Introducing: One button to merge them all

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Title alone is a giveaway. You have two or more customers with duplicate records in your Zoho Invoice or Zoho Books customer list. Reason for their existence could be :

1. You recently imported accounts and contacts from Zoho CRM and there are duplicate customer names staring at you.

2. You and your colleague unknowingly created the same contact under two different names. One as ‘Jane’ and another as ‘Jane Thomas’.

End Result : There are two sets of data (invoices, estimates,expenses..etc.,) running parallel for the same customer. You are annoyed and want to delete everything and start fresh… Pause .. Take a deep breath.

A little while ago we introduced ‘Merge Customer’. This tiny, yet powerful feature in Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books lets you merge your customer data so you won’t have to worry about twin records anymore. What it essentially does is, maps the duplicate record to the master record (customer which you wish to keep) and transfers all the data like invoices,estimates,etc., to the master record. Read more about  ‘Merge Customers‘ in our Help section

Also, as a time saver, we’ve introduced the ‘Merge’ button right on top of the customer list page. You can check all the duplicates and merge them all at once.

Merge customer recordsGo ahead and start merging. Let us know what you think.​

Design Your CRM to Be a Reflection of Your Business Agenda

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Using Zoho CRM, an outsourced sales staff shows its clients how every dollar is being used to gather leads and close sales.

The business:

Katie Berkovich is the founder and a sales executive for Contax Growth Strategies, a two-year-old consulting firm that provides outsourced sales professionals to growth stage companies. They help start ups get big enough so they can hire their own sales staff.

Contax consists of six sales executives that work on a part time basis for multiple clients. Since they’re distributed all around the country, they need collaborative cloud-based resources.

The situation:

Ever since Berkovich graduated college, she has extensively used and Oracle Siebel.

Berkovich’s knowledge in CRM made her realize she couldn’t start a business with the tools she knew. The other options were simply too expensive. Salesforce required an annual contract for every rep, and Oracle Siebel required a certain number of reps to just get started. Contax has a flux of sales reps and clients coming and going. She really couldn’t commit to any specific level nor that much cash up front.

“Sometimes when you’re starting a business, $500 can be truly expensive,” Berkovich said.

Berkovich went about looking for alternatives and started searching on Google. Zoho came up in the results and there was a free trial that allowed her to test the application. Given her knowledge with CRM she knew exactly what she wanted and soon discovered Zoho could do everything she wanted it to do.

While Berkovich has a strong background in CRM, that’s not always the case with her clients. She finds herself often introducing them to CRM as their contacts are often stuck in a standard contact manager, such as Excel, ACT, or Outlook. In some cases a client only has a stack of business cards.

How they’re using Zoho

Contax’s primary use of Zoho is as a sales automation tool. When they first set up Zoho CRM it was very important that it was set up to track and report on sales activity so everyone to see, especially their clients. Berkovich immediately built in pipeline reporting so everyone could view the results of their efforts.

At any time, Berkovich can log into the system and see what’s happening with her team.

“I was checking in the midday activity report and I would look and see that Rep A called on these two accounts, they spent X number of hours on these accounts. They generated three leads on this one. Two leads on that one. What happened to them? Oh, I can see they were passed on to this other rep. I can now see this rep is closing them. And we had five things added to the pipeline today as a team,” Berkovich explained.

Since installing the pipeline system Contax has also installed Zoho time tracking, invoicing, and email. With all those applications working in sync they’re able to show their clients the hours spent and what activity that happened during that time.

“It’s really important for us to go back to a client and say, ‘This is what happened this week with your money,’” Berkovich said. “Trust is a big thing.”

Contax’s goal is to measure efficiency. They use Zoho to see which efforts yield the best results and adapt accordingly.

Advice for others

“Invest the time in learning how Zoho works. Don’t just ask someone else to set it up for you,” advises Berkovich. “It’s very important that the person running the business knows how to develop customized reports themselves.”

Berkovich says that she herself and her whole team have learned enough about Zoho that anyone can create a customized report. They leaned heavily on Zoho’s help section and the video tutorials. They’ve been invaluable and as a result they’ve yet to have to contact Zoho support.

