Industry Insights

Zoho CRM: The Product That Meets Every Need

There's another player in the CRM market, one that isn't as well-known as Salesforce but its giving them a run for their money. As the industry evolves, the demand for CRM solutions has increased, forcing many companies to innovate at a rapid pace. Zoho is one company that has been on the forefront consistently delivering innovative new business productivity software since its conception and nd if you haven't heard of them yet, you will.

Zoho specializes in cloud-based solutions that allows business users to run their entire business with their suite of online productivity tools and SaaS applications at a fraction of the cost compared to its counterparts. They have grown into a very profitable company, and to this day they have yet taken any venture capital money, nor has it filed for an initial public offering. The company’s focus has been entirely on providing the best product to it users, launching new products, often releasing multiple products in a given year. 

So, what makes Zoho CRM different?  I reached out to them and was lucky enough to connect with Vibhav Vankayala Head of Product Marketing at Zoho where he gave insight into the company history along with its future outlook and what makes them different along with their philosophy as to why they have taken on venture capital like so many other industry leaders have to grow the business.

For our readers that aren’t familiar with Zoho CRM, could you tell all little about your company and who your customers are?

“Zoho CRM started in 2005, with the objective of offering respite to small and mid-sized companies from large, complex solutions like Salesforce.

Our parent company Zoho began in 1996, then named Adventnet, mainly into network management software. This was quick to gain popularity and before long, we started serving some of the biggest telecom brands. Today, Zoho consists of over 40 different apps and serves over 40 million users worldwide.”  

Zoho CRM is up there as one of Salesforce alternatives – The big question is how do you differ/compete against them?

“Way back in 2005, Zoho CRM's claim to fame was its easy-to-use interface and no strings-attached usage policy. This was a huge relief for SMBs, who were suffering from complex CRM products like Salesforce, with tough contracts and expensive implementation. The game has moved significantly ahead from then, and today - we're one of the very credible alternatives to Salesforce. Over all these years, though we have added many new features and enhanced functionality, we haven't forgotten our core tenets of what make us special. We have also stayed significantly ahead of the curve, with emerging technology like Artificial Intelligence. In February this year, we launched the first AI-based sales assistant, Zia; 8 months before Salesforce.”

I see that Zoho Corporation has never taken on venture capital and this seems to be the norm with many of these companies in this industry. Could you please explain your philosophy on this? 

“Our founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu is vehemently against VC funding and debt in general. He even advices all Zoho employees to live a debt-free life as much as possible. One of the main reasons for this is freedom. Bootstrapped companies have significantly more freedom than VC-funded companies. This freedom can make all the difference. If Zoho wouldn't have had that freedom, we might not have kept Zoho Mail running for many years, before it took off to become one of the handful email service providers today. 

We had the freedom to build a plethora of products - over 40 of them. All this needs a great deal of patience and conviction, which venture capitalists might not necessarily understand, in a world filled with immediate returns. This freedom has helped us become the only software vendor with a range of products capable of running your entire business.
Most of the popular software vendors today are buried in debt and haven't made any profit till date. Despite this fact, they continue to be valued, funded and trusted heavily. Of course, this dangerous trend also extends to other industries, but we'll stick to software here. 

Our question to users: How can you trust these companies to run your business when they can't run their own?

Since Zoho CRM has been around since 2005, what is your vision for the company or where do you see your company’s growth / focus in the next 3-5 years? 

“Some of our main areas of investment and focus for the next 3-5 years are Artificial Intelligence and Customer Experience.
1) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning -  There has been an overwhelming response and adoption of our machine learning-based predictions, which we launched in Feb 2017. 
This encouraged us to go deeper into the field of AI and ML for sales, which resulted in the birth of Zia Voice - A voice assistant for salespeople. In plain words, Zia is like Alexa or Siri - but tailored for salespeople.
Zia can help salespeople track leads, help them respond to customers, and even close deals for them. All these actions are driven by human intent of course, which is why we believe AI can never replace people. We are committed to increasing our focus in these areas.

