Zoho Mail Intermittent Access on 4/25

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Yesterday, Wednesday, April 25th, we experienced some technical issues with one of our Zoho Mail application servers. As a result, less than one thousand users experienced intermittent access to Zoho Mail from 2:00pm until 3:00pm Pacific Time.

Although Zoho Mail was inaccessible through the web interface, customers were able to access their email, and send/receive email through our mobile UI.

To those users that were affected, we apologize for this issue. Although this affected a very small percentage of our user base, we strive to provide great service to all of our users.

Rodrigo

Cold Calling: 5 Tips from a “target”

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There’s cold calling, and then there’s Cold Calling. If you don’t know the difference (hint: it’s not the capital C’s), then you’re probably not doing it right. Here are 5 tips from a cold calling “target” you can use to increase the effectiveness of your prospecting and sales.

In technology companies, there are two people that get the most cold calls: the IT/Data Center guy and the Marketing guy. In addition to pitch emails, I get about 3-5 cold calls every day from different vendors trying to pitch me some new service, product, ad network, etc.

Being in Marketing, I’m certainly sympathetic to what sales guys are trying to accomplish every single day: fill out their pipeline, and keep deals moving. As a professional courtesy, I try to take most of their calls, and I reply to their emails – even if it’s just to tell them I’m not interested (the exception to that rule are email list “companies”).

I also take the calls for a selfish reason: I want to see myself what makes a good sales guy sell. It’s highly educative to see a great sales professional go about their job. Particularly on a cold call – that’s a very hard thing to do.

Some people say that cold calling doesn’t work. Well, I’ll tell you – it does work, sometimes, but you need to do it right. While we don’t do Cold Calling at Zoho (we’re way too busy handling incoming calls), I have spent marketing dollars with more than one company that came to me through Cold Calling. Why? Well, they got something I needed.

So here are 5 tips you can use during your Cold Calling. While these are directly related to phone sales, most of them also apply for emails/LinkedIn. Sure, there’s a lot more that you need to do, but you also need to make sure you get the following five areas down to a science.

1. Find a target
When I say “find a target”, I don’t mean to say “get a phone number”.  But that’s how vendors come to me. They call our main line – they ask for whoever runs Marketing (sometimes our receptionists don’t screen well enough!) and voilá, they end-up in my phone. That’s how you do cold calling. And it doesn’t work – I’ll usually be ending the call within 15 seconds. Cold Calling, on the other hand, means that you’ll use social media, LinkedIn, or just plain Google (it takes 2 seconds to find my LinkedIn profile) to find out who you want to talk to. So when you hit that phone, you ask for that peson, by name. When he answers the phone, you greet him by name. And please, please, pretty please, don’t ask stupid questions like “would you be the person responsible for Marketing?” as an opener! If you did your research right, you know I am. Get to the point.

2. Research
You’ve got your prospect, alright. You know their name, you know their title, you can find a phone number to start hunting them. But hold your horses! Don’t touch that phone just yet. First do a little bit of research about your target company.

For example, just today I got a lady on the phone. She was very courteous and professional. She wanted to invite me to some event for “Technology Resellers”. WTF? If you spent even 5 seconds on our website, our LinkedIn page, our Facebook page or our Twitter profile, you would know that we are not a “technology reseller”. We sell online software.

Some other times it is not as obvious. Some time ago I got a call from a company whose name I’ll omit. This company is in the business of enabling through-the-web trials for companies that sell old-school (installable) software. It’s a very neat thing. And if we sold installable software, I would want to talk to them. But we don’t sell installable software. We sell online software. That company is totally irrelevant in the world of SaaS.

3. Speak at their level
So you’ve got a name, a number, a title – you’ve done a bit of research. Next thing, you need to be able to speak at your target’s level to make sure you are pressing the buttons that are important for him/her. This is just sales 101 yet still most salespeople fail miserably at this.

This includes not only talking about the right topics – but also talking about them in the right context, and in the right wording. Yes, this stuff matters a lot.

I just had, not 10 minutes ago, someone call me pitching me SEM/PCC services. It was going ok… then I asked some question and the person on the other side started reciting to me the differences between the “organic results” and the “sponsored results” on Google.

Listen,  if I’m the owner of a local small business, maybe you should check first what’s my level of expertise in the arena. But… I mean, really? We’re a technology company. We’re an online company. We spend a LOT of money with Google every month (there’s multiple ways you can check for that), and you give me that pitch? I can tell you that call didn’t end up well.

4. Know your pitch – but not too well
In a previous life I had the opportunity to work with a very efficient, mature outbound sales team. When we were preparing an outbound campaign, the sales manager told me: “Just do me a favor, don’t give our guys a call script. Instead give them some pointers”. What she meant was that sales reps needed to apply their own creativity, wording and style to the campaign.