It’s really important to be ingrained in the application because “CRM really should be designed as a reflection of the business agenda,” Berkovich said.

Listen to the full 14 minute interview here.

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.
– – – – –

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.




Sales follow-ups just got better with Zoho CRM

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While looking at the recently launched Pulse module, have these questions ever crossed your mind?

I see all these details, but where do I see a list of all records that I’m following?

How many records am I following?

I wish I could get more details about this record from this page itself. I don’t have to navigate away from what I’m doing.

Who else is following this record?

If yes, then, this is for you. With the recent update that we made to Pulse, it’s even easier to locate the data that you are looking for.

The Pulse module inside Zoho CRM gives an overview of your sales follow-ups. It gives you updates to records that are the most important to you. Over time, you would be following a number of records and is likely that you would have lost track of the records that you are following.

How many follow-ups and what are they?

Let’s say, you started following a lead around 2 months back. The lead has moved on to become a Customer. The updates to this record are no more frequent. You may not want to follow this record anymore. How do you search for the record from the list of updates? The Followed by me option makes it easy for you to locate the record and unfollow it.

There’s a little more to the story. How would you know the number of people who are following a particular record? You have this option from the Pulse page too. You’d know if your manager is following any prospect that you’re dealing with. You’ll definitely be on your toes. 😉

While you’re looking up this ‘important prospect’, you may want to get a quick view of the deal – like the stage, the probability, the expected revenue and the closing date. Now that the Summary View is a part of the Pulse page, it is easy to see more details about any record that you’re following. You do not have to navigate away from the Pulse module, either. You’re better equipped and you save time.

The fields shown in the summary view depend on the customization that you would have done earlier.

That’s about Pulse for now.

There are a few more improvements that we have made to reports and workflow flow rules. More details about this update are available in our forum discussion right here.

And now, I have these questions for you:

With the updates made to Pulse, how does it help you track your sales deals better?
Are you more productive?

Do leave your comments below.

-Sharanya R

Zoho Recruit Links up with LinkedIn

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At Zoho Recruit, our mission is to provide recruiters a simple, easy-to-use, single user-interface eliminating the need to juggle with multiple tools. Early last week, we had announced a bunch of new features; LinkedIn Integration was one of the most sought-after ones, which helps recruiters spend less time on the process and more time engaging with candidates. Now, let’s take a closer look at its functions.

Associate with LinkedIn profile
Zoho Recruit’s integration with LinkedIn, allows you to associate your candidates and client contacts with the LinkedIn profiles from inside Zoho Recruit. You can also narrow down your search using keywords with required qualification, skills, job title, etc., to match your existing candidates/client contacts in Zoho Recruit. This saves a lot of time toggling between the Zoho Recruit system and LinkedIn.

View LinkedIn profiles
You will have easy access to view all the details listed in the LinkedIn profile – Education, Experience, etc ., that will help determine the viability of a candidate/client contact before you contact them.

Send Private Messages
Once you find a right candidate/client contact, you can engage them by sending a private message through LinkedIn right from inside Zoho Recruit.

View and Comment on Updates
You can view and add comments on candidate/client contact updates directly from Zoho Recruit. Likewise, you can also Like or Unlike their updates.

Again, we hope you like this new integration with LinkedIn. Be sure to comment here as we love getting your valuable feedback.

Happy Recruiting!

Top 25 CRM Influencers You Should Be Following

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At Zoho we’re constantly talking with and presenting to consultants, journalists, and analysts in the CRM and customer space. We do our best to read their blogs and follow them on Twitter, and we thought that our readers would want to as well. So we decided to compile a list of the top 25 CRM influencers you should be following.

We looked for people who had a valuable and popular social media channel (e.g., blogging, tweeting) about CRM and customer engagement. If you’re building your customer-driven environment, you should be following these influencers. We made it easy for you to do so. By each influencer is their blog and Twitter handle. To quickly follow everyone on our list, make sure to subscribe to @Zoho’s Twitter list of Top 25 CRM influencers.

