Zoho Invoice Android App Update: Expense Categories Introduced!

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We’ve got some good news for Zoho Invoice android app users. You can now add, delete and modify ‘Expense Categories’ right from your android phone. It’s simple, smooth and you are going to love not having to turn to the web app each time you add an expense.

Add Expense Category in Android App

If you want to edit a category name or description, just long press (touch it and hold it for a moment) the category name and the action mode is displayed.

Edit Expense Category in Zoho Invoice android app

Next time you want to track your expenses on the go, all you need to do is take out your awesome phone and turn to our android invoicing app. You can categorize your expenses, choose the currency, add tax , enter amount and bill it to your client.

Go ahead and update your android app to the latest 1.6.2 version in Google Play. Check it out and drop us your feedback right below in the comment section.

Zoho CRM Analytics Add-on: Compare Sales Rep Performance Against Set Sales Targets

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Ever since we announced the Advanced Analytics Add-on for Zoho CRM‘s Enterprise Edition users, the response has been enthusiastic. We have had a good many requests – for opening up the add-on for Zoho CRM’s Professional Edition users and to sync up more CRM modules. All would be available in good time :)

We have had requests for particular types of reports as well, one of the oft requested being the Sales Target report. A Sales Target or Quota report compares a sales person’s set sales target vs the sales actually achieved. The below slide show explains how this can be done easily using the Zoho Reports Advanced Analytics Add-on for Zoho CRM.

Try creating the Sales Target report in your account and post your thoughts of how it went. We will be back with more.

Import Bank Statements into Zoho Books in 3 Quick Steps

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In our last post, we had announced feeds from more than 2000 banks in Zoho Books and we’ve been getting some great feedback from our customers. For those who still haven’t been able to enjoy the benefits of automatic bank feeds, you can still reduce data entry to a considerable extent by importing your bank statements directly into our accounting software.

All you have to do is ‘Select’, ‘Map’ and ‘Import.’
Import Bank Statements in accounting softwareSelect: Your first step, requires you to select the ‘statement’. Begin your journey by getting hold of an electronic format of your bank or credit card statement (CSV or TSV file) and feed it into Zoho Books. Choose your preferred amount column format, so your withdrawals and deposits may be arranged by Zoho Books in the right manner.

Map: Your next pit stop is the ‘Map Fields‘. Here you get to match the bank statement column headers to Zoho Books headers. If you plan to import statements frequently, then a quick tip to save time would be to click on ‘save your selection’ as shown in the image below. Next time you import, fields will be automatically mapped.

 

Save selection while mapping fields

Import: Your final step in this short journey ends with Zoho Books letting you know if the mission was accomplished, by giving you an import summary. Once you click the ‘Import’ button, all your transactions will be available in Zoho Book.

Take a look at out help document for more information on importing statements. This feature considerably reduces the time to reconcile your bank and credit card accounts. We hope you like it. Send us your feedback in the comment section below.

Zoho Sites And The Database Connection

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A website is the online face of a business, and act as a repository of information. They are the first point of contact for random visitors, and play a vital role in helping them decide on using your service, so it’s got to be really impressive. Call it the front-end of your business activity.

Then there is the back-end, which is the critical business data obtained from these visitors. This collected data is a source of wisdom that teaches you about visitors and trends, enabling you to make smarter projections in future. Collecting and storing data, and more importantly, mining information from piles of collected data has to be done using databases; Zoho Creator databases, in this case. But how do these two ends meet?

When it comes to business process management, the relationship between these two services is blazing, though not very obvious. Zoho Creator databases are pre-integrated into Zoho Sites, and serve two scenarios.

1. Data Collection through Custom Online Forms
2. Dynamic Webpage Content Management

Online Forms:

Be it contact details, event registration, survey or any other unique data collection requirement, Zoho Creator forms can be customized to suit every need. The forms can be inserted into your webpages just by dragging them into place, and they blend with your website’s color theme, so that it appears to be a part of it.

Best thing about forms is that you can configure condition-based actions to make it as intelligent as you wish. For example, you can instantly show or hide a set of fields based on the value of a previous field. This makes sure that only the relevant fields are displayed to users, thus establishing a connection. And every time a visitor fills up a form on your website, an email notification is triggered automatically to keep you informed.

