Things That Work Well in ZOHO CRM: – Sheet View

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Introduction here

As far as I know Sheet View is exclusive to ZOHO CRM. A common task (chore) in the management of any CRM system is editing large swaths of data at once. Some systems like Oasis CRM only give you a really crappy (trust me) mass update function. Other systems like Salesforce make you export to Excel to update a bunch of records and then re-import. (not fun)

ZOHO has a great mass update function that works as expected but sometimes you want to be able to change selected records as a group. For example changing just certain records to a new sales territory without changing all of them at once. You want to be able to get a view of all the possibles, sort as needed and then make the changes as needed. Common problem in the CRM admin world and until now I have not seen a good solution until I started working with the ZOHO CRM Sheet View.

Check it out. In this case I want to add a Sub-Territory to the main Territory. All I have to do is create a custom list view of the information. Press the ZOHO Sheet View link and I get an instant ZOHO Spreadsheet of the exact data presented in a new browser tab.

Once I am in the ZOHO Sheet View I can use any normal spreadsheet functions to copy, add cells change case, whatever I want can be done in the spreadsheet and when I hit save the records are automatically updated in the CRM system.

Very well implemented feature, totally useful, easy to use and HUGE time saver.

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

John Conroy @ CMSWire on Zoho

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CMSWire’s John Conroy has an interesting take on Zoho and our parent company AdventNet, in an article titled ‘Why Web Startups Work Better as Divisions of Larger Companies‘. Excerpts :

Startups in the Web applications arena can take a lot of lessons from Zoho: its extremely rapid development cycle, its attitude to monetization and to PR. And, by no means least, the way it scaled. And this latter element owes a lot to the fact that Zoho does not stand alone.

Zoho is a division of AdventNet, a multi-focus software developer which sells OEM, other database software and a multitide of enterprise products, and has been kicking around the scene since the mid-nineties. Crucial in Zoho’s success has been the presence of the parent company, which can pump manpower and financial resources into a blossoming start-up to mitigate against exploding servers, user downtime, and buggy applications. And hopefully do it as quickly as necessary, which today, for any Web service, means NOW.

Thanks to John & CMSWire.

Automatic Payment Reminders For Invoices

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Our goal is to make invoicing fast, easy and painless for our customers. When we say invoicing, we include the entire process of creating, sending, tracking and managing the invoices. More often than not, tracking and following-up for payments takes a lot of time and energy than the other activities. We clearly understand this. So, here we are in line with our goal introducing a brand new feature “Automatic Payment Reminders” which we hope will definitely help reduce your pain points.

Yes, now you can automate the process of sending payment reminders to your customers. We have tried to make this feature as flexible as possible (at least that is what we think :~))

  1. You can specify when each of these reminders has to be sent. Say for example you can configure that the first reminder has to be sent 2 days after the invoice due date, the second one 14 days after the due date and the third one 21 days after the due date.
  2. You have full control over the content of each of these reminders, still better you can make use of the placeholders in the content.
  3. You also have complete control over who has to be notified via each of these reminders. You can send it to yourself or send it to your customers directly and have yourself copied.

Configuring these automatic payment reminders is simple,

  1. Click on the “Settings” link and select the “Payment Reminders” link under “Invoice Settings”.
  2. In the “Payment Reminder” page that comes up each of these reminders can be configured by clicking on the appropriate row in the table.
Invoice Payment Reminders Settings

You can try out this feature by signing into Zoho Invoice now. We would definitely like to hear your comments and don’t forget to drop us a note when you enjoy using this feature.

Happy Invoicing

Phil Anderson interviews Ian Wenig

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Phil Anderson of Business News Americas recently interviewed Ian Wenig, our Senior Director of Business Development about Zoho’s business model, our foray into the Latin American market etc. Excerpts from the interview,

BNamericas: Several Latin American governments are actively supporting open source and free software. Are governments the core of your game plan in the region then?

Wenig: Our understanding is that in South America most of the users will be in organizations of 500 people or more – that’s where most IT spending is. So we’re not specifically targeting governments… it doesn’t really depend on the size of the organization, it depends more on the hearts and minds of the individuals – some people really get it [web-based, working online etc] and some larger organizations really don’t get it.

The few partners we have are evangelizing it. Our partner in Colombia has deep connections with telcos, and one of the telcos did a small survey which showed that CRM was of interest, but not so much the office applications (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool) – but we don’t know how big of a pool of respondents they had.

My feeling is that the top five countries in Latin America – Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina – will probably prove more important than Europe without including the UK during 2008-09. There are a variety of factors why non-UK Europe is more conservative – a combination of people’s comfort, philosophy and orientation. People are more worried about privacy and their data. There are also a lot of regulations, such as requirements that applications must be hosted in datacenters that are physically in Europe.

BNamericas: You’re also up against Google’s range of online applications, and maybe you even missed the boat with respect to possibly being bought out by Google?

Wenig: No, we’re capitalizing on “the larger boat” that Google is helping to build. Google gives credibility to the whole [web-based services] industry on one level. More and more people are using it as a result.

But if you compare Zoho with Google’s office suite and see the depth of our apps, that’s where [the similarity] ends. Anyone will tell you that we are about 30% more advanced in terms of the features, if you look at Google’s Office Suite. For instance in our spreadsheet application we recently launched macros and pivot tables. The 30% difference also goes for Zoho Business compared to Google’s equivalent, Google Docs. And there are several other business applications that Google doesn’t even have – like project management, CRM or our Creator database application.

So people view Google as being more orientated to the consumer side and they see Zoho more for business. But we can take advantage of Google’s marketing reach and ride with it. In fact as of last month Google and Yahoo users are able to sign into Zoho instantly, using their Google or Yahoo password. So we’re also penetrating into the consumer space.

We actually have a very good relationship with Google – Zoho Writer is one of the applications chosen by Google to use its Google Gears system for offline support [so Zoho users can use the application offline]. We view them as a good ecosystem partner.

Thanks to Phil &!

Finding the right CRM solution

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This post is part five from my company blog detailing my history with CRM.  You can start here if you can’t sleep and want to read the first four parts.  This post specifically deals with how I found Zoho CRM and how it compared with some of the CRM industry leaders.

I did not want to make the same mistake twice.  We looked in depth at all the viable CRM apps currently available.  At one point I realized that we should have just bitten the bullet and stayed with NetSuite.  The $200K we lost with Oasis CRM would have covered us for five years with NetSuite.  I am fond of saying the two biggest mistakes I have made in business were going with NetSuite and leaving NetSuite.  Kind of like buying a boat I guess.

The short list was narrowed down to Microsoft CRM,, Entellium CRM and ZOHO CRM.

I looked at MS CRM a year ago and I could not get my head around it.  It needed a lot of hardware and middleware and it really looked like more of a CRM platform than a CRM solution.  Everything had to be customized to get any functionality out of it.  We took another look at it this year and pretty much all agreed that it still was not right for our business.

I implemented Salesforce for a non-profit that I volunteer for.  In general very good software but in order to get the full solution we were going to have to integrate with three other vendors for campaign integration, accounting integration and proposals.  Not only was that getting very expensive it was going to be a very tippy boat trying to get all that implemented.  As a straight CRM app it really stands at the top of the heap

Entellium seemed to be a solid middle ground product.  The UI looked kind of weird but seemed to be very functional and they had some sort of early beta of a QuickBooks interface.  It also seemed to be fairly priced for the functionality.

I first looked at ZOHO CRM to use for the non-profit I work with because of the price.  At the time $12 per user/month after the third user.  About two weeks into the ZOHO CRM implementation for the non-profit was approved for a free, one year 10 seat Enterprise Salesforce account that we had applied for a month ago.  I abandoned ZOHO CRM because we were just handed 11K worth of enterprise class software from the industry’s leading vendor.  ZOHO CRM was too cheap to be any good anyway.

As I was implementing Salesforce for the non-profit I realized that it was very similar to ZOHO CRM.  At one point I started implementing a feature in Salesforce and then I would try and implement the same feature in ZOHO CRM.  ZOHO CRM matched Salesforce feature for feature but for the most part the ZOHO implementation was easier and cleaner.

I will post a more in-depth comparison between all of the platforms but to the end the history lesson we decided to implement ZOHO CRM for D-Tools and I just abandoned the free Salesforce account for the non-profit and re-implimented ZOHO CRM for them.

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

HowTo : Use Zoho CRM to Send a Newsletter

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Needless to say, we are heavy users of the various Zoho apps ourselves. Most of our help docs are on Zoho Wiki. We embed Zoho Show slide shows in our blog posts (even this post has one embedded below). Let me give you a latest example. We recently reached the 1 million user mark and wanted to share this glad news to our Newsletter subscribers. Here’s how we did/do it :

  1. When a user chooses the ‘Subscribe to Zoho Newsletter’ check box when he/she registers, they are added to our Zoho CRM contacts or leads list.
  2. When time comes to send the Newsletter (monthly), we log on to our Zoho CRM account, make an email template and save it
  3. Then select all the contacts who are to be emailed
  4. Schedule when to send the email
  5. A couple of points to be noted : a) A Newsletter is typically HTML formatted and some email clients strip off formatting. So it is safe to have a version of it hosted online and point to it in the newsletter email you send. We have an online version of the Newsletter as a Zoho Writer public document. b) We have an ‘Unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of each mail. Submitting your email address there will directly opt you out of the Newsletter subscriber list that we maintain in Zoho CRM
  6. Lastly, we use Zoho Mail internally. And the filters/folders option there allows us to get the Newsletter related replies (genuine replies, bounced/undelivered mails, Out of Office/Vacation replies, auto-responses etc) segregated so that we can attend to each one of them easily.

We will be sharing more such scenarios of how we are using Zoho within our organization.

Zoho: 1 Million Users

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Its been less than 3 years since we launched our first Zoho service (Zoho Writer) and we are excited to announce that @ Zoho, we now are serving Million+ Users. This is an important milestone for us and on this occasion we’d like to thank all our users for supporting and using Zoho.

The path to this milestone is certainly exciting. While we started slow, we picked up momentum adding more applications as we moved along and the applications improved week after week, thanks to our engineering team.

It took us 1 Year to get to the first 100K users. As of last July we were serving 300K users and one year later on Aug 1, when Dean Detton from Prestige Home Automation registered for Zoho CRM, he became our Millionth user.

For those of you who are coming to the Office 2.0 Conference, we are planning a party on Sep 4th in San Francisco (we’ll provide more details on this soon) to celebrate this occasion.

Once again, we’d like to thank you all for using Zoho.

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