Did we pick correctly? Are there some people we missed that we should have added? If so, please let us know in the comments. We’ve listed the influencers in alphabetical order.

Prem Kumar Aparanji

1) Prem Kumar Aparanji @prem_k

Blog: SFH Blog

Prem Kumar Aparanji is a leading authority on Social CRM. He views SCRM as a combination of useful technology to engage in combination with the human element as to what motivates people. While he admits to not feeling comfortable with his business title of “Evangelist – Social CRM” at Cognizant, his writings would prove otherwise.

Aparanji’s CRM tip for 2012:
“Companies with CRM systems on-premises and considering cloud, chances are you might want to keep your existing system and only go cloud for newer use cases, BUs or geographies. Meaning you might want to have a hybrid setup.

Companies with toes dipped into social media, or may be even knee deep in it, you have not yet gone waist deep if you have not integrated it with CRM. You could try to swim in knee deep water, but not as much fun or effective.

And in general, if you want to survive the digital age, of which social and mobile are mere touch points, your business needs reorganization. Silos had their advantage, still have, but vastly reduced. This might be a very good year to start thinking so that you can avoid being the despotic rulers of the Middle East who were once heroes when they came in, but with age became the villains and got shot down.”

William Band

2) William Band @waband

Blog: William Band’s Blog for Business Process Professionals

Forrester researcher William Band analyzes CRM most often as it fits into an organization’s workflow. His varied analyses of “CRM meets BPM (Business Process Management)” have been some of his most popular musings, especially his “Top Thirteen Customer Management Trends for 2012.” If you’re wrestling with process, you need to be reading and following Band.

Band’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Turn your intent to deliver an outstanding customer experience from a mere aspiration into a strategy. More organizations are moving beyond empty goals like becoming ‘customer-obsessed’ and defining clear and actionable customer experience strategies. The strategy must meet three tests: 1) It defines the intended experience; 2) it directs employee activities and decision-making; and 3) it guides funding decisions and project prioritization. The intended experience specifies the target customers, describes the desired emotional response, and offers unique value. Directing decision-making means spelling out customer experience guiding principles for employees. Steering resources to the right projects means filtering funding requests using guidelines that includes customer criteria.”

Tristan Bishop

3) Tristan Bishop @knowledgebishop

Blog: KnowledgeBishop

Tristan Bishop is a passionate customer service advocate running Social CRM strategy at Symantec. He loves his job and Twittering where he’s far more active than he is on his blog. Microblogging more fits Bishop’s style as he shoots out dozens of pithy maxims every week. If you’re looking for a pick me up, following Bishop on Twitter will definitely help.

Bishop’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Momentum = Mass X Velocity: If you have a customer-centric vision, amass some allies and get MOVING!”

Richard Boardman

4) Richard Boardman @CRMAdvisor

Blog: The CRM Consultant

Boardman’s blog is chock full of good advice on how to actually implement CRM, not just from which technology to choose, but how to roll it out to your office and get people to actually use it. If you’re looking for a way to start, read Boardman’s eBook and his many “how to” articles.

Boardman’s CRM top for 2012:

“Remember while technology is important, so are people and process. It’s a three legged stool. If you don’t get all three legs right, then it won’t be a very stable system.”

Mike Boysen

5) Mike Boysen @MikeBoysen

Blog: Effective CRM

Like many CRM consultants Boysen’s charge is to deal with the human factor of integrating CRM solutions. Far too often we see technology purchased but meekly implemented. While Boysen posts only once a month on his blog, your best bet is to follow him on Twitter and Google+ where he’s most engaged.

Boysen’s CRM tip for 2012:

“The new year will bring us many new shiny packages to open. But once the wrappers are off we will find that nothing has really changed. Your job is to create shareholder value by creating value for and with your customers. Understand what drives value and build the organizational capabilities to manage it effectively.”