The data collected would be of less value without filters to manipulate it. Searching, sorting and filtering options help you to mine out that essential piece of information from the entire database, without having to write complex combination code.

Dynamic Webpage Content:

This is yet another major implementation of databases on a webpage. Some pages on a website need to be continuously updated with information. So, instead of having to modify the webpage every time, you setup a database for that page, which holds all the frequently changing content, and the layout in which it is displayed on the webpage. Every time you need to add, alter or remove data, you do it on the database, which is simple as filling up a form. The corresponding webpage automatically reflects the changes, without even the slightest delay.

This is especially useful when the website is being collaboratively managed by many members. This database, which is actually a Zoho Creator form, can be shared to all these members, enabling every one of them to keep the website up to date, from independent locations.

These are just the gist of how databases can be used to leverage your website. Both Zoho Creator and Zoho Sites stand up for customization, and cater to unique requirements, so the limit is always what you put on it. Oh, and now is a good time to begin experimenting, because we have Payment Buttons for Dynamic Pages up next, so you’ll want to be familiar with databases by then ;)

A Proper CRM Tool is Necessary to Create a Sales-Based Company

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To build a fast growing company like SpamExperts, CMO Nils Decker needed a CRM tool that converted his technology-only company into a sales-driven company.

Business

Back in 2005, two university friends of Nils Decker launched SpamExperts, a company that had built a new technology for filtering out spam.

While they had a great technology, they had no plans to build revenue as they didn’t know who their customers should be. That’s why the founders asked Nils Decker to join their company as CMO to determine who they should be their target market. By 2008, SpamExperts had found their niche: ISPs and webhosting providers.

Challenge

Decker’s challenge was to turn this technology into a company that was driven by sales. To do that he would need customers. To get customers he would need prospects. To convert prospects to customers would require management of that relationship. At the beginning, all Decker had to manage contacts was a spreadsheet. It didn’t take long before he realized a spreadsheet is useless when you want to follow up and keep track of people.

We need CRM…stat

Decker knew he needed a CRM solution, but didn’t know which one. He started with an open source solution, Vtiger, which “sort of” worked, said Decker. He complained it wasn’t smooth, was hard to define workflows, and most importantly there was no support. There was no one to call if he had a question.

Analysis of a new CRM application quickly turned towards more professional solutions. Decker and his team isolated the competition to just Salesforce and Zoho.

Criteria for CRM solution

The SpamExperts team took a look at the CRM applications based on Decker’s criteria:

  • Wanted a cloud-based solution
  • Great support
  • Integration with Google Apps
  • Calendar integration
  • Easy mobile access
  • Cost

While many CRM applications were cloud-based, it really came down to great support, integration with Google Apps, and easy mobile access. The final criteria, cost, is what ultimately got Decker to choose Zoho CRM for his company.

Unique Use Case of Zoho:

While they toyed with other CRM applications, they are finally rolling with Zoho CRM as of one year ago.

Decker admits he’s not yet an advanced user as he’s mostly using the application for its most basic needs: calendaring plus interactions with potential and current customers.

To evolve from just a technology provider to a commercial email security vendor, the sales staff was forced to adopt a commercial CRM solution, and Decker is very pleased with the results.

“Business results from Zoho CRM, things have become a lot faster,” said Decker. “It has made our sales cycle significantly shorter. I would estimate between 30 to 40 percent.”

Advice for others

“If you want to grow as a business you have to outsource certain services. And having an Excel spreadsheet is not a professional way of dealing with your customers,” said Decker of others trying to grow a startup like he did with SpamExperts.

As soon as you start making money with those customers a spreadsheet can’t accurately track what’s going on, like how big a certain account is for you, said Decker.

“Zoho CRM will simplify your business processes, give you much shorter lead times, and actually allow you to grow your sales team,” Decker said. “Out of my 10 hour workday, I use Zoho CRM about 8 hours nonstop. It will really make it a lot easier for you to create a proper sales organization rather than just having a technology focus, or product focus, or development focus.”

Listen to my entire interview with Decker on Soundcloud.

