Customer Spotlight: Migrating from Salesforce to Z-CRM Saves Young Company Huge Money

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ICT_landing

“It all started with Jim Cramer.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Jim Cramer, he is a popular American television personality, former hedge fund manager, and host of CNBC’s Mad Money.

As Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (ICT) founder and CEO Bob Joseph tells the story, “Years ago, I was watching Mad Money and he was pushing Sales Force’s CRM solution.  I knew we were at the point in our company growth where we needed a good CRM solution and one that could accommodate our growth.  So, from Cramer’s recommendation we began our customer relationship management with Sales Force.”

Soon however, Joseph realized that Cramer’s recommendation was not suitable for ICT…

The Business

Bob Joseph - Founder and CEO

Bob Joseph – Founder and CEO

ICT is a global training company committed to working collaboratively with regional, national, and international clients to provide a broad range of performance improvement training services geared specifically at helping individuals and organizations to work effectively with Indigenous Peoples.

Based out of Vancouver, BC, and started in 2002, ICT goes to great lengths to help the Canadian government work with indigenous peoples to improve all aspects of operation.

The Challenge: Switching from Salesforce to a More Affordable, Simpler CRM Solution

Per Cramer’s recommendation, Joseph decided to incorporate Salesforce into ICT as their CRM solution.  However, five months into implementation, he found that Salesforce was creating a huge cost and time burden for the amount of use and functionality they were receiving.

“At that point, we were like a ‘Mom and Pop’ shop, and the cost of Salesforce was exorbitant for us and the complexity was causing us to waste too much time.”

Joseph knew he had two options:  either stick with Salesforce, go through the pains of learning how to use it, and simply eat the cost hoping that in the end the monetary and time investment would be worth it, or try a lower cost, easier to learn CRM solution without sacrificing any of the functionality.

Joseph decided it was time for ICT to make a change.

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

ICT looked at several CRM solutions before finally selecting Zoho CRM.

“We looked at several CRM solutions including Sales Force and Trigger. When we found Zoho, we noticed the reviews were stellar, it had all of the functionality we needed and more, and it was free to sign up!”

Joseph had some definite “must haves” when searching for a CRM replacement.

“I knew that Salesforce was costing me way too much money, but I also knew I needed a full-featured CRM that could easily and quickly track customers through the entire sales process including ongoing customer support.”

Soon after signing up for Zoho CRM, Joseph realized that he had found a solution for ICT.

“Zoho had all of the functionality of Sales Force at a fraction of the cost. We signed on for free, started working with it, and realized that this is the solution for us.”

Implementing Zoho CRM

Prior to implementing CRM, ICT had several databases, calendars, and other data that was not shared.

“Data sharing was a huge problem for us!  My business partner and I would make phone calls, then later in the day would get together for coffee and realize we’d called some of the same people. When we started with Salesforce, this problem disappeared but now we were spending several extra hours having to navigate through complicated windows.  We eliminated one problem, but started another!”

However, when Joseph switched ICT over to Zoho CRM, both problems were alleviated.

Joseph found learning Zoho CRM very simple and intuitive and was able to have his entire database migrated over within a day.  After just a few days, Joseph felt incredibly comfortable navigating through Zoho CRM and using the majority of its features.

“It was just so intuitive and easy.  Now we were saving a ton of time while working together collaboratively, and the results showed immediately!  We were able to connect with noticeably more customers while delivering an improved service experience.”

“We actually use Zoho Projects to manage projects and connect that to CRM to have one cohesive dashboard.  It’s very easy for us now to navigate between customers and projects.

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

As ICT became comfortable with Zoho CRM, they discovered some features that they hadn’t previously been familiar with but ended up being “real timesavers.”

“Zoho CRM really helped us with its data deduplication feature which in Salesforce costs several hundred dollars but Zoho provides for free.  Google app integration has also been huge.  We integrate Zoho Campaigns, CRM, and incorporate it with some of our Google apps to make one cohesive solution.”

Joseph has also found a lot of value in the Zoho CRM social media integration.

“We definitely use the Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter integration a lot and it has proven to be a valuable tool for us.”

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“I would say get Zoho right away!  It integrates so easily with everything, makes life so much easier, and is easy to learn.  It has all the tools that every other CRM solution has, but at a fraction of the price and is so much easier to learn.”

To learn more about Indigenous Corporate Training Inc, click here.

