Mr. Benioff, Tear Down That Wall

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Marc Benioff, CEO of, talks about how Salesforce is all for sweetness and love and openness and all the good things. As VentureBeat reports:

Comparing Microsoft and Salesforce, Benioff said: “They hate everybody and we love everybody, and that’s pretty much the difference. We even love Microsoft. … This is our core strategy, love.”

Now, where do I begin? As I have recounted elsewhere, our dalliance with Salesforce began with their invitation to us to take part in their AppExchange (now renamed ecosystem. They said they knew we had a CRM offering of our own, but still felt our online office suite would be a good addition to their ecosystem. We assigned an engineering team to do the integration, had a bunch of meetings and calls with their technical team, and with their full support, we completed the integration work. It was literally days from launch when we got the call: the VP in charge of AppExchange told us the project was on hold and  Benioff would be calling me.

That’s when I got the full measure of the man: Benioff told me he could not permit us to play on the AppExchange as things stood, but he would be happy to acquire us. We had several rounds of meetings on this,  finally I told him I really don’t see any cultural compatibility between the companies. He changed tack and repeatedly tried to get us to discontinue Zoho CRM, in return we would get to play on AppExchange. I was furious because both Benioff and his team clearly knew we had a CRM offering going into this engagement, and if they had set this as a pre-condition for us to integrate into AppExchange, we would never have put in the resources we did.

Since then, Salesforce has repeatedly tried to block customers from migrating to Zoho CRM, by telling them (falsely) that they cannot take their data out of Salesforce until their contract duration is over. We have emails from customers recounting this.

Now, realize that we face a far, far bigger competitor in Google, and yet we have nothing but praise for the way they have worked with us. In the grand scheme of things, we are not going to be killed by Salesforce, that’s for sure. I have no personal animosity – even today, we would integrate Zoho into if they would let us, because that would benefit our customers and theirs – but when I read an interview where he blatantly spins a story starkly in condradiction to reality I have personal knowledge of, I have to call him on it.

The D-Tools/Zoho CRM System – Lead Conversion Process

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Introduction here: So far I have spent most of my time re-engineering our Zoho CRM system on the Leads side of the process. Before I started I thought we had a pretty good system but I noticed some pretty serious gaps and have worked hard to correct them and refine the process. At this point I am very happy with the Leads aspect of the system and more importantly the sales team is happy as well. In fact the new processes are already generating revenue and positive customer feedback.

So what happens when a lead expresses interest in purchasing something? What is the next step? Take a look at the screen shot below. Notice how the Lead downloaded a trial, all important fields are in the record, the lead has been pre-qualified, the lead status is A Qualified and the note says that the lead is interested in pricing information.

At this point the SA’s job is almost finished. They have a perfectly qualified lead with all the proper documentation and history as part of the Lead Record. The only thing left to do is Convert the Lead into an Account, Contact and Potential by hitting the Convert button at the top of the Lead record. This brings up the Convert Lead UI and a number of interesting and very well thought out things happen with just a few clicks of the mouse. The Convert Lead function in Zoho allows the current Lead owner, the SA to:

  1. Assign the appropriate SC and send an email to the new Account Owner
  2. Create a potential on Conversion. A “Potential” in Zoho is a named opportunity with an amount and close date associated with an Account. For the most part we use Potentials when converting an Account and then rank the Potential on the likelihood of closing. If this box is checked the Potential will NOT be created but the Account and Contact will be created.
  3. Name the Potential, the system automatically fills in the Account name and the user would add what the specific Potential name is, in this case 10 seats of Pro.
  4. Edit the Potential close date and the Potential Stage, the closer to close the higher the ranking percentage.
  5. Identify the decision making role of the Contact.
  6. Edit the approximate amount of the Potential

Click Save and watch the magic happen: A new Account is created and the SC is notified. This Account has the name, address, territory info from the Lead. It creates a new Contact under the Account with the Contact and Lead Source info from the Lead. The Potential linked to the Account and the Contact. All of the attachments, activities, tasks and notes are appropriately linked. All this with one click! All the SC has to do is enter the appropriate Account Type = Prospect and Account Rating = Active in this case.

