Case Study

Financial Services

Expansion Capital Group (ECG) is a valued partner for entrepreneurial businesses of all sizes. ECG provides funding for expansion in lieu of traditional bank loans with an easy process and minimal paperwork. With the help of ZBrains, ECG implemented Zoho CRM using Zoho Blueprint for sales management and lead distribution, Zoho Creator for their partner portal, Zoho Forms for lead capture, and Zoho Campaigns for email campaign management.


ECG was looking for a new CRM solution to better equip their business and their sales team. The system they were using at the time was not actively managed, and did not properly serve the needs of their internal sales team. ECG knew that they would need a custom integration built to solve their issues, which is what brought them to Zoho and to the ZBrains team. Marc Helman, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at ECG, gave insights into the implementation process, and their subsequent success with Zoho.

The Business

ECG, based in Sioux Falls, SD, provides fast, flexible funding with minimal paperwork to help businesses expand. Since 2013, over 5,000 small businesses have received funding exceeding $130 million with the help of ECG. The company uses a sustainable and scalable funding system, which allows their clients to expand and thrive with expert guidance and a finance manager. In this way, ECG strives to create trusted and solid financial partnerships with its clients.

The Challenge

ECG’s legacy CRM simply could not support the customizations and integrations needed in order to run the business efficiently. This most notably affected ECG’s sales team in that they could not carry out their responsibilities effectively, but also in that ECG did not have a system administrator or manager helping to keep activities in line. Furthermore, intricacies of ECG’s workflow had created obvious bottlenecks in the old system. ECG’s management knew these issues could be resolved with a new system tailored to their specific needs, and with proper administration of the system in place.

Finding a solution

Fortunately, ECG did not have to go far to find the ZBrains team! One of ECG’s employees had connected with ZBrains previously, so the solution simply came down to rehashing old ideas and breaking them down to form a new, more scalable plan. Marc Helman had this to say about working with the ZBrains team:

“[ZBrains] and James were very refreshing to work with. They were honest, transparent, and realistic about what could and could not be done. And, I think anybody that’s looking to invest a lot of money in building out a CRM for their team would appreciate not only all the technical skills that the company has, but also their ability to manage relationships and properly set expectations. It was nice to work with somebody who was honest and open about ability, limitation, and everything in between. I think that the one thing I would add is that we really feel like, from a value perspective, [ZBrains] really delivered.”

Implementation and results

ECG worked with ZBrains for their Zoho implementation. Before putting any customization in place, ZBrains conducted a Business Process Analysis (BPA) to plan the project.  This planning session allowed ZBrains to thoroughly review ECG’s sales and operations processes, consider the various business systems ECG was using, and interview key personnel who managed different departments. This allowed the ZBrains team to gain a fuller understanding of the company, its needs and expectations, and its current and future action items. And in turn, ZBrains was able to provide recommendations on what could be changed, augmented, or implemented to meet ECG’s needs.

After ZBrains formally presented the findings from the BPA to ECG, the ECG team was confident in Zoho’s capabilities and ZBrains’s ability to properly harness them. ECG implemented Zoho CRM using Zoho Blueprint for sales management and lead distribution, Zoho Creator for their partner portal, Zoho Forms for lead capture, and Zoho Campaigns for email campaign management.

Marc described the implementation process and challenges this way:

“There were a number of calls with the ZBrains team to get everybody on the same page as to what we were looking to do. We wanted to memorialize exactly the build spec and the responsibilities with everyone involved with this project, so we probably had 3-5 calls leading up to actually starting development on the CRM. Everything was well documented in Google Docs. The biggest issues that we had weren’t really ZBrains issues, but Zoho licensing questions. [The ZBrains] team really helped us understand what would be the best licensing [choice] moving forward given our long term goals that we had in place here.

[ZBrains planned] a number of phases to this build, and the initial phase was making sure that we could get this deployed to our sales team. And so, the next iteration of this [will be to help make sure] our own external partners…can effectively use our Zoho platform to communicate with us via API and via a number of different partner portals, as we call them.”


Since implementing Zoho CRM, ECG has been able to reap enormous benefits, in the form of 50% growth of sales team production, and a deal closing rate that grew from 24% to 37%. Along with these statistics, Marc detailed the positive impact that Zoho has had on the company’s ability to identify weaknesses and even provide proper guidance to the sales team based on reports:

“The data we have now, from a sales metrics standpoint, has helped us identify specific weak points and where breakdowns in [our] process start to occur. We are able to better tailor training to specific reps based on that information. So, whereas before we could only provide general training classes for the entire sales team, this CRM allowed us to dig in a little deeper and figure out exactly where people were struggling.”

Here’s what ECG had to say about Zoho

“A lot of us have been familiar with, and used, Salesforce extensively previously and were hesitant and nervous about moving forward with Zoho. Your team helped to to understand that we really weren’t going to lose much of anything moving forward with Zoho and got us comfortable with it. You guys were just an absolute pleasure to work with so far and we’re going to continue to work with your company going forward.”

Partner Bio

At ZBrains, we provide solutions to your most common Zoho CRM challenges. As a Zoho Premium Partner and Zoho certified consultancy since 2012, we can show you how to work with the Zoho stack to your level of comfort with our specialized consulting packages and training sessions. With the help of our customized ERP integrations, proprietary Zoho add-ons, and Zoho Certified Consultants and developers, your business will flow like never before with Zoho as its hub. With Pasadena, CA as our own hub, we are proud to service your field services, manufacturing, and manufacturing/distribution operations with our US-based support and development teams!