Changing How Salespeople Do Email: Introducing MailMagnet for Zoho CRM

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Email is a necessary evil these days. It’s the most widely used form of communication across companies, and yet precisely because of that widespread use, most people’s inboxes are cluttered with messages.

So, along the way we’ve invented labels, folders, SPAM filters, rules, stars, flags, smart algorithms and more as different ways to prioritize your inbox.

But none of that helps salespeople stay on top of customer communications easily, because they were not designed specifically for salespeople. One of our CRM customers was recently telling us that about 60% of the email their salespeople get is NOT related to the deals he is working on. We know, too, from our own experience that a high percentage of the emails that our sales team gets is not directly related to the deals they are working on.

So we decided to look at this from a fresh perspective, and we asked ourselves one question: Who knows best about the deals you are working on? It’s not your email system – it’s your CRM. So expecting your email system to prioritize your email for you is nonsense – it should be your CRM system.

And that’s why we want to change how salespeople do email. Salespeople will, in the long-term, do email within their CRM system. And that’s why today we’re introducing Zoho MailMagnet.

It works just like the name implies – like a magnet for mails. Which mails? The ones that are relevant to you, right now, depending on what deals you are working on. Only your CRM system knows this. And when you turn on MailMagnet for Zoho CRM, it instantly looks at your inbox and presents only those emails that are relevant for you.

We’ve had for a while something related available for our Zoho CRM Customers – the Zoho Mail Add-On. The Mail Add-On allows customers to keep track of all incoming and outgoing customers messages from within CRM – even share customer communications given the right permissions, of course. And it doesn’t require you to cc: anyone – and it works even when using your mobile phone’s email client.

But our Mail Add-On didn’t solve the problem of sorting what is important (customer/leads/deals mails) from what is not – and do so directly inside Zoho CRM. We’re combining what until today was the Mail Add-On and this brand-new functionality into the new Zoho MailMagnet. Existing Mail Add-On customers will get this automatically, at no additional cost. It’s important to note that MailMagnet works with pretty much any modern email provider you might have – Zoho Mail, Gmail, Google Apps, your ISP, etc.

MailMagnet is not just a feature – it signals our vision and aim to change the way salespeople interact with their email. Today we’ve taken the second step. We’re already getting some feedback from some beta customers we gave a preview of this to and it’s positive – we’d love to hear what you think.

Get Better, Faster and More Exact Search Results

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Searching qualified candidates within your own database is just as important as to search for and import new candidates into the system.

We have made a major enhancement to the existing Advanced Search, to help you search the right candidate by any keyword within the candidate profile, candidate form fields, attachments, etc. This reduces the search time and increases efficiency.

You can narrow or broaden your search depending on the option you choose:

A “Match All Keywords” search will search every candidate record that include ALL of the supplied keywords, no matter what order those keywords are located in the candidate profile.
For example: Search for Robert Florida would return all candidates record containing the words (Robert and Florida).

A “Match Any Keyword” search will return results where just one, some or all of the supplied keywords is found.
For example: Search for Java Oracle C++ would return all candidates record containing any of those words (Java or Oracle or C++)

A “Exclude Keywords” search will return results with Candidates records which doesn’t contain any of the supplied keywords.
For example: Search for PHP Cobol would return all candidates records that does NOT contain PHP and does NOT contain Cobol.

“Specify Criteria” search returns results with Candidates record for the specified search criteria. This option allows you to add multiple criteria.

Hope you will like it. Please try it and let us know your feedback.

Happy Recruiting!

Zoho CRM Advanced Analytics: Create Region-based Reports

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As a Zoho CRM user, we believe you are taking full advantage of the Advanced Analytics Add-on for Zoho CRM. If you haven’t yet, do try it now as it lets you dive deep into your CRM data and get real insights about your business.

We continue to hear from you about how such and such report would be very useful to have. Sales target (quota) report was one. Here’s one more that can be ultra useful – region-based sales reports.

For building the regional reports, you need the address of each client of yours. And it is there in the Accounts module of Zoho CRM. By default, the address fields aren’t synced from Zoho CRM to Zoho Reports. So, login to your CRM (Admin) account, click Setup -> Apps & Add-ons -> Zoho Apps -> Advanced CRM Analytics -> Settings. Choose Accounts under Modules and check the Billing City, Billing State and Billing Country fields. Click Save.

When the next sync happens, all the addresses of your clients are there in the Accounts table of your Advanced Analytics add-on. You can now create the desired region-based reports that you may need, by pulling in the desired columns.

Try creating your own region-based sales reports and let us know how it went.

New in Zoho CRM – SMS alerts using Webhooks

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Has this ever happened to you?

You have a customer meeting in two hours. But accidentally, it slips out of your mind and you schedule a meeting with another customer. Oops!

But this scenario could be different.

You have a customer meeting in two hours. An hour before the meeting, you receive an SMS with the customer’s name and the time of the meeting!

