Salesforce vs Zoho: The Reality

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I just noticed this
tweet from @Sesiri
who recently migrated from Salesforce to Zoho CRM.

In his blog post (I recommend reading the entire post), Sesiri talks about the email Salesforce sent explaining why Salesforce thinks they are better than Zoho. They had 5 points in the email. I believe some of these points are misguided or simply not true. I want to clarify these points in this post.

First, regarding commitment to CRM success

Zoho CRM is one of many applications offered by Zoho. Zoho’s parent company AdventNet, a provider of software development services, has also has invested in another CRM offering. How much innovation and focus on CRM success can be expected from such a diverse company with limited resources?

Thank you Salesforce for acknowledging our broad portfolio. Companies don’t run on CRM alone. They need various pieces of software to run their business efficiently. At Zoho, we want our small business customers (remember them, Salesforce?) to focus on running their business, not their IT and certainly not their CRM. If it means offering several applications, pre-integrated for a good value, we do it.

We are not in the business of extracting every penny from the customer to sell a CRM app. What are the advantages of offering a broad portfolio? Integrations. Look at some of the
integrations
we did just in the year 2010. This list doesn’t even include our integration with Invoicing, web conferencing, accounting and many other apps. Try this with Salesforce.

Also, Zoho.com’s parent company is ‘Zoho Corp’, a software company and not a ‘software development servicescompany’. Yes, there is a big difference. We are not an outsourced services company. We have been a product company for 16 years.

Regarding Best of Breed email integration, Salesforce says…

Zoho CRM offers limited Outlook integration at an additional charge, but lacks the ability to create contacts from emails, link emails to opportunities, or schedule automatic calendar synchronization. Zoho CRM forces customers to use its Zoho Mail product at an additional cost in order to integrate to more popular email applications like Gmail.  Finally, Zoho CRM does not offer the ability to track when email messages are read, leaving users wondering if their emails are received at all.

Our Outlook add-on syncs Contacts, Calendar events and Tasks with Zoho CRM with a single click. Regarding email integration, we think the current plugin based approach that is used in the industry is history. If you ever looked at our integration with Zoho Mail, you’ll know what I mean. You’ll now be able to see your email entirely in Zoho Mail as a tab. Also, you can view all your email exchanges (like email threads) with a contact, lead etc. It just doesn’t end there. You can even share your email exchanges with other sales people in your team to get better idea on what is going on. Can this be done in outdated approach of Salesforce? I don’t think so. Why? Zoho does Email which Salesforce doesn’t. This is another advantage of a broad product portfolio.

Regarding the price, our email module is $3/month add-on. That still keeps Zoho CRM’s pricing at $15/month. If you are migrating from Salesforce, I am sure your response will be similar to Sesiri’s.

Considering the price, I think Zoho still beats in several hundreds, or may be more than a grand.

Regarding Document Management Integration, Salesforce says…

Zoho CRM does not offer a central repository for vital documents directly in the application. Further, Zoho CRM cannot generate a mail merge document into its own Zoho Writer product.

Zoho offers a central document repository in Zoho Docs. CRM is not the kind of application that is used by every employee in a business. But apps like Email or Document Management are used by every one in a business. Because we don’t come from a CRM centric world, we let you place document where they actually belong. If you want to attach documents to a lead/contact, you can do so within Zoho CRM, not just from Zoho Docs, but other document management apps like
Google Docs as well. Of course, our Web Tabs let you add our entire document management app within Zoho CRM.

One of the benefits you get with our document management module is the integrated office suite. You can optionally view the documents online using our office apps without having to rely on ‘installed software’.

Regarding the claim that we cannot do mail merge with our own word processor….not true. Zoho CRM does mail merge with Zoho Writer along with Microsoft Word. Being the ‘No Software’ company, do you do mail merge with any online word processor?

What’s interesting here is that Salesforce is claiming that we don’t integrate well enough with traditional software (Outlook, Email Apps etc). So much for their ‘No Software’ mantra.

While we have several advantages on the product side over Salesforce, there is one key advantage you get with Zoho on the sales side. We don’t do forced sales. Existing Salesforce customers will know what I mean.