CRM: Zoho, Salesforce, Do You Use Them?


From original questioner:

I recently started taking a look at online Customer Relationship Management, I never realized I needed it until my brother showed me what it can do.

I'm looking at Zoho because it's free for what we need to do. As a one-man operation it's easy to get caught up in the work and forget that I haven't sold the next project. I can easily look online and see if I've met my monthly sales goals, and if not, what trees I need to shake to get there. It can even help you keep your notes, punchlists, measurements etc organized to each job.

It seems important to get the data fields customized before I start using it, so that I have a useful and complete history to create reports. How are you using CRM? Any tips?

From contributor ca

I realized the need for CRM a while back and have been using Zoho as I don't need all the advanced features of Salesforce, Goldmine, Dynamic, etc. As with everything, you get what you pay for and while Zoho is actually very effective for me, their support is a bit rough. As a single user I need to keep up with customer relationships, leads, opportunities and all, while running a business. Zoho allows me to do this without the complicated and intensive interface of some of the other software. No CRM is automatic and you will need to train yourself to work with it every day for it to be of use. It is a tool like everything else and the more you use it, the more it will work for you. Hope you enjoy some excellent success.

From contributor Ji

We've been running our business with Intellect 4 by Chaos Software - including basic project management and pipeline forecasting. For us the "meat" was in setting up project fields that fit both sales and production. Sales prospect 'projects' become production projects by flipping a field from 'prospect' to 'active' - all the pre-sale notes and emails follow.

The Intellect program was cheap for what it gave us - contacts, projects, projects tasks, general tasks, email, appointment scheduling, reminders, email series, notes everywhere.

My only gripe is that it didn't include a generic invoicing extension other than the legal billing thing that we couldn't torture into some semblance of what we wanted.

From contributor De

We use Goldmine, very powerful but sometimes complicated. Tried and liked Marketsharp a while back. I liked it but wasn't willing to make change. It is designed for home improvement contractors with pre installed and set up reports and marketing.

From contributor ra

So, what is zoho doing for you?

From contributor Ev

There is the obvious, like tracking sales and building databases of customers for our email newsletter, etc.

Right now, I make basically all business decisions based on gut feeling. This approach has not resulted in much success. I'm hoping CRM can help me learn more about my customers, and how to offer them more of what they want.

The reason I posted this question is to see what kind of information you are gathering, and how you are using it. Zoho is not useful if you are not gathering the right information. The earlier you gather that info, the more history you have to guide your decisions.

From contributor De

In goldmine we keep track of all communication with customer, have multiple email templates that we use throughout the process, track marketing source and individual spoonfuls and amount of sale.
we run weekly and monthly sales reports for totals and closing ratio. We also run reports. For.totals by marketing source. This info is backed up with call.tracking phone numbers and website traffic reports.