Spending too much time managing your customer relationships and not enough time growing your business?
Keeping track of all your sales activities can make or break a business. Managing customer relationships properly can be a real challenge.
Zoho CRM software helps you to keep track of all aspects of sales and customer relationship management and sales activities.
I would like to share my experience with Zoho CRM in this article. Let’s find out if Zoho CRM is the right solution for your business.
⏳ Are you in a hurry? Then here’s your short version
Zoho CRM offers a wide range of features and that too at an affordable price. Also, if you’re looking for a solution that can become part of an overall business platform in your company, Zoho CRM is a great choice. Zoho CRM offers you a completely free version or a free 14-day trial.
Zoho CRM Advantages
- Free version – Zoho CRM offers a completely free version with reduced functionality.
- Gamification feature – Offering gamification as a feature is an interesting approach to motivating sales teams.
- Large feature set – The feature set of Zoho CRM is very large and that too at a small price.
Zoho CRM Disadvantages
- Pricing is complicated – The feature set is large and the pricing is not that easy to understand what features are included in which version.
- User Interface – You’ll find everything you need in Zoho CRM. However, the interface is not as visually appealing as Zoho’s competitors Freshworks CRM and Pipedrive.
- Zia artificial intelligence – Not all functions are available in German yet.
What is Zoho CRM?
Zoho CRM is the CRM system of the Zoho business software platform. Zoho provides software that offers various business processes like finance, human resources, customer support, etc.
The origins of Zoho go back more than 20 years. In 1996, Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas founded Zoho in Chennai, India, at that time still under the name AdventNet Inc.
This makes Zoho a company with a large user base and with more than 15 years of experience. There are now more than 60 million users who use Zoho business software every day.
Zoho CRM is mostly used by small and medium businesses. The goal of Zoho CRM is to help its customers build better customer relationships, generate more revenue, and increase productivity. Let’s find out if Zoho CRM has succeeded.
How does Zoho CRM work? Is it easy to use?
When you log in, Zoho CRM offers you a clear dashboard on which you can view your most important sales activities. You can assign different functions to the dashboard individually.
Also, if you want to present your dashboard, you have the option to display it in full-screen mode. You can select the home page with your dashboard in different views.
There is the standard view, classic view, and manager view. The manager view is available if you have access rights to data of other distributors.
You can access the most important menus in Zoho CRM in a bar at the top of the screen. The menu is logically structured following a certain logic of a sales process: leads, contacts, customers, etc.
Nevertheless, I would have liked some menu items to be summarized. That would have allowed a simpler operation. So you can quickly lose the overview. The operation of competitors such as Pipedrive or Freshworks CRM is much more intuitive.
Zoho CRM offers you the choice between the grid, List, and Canvas view in most menus. The grid view is the clearest view, but it only makes sense for activities that go through a process.
That’s why you should use the list or canvas view for contacts. The list view is, as the name suggests, a simple alphabetical list. You can use this to select contacts or for activities as a to-do list.
The Gamescope feature offers you the possibility to use gamification in Zoho CRM. This means that you can define sales goals like a computer game. Each of the participants gets a goal and can earn badges and achievements. This way, participants can measure each other like in a computer game.
Zia sales assistant
Zia is Zoho CRM’s artificial intelligence that can support you as a sales assistant. Zia recognizes which recurring processes you have in your sales process and recommends macros so that you can automate these sales processes.
For example, Zia can help you enter data by automatically completing data.
Zia can also estimate the likelihood of deals based on past data. Zia is available in Enterprise and Ultimate versions.
In Zoho, you can define access rights in the settings. There is an administrator who has access to all data. You can also define a manager level who gets data access to their sales reps.
When you import new customers you can set a customer-owner. This owner is the main contact to a customer. However, you can also give other salespeople access to the customer data. This is useful to keep track of different customers in a sales team.
Data import and export
Zoho CRM always offers you the option to use an import and export function when creating leads, contacts, etc. The data can be imported manually using a CSV or Excel file. You can either import the data manually with a CSV or Excel file.
Using the manual method, you can import up to 5,000 records. You also have the option to migrate data from a third-party CRM system.
This requires just a few clicks. Zoho CRM offers data migration from different CRM software like Salesforce, Pipedrive, Insightly, etc.
The Zoho CRM Mobile App is available for iOS and Android. With the mobile app, you are always informed about all your sales activities on the go.
You get on your home screen, the current pending sales activities. In addition, you have a feed that constantly informs you about all changes.
You can also access your leads and contact information all the time. All the important features are available in the Zoho CRM app.
Zoho CRM Contact & Customer Management
Keeping an eye on your sales activities and customer contacts is an important element in the sales process.
Zoho CRM helps you get a grip on your customer data and build better customer relationships.
In the Sales Activities menu, you can schedule all your key day-to-day sales tasks. Zoho CRM gives you the ability to schedule sales activities such as
schedule. It would have been desirable to be able to select other sales activities such as email or follow-ups.