Laurence Buchanan

6) Laurence Buchanan @buchanla

Blog: The Customer Evolution

Having worked as both the VP of CRM at SAP and currently an executive consultant on CRM and SCRM at Capgemini, Laurence Buchanan is deeply entrenched in enterprise CRM issues. As for other’s obsession of chasing down the next fad, Buchanan asks, “How can we build stronger customer relationships based on true value co-creation that will be less susceptible to cannibalisation by passing fads?”

Buchanan’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Through 2012 I would advise organizations to simplify. Technology may have changed a great deal over the last few years but some of the key principles of CRM such as focusing on mutually beneficial relationships have not.”

Becky Carroll

7) Becky Carroll @bcarroll7

Blog: Customers ROCK!

You won’t find Becky Carroll gazing longingly at CRM statistics. She’d rather get deep in the trenches with customers and deal with them on the front line. Her company and blog “Customer’s ROCK!” speak to the value customers can bring to a company, not the expected resource drain that most organizations fear. For more on Becky, read her new book “The Hidden Power of Customers” or find her nose-to-nose with Verizon’s customers in their online forums, blogs, and idea exchange.

Carroll’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Customer experience needs to be a primary focus this year for both B2B and B2C companies. As customer service becomes more and more public via social media, it will also highlight inconsistencies in the way that customers are treated across the entire experience. Take a close look at your experience, from the eyes of your customers, and make sure your CRM initiatives are tied into what your customers are doing in social media. Remember – social media is not a campaign, it is a strategy to build relationships.”

Ginger Conlon

8 ) Ginger Conlon @customeralchemy

Blog: Think Customers: The 1to1 Blog

Ginger Conlon is one of the strongest editorial voices in CRM. She was formerly the editor-in-chief of CRM magazine and now is the editorial director of 1to1 Media, which is responsible for a series of customer-related editorial publications. With a team of writers, Conlon’s “Think Customers” blog is probably the most active of the CRM blogs.

Conlon’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Remember, CRM may be a business strategy, but it starts with people. Organizations that want to engage customers to build loyalty and advocacy must first have a culture that fosters employee engagement and loyalty—among all employees, not just those who are customer-facing. You can’t have the former without the latter.”

Barry Dalton

9) Barry Dalton @bsdalton

Blog: Customer Service Stories…and Other Thoughts

Barry Dalton does deliver customer service stories and admits when he’s delighted and extremely disappointed by customer service systems. Dalton’s service concern is not focused on the technology, but the actual interaction between vendor and customer. It’s up to the vendor to determine which technology to use.

Dalton’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Integrate. Integrate customer experience business processes, sales, marking, support strategies, and multichannel platforms to move towards a unified experience design and a cross-channel business model. Simple. Right?”

Michael Fauscette

10) Michael Fauscette @mfauscette

Blog: Michael Fauscette

Running IDC’s Software Business Solutions Group, Michael Fauscette’s interest in CRM is highly focused with enterprise software and collaboration tools. While Fauscette also has an interest in open source software, we’re more interested in his openness to look back at his predictions and grade his own success. Something we’d like to see a lot more of from analysts like Fauscette. Make sure to check out our interview with Fauscette and Brian Vellmure from the 2011 CRM Evolution Conference.

Fauscette’s CRM tip for 2012:

“You hear a lot about the social customer and how companies should engage more effectively. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in the idea of meeting your customer ‘when, where, and how’ the customer chooses but I’m afraid all of this external focus misses some key issues. If a business plans to open up new channels of communication to its customers it had better spend some time assessing its own culture. Is that culture built on collaborative approaches to work and are your internal policies built to align to company goals AND incent collaborative behavior? How do you expect to talk to your customer more effectively if your employees can’t talk to each other? Connecting the inside to the outside is part of it, but you also have to connect the inside to itself.”

Jon Ferrara

11) Jon Ferrara @Jon_Ferrara

Blog: The Social Business Blog

Back in 1989, Ferrara founded one of the industry’s first CRM standards, Goldmine CRM. He’s tackling CRM again with his newest venture, Nimble, which aims to be the ultimate contact database by integrating all your traditional and social communications.

