Zoho Books integrates with Avalara: Automates sales tax calculation!

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Why is calculating the right
sales tax crucial? First, you may be subject to penalties for collecting and reporting incorrect sales tax. Secondly, inaccurate financials makes your business susceptible to audit. You learn a few tax rates and believe you are doing the calculation properly. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, state and local government agencies change rates, AGAIN! Talk about frustration.

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T
here are more than 10,000 taxing jurisdictions in the U.S. It is literally impossible to remember all the respective tax rates, not to mention keeping up with the constant rate changes. Shouldn’t there be a simple way to precisely determine the tax rate for any region in seconds? Well, Avalara AvaTax is a tool that does just that. Read more

Sales Pipeline Optimization through Stage History Analysis

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“Study the past to define the future,” said Confucius. Businesses that fail are typically those that repeat mistakes made in the past. Historical analysis helps companies to avoid such failures.

In the context of CRM, the analysis of sales stage history is essential for a multitude of key business decisions. A sales stage history gives you the number of potentials (opportunities) in each stage for a particular time period. Stage history analysis reports are now available in the advanced analytics add-on for Zoho CRM. Let us see how this can help you gain useful business insights.

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Customer Spotlight: SEO Entrepreneur Switches to Zoho and Thrives

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“I was bored out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do.”

It was 2010 and Peter Bowen had just retired from owning and operating an advertising agency in Toronto. However, retirement did not prove to be all he had hoped for.

“I thought I was going to retire but I got bored and I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I thought that this would be a great opportunity to do something I enjoy doing, have some fun, and keep myself occupied.”

Peter decided to start his company, First One On, and knew from prior experience that he needed a CRM to keep his sales pipeline organized. Having recently used Sugar CRM at his previous company, he thought this would suffice, however he was soon disappointed and left searching for a new CRM solution – until he found Zoho.

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A Beginner’s Glimpse to Website Design

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Everyone of significance needs (and has) a website. While the importance of websites is never argued, many consider designing their websites a boring and tedious job. Some prefer to ignore it completely, building text-heavy websites. Others hand it over to inexperienced designers, who put in too many design elements. However, with increasing numbers flooding the internet, it is safe to say that a website greatly influences the viewer’s perception of you. A poor design casts a disastrous shadow.

It is time we gave our websites’ design its due respect.

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Our biggest release ever: Announcing Zoho CRM Plus, Google AdWords integration, Zoho SalesIQ and Zoho Social

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When the first CRM packages came into the market in the 1990s, Google AdWords didn’t exist, social media didn’t exist and most companies didn’t see customer retention as strategic. Customer engagement started when a sales person visited a prospect or made a phone call.

Fast-forward two decades, and now companies engage their customers in a very different manner. They interact with them on social media, the sales cycle starts with Google AdWords, and website engagement is paramount. Now, forward-thinking companies recognize that customer retention is just as important as sales.

The way companies interact with customers evolved. Traditional CRM software didn’t. Customer Relationship Management was supposed to mean everything customer-related. Instead, CRMs got stuck in Sales Force Automation – the part where companies take a lead from beginning to close, and sales managers forecast what is about to close. Other pieces of customer-facing software, be it social media, email marketing or customer service became stand-alone categories, rarely -or very weakly- integrated with the core database of customers.

Today we’re announcing Zoho CRM Plus – the only unified software offering that allows companies to become truly customer-centric. With Zoho CRM Plus, companies can engage the right prospects, sell smarter and retain more customers through email marketing, better social media engagement, post-purchase implementation and customer service. Companies can’t become customer-centric if all their customer information is siloed across multiple software vendors. Zoho CRM Plus is the one must-have piece of software for every customer-facing person in an organization.

Engage the Right Prospects

Zoho+SalesIQ+RingsOne of the challenges companies face is not just finding more prospects – but knowing which prospects they should engage with and how to prioritize them. Zoho CRM Plus helps companies identify prospects who engaged with their website, chat with them, connect through social media, send email campaigns and automate other marketing items. Zoho CRM Plus helps convert seemingly random website visitors to engaged prospects.

Sell Smarter
It starts with having all customer and prospect data in the right place. Sales teams cannot become customer-centric if critical customer information is scattered around different systems. Beyond basic lead and contact information, Zoho CRM Plus helps companies keep track of customer support requests, marketing campaigns and website engagement. Did a hot sales prospect just tweet something negative? Better act fast.

Teams that spend time in repetitive tasks or handling low-value prospects don’t help the bottom line. The advanced automation capabilities in Zoho CRM Plus means that sales teams will always be dedicated to the most important customer opportunities. Work smart. Sell smarter.