Isn’t that great? And you can do this using our Webhooks.

Yes! Webhooks now allows you to trigger SMS alerts to your sales rep and customers about upcoming meetings, demos, payments and other events. Just schedule the SMS alerts about the event details and get notified on time.

SMS Alerts using Webhooks

So how do you setup SMS notifications? It only takes a few steps. The online help will tell you how.

- Radhika

Debunking the Myth: “You need to spend money to make money”

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

How many small businesses have gone under because they believed the myth “You need to spend money to make money” at face value? Following this phrase literally has led too many business owners on the wrong path, forgetting the first rule of business success–be profitable.

Remember this simple equation: Income – Expenses = Profit. If your profit isn’t where it needs to be, take a closer look at your expenses. You only have so much control over your income, but you’re fully in control of how much money you spend.

Debts
Many business owners automatically believe they need a loan to operate a business based on their estimated operating costs. Try reversing your thinking: can you lower your operating costs so you can borrow less or eliminate the need to borrow any money at all? The less money you owe, the less money you’ll spend each month on debt payments.

Tax deductions
You’re not the only business owner who has fallen into the spending trap of thinking, “It’s deductible.” Deductions only matter if your business is making enough profit to owe significant taxes in the first place. Even when your business has reached that point, you can have it both ways by making a contribution to a business retirement plan–you get the deduction without spending any money.

Employees
Employee expenses usually make up the bulk of most income statements–payroll, unemployment taxes, benefits, etc. Before deciding you need more employees or even any employees, consider lower-cost alternatives like hiring an independent contractor or temp as needed.

Rent
Besides being one of your largest monthly expenses, renting commercial space usually involves lengthy lease timeframes, reducing your flexibility to cut costs in this area. New business owners often dismiss the idea of starting out by working from home, but choosing this route could put you on the fast track to profitability by keeping your expenses low. When that’s not an option, start out with a lower rent at first by choosing a smaller space or less trendy area. You can always expand and upgrade once your business income can support a higher rent without affecting profitability.

Advertising
Social media has created low-cost advertising options that never existed before. If your target markets use social media, you can reach large numbers at a fraction of the cost of advertising in traditional media.

Stop following the crowd before you fall off the cliff. The reality is, “You need to spend less money to make money.”

The Best Food for Business Growth is CRM

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After five years in business SEO Works deployed Zoho to break out of its small business organizational chaos to become a medium-sized company managing 140 clients.

Business

Based in Australia and San Francisco, SEO Works is a medium-sized company providing search services. They work with clients that want to increase their visibility with search engines. Having started with just a couple of employees, SEO Works has 24 employees today and a thriving business with hundreds of ongoing projects.

The Challenge

Nine years ago when the company started, they had everything a new business would want – leads and referrals. Unfortunately that information was captured in a haphazard fashion. Leads were written down on slips of paper, or copied into spreadsheets. For a couple of people in the office, that was manageable. Once the company had four employees, they were seeing some problems, admitted Keith Paulin, Group General Manager and employee number one of SEO Works.

The poor management of contacts meant they were not able to handle new opportunities efficiently. “As you get bigger you need to make sure those opportunities, as they come up, don’t slip through the cracks,” said Paulin who realized that at 10 people it became critical for them to find a collaboration solution just so they could support their clients.

SEO Works faced the same troublesome issues most small companies faced. Their lack of organization, collaboration, and insight into how well the business was doing meant it simply couldn’t grow.

What CRM solution works for our growing business?

As they struggled to grow their business, SEO Works also struggled to find a CRM solution that would work with their unique needs while also not taxing them financially and with unnecessary development.

They tried a free CRM for a short time, but it was so unmemorable that Paulin honestly can’t remember its name. Then they gave Salesforce a go, and stuck with it for about a year and a half. While Paulin admitted that Salesforce is powerful, it was somewhat inflexible and didn’t connect with everything they wanted it to connect with right out of the box.

They wanted a solution that would map their entire business from end to end, in their point of view (e.g., from phone call, to request, to project). While that was possible with Salesforce it would have required a ton of learning, an external consultant, and very detailed development work. They simply didn’t have the time nor money to deal with that.

SEO Works admittedly had a love-hate relationship with Salesforce. And once they got to ten users then the licensing costs became an issue, said Paulin.

How discovered Zoho

When I asked Paulin how they discovered Zoho he simply responded, “We’re a search engine optimization company.”

Through just natural search SEO Works stumbled upon Zoho. Four years ago they were dazzled by the fact that requests could come in via websites and then fed directly into Zoho. That’s nothing by today’s standards, but back then to SEO Works it was a big deal.

Not only was the simple usability attractive, but so was the flexibility of the licensing. It was extremely easy to add users. Paulin didn’t have to worry about signing long term contracts with a CRM vendor. As a growing company, it was very important for them to easily add new licenses and not be encumbered by a long term contract.

