Deconstucting the D-Tools/Zoho CRM System – The D-Tools Email Marketing Engine

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Introduction here: For the most part I have spent the last five weeks in front of my computer, listening to Sirius Radio (The Vault), eating seeds (Art’s Sunflower and Pumpkin) and deconstructing the D-Tools/Zoho CRM system. In tough economic times sometimes the only thing you can do is to fine tune your internal business processes to stay ahead. This has the double advantage of making your company more competitive and efficient and when the economy improves (it always does) you will be in position to immediately capitalize on it. But before you can fine tune your processes you need to make sure you have the right tools for the job.

In our case our BPM tool of choice is Zoho CRM. With some exceptions Zoho CRM is one of those rare software products that is simple enough to immediately provide some value and sophisticated enough to scale thorough complex business process re-engineering. But I digress…

So I spent a fair amount of time analyzing and re-engineering our lead gathering, qualifying and marketing process’s. The ultimate goal of this was to somehow classify each lead in the system across many different areas so we could communicate more efficiently with them. The final outcome of all this work is what I like to call the “D-Tools Email Marketing Engine”.

Email marketing is perhaps the most cost effective and efficient way to reach your audience. However this is a not a secret technique and is also perhaps the most overused and abused form of marketing today. To be effective in this form of marketing you need to be able target your message right down to the individual. These days the only attention you get is the time it takes to read the subject line. A general message will usually go right into the trash.

With that in mind I created the D-Tools Lead Marketing Engine flowchart. Notice how the process starts general and then gets more specific through industry, category all the way down to the job function of the individual. This way I can easily send a message about wire labels to installers in the Broadcast industry while sending a different message about estimating and proposals to sales people in the Residential AV-Automation industry from a recent trade show.

In Zoho CRM this is as easy as creating a custom list view like one above and selecting the message template. Instantly a targeted, personalized (semi) custom message is sent out to the leads that match the criteria. The beauty of this is that the individual SA or SC can send very personalized and topical messages to their qualified leads while the D-Tools marketing department can send general company messages to the all of the unqualified leads. With this system we can now effectively market to our customer segments without sending out a message that would have no value to the recipient.

With this post I am finally happy with our lead gathering, qualifying and marketing processes. I have fully documented this process here and have communicated to each member of our sales team. Not only do we now have a rock solid process but each person on the team knows exactly what is expected of them and how to do their job.

The nice thing about automation and documentation at this level is that once it is done I can forget about it and move on to other areas. If we need to add a someone to the sales team it is simple enough to point them to these series of posts without revisiting in detail.

The next series of posts will deal with the conversion process from a Qualified Lead to a Prospect with a Potential.

Stay tuned.

Adam Stone is a Zoho CRM customer and CEO/Founder of D-Tools Software.

Zoho Plugin : Publish files to Zoho Share from Microsoft Office

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Want to publish your offline Microsoft Word / Excel into Zoho Share? The new option – ‘Publish in Zoho Share’ in Zoho Plugin for Microsoft Office helps in doing this. The latest version of the plugin supports .DocX files format too along with the usual .Doc & .Xls ones.

From the plugin menu, select the ‘Publish in Zoho Share’ option and select the appropriate (Creative Commons) license to proceed. Now your offline file gets into the Zoho’s Centralized Public RepositoryZoho Share.

Download Zoho Plugin for Microsoft

Click here to download the Zoho Plugin for Microsoft Office. To know more about the existing and the new feature set, refer here & here.

Try our latest Zoho Plugin for Microsoft Office, and feel free to send in your feedback / suggestions to support [at] zoho [dot] com.

Zoho People Update : Leave Reports, SSL Support, Zoho Chat/Sheet Integration

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After our “Dummy Employee” update, we have done few updates and here are the highlights.

Leave Report

  • You can enforce leave policy specifying the limit for different types of leave
  • You can configure the time period for leave calculation in either days or hours and can exclude holidays from leave calculation
  • You can manage accruals.
  • Employees can now view their consolidated leave report and Managers can view their team members leave report
  • You can enable approval process for leave requests wherein the manager can either allow or disallow team member’s leave request. Hence improve employee productivity with automated workflows.

Filter based on approval status

Filter your view of requests for approval based on approval status, e.g., view the Leave application requests based on their approval status

Enhanced search
Search employees based on different criterion like on Last Name, First Name, Department ID etc

Integration with Zoho Sheet
You can now export your data as spreadsheet to Zoho Sheet. It has opened up a wide range of possibilities for you to process the data for reports, calculations etc

Added support for more doc types in upload
You can now upload docs of different formats like doc, rtf, html, pdf etc using the “upload doc” field.

