The Importance of Shopping Locally and Supporting Small Businesses

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BlueThere is something unique about growing up in a small town that gravitates you toward shopping locally. Whether it’s pride, duty or genuine support of a friend or family member, knowing your dollar has gone to not only a community member, but a business owner you trust makes every purchase that much more special.

You want to walk through those doors. You want to shop there first. You want to brag to others that your town has the best burger joint or music store.

I’ve supported local businesses my entire life. Whether it was eating the best pizza in the world at Pizza Place on Main Street, going to my local sports card and memorabilia shop, Dakota Dick’s, Saturday mornings or buying my first guitar at Craig’s Music, small businesses were my go-to spots in my hometown of Weatheford, Texas.

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Customer Spotlight: Wendy Baldwin of ER 4 LOVE

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Wendy Baldwin of ER 4 LOVE at the Zoho Houston Meet Up

One of the greatest parts about working at Zoho is the opportunity to meet and talk with small business owners from across the country. Hearing stories about people chasing their dreams and passions is always inspiring, and we are constantly energized and encouraged to learn how they have used Zoho to help them get there.

Recently, the Zoho team has been hosting Meet Ups for Zoho users and anyone else interested in learning about Zoho products in cities across the country. We have had successful Meet Ups in Austin, Houston and Boston, and are traveling to Miami next month.

At the Zoho Houston Meet Up I had the privilege to meet Wendy Baldwin, VP Operations, and Jeanine Holloway, Sales and Seminar Coordinator, from ER 4 LOVE, a company dedicated to helping married couples succeed at the “game of love.” From learning to deal with conflict to becoming a better listener, the marriage mediators at ER 4 LOVE stand by the promise of saving your marriage in two days.

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Come See Us Next Week in Boston

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The Zoho Team is headed to the northeast for our next Meet Up. We will be in Boston, Massachusetts next Wednesday, October 16 to meet with local Zoho users and also welcome new users to our suite of apps that can help you succeed as a small business owner. This time we are joining forces with On the verge, a Zoho Alliance Partner, to host a special breakfast event at the Boston Marriott Newton.meetup_boston_email

After successful Meet Ups with our users in Austin and Houston, we are excited to leave the state of Texas to meet and mingle with our customers in the Boston area. There is still time to register for the event, but space is limited so please RSVP here:

https://zohobostonmeetup.eventbrite.com/

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Introducing : Timetracking for your bugs

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A typical work day of a team member in a software development team :

You’re a team member in charge of a performance module and currently working on few critical bugs that needs to be delivered for a customer before this weekend.

Here’s how you can effectively use Zoho BugTracker to organize and fix bugs fast :

  • Create a business rule with module as Performance and severity as Critical. All the bugs with this module name and severity gets automatically assigned to you in Zoho BugTracker
  • There needs to be a way to categorize these reported bugs. Our BugTracker allows you to easily categorize them as open, to be analyzed, to be tested and add more Custom Status using Status and Workflow option under Bug Settings
  • Once categorized you can Sort and View bugs based on due or created date in the Bugs View. You can create a new custom field called This Week and use Bulk Update option to select and update the bugs to be fixed for This Week and you’re done. Every day when you login you can see the bugs progress in the Feeds panel under In Progress view.
  • As the weekend approaches, you need to record the entire week’s efforts. For this, make use of Weekly timesheets to record the time spent to fix the bugs for this particular customer and of course you can also Generate Invoices using Zoho Invoice and follow for payments.
  • If you wish to notify your Boss you can do so by adding him or her as Follower to know what you have been working on.
  • Finally, if you want you can deactivate this business rule using Activate or Deactivate option under Business Rules.

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Key to Customer Engagement is To Make the Customer Feel Valued

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Don’t confuse hammering your audience with marketing messages with customer engagement. You can’t force customers to engage with you. It has to be a decision the customer makes to want to interact with you in whatever manner they wish to engage, said Paul Greenberg, Principal of The 56 Group, at Zoholics, the Zoho user conference.

That engagement can be intense, casual, occasional, and/or frequent. And at any time that engagement level can change to any of the other states. Your job as a company is to provide customers with channels and capabilities to want to connect with you. If you get the customer in that state of mind, that’s engagement, Greenberg said.

Greenberg offered up the example of a company sending customers a coupon for 20 percent off every month for six months. They don’t expect each customer to actually come in and make a purchase every month, but the company is giving their customers the opportunity to make the choice to engage. Similarly, if you give people discounts to give to their friends, that’s another form of engagement that they select.

Engagement is proactive and it’s typically the customer who initiates it. What you’re providing are products and services and consumable experiences that make them want to interact with you. All you can ever do with a customer is “make them want to.” You can’t shove a message in their face and expect them to respond. You can try it that way but the typical response is usually negative, explained Greenberg.

“The goal is to engage the customer so they feel valued. So they’ll act and be proactive, not reactive.” said Greenberg.