Customer Spotlight: Using Automated Workflows in Z-CRM to Save HOURS Everyday

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brightwise

When BrightWise Marketing first opened its doors over 12 years ago, CEO Jeff Gordon knew that CRM was of utmost importance in creating a positive customer experience and helping the new company grow.  Gordon selected a popular CRM solution at the time and “made due” for several years before realizing that the current approach wasn’t working.  “We had been talking about getting a real CRM solution for 6 or 7 months because our current CRM tool was simply not cutting it.”

Having used the same CRM tool for several years, Gordon was looking for a CRM solution that he could easily import data into, quickly learn to use, and automate many of his daily tasks.

The Business

Jeff Gordon - Found and CEO

BrightWise was started in 1992 by CEO Jeff Gordon to provide marketing consulting services to small and medium sized businesses.  Gordon refers to his marketing strategy as “action marketing.”

BrightWise’s strategy is to provide innovative strategies that generate response, change behavior, and build brand equity.  They focus on marketing programs that blend promotion, advertising, direct response, visual communications, branded products, and alternative media.

The Challenge: Finding a Cloud-based CRM solution with automated workflows

Gordon had been using GoldMine as his CRM solution for over eight years when he began to realize that it was becoming more of a cost and time incurrence than the benefit it was providing.

“We had been using Goldmine for many years and it was finally reaching the end of its useful life for us. We started having CRM problems and I was spending entirely too much money and time fixing problems!”

For Gordon, he found CRM advice from an unlikely source:

“My financial advisor actually recommended Zoho.  I signed up for free to and immediately knew whether or not this was the CRM solution for BrightWise.”

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

Although Gordon used GoldMine as his CRM solution for several years, there were several specific issues he was having.

“Goldmine was much too complicated for our needs and it was becoming an ongoing cost sinker. I couldn’t actually implement things that I wanted to with Goldmine, specifically automating workflow.”

Gordon had three main selection criteria for a new CRM Solution:

Workflow Automation – Gordon places high value on time savings to automating workflow was of high importance.  “I really wanted to be able to take sales processes, break them down, and then automatically generate emails, setup tasks, and other things like that.”

Simple Interface – Gordon found Goldmine’s increasing complexity frustrating and time consuming and wanted a simple, easy-to-navigate solution

Cloud Based – Gordon wanted to increase his virtual capabilities including using virtual employees which made this an essential feature.  “The initial allure of Zoho CRM is that it was cloud based which would allow us to be more virtualized.”

Implementing Zoho CRM

After about a month of using CRM, Gordon and the rest of BrightWise felt very comfortable with Zoho CRM and were already saving time by automating workflow.

“Zoho CRM was just so smooth and swift and made workflow automation so easy”

Once familiar with Zoho CRM, Gordon soon discovered Zoho Projects and decided to integrate that as well to create one interconnected solution for customer project management.

“We actually use Zoho Projects to manage projects and connect that to CRM to have one cohesive dashboard.  It’s very easy for us now to navigate between customers and projects.

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

“The speed with which we work and the ability to get our hands on information is so much quicker and simpler.  I can’t over emphasize how much time we save using Zoho.  I have been able to save at least two to three hours per day since switching to Zoho.

Gordon has seen huge improvements to his business in customer acquisition as well.

“Managing potential customers has been the biggest boon to my work in dealing with clients and helping me to organize and manage multiple priorities.  We’re now integrating QuickBooks with Zoho so we now have a 360 degree view of client activity from one dashboard which is something I’ve wanted for years and with Zoho became a reality.  But the improvement in dealing with potential customers has been where I’ve gained the most value since switching to Zoho.”

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“Zoho is always upgrading, adding new features, and make new things available which I really like.  It’s so quick and everything just goes where it’s supposed to go.  Everything is just so easy.  Zoho is just so smooth, reliable and doesn’t crash EVER!”

“The bottom line is that every business person is looking for the same thing:  a sustainable, systematic process for growth that doesn’t’ depend on them being there and is a money making machine that can live in perpetuity.  Zoho CRM does exactly this.”

To learn more about BrightWise, click here.

Customer Spotlight: Zoho CRM Transforms the Way a Business Tracks Customers AND Equipment

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ProSound

In 1999, Chester Hull saw a major opportunity in the consulting industry.  As an ordinary consumer, Hull began to take notice of how frequently he was put on hold when calling companies for support, inquiries, or product information, and how often the experience was relatively unpleasant.