SSL Support:
Zoho People is now more secure for paid users. SSL support is enabled for paid users. Paid users who have already embedded their forms in website need to re-embed the form to enable SSL support.

Online Subscription

You can subscribe to different user packs from your Zoho People account itself

Other Enhancements
You can now disable system fields too. From now on all the fields can be disabled.

Export view – You can now export only the data pertaining to the criteria set in customized view created by you instead of the whole data of the form.

Chat Integration
Zoho Chat is integrated right into Zoho People. You can now chat with all your Zoho Contacts without leaving the Zoho People application. This would tremendously increase your employee productivity with instant communication. Chat with your teammates using the chat bar on the bottom.

Test drive the latest features in Zoho People and let us know your feedback.

Deconstucting the D-Tools/Zoho CRM System – The D-Tools Lead Qualifying Engine

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Introduction here. I changed the title of this series from Explaining the D-Tools Zoho CRM system to Deconstructing the D-Tools Zoho CRM System because I realized that as I was trying to explain it I was tearing it apart an re-configuring it as I was explaining it. Just the act of explaining it made me realize it could be improved. In fact that explains my silence for the past few weeks. I have been deep inside our system trying to make it more reliable, easier to use, easier to explain, more accurate and ultimately more productive for all the users.

In the previous Lead Management post I went over our Lead Status qualification rules and explained how we implemented a Pre Qualification score. So far this has been extremely helpful in allowing our SA’s to see which leads needed to be contacted first. Since more targeted marketing has already produced results I added a Pre-Qual score of “4-Great” indicating that the lead record includes a corporate email address, a professional website, a phone number and a Job Function. Again this allows our SA’s to focus on the most productive leads first.

Check it out, when a new lead comes into the system the SAM evaluates the lead, follows the path on the chart, fills in the missing information, gives it a Pre-Qual score and assigns the lead to an SA based on the territory.

At this point the discovery (not sales) process begins and all the SA has to do is create a custom view (see this post on custom list views) in Zoho with “their” leads sorted by date created and/or Pre Qual score and it is clear which leads need to be contacted first. The lead status is still unqualified but once the SA makes some sort of personal contact with the the lead the status is elevated to a Qualified C status. If the Lead fills out a Lead Worksheet it is upgraded to a Qualified B and if the Leads attends a webinar or installs the trial it is then it is upgraded to a Qualified A status. At that point it would be assigned to a SC if the lead expressed interest in moving forward.

Notice that during this process the lead elevates themselves by actually doing something each step of the way and each step requires a little more commitment? This process has a number of advantages. First of all we now have a common definition of each Lead Status. We know exactly where the lead is at and more importantly we know exactly what to do next. For example if a lead is at the Qualified C status we know that they have not filled out a lead worksheet. Using the Zoho mass email function we can easily and instantly create a targeted email to all of the Qualified C’s and attach a worksheet.

The bottom line is that we now have an easy to use, efficient and scalable process for getting through all of our leads and only engaging the leads that have expressed genuine interest. This is good for us and ultimatly it is good for our customers because we have now focused our presentation on THEIR needs and issues. In addition everything is documented each step of the way.

Also it needs to be mentioned that this process is only possible with a well designed and properly implemented CRM system. Don’t try this at home with Outlook, ACT or god forbid Oasis CRM.

Here is a pdf of the entire D-Tools Lead Qualifying Engine document that the screen shots above were taken from. Here is a copy of the D-Tools Lead worksheet mentioned above. The Lead Worksheet form is pretty interesting, it is a basic pdf form but what we did was use the interactive elements of Adobe Designer to create form with drop down pick lists. This makes it much easier for the end user to fill out and the choices match the choices in our CRM system.

Adam Stone is a Zoho CRM customer and CEO/Founder of D-Tools Software.

Commonwealth Youth Games 2008 – Official Reports and Statistics powered by Zoho Reports

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You might recall the Beijing Olympics 2008 Dashboard that we did recently using Zoho Reports, which was well received. Coming to know about Zoho Reports through this Dashboard, we were contacted by the Official website hosting partner of Commonwealth Youth Games 2008, which is currently being held in Pune, India between 12th-18th October 2008.

They offered us the opportunity to host the Official Reports and Statistics of the Youth Commonwealth Games 2008 in their Website using Zoho Reports. We readily accepted the invitation and worked with them to bring out the Reports and Statistics of the games using Zoho Reports.

Checkout the same @
Games official website: (Navigate to the “Results Statistics”” section from the home page to view the reports)

Commonwealth Youth Games 2008

We would like to thank Dimakh Consultants, the official website hosting partner of Commonwealth Youth Games 2008 for providing this opportunity.