I should mention that this process requires almost zero set up and implementation. In fact it is so smart that it will attempt to warn the user that there is another duplicate Account record and offer to merge the two on conversion. This is a common problem in all CRM systems when there are multiple contacts in the Leads section under the same account. Zoho CRM gets it right out of the box and preserves all of the valuable Lead information on conversion.

Here is a pdf document of all the things that happen when you convert a Lead. It is hard to explain how complex this process is without dredging up all of the details that make it happen. Suffice to say that the logic behind the process is subtle but very well thought out and pretty much works right out of the box. I guess that is the difference between good and great software. The great software hides the complexity but not the power.

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

5 Zoho Docs Features You Should Know About

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It’s been a couple of months since we launched Zoho Docs, the integrated console for all your business-related files. Let’s look at some of its useful features in detail.

1. Multiple-level folders : With Zoho Docs, you can create a folder hierarchy structure. For those of you Web 2.0-ers, Zoho Docs also supports tags (labels).

2. Re-arrange files and folders : You can click on one or more files, drag and place them in a particular folder. Folders can be re-arranged too by drag-and-drop.

3. Upload zip files : You can zip your desktop files and have them in Zoho Docs as an online backup. After uploading a zip file, you can unzip it inside Zoho Docs. The same folder order that you had zipped them in gets re-created in Zoho Docs.

4. Share multiple files with a group : You can share multiple files to one or more of your friends, colleagues or contacts. Make a group by listing the email addresses of the persons and choose the files to be shared to this group.

5. Search : You can search within your Zoho Docs files.

Try Zoho Docs. More features coming soon.

Zoho featured in article

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In an article about Microsoft’s announcement-of-an-announcement regarding its web-based Office offering, Anita Hamilton writes about Zoho and quotes our Raju Vegesna. Excerpts :

“I think it’s about time the Office suite is free,” says Zoho’s tech evangelist Raju Vegesna. “We paid $500 for an Office suite when the price of the hardware was $5,000. Now the price of the hardware has come down to $500, and it doesn’t really make any sense for a piece of software to cost $500.”

For most users, however, free Web apps are really all you need. And they’re getting better all the time. Zoho has spreadsheet, word-processing, presentation and organizing programs, and lets you work both online and off; it even has an iPhone app.

Before you pay even the lowest price for Microsoft Office, give Zoho or Google Docs a try. They aren’t confusing, and they won’t make you feel stupid. To make absolutely sure, I became my own guinea pig. I typed this story in Zoho Writer, even though I had never even tried it until this week.

Thanks to Anita & TIME.

Zoho supports Google IDP

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Few months back we added the ability to login to Zoho with your Google and Yahoo! Accounts. It was an instant success as we received good feedback from users and observed more users using Zoho than before.

The approach we started with had its limitations. We used AuthSub interface which wasn’t primarily intended for authentication as were requesting permission to access the Contacts from user’s Google account. Also, with this approach, you had to grant access to Zoho every time you used your Google credentials to login to Zoho.

Today, Google released Google IDP and we are glad to be part of it. Zoho now uses Google IDP, replacing AuthSub. This means, with this new approach, when you login to Zoho with your Google account, you just authorize Zoho to obtain your email address alone from Google (unlike obtaining the entire contact list in the previous case). More details on this are available in the Google IDP Authorization page.

This new approach comes with an important advantage. As you see in the screenshot above, if you enable  ‘Allow to remember me’ option, you can automatically sign-in to Zoho with a single click when you are already signed in to Google. This is a great advantage compared to the previous approach where you had to grant access every time you login with your Google credentials.