So if you’re a sales rep and someone gives you a script, reject it. Come up with your own version that makes you feel comfortable. And please, please don’t memorize it. It’ll make you sound less sincere.

Likewise, you need to be prepared to adjust your pitch on the fly. If you are doing Cold Calling right, you’ll be asking some questions. You’ll need to adjust your pitch depending on the answers to those questions. Maybe you see your prospect already knows about the topic – engage him with a more advanced conversation.

5. Be prepared for the next steps, and be prepared to discuss ballpark prices
The goal of Cold Calling (at least for most B2B product/services) is not to do an outright sell, but rather to just take the conversation forward to the next step. Yet, many sales people don’t know this, and they shoot themselves in the foot by rambling and not going for a strong close.

The very best sales people I’ve gotten are very smart about this. Once they sense some interest, instead of keep expanding on the topic, they’ll suggest a follow-up conversation, or an online meeting, or something of that sort.

It amazes me how some sales people won’t discuss pricing on the first call. I just don’t do business with them. Listen guys, discussing pricing (ballpark, of course!) is a very good thing for both buyer and seller – it helps you check that neither one of you is going to loose your time with a deal that is out of range. So be prepared to give some estimates or ballpark numbers about what you’re selling.
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Right, I know what you’re thinking: these points are so basicYet, about 95% of the cold calls I get did not do their homework on the points above. Sure, it saved them a couple of minutes of research, but it also meant they lost a valuable prospect within the first few seconds of the call. Likewise, if you did your homework, you’ll be able to qualify your prospect faster – and then you can move on to the next one on the list.

 

 

 

Zoho on Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act

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BalancingAct-SM

We were recently invited to The Balancing Act, a morning talk show on Lifetime Television, to discuss how online software helps people run their small businesses. Sometimes those of us in the SaaS industry forget how new and daunting running applications on the cloud can appear to those that are new to it. But of course, it isn’t. Zoho makes it easy for freelancers and small businesses to focus on their business while we take care of the rest.

Rodrigo

Zoho in Website Magazine’s Top 50 List

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In its February 2012 issue, Website Magazine prints the list of the Top 50 Software Solutions to Explore in 2012. Guess who holds the #3 spot? Zoho. Well, I guess that’s where we disagree with Website Magazine – we think we should be at the top. But, who’s counting?

Website Magazine notes (emphasis mine)

Web workers used to (and many continue to) struggle with the wide variety of software that was necessary to gather intelligence, engage in all manners of Web marketing and online advertising management, and communicate digitally. That’s a lot of responsibility, but thankfully it’s getting simpler. If there is one trend that will define 2012 and beyond, it is that of a more unified platform. 

A unified platform – that’s exactly what has been driving us at Zoho since we started in 2005! We believe there’s a lot of value in having everything work together, seamlessly, to having everything under one roof. And that’s what you’ll find here at Zoho.

You can find Website Magazine’s 50 Top Software Solutions to Explore in 2012 in their February 2012 issue and you can also find it online.

Less CRMing and More Selling with Zoho CRM: New UI plus Exciting Features

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A few months ago we started rolling out a preview of our new, totally-rebuilt Zoho CRM UI. We took a close, hard look at how users were interacting with our app, and how we could make it easier for them to achieve their daily goals. Our goal was to make users spend less time  inside the Zoho CRM app, so they can spend more time selling.
So we re-designed many workflows and screens inside our app. A small example: we realized that everybody wants to add notes to their contacts/prospects. So, we made it very simple for them to add more notes. We streamlined how we show contact information. We made it easier for a sales rep to check availability for scheduling a follow-up call with a prospect right from the contact screen. We made several other changes - big and smallThe feedback we got from users has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re pretty thrilled about that.

But that’s not all we have been working on. We have also been busy building a lot of new things we know you will love. We kept this as a surprise for all of our users – and here it is.

Stay on top of what’s happening on your sales pipeline with Pulse
Just like you can follow people on Twitter, now you can follow a particular lead, deal, contact or account in Zoho CRM. Sure, you can always run a report, but Pulse takes sales tracking to the next level by allowing you to follow what’s really important for you. But that’s pretty much where the Twitter analogy ends, because we’ve taken it a couple steps further. How? First, you can create rules that will automatically “Follow” a deal for you when some conditions are met. But my favorite part is this: you can also follow what’s NOT happening in your business.



Let me explain. When you follow a deal, it’s because you’re interested in seeing what happens with it. But what happens if a week goes by and you haven’t heard anything? How will you remember? Pulse takes care of that for you. In the Pulse tab inside Zoho CRM, you can view what is happening and what is NOT happening, and you can also set different time intervals for keeping track of your deals.

Build Custom Apps based on your CRM Data

With this latest Zoho CRM update, you can now build custom apps that access data inside your CRM system easier than ever before. For example, if you want to build a Travel Expense app, you can have one field ask what account or deal this travel was related to – and display a list of deals right from Zoho CRM. Of course, you have always been able to build this with an our API, but this update makes it easier for you to build apps with Zoho Creator – so there’s no coding required, just drag-and-drop. In addition, you are able to add these custom apps as tabs inside Zoho CRM.

