8 Ways to Grow Your Business Using Zoho One

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Zoho One’s suite of cloud business applications, which includes Zoho CRM, Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Books, Zoho Inventory, and Zoho SalesIQ to name a few, is one of the single best small to medium business cloud software packages available today. To sum it up, with many of the included Zoho apps, you’re getting the power and feature set of much more expensive enterprise level software at around 1/5th of the cost. For example, compare the enterprise version of Salesforce CRM at US $150/month vs. the enterprise version of Zoho CRM at US$35/month.

This is to say nothing of the mind boggling value included in the Zoho One application suite. It includes something in the neighborhood of 50 business applications, which can replace the vast majority of a company’s sprawling monthly cloud software eco system. Consider the subscription fees to Dropbox, Quickbooks, Docusign, Mailchimp, Slack, Zendesk, and Hootsuite. Yup, Zoho One has a replacement app for that, and its included in your $30/month all-employee licencing fee, or $75/month per single user fee. By consolidating your business cloud licences, you can radically reduce your monthly cloud fees, with the bonus that most Zoho apps easily integrate with each other. This reduces the need for manual data migration or paying for third party integration apps like Zapier. Most of our Zoho One Clients immediately reduce their annual cloud licencing fees by $7500 – $10,000 when they make the switch. It is one of Zoho’s most ingenious selling propositions: it immediately pays for itself.

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To be fair, not all Zoho apps are created equal. There have been some painful stumbles over the past few years where products were released that should have had stayed in beta testing where they belonged (Zoho Meeting is one such example – and it’s still nowhere near where it has to be to effectively replace Zoom). Still, other products, like Zoho Mail, may work for small teams or solopreneurs just starting out, but is unlikely to win converts from the well-oiled machine that is the Office 365 email and team suite (Outlook, Teams, Sharepoint, etc. – luckily, these all easily integrate with Zoho apps).

The other hard truth of the cloud business software industry, which is certainly not exclusive to Zoho, is that many of the applications are created by product designers and developers who have little to no first hand business experience in the industries they are selling to. This can lead to blind spots in the development process where features are left out that are basic requirements for some industries and niches (a casual trip to Zoho’s community forum discussion board can provide an education in this).

With all this said, it is our experience that it is very easy to miss the forest for the trees when it comes to the power of Zoho’s application ecosystem. We often meet with clients who are quite overwhelmed with the sheer number of apps and features in Zoho and don’t know where to start. It’s also very easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole and spend hours fiddling in the guts of an application, only to discover later that it doesn’t work quite the way you thought it would. In order zoom out a bit, and help business owners and managers understand the value of Zoho, we’ve put together a general guide of the top eight ways to grow your business and improve profitability use Zoho applications.

How to Save Money, Time, and Be WAY More Organized Using Zoho Apps:

1.      Save a LOT of money on your monthly cloud software licencing fees by taking advantage of Zoho One’s 50+ business applications.

This was already mentioned in the introduction of this article, but it’s worth repeating because it’s the most immediate and tangible business reason to jump into Zoho One, or even switch to a single Zoho application, like Zoho CRM.  We always recommend our clients take a look at their credit card statements and make a spreadsheet of all the cloud licences they are being billed for a monthly basis, and add these up to see the total annual cost. It can be a bit shocking to see this total, particularly when you consider that most companies tend to sprawl across a range of different applications with very similar feature sets. Cloud licencing advisory service Clean Shelf found in 2018 that it was typical for 30% of a company’s cloud licencing budget to be completely wasted on excess features or user licences that brought no value to the company (https://www.cleanshelf.com/resources/the-state-of-business-saas-spend-2018/).

2.      Consolidate your online sales (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.) and offline sales process (Wholesale, Retail, Distributors) into one single Inventory Management and Accounting system and reap major benefits in time savings and organization.

If you’re still managing your website inventory and offline inventory separately, you’re missing out on the huge time savings and organizational bonuses that comes with integrating the two into one single inventory management system. Our experience is that companies who are growing their online sales often run up against the limits of what the built in ecommerce inventory management software can offer. They also find that a lot of manual and double entry work is created by having to manage their offline inventory management process separately, along with having to develop a method to integrate online and offline sales into a single accounting system. Zoho Inventory easily integrates with major ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and Squarespace.

