysis with our clients. We are focused on on enabling your business to make smart technology investments, improve practices, and save time and money. Your in-house team might be comfortable with certain processes over the years – yet, as a Zoho partner, we can provide a different view and a new spectrum of expertise that can be applied on bridging certain gaps in processes and efficiencies. We practice the ‘connector’ approach – if our clients have a pain or need, we provide the solution – bridging the gap between the two, and taking you through every single step of the way.

2. We focus on reducing costs and becoming more efficient.

When planning budgets, especially as companies reach year-end, reducing costs is often key to success. While increasing revenue is the favorable choice for any business in any industry, becoming more efficient is often the key driver to impacting the bottom line.

Whether it’s through software or business process, we bring consultation and expertise to the table – and work with you to provide measurable impacts to your team. Instead of telling us what you need, we become part of your team, offering a consultative approach every step of the way. We are always learning from our clients’ successes and challenges, which is why we ensure that every project is better than the last.

3. We are always innovating.

Have you seen the integrations and add-ons we provide? We are proud to have a team of developers and strategists who are focused on solving any problem that comes our way – seriously, any problem. We’re created add-ons for calendar scheduling, invoice and proposal management, integrations for services like Slack, and so much more. If you have a challenge, ZBrains solves problems and provides solutions.

4. We work with every level of management.

Working with executives is different from working with mid-management – we get that. Executives see things differently from mid-management – they look at data from a 40,000 foot view, whereas mid-management are in the trenches, making changes to tactics and pulling levers to generate results. This is exactly we why provide reporting solutions for executives, while developing apps and integration for mid-management.

At ZBrains, we are proud to be a leader in experience and industry knowledge with Zoho, CRM management, business processes and integrated solutions. As we are planning ahead for 2018, we are excited at the road ahead and can’t wait to bring on new clients to our team – our ZBrains family. ZBrains solves problems and provides solutions every single step of the way – and we’re ready to do it for you!

Here’s Why Zoho’s Growth Is Great For Users

Here’s Why Zoho’s Growth Is Great For Users

The year of 2005 saw the first release of Zoho CRM, and it’s no secret that Zoho has grown exponentially over the last few years; with 3500 employees globally and 25 million users on the platform, the once small-yet-mighty CRM has scaled tremendously since inception. Yet, with growth naturally comes questions – is Zoho’s growth an opportunity for users?

The short answer is yes. The explanation is below.

Zoho has paid a great deal of attention to R&D, especially in 2017. The company invests in people, who they consider to be vital as part of the R&D focus. For example, Zoho has a comprehensive program that hires high school students and trains them in what is called Zoho University – in fact, over 15% of their engineers come straight from this program. It fosters community within the business, and trains employees early on in the process – training those employees who will only contribute to the platform and the future ahead.

This fostering of community exemplifies their focus on growth, especially as it steers to 2018 and beyond.

Here’s why Zoho’s growth is great for users – and why you should feel confident in the software path ahead.

Zoho has a focus on aggressive development horizontally.

Within Zoho CRM, there are a plethora of features that are available to solve key business challenges. From Zoho Sheet and Zoho Creator in 2006 to the expansion of Zoho Notebook, AppCreator, SalesInbox and more into 2016, the company is focused on adding more and scaling further for users. Aggressive development means that you and your company can benefit from everything Zoho has to offer – including the remarkable features that the company is building in R&D.

Growth means that the gap will close between the more “expensive” solutions.

We’ve covered the price point that Zoho boasts – one that is far less expensive than competitors like Salesforce. Yet, growth within this software platform means that the gap will close between features available with Zoho versus features with a competitor like Salesforce.

By this, we mean that Zoho essentially has all of the features and benefits that you need from a CRM (we would argue that the platform offers even more for small and medium businesses than Salesforce does). Growth over the last ten years has meant that features are being introduced at an even quicker pace and greater availability to users.

Speaking of price, it’s like getting a Ferrari for the price of a Honda.

…and who wouldn’t want that?

We all know that Zoho offers a powerful engine for a great price – the Ferrari for the price of a Honda, as we mentioned. That, combined with the ability to scale and grow as more and more users join every single day, it’s clear that Zoho offers a competitive pricing structure for companies.

Zoho employees are global, trained internally, and have a great deal of focus on developing new features around-the-clock. What was once a small platform with a big dream has since become a global business with over 25 million users and 3500 employees. Confidence in Zoho only continues to grow, as Zoho growth in 2017 continues to expand beyond what the company could have ever imagined.

We are proud to work so closely with brands and businesses who are scaling their own companies using Zoho, and we’re excited to see what the next 10 years brings to this software and our clients. To hop on board or to simply learn more, click here to start a conversation with our team.

The Zoho / Quickbooks Integration

The Zoho Quickbooks Integration

quickbooks crm integration

The integration of Zoho CRM and QuickBooks is a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, too many businesses have had a failed integration of their CRM and ERP systems in the past causing wariness of CRMs that may miss the mark. It has been proven that the front office staff is less likely to adopt the CRM if it is not connected to the back office ERP accounting software in a way that empowers them. There are several questions and concerns you need to be aware before entering any CRM-ERP union.

Integration is Key

One of the most critical pieces of the equation is ensuring that your CRM module can be fully integrated into your ERP software, like Quickbooks. If your front line customer service agents and salespeople do not have access to important data such as sales history, complaint history, communication history and have to enter information twice, once into each system; your CRM adoption is doomed to fail from the start. Only consider options such as Zoho CRM Online and Quickbooks where complete integration of the two actually automates a number of processes and provides accurate and up-to-date information to everyone that needs it.

This integration is critical to the success of the system, not only from an adoption standpoint but also to ensure that the extra cost of a CRM system is made up for in workflow efficiencies. Enabling salespeople to make sales on the road be productive in the field with information available on their mobile devices with access to documents and reports ensures increased production.

quickbooks crm integration

Red Flags

If you experience any of the following issues in your company then your current solution may actually be doing more harm than good. It may be time to reconsider your options.

Is all your information available in a central way to all the stakeholders that need it? Can sales people access customer sales information? Can customer service access customer communication histories?

Have there been issues of miscommunication between your accounting team and the sales team?

Do your sales people consistently sell items that are not in inventory, sold out, back-ordered, or discontinued? If they do not have access to inventory it may worsen this situation.

Does the sales team over sell client’s credit limit increasing your businesses risk to bad dept? Are sales being held up because of the credit department?

Are the note systems of customer service, sales and accounting integrated? Or does each department keep separate notes?

Are your salespeople helping accounting by collecting on outstanding invoices during routine sales calls? Or are they missing the opportunity because they do not have access to this information?

Is too much time being spent researching answers across multiple departments causing customer service lags because the information is not readily available?

If you have had any of these issues actually cause a loss of business, missed sales opportunities, increased labor costs, missed month end sales targets, cash flow deficiencies then you may be suffering from an integration that ended in separation with your CRM and ERP systems. Contact us today and let us help you identify the right integration solution to get your business back on track – or, take advantage of our Zoho certified consulting for any other aspect of your business with Zoho CRM.