Group Calendar Support & Other Neat Updates in Zoho Calendar

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There is no refuting the fact that be it work, family or friends, in order to get things done, it is necessary to be on the same page as a group or with your group.

Group CalendarAt times, it is crucial for each person in a group to be aware of everyone’s calendar of activities. This is tough considering other complications like employees in the same company sitting at different time zones, teams changing frequently and what not.

Well, in relation to these thoughts, we are glad to share with you the latest update to Zoho Calendar. We have added group calendar support and other neat features to help you close these communication gaps and collaborate more effectively with your co-workers, team mates and groups.

Group Calendar
It can be overwhelming to plan and track group activities, especially when someone is a part of many groups. In Zoho Calendar, you can now create separate group calendars with different lists of members and also subscribe to other group calendars. Members granted access to these group calendars can create and modify their events, view events of other members and always be in sync with team proceedings.

You can view all your group events combined as a single unified view to get a feel of how stuffed or free you actually are. If you feel your combined view is far too busy, you can right click on a particular group calendar to load it up in a separate tab and then make some event modifications in individual calendars if necessary.

Send / Receive invitations across calendars
We realize that preferences vary from one person to the other and there are many other calendar applications in use. You can now send event invitations and receive RSVP from users of other calendars too. This is made possible through email event notifications via Zoho Mail, playing the part of a mediator between the two calendar services. What is neat is that even if the host does not check his mail, the calendar is kept up-to-date.

Add/View events in different timezones
Scheduling events with participants on different time zones can be really tricky. A little miscalculation of half hour and late arrival for a webinar with a good prospect can be quite damaging. In Zoho Calendar, you can now add /view events in different time zones without having to mess with the time zone of your calendar.

Merge multiple calendars & embed
Embedding your calendar of events on your blog or website is a good way to keep your fans and followers intrigued. If you are someone who maintains multiple calendars, you can now merge events across several calendars and embed a single view. So when you have a form for people to request appointments, they will be able to exactly know when you are free.

Check this what’s new page to learn more about these latest updates to Zoho Calendar. We are confident that these updates will make it easier for you to manage your group activities, events and meetings.

Do post your comments on how these updates worked out for you and other suggestions on improving the Zoho Calendar experience.

Sell Globally with Multiple Currencies

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Multi-currency

Picture these real-time business scenarios,

  • A big company from Japan is ready to buy your products in bulk, but can pay only in Japanese Yen and not in your local currency.
  • Your supplier (say diamond or gold mining company) from South Africa insists you to raise the Purchase Order only in Rand.
  • You’ve a large sales organization spanning across several countries with head quarters in United States. And in each country you’ve agreed do business in the local currency while obtaining license from the government agencies.
  • You’re running a B2C e-commerce portal to sell designer women’s brands, jewellery and accessories not only to the US customers but to an international audience.
  • You’re in a highly competitive segment and all your competitors are selling products in different currencies to acquire the market share.

Whether Small, Medium or Large, your company will experience one or many of the above scenarios either due to Government regulations or by your business model. Hence your CRM and Accounting software must support the sales transactions & receivables/payable in multiple currencies. Keeping in mind the business needs of companies who deal with such scenarios, we at Zoho CRM offer complete support for multiple currencies to all users of Enterprise Edition.

Let’s quickly take a look at some of the key features of multi-currency support,

As an Administrator you can,

  • Choose the Home Currency for your company.
  • Activate a list of currencies for your sales reps.
  • Update currency conversion rates periodically.

As a Sales rep you can,

  • Use the desired currency while entering amount field in potential or other modules.
  • Generate quotes, sales orders, invoices and purchase orders in different currencies.
  • View sales pipeline report in your home currency.

For detailed description, refer our online help. To make the multi-currency roll-out easier for your company, we’ve also published implementation guide and compiled a few FAQ.

Eating your own dog food: Multi-currency at Zoho Corp.

Zoho Corporation has offices in United States, India, Japan, China, and Singapore selling both on-premise and online software to tens of thousands customers in more than 150 countries. Even though our fiscal currency is USD, customers from India, Japan, China and Singapore, buy products only in Indian Rupee (INR), Japanese Yen (JPY), Chinese Yuan (CNY) or Singapore Dollar (SGD) respectively. As our Sales team across regions use a single Zoho CRM account to track sales activities, implementing multi-currency became very important.

As soon as this feature was ready for the Beta testing, we activated it in our company’s CRM account. Previously, our regional sales managers were manually converting the quoted amount to USD whereas the Finance team were raising invoices in local currency. Now, all of them are directly entering the amount only in the local currency. We also track the consolidated sales pipeline in home currency at the organization-level.

We hope that you’ll find this new feature very useful to go global & grow your business. Please give it a try and let us know your business scenarios, suggestions, and experiences in the Comments box. We will be happy to improve this feature further based on your feedback.

Happy Selling!
Gopal