Ferrara’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Hiring a Community Manager and sticking them in front of your company does not make it Social Business. Everyone in a company needs to Listen and Engage cause the conversation is that vast. Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Product, and Accounting need to tie their processes and platforms to the contacts that drive the business. Then they need to connect the external engagement and internal collaboration to their business contacts to create a platform that will enable them to become a true and effective Social Business.”

Paul Greenberg

12) Paul Greenberg @pgreenbe

Blogs: The 56 Group and ZDNet’s Social CRM: The Conversation

If CRM has a godfather, it would probably be Paul Greenberg. Not because he’ll leave a severed horse’s head in your bed, but because he keeps updating the industry’s bible, CRM at the Speed of Light, and is welcoming and challenging even the newest competitors, as he did just last year in a head-to-head contest entitled “CRM Idol.” Greenberg is probably the most omnipresent and longest lasting voice driving the entire CRM community.

Greenberg’s tip for 2012:

“Make sure that you incorporate communicating with your customers in social channels part of your CRM strategy when appropriate. A social strategy isn’t something separate from a CRM strategy.” 

Graham Hill

13) Graham Hill @grahamhill

Blog: Customer Think

Graham Hill’s charge is two-fold. Increase collaboration within the organization and co-create value for the company, its partners, and the customer. It’s a pretty damn good strategy, if you know how to pull it off. It’s also his CRM advice for this year. He’s a little slow on updating his blog so keep an eye on his Twitter feed.

Hill’s CRM tip for 2012:

“The way to win through CRM is to think about how you use it to co-create more VALUE. More value for customers, more value for delivery partners and thus, more value for YOU. Value is in the eye of the beholder, so go and find out what customers and partners value. You might be surprised.”

Jesús Hoyos

14) Jesús Hoyos @jesus_hoyos

Blog: Jesús Hoyos: CRM en Latinoamérica

There are a number of CRM voices in North America, but in Latin America, there is only one that everyone knows, Jesús Hoyos. If you can read Spanish you’ll enjoy all his musings, but not to worry he also has plenty of articles in English (see bottom of page), plus he uses Google Translate (see button on lower right) so you can read his CRM wisdom in English.

Hoyos’ CRM tips for 2012:

“(1) Before thinking on implementing a SocialCRM strategy make sure you fix your CRM problems, not just the technology part of it, but the cultural and organizational aspects as well. 

“(2) Audit your social media and CRM processes to include an integrated Customer Relationship Cycle – it is not just to acquire and retain a customer, but you need to maintain and maximize the relationship, including creating loyalty.

“(3) If you are not using customer analytics today, start by using simple analytics for segmentation – something like RFM – Recency, Frequency and Monetary – it helps identify who your best customers are.”

Esteban Kolsky

15) Esteban Kolsky @ekolsky

Blog: thinkJar

As Mr. “All things customer,” Esteban Kolsky looks at every angle of connection, with and without technology, to the customer. His blog is often “ground zero” for discussions on Big Data or what the current hype level of social CRM is. For the latter, Kolsky believes we’ve bypassed the hype and we’re on to see more changes and deeper adoption of SCRM.

Kolsky’s CRM tip for 2012:

“There are too many buzzwords and trends to do in CRM in 2012: voice of the customer, customer experience, social CRM, customer centricity — not to mention plain ole’ CRM! Make sure to stay focused on what matters to your organization, and that it is reflected in your CRM strategy for the next 2-3 years (you do have one, right?).”

Dr. Harish Kotadia

16) Dr. Harish Kotadia @hkotadia

Blog: Thoughts on Social CRM, Big Data Analytics and E2.0

Dr. Harish Kotadia is an advocate of social CRM and a strong practitioner as well. We like his case study analysis of social CRM, his staying topical on the issues, and the learnings he provides (e.g., “Have a Social Media Crisis Management Plan”). Kotadia’s blog is a great overall resource on all things social CRM with case studies, tips, and the latest news.

Kotadia’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Listen to, learn from, and engage your customers on Social Media channels in 2012.”