Hope you like it. Let us know your feedback on the same. Also, feel free to contact us (support at zohoreports dot com), in case you require any help in solving your reporting needs of your business using Zoho Reports. We would be more than happy to help you out.

Zoho Reports – Online Reporting & BI Service

Zoho Projects Case Study :

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Glad to share with our readers how is using Zoho Projects. is a company offering web development solutions. They not only design websites but also provide database development, document imaging, merchant services etc. Tone Williams, who owns the company explains in his own words, how he and his team are effectively using Zoho Projects.

Our Design Process involves dozens of tasks divided into 6 phases. We are able to quickly incorporate our existing process into Zoho Projects using the Tasks & Milestones area. We group tasks into Task Lists, and Task Lists into Milestones, which matches the phases of our design process. Furthermore, the system is flexible enough to create “Project Templates”, which inserts all tasks, task lists, and milestones into a brand new project in a single click! This saves our Project Manager an enormous amount of administrative/set-up time and practically eliminates human error during the set-up process.

The Dashboard allows our team members to review what is going on with a particular project, including the most recent documents uploaded, the most recent forum entries, and the items assigned to that member for the entire week. The Dashboard is referred to several times a day, since things change regularly with every project.

One of our most frequently used areas is the Forums. This is our central place of communication between our employees, contractors, suppliers, and customers. We oftentimes use categories to organize our conversations, since a single project may involve several services. In the above example, the client has a Web Maintenance Plan, and can request us to update the company website on-demand. Because the client also uses us for Merchant Services, we categorize e-commerce related enquiries/posts under “Merchant Service Items”.

More details about this case study here. Do tell us how you are using Zoho Projects in the comments or by filling up this form.

Zoho Mail Launches with Offline Support

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Over the past three years, we launched several new applications in Zoho, but one particular application has been in the background silently making progress during its private-beta stage – Zoho Mail.

Today, Zoho Mail is stepping out of private-beta. This is an important milestone for Zoho as Zoho Mail plays a pivotal role in our suite’s evolution. There is lot to talk about, so let us drill down into details.

\With or without\


Instead of talking about all the features in Zoho Mail, I’ll share the approach we have taken in Zoho Mail and let you explore all the features.

Zoho Mail supports folders (including hierarchical folders) – the ones you are used to. But then, we also see the value of having Labels in your mail client. So we added labels support too. We don’t want to decide what you should use. We want to give you the choice. So we added support for both Folders and Labels.

Along the same lines, we noticed that some users prefer seeing a list of their emails serially (Ex: the Outlook style) and some users prefer viewing the emails as conversations (Ex: Gmail style). Again, we don’t want to decide what you have to use. So we support both. In conversations, responses are listed hierarchically so that you can look at a conversation and visually see who responded to whom.

Threaded/Conversational View in Zoho Mail

These are couple of examples on the approach we used for Zoho Mail. We do support all the common features you’d expect from an email system. I have included the list of supported features in this document.

Zoho Mail also has Zoho Chat Integrated. We understand that you spend most of the time in your email app. It is important to have Chat integrated right into it. You’ll find the same version of Zoho Chat integrated with other applications like Zoho Business, Zoho Docs etc.

You can chat while you are in Zoho Mail

Apart from Zoho Chat integration, we also integrate our productivity suite. You can now open your attachments (like documents, spreadsheets) with appropriate Zoho Applications.

Offline Support

Zoho Mail also supports Offline mode. This means you can access your email when not connected to the internet. Like Zoho Writer, this functionality is built using Google Gears.

To use Zoho Mail in offline mode, you’ll notice the ‘Setup Offline’ link on the top. You’ll need Google Gears installed on your browser (IE & Firefox are supported currently) to use offline support. Once you permit access, your mails will be accessible offline. You can choose to download images & attachments as well in the offline mode.

Zoho Mail automatically detects your connectivity and switches to online/offline modes seamlessly. While offline, you can view your emails as you would normally.

We had a chat with Brad Neuberg from Google Gears team regarding offline support.

Mobile Support

Zoho Mail is also available on iPhone. If you login to from your iPhone, you’ll find the mobile version of Zoho Mail optimized for the iPhone. We do plan to support other mobile devices soon.

If you have access to Zoho Business, Zoho Mail is also integrated into Zoho Business.

Zoho Mail is integrated with Zoho Business

Over the next few weeks we will be talking in detail about some of the key features in Zoho Mail. Meanwhile, please do give Zoho Mail a spin and let us know your feedback.