Zoho ContactManager Compared To Other Free CRM’s
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Zoho’s new ContactManager is launched with an interesting pricing model which you can consider a new take on freemium pricing. While not entirely original or unique (this pricing structure has been applied in other industries), after a 30-day free trial, you can choose whatever you want to pay, and it can be as little as $1 per month.
Though Zoho already offers a fully-fledged CRM, the ContactManager is a streamlined version for small businesses, acting as a bit of a carrot to entice you into their fold.
Whether you want to manage your business contacts, desire to have a unified view of activities associated to a particular contact, or just want to manage your transactions via your cell phone, Zoho ContactManager offers a viable solution. Another great feature of ContactManager is its ability to extract information from social websites like Facebook and Twitter.
Is Zoho’s ContactManager really the best free CRM?
Though the ContactManager’s pricing model might be an industry first, there are numerous other CRMs that have a free offering. Here’s a comparison of ContactManager with the free versions of some popular CRM’s, including Highrise, Nimble and CapsuleCRM.
User Interface and Experience
Zoho comes with a user-friendly interface which is pretty similar to the older version of Salesforce CRM. Unfortunately, the interface is rigid and – though there is a customizable sidebar – you don’t have many options for personalization. Also, it requires quite a bit of scrolling, especially if you have long, detailed records. You can choose between different skins to have a desired look and feel. However, Zoho’s Contact Manager has a simpler, uncluttered interface and improved user experience, but it also does not allow adequate personalization.
Highrise and CapsuleCRM have a similar interface, which is simple and intuitive. The primary navigation in both CRMs allows easy getting around and manipulating basic modules. In Highrise, the Search is limited to the record name and creating a filtered call list is a real hassle.
Nimble, a social CRM, has probably the simplest interface and most amazing user experience of all, however, it is short of a few key features you would like to see in a modern CRM.
Though Insightly has a top-quality, intuitive interface and workflow, its user experience is subpar because of slow performance.
Podio’s free account is rather limited in terms of functionality but on the positive side, it’s extremely customizable and flexible, plus you can create custom applications… even if you have absolutely no knowledge of coding. That’s impressive.
Managing Contacts and Companies
Adding and managing contacts as well as companies in Zoho ContactManager is as easy as pie. It also allows you to add contacts and companies directly from different portals including your web/blog, Facebook, CrunchBase etc. Each contact/company’s basic information can be stored in one place but currently it doesn’t allow custom fields, so adding custom/advanced information related to your contacts is not possible. Zoho CRM, however, allows you to add more options e.g. custom fields, Skype ID’s of your contacts for quick video conferencing.
Highrise CRM supports both the B2B and the B2C business models. You can add your contacts as either people or organizations and you can also add custom fields to the end of the contact form.
Insightly also allows managing the B2B and B2C models, while Nimble allows you to save your contacts only as people, while Podio has a complex way of managing your contacts since it’s basically a project management software.
Managing Tasks and Activities
Though Zoho CRM offers basic capabilities for task & event management, it beats its rivals because of several useful options e.g. creating and editing task with minimum user input, creating recurring events, inviting internal as well as external people, and logging inbound or outbound calls. Plus it also provides a stopwatch for calculating the amount of time spent on individual calls. The ContactManager drives its task management module from the Zoho CRM but comes with fewer, basic options though you can access additional modules e.g. Zoho calendar, under the Zoho App tab. Other CRMs i.e. Highrise, Capsule allow integration with iCal and Google Calendar for advanced task management.
Podio is probably the only CRM in our comparison that offers more powerful options for task management such as creating tasks via email, assigning tasks to different users, synchronization tasks with Google apps via Gmail inbox and so on.
Managing Document Attachments and Mail-Merge
Zoho CRM offers useful document management options i.e. uploading documents from desktop or from Google docs and editing them online, plus you can make use of mail-merge with Zoho Writer. Both these options are available in the free ContactManager via Zoho Apps. The supported document formats include PDF, Word, Excel or PPT.
Highrise and Capsule also allow document management via extra add-ons, while Podio allows integration with Google Docs. If you need a review for a doc you’re working on, simply create a task, assign it to a co-worker and attach the Google Doc.
You can purchase Microsoft Outlook integration as an optional extra for Zoho CRM, which is a plus for companies already invested in Outlook. It’s delivered through a plugin that synchronizes all the contacts, tasks and activities and allows the emails to be associated with Zoho records. Inclusion of Outlook integration in ContactManager will be a big bonus.
Zoho CRM integrates with MS office and Google docs, and you can integrate it with Quickbooks also at additional cost. But if you are using the ContactManager, there are several useful Zoho apps to perform more complicated functions.
In Highrise, email integration is achieved through a DropBox account – just as you will see in Capsule CRM – all the inbound emails are forwarded to the DropBox account to attach to their contact record in Highrise. Outbound emails are CC’d to the DropBox account in order to link. Highrise allows task and calendar via iCalendar.
Capsule offers more powerful integration with Tout, Wufoo web-form, RightSignature, MailChimp, Zendesk, Active Campaign, Xero and so on, and along with Nimble and Podio are the leaders as far as integration with a variety of very useful third party applications.
Quick overview of Zoho ContactManager
Currently, the ContactManager is pretty rudimentary with basic features including company management, contact management, deal management, and task management along with basic reporting. You can configure Zoho Mail and integrate Facebook/Twitter accounts with your contact manager. It also allows you to share status updates with your co-workers and view theirs on your newsfeed. Adding and editing information is very simple plus you can extract data from external sources; however, you can only store very basic details about your contacts and companies.