3.      Ditch your expensive, Windows Desktop VM Accounting (i.e. Quickbooks) and Inventory Management software for a completely integrated and well supported cloud platform you can access from anywhere and on any device.

If you’re still using Windows desktop based accounting and inventory management software that you need to access via a virtual machine (e.g. Citrix, VMWare, Azure, etc.), then there is no better time to move to the cloud. Immediate savings are typically found by going direct to the cloud provider and eliminating the Managed IT Service Provider who plays a middleman role between your company and the desktop based software. Modern cloud software like Zoho Books and Zoho Inventory can be accessed through any browser, or on any mobile device via their apps, anywhere in the world. Also, unlike a lot of VM based desktop software applications, Zoho allows multiple users to log in with the same credentials at the same time. This means that you do not need to a buy a licence for a casual user on your team who may just need to log in occasionaly, and may need to do so at the same time as you.

4.      Get your team off of spreadsheets and into team organizing software like Zoho Projects, Zoho HR, Cliq, Workdrive, Vault, and Zoho CRM – employees will be happier, better organized, and your company will just run better.

I’m continually amazed at how many otherwise successful companies are still organizing critical parts of their business and team processes in shared spreadsheets. Don’t get me wrong, Excel and Google Sheets are powerful business tools and we use them everyday ourselves for a variety of reasons. However, there are a number of internal business processes that spreadsheets do a lousy job of handling. The two that come to mind immediately are Project Management and Sales Process Management.

With respect to Project Management, Zoho Projects offers a powerful suite of tools that allow your team to: create and track their tasks, set deadlines, log their time, communicate with each other at a task or project level, compare estimated vs. actual hours, create Gannt charts, invoice clients from hours logged, and even invite clients to join the project. For companies that organize their teams around projects with clear budgets, scope, responsibilities, and timelines, it is a game changing piece of software. You can combine Zoho Projects with Zoho’s team chat software (Cliq), its team cloud storage solution (Workdrive), and its team password management software (Vault), to centralize, speed up, and secure all of your internal logistics.

With respect to Sales Process Management, if your Sales Team is still using spreadsheets or desktop based software to organize their opportunities, this is the equivalent of arming them with bows and arrows to go out and fight against a modern army. The speed and ferocity of competition in Sales has been aided immeasurably by modern cloud CRM systems. In essence, these systems provide centralization of all client data (think email conversations, phone logs, past and current opportunities) and team communication (team chats, notes, sales goals) right down to the individual account record of a single client. They also ensure your team follows the right process and logs the right data every time through sales process enforcement, lets you track their performance, and through automated reminders and tasks, ensures that no followup call or email slips through the cracks. All of these features eliminate a large amount of unnecessary data entry, and gives your Sales Team more time to focus on closing deals.

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How to Make Money and Grow Your Business Using Zoho Apps

5.      Drive more sales with way less effort by automating your quoting and sales process in Zoho CRM

One of the first places that our business to business (B2B) clients find major value with Zoho CRM is in its ability to automate their quoting process. Sales team and company administrators typically burn hundreds of even thousands of hours a year manually preparing quotes for current and prospective customers. Once the quote is prepared manually (typically via desktop legacy software or Word document), then it typically must be manually emailed to the customer. Once the quote is emailed, then the Sales rep or admin must actively watch for the client to email or phone back to accept or reject the quote. All of these manual steps create a lot of unnecessary busy work for your team, to say nothing of the lost opportunities that occur because your emails end up in someone’s junk box, or because the client doesn’t respond and your team forgets to follow up.

Zoho CRM’s automated quoting process gives your team the ability to create custom quotes within minutes and email them directly to the client from the CRM. The CRM’s tracking software keeps your team updated on whether the client has opened the email and viewed the quote. By integrating the CRM’s quoting process with Zoho Book’s client portal, the client has the ability to ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ the quote with one click, which removes the need to email back and forth, reducing your team’s administrative burden. Once the client has ‘accepted’ the quote, an additional automation can automatically convert that quote into an invoice. When properly implemented, this type of automated quoting system can allow a single sales person to do the work of two or three.