 2) Customer Experience -  Sales has moved a long way, from being a destination/end, to beginning. The beginning of a journey with customers that turns them into brand advocates. We believe this is the key to ensuring business success, for which different customer facing teams need to work together and share their insights every moment. To facilitate this, the software used by each of these teams will need be as committed as them to in working together. To help businesses do this, we've come up with CRMPlus - a unified customer experience platform that helps sales, marketing and support teams to work together and ultimately deliver a better customer experience. We are investing significantly in this area and are committed to taking the Customer Experience journey to greater heights.”

Some of Zoho's CRM Features

Zoho's CRM platform is designed to attract, retain, and satisfy customers to grow your business. The app’s top features include lead and contact management, sales pipeline management, and purchase control. Zoho's CRM expanded multichannel support for phone, email, live chat, social media, and in-person meetings makes Zoho CRM the most tightly integrated system on the market. Zoho CRM is enterprise ready with advanced features like page layouts, sandbox, and advanced customization options including conditional fields, lead scoring and business process mapping. Zoho's CRM includes an AI-powered sales assistant, Zia, which provides interpretations, solutions and predictions for salespeople. With seamless website integration it allows you to automate your lead generation, qualification and conversion. Combining these features allows to make effective use of the software.

Here are just a few of the features that Zoho CRM provides:

Multichannel  -  Connect in real time with customers and prospects, across all channels. From email to phone, live chat, and even social media. SalesSignals notifies you when a hot prospect is browsing your site, reading your email campaign, or engaging with your brand on social media.

Performance and Analytics - The more your business grows, the more you need to know. Measure the performance of every sales activity, and break up quotas into achievable targets with Zoho CRM's reports, analytics, and forecasts.

Customization - Customize standard modules, add additional functionalities, and make Zoho CRM work the way you do. With custom views, filters, and fields, decide how much data you want to see at any given time, and in the language you prefer.

Process Management - Does your sales team know what to do at each stage in the pipeline - and do they follow the playbook? With Blueprint, your sales team knows at every turn what to do next. Define your sales process, and all your team has to do is follow it.

Sales Automation - Zoho CRM's advanced automation capabilities save your sales team time by automatically completing routine tasks, so they can focus on closing more deals faster.

Pipeline Management - Your team will identify quality leads, decide who to assign them to, discover the right deals to follow up on, and exceed your revenue targets. Plus, you will get much better visibility of your sales pipeline.

Team Collaboration - Zoho CRM's real-time feeds, chat, repository to share sales collateral, and centralized calendar make closing a deal easier for everyone.

Security - Your security is our first priority. We understand every organization must strike the right balance between protecting their customers' data and giving employees the freedom to get their work done. Zoho CRM meets both of these requirements.

Catalyst & Developer Tools - Build enterprise-grade apps with minimal effort. Zoho CRM's enterprise cloud platform provides the right mix of no-code, low-code, and high-level programming interfaces to develop seamless third-party integrations and white labelled industry-specific applications.

Ending Notes

The Zoho Corporation isn't just going after Salesforce, with its all-encompassing business suite of products, they have positioned themselves well in the market place to take on the various industry leaders across all markets.

Gartner says “CRM Became the Largest Software Market in 2017 and Will Be the Fastest Growing Software Market in 2018”. The evolution of CRM solutions has expanded the market from an interesting addition to being an essential concept. Companies, of all shapes and sizes, are using customer relation activities such as marketing sales, customer support, and data analysis as the basis for client retention strategies aimed at creating stronger product loyalty and enhancing future sales. 

Like its parent company Zoho CRM has been pushing the envelope, they understand the importance of solid Customer Relationship Management. Ultimately, the goal of the CRM market will always remain the same: The alignment of sales and marketing!

Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans has over 16-years in the tech industry and currently works as the event coordinator and tech reporter for CMS-Connected, keeping up-to-date on what's happening in and around the Content Management industry.

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