The biggest lure for trying out ContactManager is probably the innovative pricing scheme i.e. pay what you want, which gives you the freedom to choose your monthly charges. Zoho Apps offer the user a range of handy features and options to integrate their CRM with their documents, social interactions, email campaigns etc. Though we would like to see more features added to the Contact Manager, it’s a useful app for people who have a limited budget and need only some basic CRM features to manage their business.
- See more free CRM’s here:
Zoho CRM Review
Zoho CRM – Build Strong Customer Relationships
In today’s dynamic business environment, acquiring customers and retaining them is an essential activity. Keeping your customers interested and engaged throughout is needed not just for the success of your business, but also for its long term survival. Out of the numerous business-strategy tools that technology offers, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are a critical element for your business.
Here we review Zoho CRM, an on-demand hosted CRM service provided by Zoho Corp. Based on our experience, we can easily state that ZohoCRM is among the most popular and feature-rich solutions that we have reviewed so far. Zoho CRM is offered through the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, which is gaining increasing popularity for its ease of delivery and cost efficiency.
Will you not feel relieved and also excited if you are provided a CRM solution that starts with a click on your browser?
Will you be also keen on getting all the facilities of CRM without complex software installations?
Zoho CRM does just that and much more. The foremost remarkable feature of Zoho CRM is that it does not require you to procure any software and install it on servers within your organization.
To get started with Zoho CRM, you just need to sign in for a package through their website – http://crm.zoho.com. For our review purpose we registered for a free trial account which took us less than five minutes. Based on your requirement there are three different packages available:
- Free Edition: You can try Zoho CRM for free with 3 users with most of the important features available. The free edition offers 100 MB online space.
- Professional Edition: The Professional Edition offers about 250 MB space with some additional Pro features, at USD 12 per user per month.
- Enterprise Edition: The Enterprise Edition offers 500 MB space and has an entire range of features recommended for large corporate. This edition is priced at USD 25 per user per month.
A 15 day free trial of the Professional and Enterprise Edition is available straight through the Zoho CRM website. The free edition as the name indicates is free forever with its limited features.
Some Important Business Functions Served by Zoho CRM
Marketing and Conversion Management: A detailed look at Zoho CRM reveals presence of all essential functions to manage your customer’s life cycle – right from the time customers arrive as a lead to the time they become an account and beyond.
Zoho has simple modules available through tabs that help you manage smooth interaction with your customers, and graduate every lead through the sales qualifying process.
Inventory Management: The Professional and Enterprise editions offer a fully-fledged Inventory Management system that helps you keep a close control on your stocks and accordingly make sales commitments. We observed that the Inventory Management module goes beyond the arena of a traditional CRM system, and offers features of Supply Chain Management tool. The module also helps you place orders and procure stock from your vendors before you supply it to your customers.
Customer Support and Service: Zoho CRM enables your management, frontline sales team, logistics team and your customer service team to work on a single platform. Customer support team through Zoho CRM gets access to entire customer history and allows them to respond quickly to any queries or complaints by the customer.
The customer support module also allows your customer desk personnel to note down details of every interaction with the customer, which works as a good feed for the sales team to find opportunities.
Workflow Automation: Zoho CRM has the capability to create automated workflows across Sales and supporting functions. Every organization has its defined business rules on how the responsibility of handling a customer is managed across people and teams. Zoho CRM allows you to replicate these rules and automate the process of business workflow.
Benefits of Using Zoho CRM
Some of the clear benefits that we found in Zoho CRM in our review are as follows:
- Completely Browser-based Solution: Zoho CRM runs straight from your browser and does not require you to download any software to your computer. The browser-based arrangement also helps you manage tasks from any internet-enabled location in the world.
- Fully Hosted Solution: No installation needed. Register and start off immediately.
- Email and Outlook Integration: Zoho CRM can help your sales force on the move. With email and Outlook integration your frontline sales team can update the system right from their mobile devices or laptops.
- Great Value for Money: Zoho CRM is generous enough to provide basic CRM functions for a small 3 user organization totally free of cost. (See more free CRM solutions). Even the pricing of the Zoho Professional and Enterprise editions are very reasonable as compared to the features provided.
- Access Control: Users across hierarchy of the organization can be given access controls to various levels of information and report formats.
- Customized Dashboards and Reports: The dashboards and report formats that can be created using Zoho CRM help your management to assimilate business information and take quick decisions.
- Integrations with Google Apps and Google Docs: The latest version of Zoho CRM is integrated with Google Docs. This integration includes unified login support, which means that you may login to Zoho using your Google credentials and then directly view your Google Docs without any need to re–login to attach your documents to Zoho. After the Google Docs are attached to Zoho CRM, you can view and edit them using the Zoho Writer.
Drawbacks of Zoho CRM
There are a few drawbacks which we need to be wary of before using a web CRM tool like Zoho CRM.
- Needs a continuous Internet connection because the data is saved on a secure third-party server.
- You must note that your information is finally stored on a third-party server. No matter how secure the systems are, there is still a business risk in saving classified data on an external server.
- When you login you find a clutter of user options which may be confusing, but you can easily get used to them in a short space of time.
CRM is a critical element of today’s fast moving business. Zoho CRM provides this function and also additional features like Inventory Management that helps automate procurement apart from just maintaining customer data. The Software as a Service (SaaS) model is yet to gain total acceptance. However, with increased information security assurance, Zoho CRM serves as ideal CRM software for small companies wanting to implement a CRM solution in a matter of few hours.
ZOHO CRM Wins!
(Tucson, AZ, USA)
I have tried each of the Free CRM’s out there as well as the pay for salesforce.com and I can say without a doubt that ZOHO CRM is the easiest and most user friendly CRM on the market.
I would have gladly paid ZOHO what I paid salesforce.com, especially after my frustration with the pay for service that was supposed to have a better product.
Oh well, sometimes you have to try everything before you know how to compare them.
September 8th, 2014