“How long will I be on hold for?  Why is the ‘hold music’ so awful? When will I reach a real person to talk to?!”

Hull seized the opportunity to address this common customer pain and started his company Prosound to alleviate this pain.  His goal was to work with companies around the globe to offer an amazing customer phone experience.

For the first seven years of business, Prosound tracked its customers with spreadsheets and various database programs.  As the customer base grew, so did the data that needed tracking.  Additionally, the aspect of mobile integration offered a valuable opportunity for Prosound which was impossible with the current customer tracking approach.  Hull decided that if Prosound wanted to take business to the next level, he needed flexible CRM solution with mobile integration.

The Business

Chester Hull - Founder and CEO

Chester Hull – Founder and CEO

Pro Sound is a consulting company providing turn-key systems for transforming customer caller experience.  Prosound’s services include writing automated phone messages, recording them, and ensuring the installation works according to a company’s system specifications.   As CEO and founder Chester Hull summarizes Prosound’s approach, “Why are your callers reaching out to you, what are they expecting, and how can we make that experience better.”

The Challenge: Migrating to a CRM Solution with a Large Database of Contacts and Implementing Mobile

Prosound faced an intimidating task:  transferring their existing database of thousands of contacts into a cloud-based CRM solution.  Additionally, they would restructure the way they interact with customers to take advantage of mobile integration so that customer information could be accessed and edited in-field.

As such, Prosound needed a CRM solution where they could quickly import contacts and easy begin to use mobile features without incurring substantial cost.

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

Hull initially tried the CRM solutions from Intuit and Salesforce.

“With the Intuit product, it just wasn’t as customizable and flexible as we needed.  And with Salesforce, it was actually just more than we needed and certainly much more cost than we needed.”

Hull’s selection criteria for a CRM solution were the following:

Low Cost Barrier to Entry – With the myriad of CRM solutions available, Hull did not want to end up spending a lot of money on a CRM solution that didn’t fit his needs.  Rather, he wanted something he could start using immediately, before deciding if this is the right solution for Prosound.

Mobile Integration – Prosound performs a large number of field visits and needs to access customer information on the go.

Flexibility – Customer equipment tracking requirements constantly change for Prosound, so they needed a CRM solution which allows them to easily customize and change the tracking fields.

Connectivity – Ability to sync with email management software to allow easy data sharing.

Implementing Zoho CRM

Prosound’s choice to try Zoho CRM was quickly validated with the ease with which they implemented it.

“Migrating over was pretty basic for us.  What was really nice is that we slowly dialed in our customization of CRM and could add additional fields as we went, whenever we wanted.”

Soon after trying the free trial, Hull decided that Zoho CRM was the solution for him.

“It was just so easy and intuitive, and it satisfied every one of my requirements.”

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM’s first major impact for Prosound was that it enabled much better tracking.

“Before implementing Zoho CRM, we didn’t have an exact track of the equipment we had at a client’s site, what the status was, and what kind of phone system they had.  This information just slipped through the cracks and this was one of the first customizations we used with Zoho CRM.  Now we can quickly pull up that information as we’re talking to a customer and know exactly what equipment they’re using.”

Additionally, Zoho CRM’s cloud storage allowed easy data access and automatic data backup.

“In the last four years, we’ve transitioned entirely to the cloud so every business function that we do is in the cloud and Zoho CRM was a natural fit for that versus something running locally. We’re now a completely virtualized office so we have people connecting from different parts of the world.  Additionally, Zoho CRM gives us instant backup and data recovery which is great.  Zoho CRM has been a perfect fit.”

Prosound has also been able to take advantage of Zoho’s cross product connectivity.

“We’ve been able to tie CRM and Zoho Creator together and store things like email conversations in the Creator database and link them to specific customers in CRM which is critical.  Connecting these two applications has been incredibly powerful for us.”

Since implementing Zoho CRM and Creator, Prosound has enjoyed steady growth which Hull largely attributes to the time savings and ease with which he and his employees can navigate through customer data.

“Zoho CRM saves us a ton of time and really allows us to have smooth and quick interactions with customers allowing us to fit in more work per day.”

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“I recommend Zoho CRM as often as I can because the barrier to entry is so low and anyone can jump in, starting using Zoho CRM, and get the advantages right away. It’s free, extremely customizable and flexible, and it’s mobile!”

To learn more about Prosound, click here.