Connect with your Customers on Social Media

Zoho CRM now allows you to link a CRM contact with their LinkedIn profile. So you can not only very easily get their position, company, city and more – but now you will also be able to keep up to date with their business and professional activity. You can even see their picture directly in your Zoho CRM contact. You can even send a note to your contact through LinkedIn right from Zoho CRM.
Webhooks make Zoho CRM even easier to integrate


We’ve had a pretty good and liberal API program for a while. But say for example, you want to update your inventory system every time you close a deal. How can you alert the external system that something just changed inside Zoho CRM? That’s what webhooks are for. Without getting too technical, every time some condition is met, Zoho CRM will send a quick message to your external system (your inventory system in this example) to give it a “heads up”. After that, more complex processing might take place through the API.

This is a major release and a major milestone for us, and hopefully you will find it exciting and useful!

Rodrigo

Zoho Projects In Your Pocket: Our Web App is Here

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Your projects don’t stop just because you’re away from your computer. And now, with the new Zoho Projects Web App you can stay connected with your projects and your team wherever you are.

The Zoho Projects Web App allows you to access all of your projects while on the go. You are able to see the Project Stream and see what everyone on the team has been up to – finished tasks, new posts, comments, wiki pages and any other activities from the members of your team.

You can also go in and see the tasks that you have open and update their status, any notes and mark them as finished when you are done. How’s that for giving your team real-time info? And if something new comes up while you are out and about, you can also of course add a new task right from your phone.

Our web app is available starting today – and all you need is a Zoho Projects account (including the Free edition). Once you’ve setup your account just head over to m.zoho.com using your phone’s browser (iPhone or Android), and start getting things done, even while on the go.

Rodrigo

 

Announcing the new, totally rebuilt Zoho Show 3

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Today we’re taking online productivity software to the next level. Everyone else focuses on making reduced-functionality online tools. That’s not the path we’ve chosen. We want to make the best online tools. We want to make them even better than their desktop counterparts. And while Zoho Show is currently the best online presentations editor available, we are never completely satisfied.

So we’ve been working for a long time on the next release of Zoho Show. We have made it easier for users to create visually appealing presentations. We focused on making the whole process painless and effortless, and we wanted to make sure you can deliver your presentations anywhere. We’re excited to unveil the beta version of Zoho Show 3. And while there are still some kinks to iron out, it is at a stage where we’d like to open it up for people to try it out and give us some feedback.


Zoho Show is the best online productivity experience anyone has ever delivered in a browser. I’d tell you what’s new in this release vs our current one – but everything is new here.



Visually Appealing 

Nobody likes slide decks full of bullet points. Zoho Show makes it very simple to create great, visually appealing presentations that will help you engage your audience. Adding effects like shadows and reflections to your online elements takes only a couple of clicks. Insert dynamic shapes that you can morph and tweak to fit your particular slide. Enhanced text and image editing gives you more creative control so you can make your slide look exactly how you want.

Effortless Creation

Some time ago we introduced our MenuTab design in our Zoho Writer service – and it makes it so much easier to get your stuff done. Now we’re bringing the MenuTab to Zoho Show. But that’s just the start. When you are trying to modify an element, now we present the choices visually and when you make a selection, we’ll apply it to the object in real-time, so you don’t have to keep guessing how your slide will look like. We’ve revamped the way we handle masters and layouts – and now you can even choose between several slide sizes to match the medium you’ll be presenting on (for example, widescreen projectors, or letter-sized paper). And now, creating flowcharts and diagrams is a breeze with our self-routing connectors.

Deliver Anywhere

One of the primary reasons you create a presentation is for, well, others to see it. Zoho Show makes this very simple. You can, for example, collaborate with other people while creating your presentation. But that’s not all. When it comes to actually delivering your presentation, you can do it from your laptop hooked up to a projector, or you can do it over the web. One of the nice things about Zoho Show is that you only need to give a URL to the people you are presenting to, and they’ll be able to follow along using just their browser – without having to download anything. Need to go out of your presentation and share the desktop? You can do that too! And of course you can also embed the presentation on your website for others to peruse at their own pace.

Here’s an embedded presentation about Zoho Show 3 we created with -you guessed it right!- Zoho Show 3.


But why just look at it when you can actually PLAY with it? We invite you to try our new Zoho Show 3 today. Head over to


You’ll be able to see an embedded presentation that showcases some of the new features. You can also click on Try Now to go the editor and play around with it. Please remember that you won’t be able to save any changes or work that you do in the new editor – we’re still in beta! Finally, you can also sign-up to be notified when we release Zoho Show 3 into production.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve read more than enough. You’d be better off just going and trying it!

Rodrigo