6.      Turn more leads into sales by leveraging Zoho’s marketing automation tools such as Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Marketing Hub, SalesIQ, and Zoho Social.

Full disclosure, we were unimpressed with the first iteration of Zoho’s email and marketing automation apps, Zoho Campaigns and Zoho Marketing Hub. When these apps were first included in the Zoho One and Zoho CRM Plus bundles, they felt like an afterthought, and lacked many of the features and tools that we had come to expect in competing products, even at the low end of the SMB market. Because marketing automation is one of our core service areas, and we work with clients across a wide variety of platforms (e.g. Hubspot, Salesforce’s Pardot and Marketing Cloud, GetResponse, Klaviyo, etc.), we ended up warning our clients off of Zoho’s products and integrated Zoho CRM with 3rd party alternatives.

However, the latest version of Zoho Campaigns has finally delivered what was promised from the beginning: a powerful marketing automation suite that delivers best in class features for both ecommerce and B2B businesses, along with easy integrations to Zoho CRM, ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce, and website form handlers. Ecommerce businesses will appreciate the ability to easily configure the type of nurture tracks that were formerly only available in the enterprise level suites, such product specific winback and promotion campaigns based on customer viewing or purchase behavior. B2B businesses will appreciate the deep integration between Zoho Campaigns and Zoho CRM, and its ability to pass lead scores between the two platforms.  An automated lead score can alert the Sales team when an individual prospect has ‘scored’ high enough based on their behavior (i.e. time on the website, email clicks and opens, pages visited), and is worth following up with.

A winning marketing strategy with Zoho Campaigns or Zoho Marketing Hub should be combined with the use of Zoho SalesIQ and Zoho Social. One of the core features of SalesIQ that Zoho promotes is its ability to offer website visitor chat popups. To be honest, most of our clients don’t end up using this feature, which makes complete sense – webchat doesn’t fit every business. Unfortunately, because Zoho has really promoted this as a central feature of SalesIQ, it often obscures where the true value of SalesIQ lies – which is in its ability to warehouse and merge anonymous website visitor tracking history with a customer’s lead record once they become known to your company by filling out a lead form on your website. In simpler terms, SalesIQ provides what Google Analytics can’t and won’t: a full record of an individual web lead’s behavior on your website. This type of information can be a gold mine for both marketing and sales => knowing exactly what type of marketing campaigns, online channels, pages, and demographics lead to sales allows you become much more precise in your marketing and sales efforts.

7.      Unlock game-changing insights and the revenue potential of your customer data by completely integrating your Marketing, Sales, and Accounting data into one easy to manage business intelligence dashboard.

One of the most underrated applications that Zoho has released in the past few years, which was unceremoniously included with Zoho One, is Zoho Analytics – a surprisingly powerful Business Intelligence platform. The beauty of Zoho Analytics is its ability to integrate and blend data not only from all of your Zoho Apps, but also from a wide range of 3rd party Marketing, Sales, and Accounting applications. For digital marketing teams, this has allowed them to move beyond some of the limitations of Google Data studio, and fully integrate their marketing channel data (i.e. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, Google Analytics) with their Sales Data (i.e. Zoho CRM deal pipeline) to create easy to read performance dashboards. For Operations and Accounting Teams, it allows them to connect project data (i.e. hours logged by team members, estimated vs. actual work, project budgets), with actual revenue from invoices and customer payments.

8.      Literally build your own custom business applications with Zoho Creator, which is (somehow!?) included in the Zoho One licence.

Finally, if somehow the sheer and overwhelming range of options that Zoho One’s suite of applications gives you does not fully cover your needs, Zoho Creator gives you the ability to actually build your own business application in a low code sandbox. Out of the box, this application also offers 30 ready made templates for a variety of business use cases (e.g. Property Management Company, Construction Company, Vehicle/Fleet Tracking Company, Restaurant Management, etc.). We have used these templates in a the past to help our clients build a range of custom applications that they can continue to customize over time.

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At RFDM Solutions, we are experienced CRM consultants, having worked with both small businesses and enterprise level ones. We are a Zoho Consulting Partner, Salesforce Certified and have worked with a number of CRMs. For help with your CRM decision-making, implementation, integration or management needs, contact us for a free consultation.

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