Integrate CRM with Your Custom Front End Application

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In an effort to integrate a custom application with a database, a software developer struggles with one CRM application, but finds solace in Zoho CRM.

Business

Pawan Jaiswal is a senior software developer that contracts on many different application integration projects. A few years ago he was working on a project for Laitkor Infosolutions Pvt. Ltd., a software development consulting company that builds custom web applications, mobile applications, and Windows applications.

Situation

Jaiswal was working on a project that required him to build a CRM backend interface for a custom application that was being used by a medical practice. He and his team started using Free CRM, but it quickly turned into a horrible experience.

The front end application that was supposed to be sending data to the CRM, wasn’t properly inserting the data into the database. To make matters worse they weren’t getting any proper reports as to what was going on, therefore making it impossible to debug, explained Jaiswal.

When Jaiswal called Free CRM for technical support they weren’t helpful and they took very long time to respond.

Tried Zoho CRM to solve their application integration problems

After lots of frustration, Laitkor’s client said to try using Zoho CRM.

Everything they wanted Free CRM to do was now happening with Zoho CRM. They were able to pass the values from the custom application to Zoho CRM and back again, plus they were getting reports from Zoho as to what was happening between the application and the CRM database.

Lastly, Jaiswal was very happy with Zoho’s support. Whenever he got stuck on a problem he just wrote up a query and got a response a few minutes later.

Advice for others

Jaiswal has become a fan of Zoho, and recommends it for other developers. He said it’s quite easy to use and if you don’t know how to program, the tutorials will help you develop your application.

Zoho Recruit: Custom Email Signatures

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Now with Zoho Recruit you can add a personalized touch to your emails. Announcing the availability of Zoho Recruit’s new Email Signature feature, which allows you to create your own personalized signatures.

The rich signature editor,  lets you to customize your signatures by adding images and links, as well as change text’s format, font and color to make them look professional.

Along with this, there’s another useful feature – that you can now create unique signatures for each email address associated with your account. So, if you’re handling multiple email accounts associated with your Zoho Recruit account, then you’ll be now able to choose a different signature for each custom “From” address you use.

We hope you like this new feature. Do share your feedback and stay tuned as we continue to launch more exciting features in the weeks to come.

Introducing: One button to merge them all

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Title alone is a giveaway. You have two or more customers with duplicate records in your Zoho Invoice or Zoho Books customer list. Reason for their existence could be :

1. You recently imported accounts and contacts from Zoho CRM and there are duplicate customer names staring at you.

2. You and your colleague unknowingly created the same contact under two different names. One as ‘Jane’ and another as ‘Jane Thomas’.

End Result : There are two sets of data (invoices, estimates,expenses..etc.,) running parallel for the same customer. You are annoyed and want to delete everything and start fresh… Pause .. Take a deep breath.

A little while ago we introduced ‘Merge Customer’. This tiny, yet powerful feature in Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books lets you merge your customer data so you won’t have to worry about twin records anymore. What it essentially does is, maps the duplicate record to the master record (customer which you wish to keep) and transfers all the data like invoices,estimates,etc., to the master record. Read more about  ‘Merge Customers‘ in our Help section

Also, as a time saver, we’ve introduced the ‘Merge’ button right on top of the customer list page. You can check all the duplicates and merge them all at once.

Merge customer recordsGo ahead and start merging. Let us know what you think.​

Design Your CRM to Be a Reflection of Your Business Agenda

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Using Zoho CRM, an outsourced sales staff shows its clients how every dollar is being used to gather leads and close sales.

The business:

Katie Berkovich is the founder and a sales executive for Contax Growth Strategies, a two-year-old consulting firm that provides outsourced sales professionals to growth stage companies. They help start ups get big enough so they can hire their own sales staff.

Contax consists of six sales executives that work on a part time basis for multiple clients. Since they’re distributed all around the country, they need collaborative cloud-based resources.