Using Zoho to map the entire business flow

“One of the great things about Zoho is you can hit the ground running quite quickly,” said Paulin. “We were literally an out of the box user.”

SEO Works quickly put their entire business flow into Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects. They bring in leads. Leads become accounts. An account then creates a case. They create products, prepare quotes for clients, and then convert those to sales orders which are moved into a different cloud-based accounting solution, explained Paulin who also liked adding business rules to leads which automatically routed them and triggered further actions.

That flow continues when Paulin is outside of his office. He uses Zoho on his mobile and loves the feature that allows him to enter information about a call right after the call completes.

Visibility into all operations

“We no longer have that level of small- to medium-sized business discomfort that says, ‘How’s my business doing,’” said Paulin. “I can see very quickly, literally in two screens, how we’re traveling, where that business is coming from, how that’s moving through the system. Our business revolves around Zoho.”

Unlike SEO Works’ early days, they now have very measurable benchmarks thanks to Zoho. They know the number of leads that come in and how many of them are hot.

“Those kinds of benchmarks for a growing company are very important to us,” said Paulin. “We would never have been able to grow to the size that we are and to deal with the clients that we deal with [such as IBM and Telstra].”

“We wouldn’t be able to manage those projects and we wouldn’t be able to make sure we manage them effectively, deliver a good product, and deliver it profitably. So to be absolutely honest, without Zoho we wouldn’t have gotten to the stage that we’re at,” admitted Paulin. “I wouldn’t know end-to-end about 400 projects and duties going on. I couldn’t have that at my fingertips without Zoho.”

What are you going to do when you do get the business?

Many of SEO Works’ clients are young companies looking to grow themselves. While Paulin’s business can drive traffic and generate leads, they’re not designed to reinvent their clients’ businesses.

Before they deploy a SEO solution that will deliver results, SEO Works asks their clients, “When we generate this business, then what?”

The response is often met with silence to which Paulin will often respond, “We think you need a CRM solution in place to begin to deal with this stuff.”

The client may hem and haw, but it’s necessary not just for the client, but also for SEO Works.

“It’s selfish for us because we want them to see measurable results coming into their business,” said Paulin.

Delegating Tasks and Managing the Flow

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This is a guest post by Sandra Faleris of SmBizWinningTips. 

How does your business get from A to Z on projects, expansion efforts, and on-going tasks? After they are complete, what’s your method for tracking, reporting and reviewing? Managing tasks and work flow helps your employees, and the business, achieve goals and accomplish projects in a gratifying and efficient manner. There are positive side effects to becoming and staying organized.

It is one thing to delegate and quite another to ensure project responsibility and accountability.

Effective task management includes all aspects of a task that are important to track, such as its daily or weekly status, time spent, steps required to finish the task (internally or externally) and more.

5 primary groups of activities that can be tracked in nearly any business:

  1. Functional: These activities include everything that pertains to sales, employees, quality control, and customer delivery and satisfaction. Anything that moves the product or service from inception to completion would fall under the category of “functional”.
  2. Creative:  Brainstorming, marketing, displays, business development, diversification.
  3. Service:  Quality control, returns/refunds, special customers, unhappy customers, Mystery Shopping Programs, surveys, customer rewards programs.
  4. Project:  Special projects outside of day-to-day operations would be in this category. Planning, cost-accounting, research, testing.
  5. Performance: Performance of your staff, products and services.

Using the help of online applications or software options can offer easy management solutions for moving tasks and projects through the pipeline quickly and effectively.

Do you need a project-tracking tool?

Go through this checklist to get a better idea if a project/task management online application would help you and your business. After all, in a small business, the more automated you are, the more time your employees have to effectively work on the projects and tasks. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you visually track projects and tasks? Or are you still using the verbal follow-up method?
  2. How often do projects get completed on time?
  3. Does everyone in the company understand their role in all projects and tasks?
  4. Are incremental steps given to help projects move forward more easily?
  5. Does overall blame happen when something isn’t accomplished because no one was originally assigned to the project?
  6. Do you feel on top of forward movement in every department, every day?
  7. Is your growth managed and broken down into projects and tasks that can be tracked?
  8. Are employees rewarded for accomplishing tasks on-time and on-budget?
  9. Do you consider everyone and everything an extension of you? For example, if you are the CPA, Attorney or other service professional and you have a support staff, do you give short and long term projects and goals? Or is everyone ready and waiting each day for instructions?
  10. Do you have a vision that is on paper, or just in your head?

If you answered “No” to more than two questions, an online project management tool is highly recommended.

Task management tools and software are available in many different formats and pricing options. Depending on your industry and business-use, it’s recommended to select the application best suited to your needs.

After implementing a new system, it will surprise everyone how quickly projects get successfully completed. It is gratifying to experience project completion, particularly when it helps propel the company forward.