Marshall Lager

17) Marshall Lager @lager

Blog: Third Idea Consulting

Of the influencers on our list, Marshall Lager has some of the most hands-on experience testing and reviewing CRM applications. He believes the failure for many SMBs to jump on the CRM and SCRM bandwagon is they simply “don’t know what they don’t know” and don’t know what is actually out there. Lager hopes to be the one to advise. See our interview with Lager from the CRM Evolutions Conference of 2011.

Lager’s CRM tips for 2012:

(1) Take a little time to reevaluate your CRM needs and whether your current provider is meeting them. Vendors’ offerings are constantly evolving and there may be something out there you need but don’t know about. Migrating to a new system isn’t the headache you think it is.

“(2) If you haven’t looked at what’s happening in the social media world, you are really late to the game. Exploring it will cost you nothing, and will give you insight that you can’t put a dollar value on.

“(3) Think like a customer. You remember how to do that, don’t you?”

Brent Leary

18) Brent Leary @brentleary

Blog: Brent’s Social CRM Blog

As one of the foremost authorities on CRM, Brent Leary focuses his advice for small to medium-sized businesses. At the CRM Evolution conference in NYC we spoke with Leary on camera about what SMBs need to deploy true Social CRM, which isn’t just an ad-hoc mishmash of Facebook and Twitter account management.

Leary’s CRM tip for 2012:

“I think this year it’s critically important for businesses to transition from viewing ‘social’ as a set of narrowly aimed marketing/pr activities disconnected from traditional strategy, to it being fully integrated into all aspects of the organization’s culture and strategy for customer engagement.”

Mitch Lieberman

19) Mitch Lieberman @mjayliebs

Blog: A title would limit my thoughts

Hyper-prolific blogger, Lieberman is all things CRM with a recent heavy bent on Social CRM. As a companion to Graham Hill’s ideas about co-creating value between vendor, partner, and customer, Lieberman believes the social side of employee management (enterprise 2.0) and customer management (SCRM) are mirror images of each other, and they should be treated that way.

Lieberman’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Buzzwords aside, social has reminded us of one very important facet of relationships. A relationship is something that exists between two people, not a customer to be managed by a company. In order for any CRM initiative to be successful, think about the person on the other side of the equation, not the prospect, the lead, the case – it’s the person.”

Michael Maoz

20) Michael Maoz @mimaoz

Blog: Michael Maoz Gartner Blog

Michael Maoz’s blog is first and foremost a great read. You don’t usually get that from a Gartner analyst, but with Maoz you do. He begins most of his posts with a personal story that leads into his analysis of the social customer, social CRM, CRM vendors, social networks, and a whole host of customer management related issues.

Maoz’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Analytics can illuminate truths about the health of the customer engagement with your enterprise and debunk common assumptions of what the customer wants. The social business will extend this concept to understand not only the current transactional value a customer has for the business, but the likely ‘social factors’ that should influence decision making. For 85 percent of businesses, the current isolation of marketing from customer-facing functions like Customer Service will continue to get in the way of analytics having the most impact.”

Denis Pombriant

21) Denis Pombriant @DenisPombriant

Blog: Beagle Research Group: Analyzing front office software trends

Denis Pombriant is one of the most prolific CRM bloggers, not just for his own site, but also for CRM Magazine, DestinationCRM, Search CRM, and CRM Buyer. He has been on the forefront of the evolution of cloud computing, covering the issue as far back as 2004. Today his focus has been on how CRM can play a part in sustainable business processes.

Wim Rampen

22) Wim Rampen @wimrampen

Blog: Wim Rampen’s Blog

Our favorite Wim Rampen articles challenge the status quo of Social CRM and customer engagement. It appears the rest of his readers like them as well because posts such as “Destroying Customer Value,” “The Customer is Always Wrong,” and “The S in Scrm is NOT about Social Media” are some of his most commented posts. Join in on the controversy by following his blog and commenting.

Rampen’s CRM tip for 2012:

“There really is not one Tip for all seeking to improve their CRM efforts in 2012. Each and every situation requires its specific approach to research, ideate, design, prototype, implement, and iterate continuously. And in there lies my top tip for companies in any of the stages of maturity: Continuously assess your CRM capabilities against the evolving needs and desires of your employees, stakeholders, and customers. Define the gap and seek to improve first those capabilities that have a positive contribution to these three and your company will be a guaranteed fourth beneficiary.”