How it started: Nils reached us through our Facebook Page with a question. Here’s what he said:

Automate the job of your Helpdesk Coordinator – Setup Request Assignment Rules

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The typical day of the Helpdesk Coordinator here at Zoho Support is pretty exciting… Receiving hundreds of requests everyday, it is he who manually assigns ownership to each one of them. Though this can be accomplished using Workflows, we realized it was not an obvious solution for our customers. Also, it is quite common for us to receive a request related to Zoho CRM in the Zoho Support department which often required a manual move.
We committed ourselves to find a solution for these productivity guzzlers and so is the release of a simple, yet powerful automation feature – Request Assignment Rules.

So what is Request Assignment rules and how can it replace your helpdesk coordinator?

Request assignment rules can be used to move a request to an appropriate department and further assign ownership to it in the new department. Everything is automatic and works on pre-defined conditions which when matched with, would trigger an assignment rule and ensure the associated actions are accomplished.

Look at how things changed for us with request assignment rules:

Moving & Assigning Request

The above rule helped us move a request received in Zoho Support to the appropriate department and further assign ownership to it in the new department.

Also assignment rules are exclusive for our Professional and Enterprise users and it can be found under Automation in Setup. Meanwhile if you see your business in the above mentioned scenarios, it’s time to set your own rules.

Do you have a similar story? Then go ahead and share it with us. We are waiting here…

Running Multiple Businesses on One CRM Platform

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Young Eric Hans Shaefer organizes the bits of his very busy life and businesses all together on one single instance of Zoho CRM.

The Business

At 23, Eric Hans Shaefer has already become quite an impressive Renaissance man and entrepreneur. He runs a series of successful businesses including a luxury rental service in Hawaii, an online video prayer site, and a web development company. On top of all those entrepreneurial ventures, he is a Christian artist that has worked as a standup comedian, actor, and musician that tours across the U.S. and the world. He used to manage all his life and businesses with a multitude of tools and a very scattered brain. Now he just uses Zoho CRM.

The Challenge:

Shaefer started his luxury rental business with very little organization. While he scheduled lots of online advertising, he really didn’t have a system to manage the calls, the contact information, or payment processing. Realization hit him when the calls started flooding in and the information was being left on scraps of paper and digital files everywhere.

How discovered Zoho:

A woman who ran a companion tour company in Hawaii introduced him to Zoho. It was at this point he realized that this was the tool he could use to could organize all the elements of his multiple businesses and his creative pursuits. He immediately started using it and got ramped up in just a couple of months.

“Being able to use Zoho to help me out with my business has helped me fund my passion,” said Shaefer. “What I have found is that when I have so many different things managed in one spot I get a lot more productive.”

Competitive analysis of CRM:

It really took just that introduction from a friend to be sold on Zoho. Shaefer had used other such information organization type applications, such as Evernote, but they didn’t have the organization by person that Shaefer needed. They simply didn’t have the focus Zoho had, said Shaefer.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

What’s so unusual about how Shaefer uses Zoho is how it manages his many different businesses and his creative pursuits. For each business and his tour schedule, he’s divided all the information into tabs.

Zoho has also become an information repository for Shaefer. He grabs screenshots and PDFs that he thinks would be valuable to his customers, tourists. He includes images so often in his use of Zoho that he would like a drag and drop feature with Zoho and see the pictures in line with the contact instead of having to download attachments.

Shaefer also wants greater management of his phone calls, especially as he’s taking many of his calls via his Android phone and he uses Zoho CRM on his Android phone. Zoho does have a Log a Call feature and there are plugins such as Ringio that offer similar services.

Advice for others: 

For someone who was in his same situation as he was, Shaefer recommends Zoho for the following reasons:

  • You can customize it to whatever you do and however many businesses you have. Even likes you can actually customize the colors and look of the application.
  • Zoho has great customer service. You can actually talk to the people if you have a question or problem.
  • The Zoho fellowship and community is growing making it valuable for everyone.

If you’re not using a CRM application such as Zoho, you’re losing money, said Shaefer.

“I was personally losing money because I was not having everything kept track of. I would call these places and not have the right dates and the right names of people,” Shaefer said. “I had credit card information strewn throughout my house.”

Now that’s no longer the case as he accesses Zoho from any device – his computer, iPad, and phone – and all the information is in one application online.

For more, listen to my full 16 minute interview with Shaefer.