The situation:

Ever since Berkovich graduated college, she has extensively used Salesforce.com and Oracle Siebel.

Berkovich’s knowledge in CRM made her realize she couldn’t start a business with the tools she knew. The other options were simply too expensive. Salesforce required an annual contract for every rep, and Oracle Siebel required a certain number of reps to just get started. Contax has a flux of sales reps and clients coming and going. She really couldn’t commit to any specific level nor that much cash up front.

“Sometimes when you’re starting a business, $500 can be truly expensive,” Berkovich said.

Berkovich went about looking for alternatives and started searching on Google. Zoho came up in the results and there was a free trial that allowed her to test the application. Given her knowledge with CRM she knew exactly what she wanted and soon discovered Zoho could do everything she wanted it to do.

While Berkovich has a strong background in CRM, that’s not always the case with her clients. She finds herself often introducing them to CRM as their contacts are often stuck in a standard contact manager, such as Excel, ACT, or Outlook. In some cases a client only has a stack of business cards.

How they’re using Zoho

Contax’s primary use of Zoho is as a sales automation tool. When they first set up Zoho CRM it was very important that it was set up to track and report on sales activity so everyone to see, especially their clients. Berkovich immediately built in pipeline reporting so everyone could view the results of their efforts.

At any time, Berkovich can log into the system and see what’s happening with her team.

“I was checking in the midday activity report and I would look and see that Rep A called on these two accounts, they spent X number of hours on these accounts. They generated three leads on this one. Two leads on that one. What happened to them? Oh, I can see they were passed on to this other rep. I can now see this rep is closing them. And we had five things added to the pipeline today as a team,” Berkovich explained.

Since installing the pipeline system Contax has also installed Zoho time tracking, invoicing, and email. With all those applications working in sync they’re able to show their clients the hours spent and what activity that happened during that time.

“It’s really important for us to go back to a client and say, ‘This is what happened this week with your money,’” Berkovich said. “Trust is a big thing.”

Contax’s goal is to measure efficiency. They use Zoho to see which efforts yield the best results and adapt accordingly.

Advice for others

“Invest the time in learning how Zoho works. Don’t just ask someone else to set it up for you,” advises Berkovich. “It’s very important that the person running the business knows how to develop customized reports themselves.”

Berkovich says that she herself and her whole team have learned enough about Zoho that anyone can create a customized report. They leaned heavily on Zoho’s help section and the video tutorials. They’ve been invaluable and as a result they’ve yet to have to contact Zoho support.

It’s really important to be ingrained in the application because “CRM really should be designed as a reflection of the business agenda,” Berkovich said.

Listen to the full 14 minute interview here.

Cold Calling: 5 Tips from a “target”

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There’s cold calling, and then there’s Cold Calling. If you don’t know the difference (hint: it’s not the capital C’s), then you’re probably not doing it right. Here are 5 tips from a cold calling “target” you can use to increase the effectiveness of your prospecting and sales.

In technology companies, there are two people that get the most cold calls: the IT/Data Center guy and the Marketing guy. In addition to pitch emails, I get about 3-5 cold calls every day from different vendors trying to pitch me some new service, product, ad network, etc.

Being in Marketing, I’m certainly sympathetic to what sales guys are trying to accomplish every single day: fill out their pipeline, and keep deals moving. As a professional courtesy, I try to take most of their calls, and I reply to their emails – even if it’s just to tell them I’m not interested (the exception to that rule are email list “companies”).

I also take the calls for a selfish reason: I want to see myself what makes a good sales guy sell. It’s highly educative to see a great sales professional go about their job. Particularly on a cold call – that’s a very hard thing to do.

Some people say that cold calling doesn’t work. Well, I’ll tell you – it does work, sometimes, but you need to do it right. While we don’t do Cold Calling at Zoho (we’re way too busy handling incoming calls), I have spent marketing dollars with more than one company that came to me through Cold Calling. Why? Well, they got something I needed.