Doc Searls

23) Doc Searls @dsearls

Blog: Doc Searls Weblog

Doc Searls is a more unique addition to our list because he writes about VRM, vendor relationship management, which is kind of the reverse of CRM. As Searls explains on his ProjectVRM wiki: “VRM tools provide customers with both independence from vendors and better ways of engaging with vendors.” In addition, at more than 13 years, we believe Searls holds the title for blogging longer than anyone else on this list.

Brian Vellmure

24) Brian Vellmure @brianvellmure

Blog: Value Creator

Every day there are new innovative advances in CRM and while others marvel at the technologies and the data you can collect, Brian Vellmure puts that new knowledge into aggressive business-focused action. CRM is not just knowing the data, but knowing how deep we can deliver service and improve the bottom line now that we have the data.

Vellmure’s CRM tip for 2012:

“Increase the focus on your customer instead of just paying lip service. The trajectory towards the digitization of everything is paving the way for organizations to truly understand their customers better. Instead of just managing based on demographic information, the social web allows for the inclusion of socialgraphic, psychographic, and behavioral data to be included. But here’s my real tip – once you’ve figured out how to capture and make sense of the data, respond with something that resonates  (content, products, services, solutions, recommendations, etc.), and do so at each phase of the customer lifecycle.”


25) R “Ray” Wang @rwang0

Blog: A Software Insider’s Point of View

Not only does R “Ray” Wang aggressively analyze and advise the latest technologies in CRM, but he also uncovers unique and unforeseen uses of said technologies. While he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, you probably won’t find him there as his intense travel schedule sends him all over the world attending and speaking at conferences. Instead of chasing him all around the world, it’s best to just read his blog and follow him on Twitter. Check out our interview with Wang at the 2011 CRM Evolution Conference.

Wang’s CRM tips for 2012:

“(1) Remember that we spent too much time on the ‘M’ management, very little on the ‘C’ customer, and nothing on the ‘R’ relationship in CRM. In order to overcome abysmal adoption, stale campaigns, disgruntled sales teams, and lackluster service, now’s the time to reexamine the customer experience processes and see how disruptive technologies such as mobile, social, gamification, location based services, etc play a role.

“(2) Focus on the moving from transaction to engagement and then experience. The big shift in technology systems is happening. CRM is at the heart of this movement. Start with great design.”

Analyse your Business Reports – Now in 9 Languages!

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Besoin d'informations plus détaillées sur vos données Google Adwords?
Möchten Sie analysieren, wie sich Ihr Umsatz nach Produkten/Regionen entwickelt hat?
Mi chiedevo come stia andando ciascuna delle sue campagne di marketing?
Gostaria de acompanhar continuamente a métrica de desempenho dos seus colaboradores?
¿Necesita un análisis profundo de los indicadores de sus finanzas?

We humans usually tend to think and question in our native language. And then we convert those thoughts to the language we want to speak in. As a non-native speaker of English, I hear this advice quite often:

If you want to master English, think in English.

But asking everyone to change their way of thinking is not possible/fair. When it comes to using a product, how nice would it be to experience the UI not just in English but to have it in your own native language?

Whatever language you are asking your business questions in, Zoho Reports now makes it a bit easier for you. Yes, Zoho Reports’ UI is now available in 9 different languages – Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish.

If you are a speaker of any of the above languages and have your browser’s locale set to your native language, you will see the Zoho Reports UI in that language. In case you have a different language setting in your browser, you can go to and change to your native language there.

Try Zoho Reports in your own native language. Let us know how the experience was and what more languages you would like support for.

ps: The questions at the beginning of the post in English.

Need to drill down deep into your sales numbers?
Need insights into your Google Adwords data?
Want to analyze how your sales has performed for different products/regions?
Wondering how each of your marketing campaigns are faring?
Need to analyze your website traffic?
Like to continually track your employees' performance metrics?
Need an in depth analysis of your finance numbers?

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