Evaluating Zoho CRM

Although SalesForce.com may be the name most commonly associated with SaaS CRM, Zoho CRM is picking up speed as a cheap option for small business or large companies with only a few people using the service. While much attention has been paid to Google Apps, Zoho has been quietly creating a portfolio of on-line applications that is worth recognition. Now many are wondering if Zoho CRM will have as large of an impact on SalesForce that SalesForce did on SAP.

About Zoho

Part of Advent, Zoho has been producing SaaS Office-like applications since 2006. One of Zoho’s chief architects, Raju Vegesna, joined Advent upon graduating in 2000 and moving from India to the United States. Among Vegesna’s chief responsibilities is getting Zoho on the map.

Zoho initially offered spreadsheet and writing applications although the company, which targets smaller businesses with 10 to 100 employees, now has a complete range of productivity applications such as email, a database, project management, invoicing, HR, document management, planning and last but not least, CRM.

Zoho CRM

Aimed at businesses seeking to manage customer relations to transform leads into profitable relationships, Zoho CRM begins with lead generation. From there are lead conversion, accounts set up, contacts, potential mapping and campaign tabs. One of Zoho CRM’s best features is its layout. Full reporting facilities with formatting, graphical layouts and dashboards, forecasting and other management tools are neatly displayed and optimized.

Zoho CRM is fully email enabled and updates can be sent to any user set up along with full contact administration. Time lines ensure that leads are never forgotten or campaigns slipped. Like Zimbra and ProjectPlace, Zoho CRM offers brand alignment, which means users can change layout colors and add their own logo branding. Another key feature is Zoho’s comprehensive help section, which is constantly updated with comments and posts from other users online. Contact details from a standard comma separated value (.CSV) file from a user’s email system or spreadsheet application (such as Excel, Star or Open Office) can be imported by Zoho CRM. Users can also export CRM data in the same format as well.

The cost of Zoho CRM is surprisingly low. Zoho CRM offers 100,000 records storage in Free Edition and Unlimited data storage in Professional and Enterprise Editions. In FE, users can “import” up to 1,500 records per batch in contrast to 20,000 records in the Enterprise Edition.

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