So here are 5 tips you can use during your Cold Calling. While these are directly related to phone sales, most of them also apply for emails/LinkedIn. Sure, there’s a lot more that you need to do, but you also need to make sure you get the following five areas down to a science.

1. Find a target
When I say “find a target”, I don’t mean to say “get a phone number”.  But that’s how vendors come to me. They call our main line – they ask for whoever runs Marketing (sometimes our receptionists don’t screen well enough!) and voilá, they end-up in my phone. That’s how you do cold calling. And it doesn’t work – I’ll usually be ending the call within 15 seconds. Cold Calling, on the other hand, means that you’ll use social media, LinkedIn, or just plain Google (it takes 2 seconds to find my LinkedIn profile) to find out who you want to talk to. So when you hit that phone, you ask for that peson, by name. When he answers the phone, you greet him by name. And please, please, pretty please, don’t ask stupid questions like “would you be the person responsible for Marketing?” as an opener! If you did your research right, you know I am. Get to the point.

2. Research
You’ve got your prospect, alright. You know their name, you know their title, you can find a phone number to start hunting them. But hold your horses! Don’t touch that phone just yet. First do a little bit of research about your target company.

For example, just today I got a lady on the phone. She was very courteous and professional. She wanted to invite me to some event for “Technology Resellers”. WTF? If you spent even 5 seconds on our website, our LinkedIn page, our Facebook page or our Twitter profile, you would know that we are not a “technology reseller”. We sell online software.

Some other times it is not as obvious. Some time ago I got a call from a company whose name I’ll omit. This company is in the business of enabling through-the-web trials for companies that sell old-school (installable) software. It’s a very neat thing. And if we sold installable software, I would want to talk to them. But we don’t sell installable software. We sell online software. That company is totally irrelevant in the world of SaaS.

3. Speak at their level
So you’ve got a name, a number, a title – you’ve done a bit of research. Next thing, you need to be able to speak at your target’s level to make sure you are pressing the buttons that are important for him/her. This is just sales 101 yet still most salespeople fail miserably at this.

This includes not only talking about the right topics – but also talking about them in the right context, and in the right wording. Yes, this stuff matters a lot.

I just had, not 10 minutes ago, someone call me pitching me SEM/PCC services. It was going ok… then I asked some question and the person on the other side started reciting to me the differences between the “organic results” and the “sponsored results” on Google.

Listen,  if I’m the owner of a local small business, maybe you should check first what’s my level of expertise in the arena. But… I mean, really? We’re a technology company. We’re an online company. We spend a LOT of money with Google every month (there’s multiple ways you can check for that), and you give me that pitch? I can tell you that call didn’t end up well.

4. Know your pitch – but not too well
In a previous life I had the opportunity to work with a very efficient, mature outbound sales team. When we were preparing an outbound campaign, the sales manager told me: “Just do me a favor, don’t give our guys a call script. Instead give them some pointers”. What she meant was that sales reps needed to apply their own creativity, wording and style to the campaign.

So if you’re a sales rep and someone gives you a script, reject it. Come up with your own version that makes you feel comfortable. And please, please don’t memorize it. It’ll make you sound less sincere.

Likewise, you need to be prepared to adjust your pitch on the fly. If you are doing Cold Calling right, you’ll be asking some questions. You’ll need to adjust your pitch depending on the answers to those questions. Maybe you see your prospect already knows about the topic – engage him with a more advanced conversation.

5. Be prepared for the next steps, and be prepared to discuss ballpark prices
The goal of Cold Calling (at least for most B2B product/services) is not to do an outright sell, but rather to just take the conversation forward to the next step. Yet, many sales people don’t know this, and they shoot themselves in the foot by rambling and not going for a strong close.

The very best sales people I’ve gotten are very smart about this. Once they sense some interest, instead of keep expanding on the topic, they’ll suggest a follow-up conversation, or an online meeting, or something of that sort.

