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.

New in Zoho Sites: PayPal and Google Checkout Payment Buttons, and more.

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This being the first feature update since the release of Zoho Sites, we tried to introduce something for everyone who wants to set up a free website. The most important feature is payment buttons from PayPal and Google to enable monetary transactions. Others include Duplicate pages, Sitemap and RSS feed.

Paypal and Google Checkout

Paypal and Google Checkout buttons are the first step of the e-commerce journey. Accepting payments and donations is now possible in Zoho Sites. Buttons are of three types – Add to Cart, Buy Now and Donate. We believe this will benefit all the non-profit organizations and websites specifically set up to receive donations for causes. Sellers can also find comfort in processing payments from within their website.

 

 

Duplicate Pages

If you have been using our free website builder you know now how easy it is to build a website. Now wouldn’t the ability to duplicate pages be absolutely perfect? Duplicate Pages – saves time and is extremely helpful when you have to create many pages with a similar layout.

 

Sitemap.xml

A sitemap gives your website an SEO advantage. How? Adding a sitemap to your website helps search engines to easily crawl, find and index pages on your site. With support for sitemap.xml, we are making websites primed for search engines. Take advantage of this feature to pull in more traffic.

Blog RSS feed

Your blog page too has an enhancement – The RSS feed. Followers can now subscribe to your blog. The feed eliminates the need to remember a  web URL or bookmarking a page to catch up on later. A visitor has the simple option of subscribing to the blog via the RSS feed to receive all your blog updates through e-mail.

While we work on taking this higher, do try these features out and tell us what you think.

Zoho Books: Get Bank Feeds from Wells Fargo, Chase and many more

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In March, we had announced the release of the Bank Feeds in Zoho Books. Last week, we added more than 2000 banks from which you can get feeds. Now, a lot more of you can automatically fetch your bank, credit card and PayPal transactions right into your Zoho Books account. It means that you have instant access to real-time update of your accounts and your days of manually feeding transactions into your accounting software are almost over.

Bank Feeds in Zoho Books

Bank Feeds were already available for banks such as Chase, Bank of America, Wachovia and many more. This update, includes banks which require a second level of security clearance, which is something more than your username and password. Security could be in the form of an answer to the question provided to the bank or a token sent to you, which you need to provide for further access to the data. Such banks are clubbed together as banks with MFA or Multi-Factor Authentication. Some of the top banks included in the list are

  • Wells Fargo – United States
  • Regions Bank – United States
  • The Bank of New York Mellon – United States

There’s many more!

Quickly log into our accounting software to activate your bank feeds and let us know how it worked for you. This update was much awaited and we hope this information will prove to be of much use to our users. For those of you, who still haven’t activated your bank feeds, please go through our help documentation for more information.

Stay tuned for more updates on bank feeds.

Zoho CRM gets an iPad app

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In our continuous efforts to making Zoho CRM available on all mobile platforms, we are excited to announce the immediate availability of our dedicated iPad app for Zoho CRM in the iTunes App store. The iPad app for CRM (a Universal app now for iOS supporting both iPhone and iPad form factors) is designed and tailored specific to iPad dimensions and dynamics blending power and ease of use together.

We have conceived the design for this app keeping simplicity of data access and data entry at the fore-front. We have used real-world objects like Wallet & Business Cards to represent contact information, which will help users relate to information and act upon them instantly. The iPad app comes readily optimized for the Resolutionary New iPad featuring the gorgeous Retina display with access to core set of features as detailed below.

The app helps you:

  • View, Add, Edit, Delete and Search for records in the following modules – Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Potentials, Tasks, Events, Calls and Cases
  • Access custom views that are defined in the online CRM system
  • Work offline even when there is not internet connectivity – Data entered offline will be auto-synchronized with the online CRM system when connection becomes available
  • Email, Call and Locate Address of Contacts on a Map
  • Make quick notes on the interactions you have with your Contacts as Call logs or as a text notes (Voice notes coming soon..)
  • and more…

Here is a brief walk through of the app

That’s not all.. We have also redesigned our iPhone app making it slick and usable compared to the previous version with additional features, the most notable being access to user defined custom views, making it a compelling companion on the go. A comparison of Dashboards of the old version and the new version is shown below:

 

Zoho CRM for iPhone Old Vs New

For more details on the complete set of features and functions of the app, please visit the respective wiki links - iPhone app wikiiPad app wiki

Note: The app is free to download from the App store but users need to subscribe to the Mobile edition of Zoho CRM to use the app. A FREE, full-featured, 15 day trial is offered to test the app before subscribing to the mobile edition package. Enterprise edition users get free read-only access to the app post the trial period.

Try our apps and let us know what you think – you may use the “Feedback” option present within the app or email us at support@zohomobile.com.

Sathish Rajagopalan

Zoho Outage on Monday, June 11th

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On Monday June 11th all of our services experienced an outage that lasted slightly over half an hour. As of 2:13 pm Pacific all of our services are back up and running. If you are still having any issues, please hit refresh in your browser.

As always, you can get the latest status of our services, get help and contact us at twitter.com/zoho and at facebook.com/zoho.

We apologize for this outage. We know it’s Monday and you just want to get your week up and running. For the technically-inclined, we’ll follow-up soon with an update about the causes of this service interruption.

### 6/14 Update
After doing some digging around, and then some more digging, our operations team gave us an update about the service interruption. It was due to a flood of abnormal traffic directed at one of our services. As a (planned) reaction to this, our firewalls performed as expected and dropped this traffic from getting into our data center. This abnormal traffic saturated our links, which resulted in users experiencing delays and interruptions during this half-hour period. Everything was restored to normal after we were able to stop the traffic flood. We are still investigating the origin of this traffic spike in order to prevent it from happening in the future.

Rodrigo