Zoho aims for improved information sharing with integrated suite

Zoho has integrated all of its services so that data can be shared across its various products

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Credit: Zoho

Zoho is integrating its suite of products in hopes of delivering a service for salespeople that matches and in some cases beats market leader Salesforce.com.

"We have about eight different products. We thought, 'Why not bring them together, integrate them together tightly so information seamlessly flows between systems," Raju Vegesna, an evangelist at Zoho, said.

Businesses now have the option of signing up for Zoho's CRM Plus product which includes these Zoho services: CRM, Projects, Support, Survey, Reports, SalesIQ, Campaigns and, in the future, Social. SalesIQ is a new product unveiled today; Social is also being announced today, but it's not yet generally available. Businesses will still be able to buy the individual products as well.

The result of the integration is that salespeople get much richer information and functionality around contacts. Zoho is also pitching the product as one that can be useful outside of sales, for instance, to marketing and customer support functions, but salespeople stand to benefit the most.

Some of the new features in CRM Plus stem from SalesIQ, a service designed to let sales people better engage with people who visit their company's website. The main SalesIQ dashboard displays concentric circles that show icons representing people who are visiting the site. Users can set parameters that determine which site visitors appear in each circle. For instance, a user can decide that visitors who appear in the innermost circle should live in a certain region, have visited the site a certain number of times, and have spent a certain amount historically.

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SalesIQ's concentric circles. 

Users can initiate a chat with a site visitor directly from the SalesIQ dashboard.

Once a salesperson visits their Zoho CRM dashboard, they can sort by site visitors. At a glance, visitors are divided into columns indicating whether they are an existing customer, a potential customer, or a lead. An individual contact card includes historical email exchanges, online chats, and past deals, and a sales person can open a record of a chat to see the actual chat.

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Users can view site visitor contact information by category. 

In addition, if the user has enabled a new Google Adwords integration, the user will also see information about the contact's site visit. For instance, the sales person will see the URL that referred the contact to the company site, the search keyword that led the contact to the site, which browser the contact used, and the OS the contact was using.

Salespeople can also get alerts when a potential customer visits the site and, from the alert, decide to initiate a chat with the contact. Users can opt to get such alerts for existing customers, new users, and potential customers.

The system can't automatically track every relevant person who visits a company website, however. It works by first collecting some information when visitors are prompted to fill out a form on the site. Then it continues to track that user via cookies. If visitors don't fill out the form or if they do but clear or block cookies, it doesn’t work.

Zoho is also revealing some details of a new Social product that isn't quite available yet. It's designed to help marketers track company mentions and interactions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. The service also helps marketers identify the time of day that customers or leads tend to be most active on social media and then lets marketers schedule messages to post during those times.

Social also displays "brand health" metrics designed to show the size of the company's audience on each social network, their activity, and engagement. Social includes other analytics as well. 

The Social features will also get tied into CRM Plus. Users will be able to view tweets and other social media contributions categorized by customers, potential customers, leads, and unknown contacts. Zoho didn't say when the social features would become available.

Zoho is rolling out a long list of additional new features to its products, including integrations with hosted PBX systems with its CRM product, support for IMAP email, and an integration with TravelNow for travel booking.

Salesforce.com has many of the features that Zoho is unveiling but in some cases, like the contact views, Zoho's UI appears to be cleaner and potentially easier to use. 

In addition, Zoho's CRM Plus offering, which includes the integrations with many other Zoho products, offers a low-cost option. CRM Plus costs $50 per user per month. Salesforce.com's least expensive offering is $25 a month, but that's only for as many as five users and is a limited service.

The majority of Zoho's customers have under 2,000 users, Vegesna said.

This story, "Zoho aims for improved information sharing with integrated suite" was originally published by CITEworld.

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