It amazes me how some sales people won’t discuss pricing on the first call. I just don’t do business with them. Listen guys, discussing pricing (ballpark, of course!) is a very good thing for both buyer and seller – it helps you check that neither one of you is going to loose your time with a deal that is out of range. So be prepared to give some estimates or ballpark numbers about what you’re selling.
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Right, I know what you’re thinking: these points are so basicYet, about 95% of the cold calls I get did not do their homework on the points above. Sure, it saved them a couple of minutes of research, but it also meant they lost a valuable prospect within the first few seconds of the call. Likewise, if you did your homework, you’ll be able to qualify your prospect faster – and then you can move on to the next one on the list.

 

 

 

Sales follow-ups just got better with Zoho CRM

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While looking at the recently launched Pulse module, have these questions ever crossed your mind?

I see all these details, but where do I see a list of all records that I’m following?

How many records am I following?

I wish I could get more details about this record from this page itself. I don’t have to navigate away from what I’m doing.

Who else is following this record?

If yes, then, this is for you. With the recent update that we made to Pulse, it’s even easier to locate the data that you are looking for.

The Pulse module inside Zoho CRM gives an overview of your sales follow-ups. It gives you updates to records that are the most important to you. Over time, you would be following a number of records and is likely that you would have lost track of the records that you are following.

How many follow-ups and what are they?

Let’s say, you started following a lead around 2 months back. The lead has moved on to become a Customer. The updates to this record are no more frequent. You may not want to follow this record anymore. How do you search for the record from the list of updates? The Followed by me option makes it easy for you to locate the record and unfollow it.

There’s a little more to the story. How would you know the number of people who are following a particular record? You have this option from the Pulse page too. You’d know if your manager is following any prospect that you’re dealing with. You’ll definitely be on your toes. ;)

While you’re looking up this ‘important prospect’, you may want to get a quick view of the deal – like the stage, the probability, the expected revenue and the closing date. Now that the Summary View is a part of the Pulse page, it is easy to see more details about any record that you’re following. You do not have to navigate away from the Pulse module, either. You’re better equipped and you save time.

The fields shown in the summary view depend on the customization that you would have done earlier.

That’s about Pulse for now.

There are a few more improvements that we have made to reports and workflow flow rules. More details about this update are available in our forum discussion right here.

And now, I have these questions for you:

With the updates made to Pulse, how does it help you track your sales deals better?
Are you more productive?

Do leave your comments below.

-Sharanya R

Zoho Recruit Links up with LinkedIn

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At Zoho Recruit, our mission is to provide recruiters a simple, easy-to-use, single user-interface eliminating the need to juggle with multiple tools. Early last week, we had announced a bunch of new features; LinkedIn Integration was one of the most sought-after ones, which helps recruiters spend less time on the process and more time engaging with candidates. Now, let’s take a closer look at its functions.

Associate with LinkedIn profile
Zoho Recruit’s integration with LinkedIn, allows you to associate your candidates and client contacts with the LinkedIn profiles from inside Zoho Recruit. You can also narrow down your search using keywords with required qualification, skills, job title, etc., to match your existing candidates/client contacts in Zoho Recruit. This saves a lot of time toggling between the Zoho Recruit system and LinkedIn.

View LinkedIn profiles
You will have easy access to view all the details listed in the LinkedIn profile – Education, Experience, etc ., that will help determine the viability of a candidate/client contact before you contact them.

Send Private Messages
Once you find a right candidate/client contact, you can engage them by sending a private message through LinkedIn right from inside Zoho Recruit.

View and Comment on Updates
You can view and add comments on candidate/client contact updates directly from Zoho Recruit. Likewise, you can also Like or Unlike their updates.

Again, we hope you like this new integration with LinkedIn. Be sure to comment here as we love getting your valuable feedback.

Happy Recruiting!