Retain and Delight More Customers
It is cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. That is why increasing retention through customer satisfaction initiatives is a priority for modern organizations. Zoho CRM Plus provides advanced customer support tools so every company can provide the right help to the right customer at the right time – whether over phone, email, chat or on social media.

Customer retention starts by delivering your promises on time. Zoho CRM Plus project management tools help delivery teams stay on top of key client deliverables and collaborate on every item to meet all milestones without a hitch. Collaboration features like feeds, document sharing and chat keep everyone on the same page to ensure better customer focus.

Measure & Improve
Zoho CRM Plus helps continually measure and improve every single step across the customer lifecycle. Start by measuring the impact that marketing spend has in customer acquisition rate and revenue. Integration with Google AdWords gives marketing organizations better insights into how their ad spend relates to revenue.

Sales operations can rely on our Advanced CRM Analytics, which provide deep understanding into the performance of sales teams through custom visualizations that relate multiple pieces of data from CRM and external systems. Similarly, measure and improve customer retention with feedback from customer satisfaction surveys. Ensure your customer support team is able to ward off unnecessary problems.

The Power of Context

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Zoho CRM Plus not only covers every single step along the customer lifecycle, but brings context to every interaction. You can see tweets and Facebook posts in the context of the relationship your company has with them. You can see customer deals in the context of what kind of experience they’ve had with your customer support team. You can see leads in the context of how well they’ve engaged with your site. Context matters. Nobody in the industry offers such a complete offering built entirely from scratch.

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Zoho CRM Plus is available starting today, for $50 per user per month. We are intentionally limiting the number of customers we sign-up for the product while we bring it out of beta and into full availability.

We know that not every customer is ready (yet!) to buy into our entire vision of a single piece of software for marketing, sales and support – so we’ll of course continue to offer parts of it separately, including the main component, Zoho CRM, as well as other pieces of this big vision that we’re unveiling today, including:

  • Zoho CRM for Google AdWords
    Connect your Google AdWords account to your Zoho CRM account so all your data-driven insights are in one place. You’ll be able to close the loop between your online spending and your offline conversions. If this wasn’t enough, we’ve also added and enhanced other features in our core Zoho CRM product, including integration with VOIP and hosted PBX Systems, sales collaboration through feeds, holistic customer activity views with CRM Views, and more.
  • Zoho SalesIQ
    Real-time website visitor intelligence for sales and marketing teams, enabling them to engage visitors, qualify and get them into the sales funnel. Unlike traditional website analytics that focus on aggregate visitor data, Zoho SalesIQ provides intelligence at the individual visitor level. Companies can identify the most important opportunities or the active prospects coming back to the company’s website. Intelligent triggers enable reps to engage with the most valuable prospects. And of course, reps can convert a visitor to a lead in Zoho CRM and all engagement history is available to CRM users for future reference.
  • Zoho Social
    Zoho Social provides actionable insights for marketers and companies who want to increase their social media engagement with better content, real-time monitoring and advanced analytics. Zoho Social allows companies to reach the right audience at the right time – delivering content when their target audience is most likely to see it. And that’s not all, Zoho Social also helps teams collaborate on content and create customized reports.

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We’ll provide more details about each one of these apps in their own posts in the coming days. We have much more to say. We know it is a big vision, and we want you to be a part of it.

Announcing the First-Ever Zoholics Finance and HR User Conference

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After three great user conferences focusing on developers, sales and marketing and productivity and collaboration, it’s time to start preparing for our fourth installment of Zoholics for 2014.

Zoholics Finance and HR will take place November 6-7 at our headquarters in Pleasanton, California and will focus on five powerful Zoho applications — Books, Invoice, Recruit, People and Connect — and how you can use them to accomplish your daily tasks.

Sign up for Zoholics Finance and HR today and take full advantage of the following:

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Password Managers are not life partners; you can change them!

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Breaking free from a bad relationship can be painful but is sometimes the best thing to do, even in enterprise IT. When you know that your password manager has failed you and you can’t trust it any longer, it is only logical that you want to replace it with a strong, trustworthy and secure application that you can count on for life. In other words, you find a ‘ life partner ‘ password manager software that meets your needs and expectations.

But, the mere thought of switching them (password managers, I mean) might seem daunting as you have so much baggage – user IDs, passwords, URLs, notes and other data, that it becomes a tedious task to shift them manually to another password manager. Add to it the spice of inevitable human errors – you’re all set for a password leak.

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These complexities associated with porting of data often discourage users from migrating to another solution, though an existing solution fails to satisfy their needs or expectations. Read more