The activities can be selected as a grid board or as a list. The list view offers you a kind of to-do list that you can work through. In the left menu you have the possibility to filter your list with different filters.
The grid view makes little sense for sales activities because the phases of the grid board cannot be adjusted. The predefined phases do not result in a logical sequence for processing data.
You get the following phases:
- Open trades
Here I would have liked the grid view to have logical phases in which to process the activities.
Zoho CRM offers you the phone solution “Phone Bridge”, which is included in every paid version. With PhoneBridge, you can make and receive calls directly from Zoho CRM. You also have the ability to see call logs of which of your leads and contacts you called and when.
Zoho CRM offers you the option to install your email mailbox directly via IMAP.
This gives you the option to receive and send your emails directly in Zoho CRM. This prevents you from having to switch between the CRM system and your email inbox.
Also, you can link your email communication to leads and contacts from the CRM system. If you don’t want to use IMAP, Zoho CRM also offers you the option to use Smart BCC. Then your email will be sent from your CRM system. But you will get your reply in your email inbox and not in your CRM system.
In order for you to build a good client relationship, it is important that you manage your contacts properly.
The contacts are your contact persons for the customers. You can always create multiple contacts per customer. Zoho CRM offers you the possibility that you can store information such as
- General information
- Address data
You can also view each contact, and from which source the lead originated. You can display your contacts as a list, grid board, or canvas view.
The canvas view offers you a list that displays more information than one line. On the left side, you get a menu with filters.
This list of filters is very long, which does not make it easy to use. A simple alphabetical selection menu would have sufficed.
The customer menu is structured in the same way as the contacts menu. You can add new customers and view existing customer data.
When creating a new customer you can enter all relevant data like:
- General information
- Address data
You can display the customers as a grid board, list or canvas.
The product catalog can be created similarly to contacts and leads.
For each product you add to a product catalog you can enter the following information:
- Product information
- Price information
- Inventory information
Offers, orders, and invoices
Quotes, orders, and invoices are very easy to create. You can create a new quote and link it to an existing deal.
You can also create products manually or select them from your product catalog.
You can enter the following information in the offer:
- Offer Information
- Offer Item
Once the customer accepts your quote and places an order, you can process it into order in Zoho and later into an invoice.
In order to automate invoice creation, you need to use external software. Unfortunately, Zoho does not support a German solution for invoicing.
Lead & Pipeline Management
Managing leads and your pipeline properly is an important step in converting leads into customers and deals into orders.
Zoho gives you the ability to have a lot of new leads come in and enter a lot of different information. You can enter the usual information like:
- Lead Information
Also, for each lead, you can specify what the lead source is such as cold customer acquisition, trade shows, events, etc.
In addition to the lead source, you can also set the lead status. The status determines whether the lead is a cold, warm or hot lead.
In order for you to manage leads at all, you need to generate leads. Zoho offers you a few ways to get new leads.
With the Webforms option, you can create forms on your website to acquire new leads.
Also, you can connect your social media channels with Zoho CRM. If you have potential customers posting on your social media pages with comments or messages, you can convert these people into leads.
Campaigns in Zoho CRM give you the opportunity to see how successful your marketing efforts have been.
With the campaign function you can, for example, create a campaign for a trade fair, an event or an email campaign.
Any leads, contacts, or deals that you have acquired during this campaign can be attributed to this campaign.
The campaign also offers you the possibility that you enter the costs and revenues. This way you can analyze the ROI of the campaign afterward.
For complex lead generation measures, the add-on modules Zoho Campaign and Zoho Sales IQ can be used.
Zoho Campaign is the marketing automation software from Zoho. With this, you can further create lead nurturing campaigns.
Zoho Sales IQ is Zoho’s live chat feature.
You can find pipeline management on Zoho under the “Deals” menu. There you can create a custom sales pipeline.
The sales pipeline can have multiple phases and can be managed like a grid board in different phases.
Each phase can be given a different name and a different win probability.
You can easily drag and drop your completions from one phase to another.
You can attach a contact and a customer name to each shot. You can also set the amount of the deal.
You can create new pipelines via the settings menu.
You can give them a name and define which different phases your pipeline should have.
You can also switch back and forth between the individual pipelines in the Pipeline Overview.
The administrator has the ability to access all pipelines that individual users create.
Individual users can only access the pipelines that they have created.
Reports & Sales Forecasts
For you to be successful in the long run, you should always know how your sales are doing.
What have you done well and what needs to be improved? For that, you can use Zoho CRM’s reports and sales forecasts.
Zoho CRM offers you a report menu where you can get all the predefined reports. There are 20-30 templates that Zoho CRM offers you out of the box.
You also have the possibility to create your own reports. If you want to create a report, you can choose from the different modules such as leads, customers, contacts, etc..
You can create reports based on performance. Which trades did you win, and which trades did you lose?