Using CRM to Automatically Manage Basic Sales Tasks

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Since 2008, Johnny Shami, Sales Director at AdLift has been a customer of Zoho. Prior to that time, he lived in an offline world of contact management and CRM. Plus, all his information was split among different applications: Excel, Word, and even paper. He was constantly asking the typical sales questions such as “What’s my pipeline for this month and next month?” and “What do I need to follow up on?”

It was a world of limited access of information for him, and more so for his team. Once he moved online with Zoho that all changed.

Now that applications are integrated and everyone has access via an online CRM system, Shami says he can complete all the sales 101 tasks he couldn’t complete before such as assigning tasks, finding pipeline information for any month, and seeing how each sales person is performing.

Today, everyone has access to Zoho and Shami’s wasted hours hunting down information has been reduced dramatically.

The CRM You Use is the One You Love

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After working with a string of dreadful non-intuitive CRM applications, young entrepreneur Tara Berthier, President of Speakers Boutique, recently discovered Zoho CRM, the first CRM application she actually loves using every single day.

The business

For her six years out of college, Tara Berthier (@tberthier) has worked at a string of speakers agencies, Speakers Spotlight and the National Speakers Bureau. Just a year ago she started TLB Talent and last month she launched Speakers Boutique, a speakers agency with offices in Toronto and Halifax, Ontario Canada.

A troublesome history with CRM applications

Berthier was introduced to CRM applications right out of college. They were a must for any speakers agency that not only have to manage talent, but also customers and prospective customers.

First job out of school was at the National Speakers Bureau where they used a CRM application called Maximizer. It was Berthier’s first ever experience with CRM. She had never been exposed to CRM or even know it was called CRM. Regardless, she found Maximizer to be not user friendly and a little complicated.

Her next job was with Speakers Spotlight, and they used ACT! for which Berthier referred to as “the worst.” She complained that it was slow, complicated, and was loaded with useless features. Her greatest aggravation was how cumbersome it was to complete the simplest tasks. For example, with ACT! there was no way to move a large amount of tasks forward in the calendar, said Berthier. You had to manually move them one by one. She faced this tiresome task every time she came back from vacation and faced a series of assigned tasks whose dates had passed. Her first day back at the office from a vacation was spent manually rescheduling her tasks.

After learning the business from two established companies, it was time for Berthier to break out on her own. She started her own company, TLB Talent, for which she used Google Docs, an application she loved. Being that she was a young entrepreneur with loan debt, she began searching for free CRMs that would work with Google Docs. She stumbled across Insightly and decided to give it a try. Given her past experience with Maximizer and ACT! she didn’t have high expectations for any CRM application.

Unfortunately, Berthier wasn’t disappointed. She found Insightly to be just as frustrating as the previous CRM applications. She felt it was a dinosaur when it came to graphics and it was slow and non-intuitive. But since she was a young entrepreneur with poor cash flow she felt at the time it was worth it to slog through this application and get out of it what she could.

How discovered Zoho

After months of frustration with Insightly, Berthier had enough. She started searching for another Google App friendly CRM application and stumbled across Zoho.

“I decided to try Zoho and it was night and day,” said Berthier. “It’s cleaner. It’s fast. When I’m using it, it just makes sense.”

With all the previous CRM applications she found herself looking things up constantly on Google, calling support, or asking colleagues how to do certain tasks.

“With Zoho it’s almost as though it reads my mind. It’s so user friendly and intuitive,” she said citing the ease of importing all her contacts from Insightly into Zoho. It was a task she admitted she was dreading yet was happily surprised when everything came in perfectly, without a hitch.

A CRM application is only valuable if you use it

With only a couple of months of Zoho experience under her belt, Berthier is using the CRM application for its most basic uses. She puts in potential leads and logs all her communications. If she doesn’t hear back from someone she puts a task to follow up with them in a week.

“When I had Insightly I didn’t want to use it,” Berthier complained.

Prior to Zoho Berthier admitted she had poor organization with all her communications simply because she wasn’t actually inputting data into the CRM. “Those things were incredibly disorganized at my last company because I dreaded using the application,” she said.

Berthier became so discouraged with Insightly that she just avoided using it. As a result she found herself going through 800 emails just to try to figure out what her last communications was with a specific contact.

Zoho turned that all around. She actually likes using the application.

“Now, I go to my office and [Zoho] is the second thing I open after my email. It’s made me a more efficient worker. Much more organized. I feel much more in control with my work and my ability to be a good agent,” she said.