We’d like to thank Google for inviting us to participate in this initiative and thank our Zoho Accounts team which has been doing an awesome job under the hood to provide smoother experience to our users. The team has more exciting things coming.

What Microsoft Didn’t announce…

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There has been lot of talk about what Microsoft has announced about its upcoming Online Office announcement. I just wanted to talk briefly about what Microsoft didn’t announce about its cloud Office.

We respect Microsoft and as we often say, for Microsoft, doing an online version of their Office suite is…

  • NOT a technology challenge
  • IS an economic challenge
What Microsoft announced yesterday was the technology part, which is easy for them. What they didn’t announce is actually more important in this particular case, which is the business model and how they are going to make money from this without cannibalizing their existing revenue from their office suite. After all, that part of business has 85% operating profit and as Larry Ellison recently pointed out, SaaS is a low margin business.

What I am waiting to hear is how the online version of Office will be priced and whether it mandates the purchase of an Office suite to use the online version etc. I guess there are many questions than answers at this point. As Nick Carr puts it
The outcome will be determined not only by whether Microsoft will be able to maintain its dominance of the Office market but also by whether it can maintain the outsized revenues and profits it has long enjoyed in that market.

A better way to explain this is obviously with a toon…

Zoho People : Integration with Resume Parsing Tool, ResumeGrabber

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One of the biggest pain points recruiters face is populating their resume database with resumes from different sources like mail attachments, desktop folders, job portals etc. And with the web 2.0 wave, these sources have extended to social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn etc too. Recruiters typically spend anywhere between 60-90% of their time manually updating the resume database. Where as this time can be spent more usefully to connect with prospective candidates or improving their placement ratio.

Enter resume parsing tools and they play an important role in increasing the productivity of recruiters. Zoho People is now integrated with eGrabber’s flagship product, resume parser tool –ResumeGrabber Pro. Entering resumes manually are a thing of the past now and Zoho People users can extract resumes directly from email attachments, folders, job portals, social sites, Google search results etc into their Zoho People account using this tool.

The salient features of this tool :

Powerful Search
Scans for resumes from search engine results, resume websites, e-mails and PC folders.

Smart Filter
Resume Identification Technology accurately recognizes and displays only resumes from a bunch of documents.

Intelligent Analyzer
Identifies candidate contact details in the resume and transfers it to your database.

Save Resumes
Save search results and labels ‘hot’ candidates for future reference.

Duplicate Check
Checks for duplicates against your Zoho People account before adding the resume. Saves time that you would otherwise spend on processing multiple records of the same candidate.

How to set up Zoho People and ResumeGrabber integration :

  1. Download and install ResumeGrabber (10 days trial available).
  2. Click ‘Menu’ on the ResumeGrabber toolbar and choose ‘Options ‘.
  3. From the left panel navigation, choose ‘Destination setup’ under ‘Options’ menu.
  4. Choose Zoho People from the ‘Set destination application as’ and click ‘Transfer Options’.
  5. Provide your Zoho People account details, and click ‘Login’.
  6. Duplicate check can be configured from ‘Transfer Options’.
  7. Map/Enter the default value related to Zoho People’s resume form fields, click OK to close ‘Destination setup’ window
  8. Now, choose your resume source (Selected folder, MS-Outlook, Google Search, Yahoo Search, …) on the ‘From’ drop down on the ResumeGrabber tool bar.
  9. If the source is ‘Selected folder‘, select the desired resumes or all resumes from your PC folders and click ‘Grab’ from ResumeGrabber Pro tool.
  10. ResumeGrabber would capture all/selected resumes and display in its evaluation grid.
  11. You can screen the resumes and select the desired ones (by choosing checkboxes) and click ‘Transfer’.
  12. Login to your Zoho People account in the browser to see the transferred resumes in the resume pool.

This demo video shows how to grab resumes from Microsoft Outlook using ResumeGrabber and make them available in Zoho People.

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