Salesforce Lightning Strikes, Burns Customers 

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Lightning struck last week when Salesforce announced its new Sales Cloud and Service Cloud Lightning Editions. The new editions come with a whopping 20 percent across-the-board price hike.  

In its announcement, Salesforce said, “Over the past 17 years, we’ve delivered thousands of features across our products, increased our data center capacity, and we continue to make our systems more trusted, bringing additional value to our customers.”

While this sounds laudable, it doesn’t pass our bullshit test. For all its talk of adding value to customers, Salesforce spent a paltry 15 percent of revenue on Research & Development in 2015. Meanwhile, 51 percent of its operating expense went into customer acquisition (i.e. sales and marketing).  

Known already for lofty prices, Salesforce uses the “customization and configuration” sleight of hand to justify this new luxury tax. Last we checked, the implicit promise of cloud applications was that new features, updates, and versions are included in the subscription fee.

The Dark Side of the Force 

Reckless spending to acquire customers, unmindful of profitability, always ends badly – as price increases for customers. Well, it’s been 17 long years of unprofitable growth for Salesforce and their recent price hikes confirm that shareholder pressure is taking its toll.

We’re not the only ones who saw this coming. In April 2015 Forrester predicted that the “original Salesforce CRM software, for which the company is known, will not support this revenue growth on its own.” Forrester added this: “What is good for Salesforce’s investors is not necessarily good for its clients.” 

Salesforce’s Lightning editions reflect this exact dilemma. Consider two-factor authentication–a method that uses a combination of two different ways to authenticate every user–that’s become essential to secure cloud data. Salesforce provides two-factor authentication only in their $150 per month premium plan. At Zoho we see security as a right; we’ve even made it part of our free edition. The pressure for investor returns at Salesforce has supplanted customer data security, precisely as Forrester predicted. Salesforce cloud security is now just for the 1%. 

Over-investments and poor investments cause higher prices, which end up burning customers. Just examine Salesforce’s real estate plans. Perhaps CEO Marc Benioff can explain to Jim Cramer on his next “Mad Money” appearance why they’re spending $1.1 billion on a fancy new office tower in the most expensive city in the country while customers are watching prices go up. Mad Money, indeed.

An Innovative Cloud For All 

Salesforce’s price hikes fit the time-worn strategy of a bloated, aging software company retreating to large risk-averse enterprise customers. Raising prices, soaking smaller and medium sized businesses to serve the largest, and overpricing in international markets (even under a strong dollar) is a far cry from the promise of cloud software: to reduce costs and make amazing software technology affordable. “King of Cloud” it does not make. 

Salesforce’s new prices and market strategy reaffirm our distinctly different mission at Zoho: To bring innovative, high quality software to any business at unmatched value. 

Consider the combined cost of Salesforce’s Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Service Cloud, which will likely be upwards of $500 per user per month. Zoho’s equivalent offer is CRM Plus. It is a suite of 8 different apps – spanning marketing, sales, and customer service – and costs $50 per user per month. Which means a year’s subscription of Salesforce will buy you a decade with Zoho. Small and medium companies all over the globe can afford what used to be the prerogative of the very large in making their businesses efficient. This is the revolution of the cloud.  

Your Salesforce Discount Code: Zoho 

A closing note: If you’re ever in negotiation with a Salesforce rep, just let them know you’re considering Zoho. There isn’t a faster way to squeeze out a fat discount.

Essential funnels to analyze your sales and marketing data

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In our previous posts on sales analytics (Sales Pipeline Optimization through Stage History Analysis & The Essential Sales Analytics Reports – Sales Team Analytics), we discussed how to make the most of your sales data using the Advanced Analytics Add-on for Zoho CRM/Salesforce. We are going to build on that with this post to highlight about some quintessential funnel charts to help you derive the best results out of your sales data.

Essential Funnels

A funnel chart is used to represent progressive flow; generally the reduction of a business metric across phases. Here are some of the funnels to help you analyze your sales data and up your sales game.

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Customer Spotlight: From “A La Carte” Experience to a Zoho Buffet

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A1A1 Energy, an energy consulting firm, first opened its doors just over a decade ago. “We were selling energy efficiency before it was cool to be energy efficient,” Jon Porreca said.

Porreca is one member of a small, family-centric staff that manages the day-to-day administrative operations in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a town roughly 80 miles west of Philadelphia. A1 Energy partners with contractors to assist governmental agencies, industrial, and commercial clients in maximizing their energy efficiency.

“When the go-green movement hit that really helped the energy industry, and it helped our business grow,” he said. “We got our start with coordinating the installation of high-bay industrial lighting systems, and to this day, lighting is still a lot of what we do.”

For a lot of small, family-owned businesses, effective communication and streamlined project management are vital to success. Every penny spent on a time-saving office suite or on CRM technology needs to generate healthy return and aid in the overall growth of the business.

“We weren’t the most tech savvy back when we started,”  Porreca said.”We didn’t even have something as simple as Excel spreadsheets to track anything. Each person had their own system that they used, but there was no repository to keep and to share information.  Eventually our business grew to the point where we needed to make a change in our processes. Read more

Zoho ContactManager teams up with Google Apps

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We know how you feel. You start a business with a single system for all your contacts, preferably Google Contacts. You watch your business prosper, all your efforts come true and finally, there comes a day when you need a contact manager. High five! At this point, you start your relationship with us, Zoho ContactManager and decide that this is the right contact management tool, which fits your business needs. Everything is going great, and you start with a blank slate and a brand new contact manager. But as they say – old habits, die hard. All the contacts you have gathered over the years, they would look great in your brand new contact manager. Don’t you think?

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Power up your notifications with Webhooks and Email Templates

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When it comes to issue tracking, clear and well-timed communication is key to quickly tracking and fixing bugs. This means the right people have to be informed with the right information at the right time. To do this, you have to automate and customize the notification process to your project‘s needs. Here are two new Zoho BugTracker features to help you do that.

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Announcing the new ShowTime plug-in for PowerPoint.

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Nigel, a professional presenter who delivers four presentations a week, needed a way to keep his audience awake. After about eight slides, even a good presenter can struggle to hold the audience’s attention. He searched for ways to keep his presentations interesting, and because he liked using PowerPoint he hoped to find a tool that wouldn’t require him to convert his slides to another format. Converting his presentations meant risking lost animations, inactive transitions, and even crashing his program. So how could he keep his audiences engaged without converting his PowerPoint slides?ShowTime plug-in_final

Nigel can present his PowerPoint slides using Zoho ShowTime, which helps audiences and presenters connect. Launch ShowTime from PowerPoint using our new plug-in to present your slides without converting them into PDFs or other formats. You get all the bells and whistles of designing slides in PowerPoint, combined with the ability to make your presentations more interactive.

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Wine, chocolate and data.

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This is a guest post by Stephanie Martin, CEO of Exigo Group, one of the valuable partners of Zoho. Steph is based in Orange County, CA with her continuously increasing pack of rescued Boxers (current count is 3).

Successful sales and marketing professionals need data to drive more business. They are always on the lookout for the best companies to target and in search of the right people to reach out to.

They try hard to know who’s who, who is an influencer, who is a decision maker, who left the company, and who just joined or got promoted. They want to know the latest and greatest about new prospects so they can launch awesome campaigns and come up with a timely proposal that resonates. Sales and marketing pros want to relate to their prospects on a personal level; they want to break the ice.

Capture integration

So they turn to a myriad of resources to get data and then use it in context to drive their business. Their success hinges on data – its readiness, its taste and freshness. Very much like wine and chocolate.

But how are wine and chocolate consumed? How are they processed and delivered?

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