Advice for others 

Berthier used to look at CRM as being a necessary evil. She knew she had to have one for her company, but she also realized that you have to use it for it to serve its function.

“It’s a pain in the ass to have to log all your communications,” said Berthier. “But it’s essential to keeping organized and motivated and knowing what your next day is going to look like and being on top of things.”

Her advice for others is to “find a CRM that’s easy to use and doesn’t make you depressed by the site of it.”

“My [first] business would have looked a lot different if I had found Zoho,” said Berthier. “I would have done more work. I would have definitely reached out to more people. I would have felt more confident with my abilities as an agent instead of scrambling every day and feeling disorganized and just discouraged overall.”

We’re glad that Tara isn’t disorganized anymore.

As a side note, I thought you’d be amused that we discovered Berchier through a tweet, in which she announced:

With praise like that, we had to talk with her.

Listen to our full 15 minute conversation here on Soundcloud.

Has Your CRM Application Changed Your Life?

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After undergoing an exhaustive search of CRM applications, Deborah Morelli, Account Executive for Interbank Mortgage Company landed on one CRM tool that has changed her life and she’s vowed to take it wherever she goes.

Business:

On a daily basis, Deborah Morelli, Account Executive for Interbank Mortgage Company, must manage 40 to 50 accounts with mortgage brokers across 20 states while also looking through 200 to 2000 different leads.

The Challenge:

Morelli used to manage all her accounts through Outlook. It was a mess. She forgot people’s names, couldn’t discern key contacts within a group, and she forgot to return phone calls.

“Keeping track of them within Outlook just doesn’t work for me,” said Morelli. “I found myself disorganized, losing business, not servicing my clients very well, and I was just desperate.”

Competitive analysis of CRM:

Morelli wanted to be more organized so she started to do some research on CRM. She wanted an application to look nice, be configurable to the way she wanted to work, and be interactive.

“If I put information in to tell it to talk to me, I want it to talk to me,” said Morelli.

Night after night she pulled up her iPhone and researched different CRM applications. When she saw one she liked she gave it a try. Sometimes she would sign up for the 30 day trial and after she realized she didn’t like it she would cancel the subscription.

Morelli would discover a variety of reasons for the CRM application to disappoint her. Either it didn’t do what it said it would do, was ugly, or it didn’t let her make many changes.

Morelli looked at somewhere between 35-50 different CRM applications. She was frustrated by all of them until she discovered Zoho. What she liked that about Zoho was the lack of limitations. It could work for anyone in any industry.

“The criteria you can set up, it’s unlimited. It’s all within your imagination actually,” Morelli said. “I feel this is my little buddy here. Without it there’s no me.”

With all her research, Morelli set a limit of $125 per month she would spend on a CRM application. That wasn’t a problem when it came to Zoho.

“The price point for Zoho is amazing,” she said.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

Every day Morelli’s in her office looking at 40-50 accounts and 200-2000 leads in Zoho. She needs to know who’s active, who’s inactive, and who she needs to call. Then she has to know if there are any leads. Which ones are the good leads and which ones are the dead ones.

Deborah Morelli proudly flaunts her Zoho desktop

From her first initial setup five years ago, which took her only 20 minutes, Zoho has become a standard part of her workflow as she’s in the application every single day. One extra feature Morelli likes is the ability to have links within Zoho that let her pop into other sites without having to leave Zoho.

As Morelli did most of her CRM research on an iPhone, she is also dependent on using her CRM via her iPhone.

“I can be on my iPhone and open Zoho and it’s just as good as the one I have on my desktop,” said Morelli. “A lot of these CRMs it’s one or the other.”

Zoho goes where I go

Morelli is an unabashed Zoholic saying, “I’m not able to function without it.”

“If I change jobs I’ve decided I’m going to have Zoho a part of my life forever. Because life is business and business is life,” said Morelli who will soon be adding personal to do items as well to Zoho. “Everyone needs some type of CRM.”

“By keeping up with your CRM you’re helping your clients make money and then you make money,” she said.

For those still not sure, Morelli advised you not frustrate yourself and waste your time trying to manage your business through Outlook.

“Outlook doesn’t work for me anymore. I don’t know who it works for. It’s outdated,” she said.

Instead Morelli suggests you try Zoho for one month and you’ll see improvement in your business life which will lead to your personal life.

Listen to my full interview with Morelli on Soundcloud.

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: