Turn Your Meetings Around: 6 Tips from Our Users

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Let’s face it – no one wakes up in the morning itching to go to their meetings for the day. There’s a reason why many people can relate to the dread of the infamous meeting and it’s this – they often don’t work. Meetings have good intentions, but the manner in which they are held often results in the loss of productivity.

Ready to turn your meetings around? On our Facebook page, we asked users to complete this sentence: “Meetings are productive when ____”. We received some interesting responses and noticed a few trends. Here are 6 tips small business owners gave to help you make meetings worthwhile:

Make Meetings Work

  1. Allow Voices to Be Heard. No one wants to go to a meeting where they are unable to give their knowledgeable two cents. Creating an open atmosphere where people can be heard can make a meeting more enjoyable and give way to creative problem solving.
  2. Make Action Items. When people leave a meeting feeling lost and wondering what the purpose was, it’s often because the meeting did not reach a clear decision. A meeting shouldn’t start and end with planning to make plans. Instead, it should answer the ‘what’, ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the meeting. When this happens, participants will leave knowing what has been decided and what next steps to take to achieve the goal of the meeting.
  3. Don’t Bring Distractions to the Table. It pays to leave behind mobile devices and put up with a few minutes of separation anxiety when attending a meeting. When distractions are left behind, participants are more focused and can help a meeting be more productive and stay on track.
  4. Have the Right People There. Keep the number of people in a meeting small. This will help avoid situations where participants who are not crucial to the core of the meeting are left asking why they are there in the first place. Make sure a meeting only consists of key players of your meeting’s agenda.
  5. Use Tools to Be Efficient. There’s a fine line between bringing in distractions and bringing in tools that will be useful during the meeting. Choose wisely! If you’re unsure, ask yourself 3 things:
    • Will it help me contribute to the meeting?
    • Will it be a necessity to the meeting’s success?
    • Will it help me get the most out of the meeting?
  6. Less is More. If a large number of meetings are scheduled and cover the same agenda, it may be an indicator that the meetings aren’t staying on track. If you have successful meetings to begin with, you won’t need to have many meetings. Make sure meetings stay focused and on point.

What are your thoughts on these six tips? Do you have your own that you didn’t see on the list? Feel free to share your advice on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

Managing your email attachments got better with Dropbox integration in Zoho Mail

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dropbox-zmail-integration-nsWe are glad to announce that we have integrated Dropbox – one of most popular file storage and sharing services out there – into Zoho Mail. You can now add and attach files directly to and from Dropbox while going through your email routine in just a few clicks.

Dropbox lets you conveniently access all your favorite documents, pictures and videos, stored at a central space online, from anywhere. It can also keep your files in sync across devices you have it installed, by storing a copy locally and comes with neat file sharing options.

Well, but what if you find yourself scripting an urgent email on say a public computer without Dropbox installed and would like to fetch some files you recently stored there? You could log into Dropbox in a new tab, download the necessary files locally before attaching them or else use the Dropbox sharing features and then get back to your email. Slightly nagging this, isn’t it?

To make things easier in such situations, we have brought the convenience of Dropbox into Zoho Mail by enabling you to:

Attach files directly from Dropbox
Fire up the new Dropbox action in message compose view to browse through the files in your Dropbox account and select to directly attach them to your message (your Zoho Mail plan’s attachment limits apply).

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Store email attachments directly in Dropbox
Use the new Add to Dropbox option provided when you have messages with attachments to directly store them in your Dropbox account.

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Getting the hang of how this simple yet effective integration works is pretty straight forward. For stepwise instructions, check our help pages on attaching files from Dropbox and uploading attachments to Dropbox.

We thank the Dropbox team for their help and assistance during the development of this integration.

So Zoho Mail now provides the most number of options to manage your attachments – Zoho Docs, our own file storage application, Google Drive and the latest, Dropbox.

We hope this integration is a useful addition to manage your email attachments. As always, your feedback, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Countdown to Zoholics

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We are just a few days away from Zoholics and we are looking forward to inviting you to the event. We have around 50 sessions lined up for you along with keynotes from Sridhar Vembu, Ray Wang and Chris Silva.

If you haven’t installed the Zoholics mobile app, I recommend doing so. It is available on iPhoneiPad and Android. Presentations for the sessions will be available through our iPhone and iPad apps.

For those of you attending the CRM Training Track, we will be providing CRM training material to complement the sessions. I recommend bringing in your laptops to follow along the speakers.

We will have good number of Zoho employees at the event eager to talk to you and help you. Please take advantage of this opportunity to meet the people behind the products. Also, please do join us at the reception at the end of Day 2.

We also have great set of announcements at the event. We can’t wait to show you. See you in San Francisco next week.

gUnify and Zoho CRM – Automatically Log VOIP Phone Calls from Google Apps to CRM

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This is a guest post by Harprit Bhui, coFounder of gUnifya cloud-based Unified Communication System connecting Zoho, Google Apps, and Broadsoft Hosted VOIP.

gUnify is specifically designed and built from the ground up for businesses running Google Apps. It is compatible with hosted PBX systems running on Broadsoft and Zoho CRM. gUnify seamlessly integrates Google Apps, phone systems, and Zoho CRM to enable automatic call tracking and logging directly from Gmail.

As an organization, communication is the key to your success. And not being able to capture the details of your sales and support team’s phone calls in real-time can result in loss of sales, lack in customer service and lost billable time.

gUnify improves your sales and support team’s productivity by tracking individual telephone performance. This is achieved by automatically integrating all phone calls made from the gUnify application. All phone calls made using the gUnify application and associated device (traditional phone, soft phone and mobile) will be automatically pushed to activities module in Zoho CRM; where you can view the details of the call record including: the phone number, who made the call, date/time of call, call duration, notes and tags associated with the call; all in real time.

You can also analyse the key sales and support indicators, such as number of incoming calls, number of outgoing calls, duration of calls and the destination of calls.

Getting started is simple and quick, once gUnify has been installed on your company’s Google Apps domain. Each user of gUnify should perform a few easy installation tasks to enable the gUnify Plug-in for Zoho CRM , which can be found in Settings within the gUnify gadget.

5 Ways to Recruit the Best and Brightest Graduates from the Class of 2013

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iStock_000024577981XSmallOver the past month, tens of thousands of college students across the United States earned their associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. And after the graduation celebrations die down, these students will each begin pursuing a profession in a number of different career fields.

So what does this mean for you as a small business owner? How can you capitalize on these young, energized and passionate young adults?

A number of graduates will begin working for large companies because these businesses can offer enticing salary, benefits and security packages, as well as opportunities for advancement. As a small business owner, it may seem impossible to compete with larger companies in order to recruit top talent from the class of 2013.

One challenge facing small businesses is a simple lack of information for these graduates about the benefits of working for a small company. And while you may not be able to offer incentives big companies can offer, recruiting graduates can be simpler than you think with the right strategies.

1. Have Good Relationships with Local Schools

The importance of a college education is much more than just making good grades in order to graduate. It is also about having opportunities to network with businesses in the area. Students value the opportunity to network with potential employers. By establishing good relationships with local college and universities, these school can keep you connected with students who are close to graduating or have just recently graduated. This can also keep you informed on when the schools are hosting job fairs so your business can attend.

2. Use Your Size as a Benefit

Big companies have the brand name and look glamorous, but they aren’t always ideal for a graduate’s first job. At a small company, an employee can have the opportunity to get exposed to a number of different areas of the business as opposed to one department or task. They can also attend important meetings, communicate and connect with team leaders, directors and even the CEO on a daily basis — an opportunity that wouldn’t be possible at a larger company. (For example, here at Zoho, we all have the opportunity to reach out and speak with CEO and co-founder Sridhar Vembu whenever we want).

3. Talk About Your Company’s Culture

One of the most important aspects of a job for recent graduates is not necessarily the salary and benefits. It’s the work environment and culture of the company. Millennials want a job they enjoy going to on a daily basis at a company with a culture and personality that fits their own . Make sure graduates understand they are free to be themselves at your company and emphasize how the company values hard work and dedication. This can go a long way in recruiting talented and excited graduates.

4. Look at Students Before They Graduate/Offer Internships

There are a number of resources available for companies to begin looking at prospective employees before they walk across the stage. Use alumni networks, the local college career centers and offer both part-time and full-time internships for students. One of the best ways to avoid competing with other companies for a graduate is to establish a relationship with the student before he or she gets their diploma. Many students go on to work for the company they interned for during school, so don’t underestimate the power of an internship.

5. Place Importance on Your Online Presence

Finally, focus on creating a strong online presence for your company. From a visually impressive website to social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, millennials want to know they are working for a tech-savvy company. Make sure your website has engaging content and visually impressive videos that attract young candidates. You can also utilize social media to post ads and highlight job opportunities at your company.

Believe in Your Business

You don’t have to be a large company to recruit the top talent from the graduating class of 2013. By implementing the above strategies and remaining confident in your company and company culture, there is no reason you cannot find talented, passionate and hard-working millennials who can help build your company on a daily basis.

Simplify Getting Paid With Braintree

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BraintreeWe have been on an integration spree since the beginning of this year. After the first two successful integration with Stripe and 2Checkout, Braintree is the latest payment gateway to be integrated to Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books.

If you haven’t begun accepting online payments from your customers, now is a good time to get started. Not only is creating a merchant account in Braintree is quick and painless, but also configuring it to Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books is easy.

Braintree supports multiple currencies and if your customers are across the globe, then it is a great payment gateway option to invest your money. Also, Braintree charges no monthly fee or minimums and charges you only for the transactions that have occurred (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction).

Awesome right? If you want to find out more,  head straight to our documentation for detailed information on how to set it up. We’ve got plenty more in store for you this year. Meanwhile,  share your feedback right here in the comments.

Customer Spotlight: Migrating from Salesforce to Z-CRM Saves Young Company Huge Money

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ICT_landing

“It all started with Jim Cramer.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Jim Cramer, he is a popular American television personality, former hedge fund manager, and host of CNBC’s Mad Money.

As Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (ICT) founder and CEO Bob Joseph tells the story, “Years ago, I was watching Mad Money and he was pushing Sales Force’s CRM solution.  I knew we were at the point in our company growth where we needed a good CRM solution and one that could accommodate our growth.  So, from Cramer’s recommendation we began our customer relationship management with Sales Force.”

Soon however, Joseph realized that Cramer’s recommendation was not suitable for ICT…

The Business

Bob Joseph - Founder and CEO

Bob Joseph – Founder and CEO

ICT is a global training company committed to working collaboratively with regional, national, and international clients to provide a broad range of performance improvement training services geared specifically at helping individuals and organizations to work effectively with Indigenous Peoples.

Based out of Vancouver, BC, and started in 2002, ICT goes to great lengths to help the Canadian government work with indigenous peoples to improve all aspects of operation.

The Challenge: Switching from Salesforce to a More Affordable, Simpler CRM Solution

Per Cramer’s recommendation, Joseph decided to incorporate Salesforce into ICT as their CRM solution.  However, five months into implementation, he found that Salesforce was creating a huge cost and time burden for the amount of use and functionality they were receiving.

“At that point, we were like a ‘Mom and Pop’ shop, and the cost of Salesforce was exorbitant for us and the complexity was causing us to waste too much time.”

Joseph knew he had two options:  either stick with Salesforce, go through the pains of learning how to use it, and simply eat the cost hoping that in the end the monetary and time investment would be worth it, or try a lower cost, easier to learn CRM solution without sacrificing any of the functionality.

Joseph decided it was time for ICT to make a change.

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

ICT looked at several CRM solutions before finally selecting Zoho CRM.

“We looked at several CRM solutions including Sales Force and Trigger. When we found Zoho, we noticed the reviews were stellar, it had all of the functionality we needed and more, and it was free to sign up!”

Joseph had some definite “must haves” when searching for a CRM replacement.

“I knew that Salesforce was costing me way too much money, but I also knew I needed a full-featured CRM that could easily and quickly track customers through the entire sales process including ongoing customer support.”

Soon after signing up for Zoho CRM, Joseph realized that he had found a solution for ICT.

“Zoho had all of the functionality of Sales Force at a fraction of the cost. We signed on for free, started working with it, and realized that this is the solution for us.”

Implementing Zoho CRM

Prior to implementing CRM, ICT had several databases, calendars, and other data that was not shared.

“Data sharing was a huge problem for us!  My business partner and I would make phone calls, then later in the day would get together for coffee and realize we’d called some of the same people. When we started with Salesforce, this problem disappeared but now we were spending several extra hours having to navigate through complicated windows.  We eliminated one problem, but started another!”

However, when Joseph switched ICT over to Zoho CRM, both problems were alleviated.

Joseph found learning Zoho CRM very simple and intuitive and was able to have his entire database migrated over within a day.  After just a few days, Joseph felt incredibly comfortable navigating through Zoho CRM and using the majority of its features.

“It was just so intuitive and easy.  Now we were saving a ton of time while working together collaboratively, and the results showed immediately!  We were able to connect with noticeably more customers while delivering an improved service experience.”

“We actually use Zoho Projects to manage projects and connect that to CRM to have one cohesive dashboard.  It’s very easy for us now to navigate between customers and projects.

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

As ICT became comfortable with Zoho CRM, they discovered some features that they hadn’t previously been familiar with but ended up being “real timesavers.”

“Zoho CRM really helped us with its data deduplication feature which in Salesforce costs several hundred dollars but Zoho provides for free.  Google app integration has also been huge.  We integrate Zoho Campaigns, CRM, and incorporate it with some of our Google apps to make one cohesive solution.”

Joseph has also found a lot of value in the Zoho CRM social media integration.

“We definitely use the Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter integration a lot and it has proven to be a valuable tool for us.”

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“I would say get Zoho right away!  It integrates so easily with everything, makes life so much easier, and is easy to learn.  It has all the tools that every other CRM solution has, but at a fraction of the price and is so much easier to learn.”

To learn more about Indigenous Corporate Training Inc, click here.