You can also create reports that relate to sales activities.
You can use the Analytics menu to display the reports visually.
The visual representation can be displayed using charts, funnels, cohort analyses, etc.
You can also create a dashboard where you can see all the important current metrics in sales.
With a manager role, you can create reports and analyses for the entire sales team.
Sales targets and sales forecasts
Zoho CRM offers a menu where you can define forecasts and goals for sales. You can define these goals for specific years and specific quarters.
You can also define the defined goal for a manager or for a specific sales rep. This way you can measure what the goal was, what was achieved, and what is currently in the sales pipeline.
Sales pipeline forecasts are based on the number of deals in the various stages of the pipeline.
Each stage in the pipeline has a different probability of profit and only the assured profit is included in the forecast.
Zoho CRM Pricing – Is it worth the money?
Zoho CRM offers you 5 different pricing packages. There is also a completely free version
- Free: free of charge (up to 3 users)
- Standard: 14 Euro pro Nutzer im Monat
- Professional: 23 Euro im Monat
- Enterprise: 40 Euro im Monat
- Ultimate: 52 Euro im Monat
Which price plan is right for me?
Standard – The standard version offers you the possibility to manage different pipelines. You also get more possibilities to automate your sales processes.
Professional – The Professional version offers many possibilities to customize your product catalog to your needs. In addition, with the Professional version, you can create webhooks to help you with recurring sales processes.
Enterprise – The Enterprise version, unlike the Professional version, allows you to create many more analytics capabilities. In addition, the marketing automation capabilities are more sophisticated. The Enterprise version also gives you the option of Zoho’s Zia artificial intelligence. This helps you manage recurring sales processes better.
Ultimate – The Ultimate version offers the same feature set as Enterprise. However, various limitations of Ultimate are less.
Zoho CRM Extensions & Marketplace
The Zoho CRM Marketplace offers you the possibility to choose from over 1,000 different apps.
These apps cover various categories like marketing, customer support, analytics etc.
Zoho also offers a wide selection of its own apps from the Zoho Suite if you need to use Zoho software for more business processes.
If your favorite app doesn’t appear in the app store, you can also create a custom interface.
There is an API with which you can create an interface to almost any software.
Zoho CRM Data Security & GDPR Compliance
A CRM system stores sensitive data and is therefore also subject to the GDPR. Not only should you ensure data protection for your customers, but also data security.
Zoho offers for data security that all important customer data such as leads, customers, deals, etc. are encrypted via AES-256.
The administrator can assign I Zoho CRM Administrator usage right based on roles, profiles, and groups.
Apart from data security, data privacy also plays an important role. Zoho CRM is a data processor that stores your data on its server.
That’s why you should sign a data processing contract with Zoho. You can do this directly in the settings.
Zoho helps you set up your Zoho CRM system to be privacy compliant.
What kind of customer support does Zoho CRM offer?
Zoho CRM offers you different customer support depending on the price package
There are Basic, Classic, Premium, and Enterprise versions.
Basic – The Basic version is offered in all price packages and offers e-mail support.
Classic – Classic support is available for all paid versions including live chat and phone support 5 days a week 8 hours a day.
Premium – chargeable 20% of the monthly license fee: live chat and telephone support 5 days a week 24 hours a day
Enterprise – chargeable 25% of the monthly license fee: live chat and telephone support 7 days a week 24 hours a day.
There is also a free help page where you can find many articles, webinars, and videos.
In the Zoho User Community, you can exchange ideas with Zoho users and Zoho experts.
Zoho CRM Alternatives
- Pipedrive – Pipedrive is software that offers a very visual user interface. Unlike Zoho, Pipedrive is a lot more intuitive to use. Also, Pipedrive is a software that is specifically designed as a CRM only and is targeted at small and medium-sized businesses similar to Zoho. Moreover, Pipedrive offers a reasonable price and provides you with a 24/7 live chat in German.
- Freshworks CRM – Freshworks CRM could be seen as a direct competitor to Zoho CRM. It is priced a little higher, but Freshworks CRM offers better marketing automation features. Otherwise, Freshworks CRM offers similar to Zoho, the possibility to use entire business software for further business processes.
FAQ – Frequently asked questions
Is Zoho GDPR compliant?
Is Zoho a reputable company?
Yes, Zoho is a large Indian software company that has over 150,000 customers in over 180 countries.
How much does Zoho CRM cost?
The Zoho CRM Standard Version is available from 1400 Rupees per month with an annual payment.
Conclusion: Final Verdict
Zoho CRM is a recommended software if you are looking for an affordable CRM solution and plan to use other Zoho software for other business areas.
Zoho offers a free version that you can use to get started. If you are only looking for a CRM solution, I would rather go for a solution like Pipedrive.
If you want to know how Zoho CRM stacks up against its competition, you can read my article Best Small Business CRM Software.
Otherwise, you can take advantage of Zoho CRM’s 14-day free trial and see for yourself.