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Category : Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM Last Activity Field

What is “Last Activity Time” in Zoho CRM?

If you’re like a lot of other Zoho CRM users, you’re using the application to track sales agent activity and customer interactions throughout your sales process. The information captured by the Last Activity Time in Zoho CRM helps you assess whether or not your deals and customer relationships are headed in the right direction. In this article you’ll learn exactly what this field is. You’ll see where it can be accessed. We also share the types of activities and updates recorded as Last Activity Time.  

So, what is Last Activity time in Zoho CRM? 

Each time changes are made on a record, Last Activity Time is there to track it. This includes activities ranging from adding notes or closing a task, to sending emails or editing fields. Everything tracked here can be used in reporting. An example might be a report on activity recency for your accounts in a certain region or for a specific sales person. Having the data available from the Last Activity Time field is the key to answering questions just like that. 

 

You might be asking yourself, “How can I report on Last Activity Time in Zoho CRM?”

This is a great question! Firstly, you’ll find that there are several key benefits to reporting on Last Activity Time that support your sales team, including:

  • CRM user sitting at a tablet computerCapacity Planning for Sales Agents; you may notice that a record owner has many records that haven’t been touched in awhile, but activity is high, perhaps they require some help, or it’s time to grow your sales team.
  • Gain Insight Into Cross-Sell Opportunities; you can segment your customers using RFM Scoring (Recency Frequency Monetary feature) or Account Score with Last Activity Time. This will help you identify and prioritize direct outreach to accounts who haven’t purchased in a while. 
  • Enhance Your Customer’s Experience; with Last Activity Time you can quickly identify customers that need engagement. Anticipate their needs by calling or outreaching to them before they contact you.
  • Better Business Through Reporting; looking to prioritize the best use of your valuable data, but need help to get your reporting up and running? Contact ZBrains.

If you’re taking notes, the Last Activity time in Zoho CRM is viewable in all modules with the exception of the Activities module. This means that you can use this field as a filter to do tasks like creating a filtered segment in your Leads module, or do the same in Accounts to see quickly how many accounts may need an outreach. 

To use this field in Reports, you’ll find it is available for Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Deals; and the questions you can answer are more or less limitless when your good data is put to use in Reports!

 

Which Activities and Updates will record as Last Activity Time?

Learn the nine primary ways that Last Activity Time is recorded inZoho CRM. It is helpful to know this information to understand the reporting or any filtered lists you reference. For example, bulk actions like restoring accounts could skew your report if you are looking for recent activities on a set of records. You may not see the results you are looking for if you are looking for data on completed Tasks in Last Activity Time (they’re not tracked here!).

  1. When you edit fields in a record.
  2. When you add new Activities, or update Activities such as Tasks, Events, and Calls.
  3. Adding a new Note or editing a Note will record.
  4. Sending Emails to Leads and Contacts in Zoho CRM will update this field.
  5. Last Activity Time is recorded when you change the Owner of a record.
  6. Adding Deals and Contacts under an Account will record it.
  7. Deleting or restoring a record, whether individually or in bulk.
  8. When you add or delete a record, it will record this field. One caveat here is, this does not include when you delete a record associated with the parent record. 
  9. Closing a Task will record; however, this does not apply to Events.  After the End Date, Events are automatically moved to closed activities.

How are you going to harness the data captured by Last Activity Time in Zoho CRM? 

Whether you’re questioning how to get the most out of your CRM data or looking to make improvements to your sales dashboards and 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!

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.

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.

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.  When considering Zoho for beginners, you’ll definitely want to make sure everyone test-drives their apps, too.  In this case, I want you to think of Zoho Cliq as a precursor to more involved Zoho apps like Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, Inventory, 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.  That’s the essence of Zoho for beginners, and ensures you get some early buy-in.

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 a Zoho for beginners training 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 for beginners” 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 contacting us right here.

The ZBrains Zoho Integration for Exact Online has finally arrived.

ZBrains Zoho Integration for Exact Online

Bridge the Gap Between CRM and ERP: The ZBrains Zoho Integration for Exact Online

Those who love the powerful accounting tools of Exact Online will appreciate the Zoho Integration for this popular ERP/Accounting suite. Zoho integration for Exact OnlineThe wait is officially over, Zoho can now communicate directly with this ERP. Any business owner can openly admit how much they love increased efficiency. But, the unfortunate truth is that Zoho and Exact Online have historically not communicated well. Efficiency is lost through double data entry, which creates errors and hampers the overall flow. The good news is that we at ZBrains completely eliminated this problem. The ZBrains Zoho Integration for Exact Online joins our growing ranks of supremely useful Zoho integrations.

Save Time and Increase Efficiency with Bidirectional Sync

If you use Zoho CRM and Exact Online, odds are two elements of your business do not communicate effectively. No one likes extra steps or work, which is why the ZBrains Zoho Integration for Exact Online is so valuable. Save time, avoid the headaches, and enjoy the beauty of these two pieces of software working in sync. We anticipate an organization license of 100-499 (per month). The integration will operate as both a cloud-based and on-premise planning solution.

Create Invoices in Zoho to Push to Exact Online

When you combine the capabilities of Zoho and Exact Online, the most useful end product is the invoices. Create invoices with ease within Zoho and then push them to Exact Online. Enjoy the best of both worlds: the elegant simplicity of Zoho and the processing power of Exact Online.

Exact provides world class business software for Finance, ERP, HRM, and CRM processes. All fully integrated in one front and back office system across all locations, including business analytics and mobile applications. On-premise or in the private cloud.

Key Features of the Zoho Integration with Exact Online

Although the pricing of this integration has not yet been released, we can reveal the key features to expect. The Exact Online Integration boasts integrations with the following:

Zoho Applications: Zoho Books, Zoho CRM, Zoho Creator ERP

                                            -Sales Orders                     –Invoices

                                            -Purchase Orders             -Customers

                                            -Payments                          -Items

                                            -Bills

The Bottom Line for Fans of Exact Online

Zoho integration for Exact OnlineExact Online gives sales people more access to valuable information, which adds to their sales arsenal. Not only can they discover the top, most profitable customers, they can also see when a customer last ordered. This detail is crucial, because it helps the salesperson better plan when to reach out for another sale.

Bottom line, the Zoho Integration for Exact Online is significant. It is such a useful tool that we are confident it will appeal to companies of multiple industries. From manufacturing and wholesale, to distribution, marketing, sales, logistics, and finance/accounting. This new bridge is bound to help companies of all these various industries.

Not sure if Exact Online is for you? Itching to learn more about Zoho CRM and what it can do for your business? Look no further, as our Zoho consulting team features a healthy roster of seasoned vets eager to help you make smart technology investments. In the end, we want to help you save time and money. Whether you will gain the most from a comprehensive Business Process Analysis, some Enterprise Resource Planning Consult work, Gap Analysis or CRM consulting, we are happy to help.

Contact us today for more information about the Exact Online integration with Zoho.

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.

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.  See other Zoho Unified Communications options here.)

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.

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.