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  • Frances Blackie

How can a CRM add value to your business?


a photo of two women working in the office

If I told you that a CRM system could streamline your entire business operations, would you believe me? When it comes to CRM, most people just aren't 100% sure what it's actually capable of. The majority understand it can support them in their sales process and others recognise it can help with marketing management, but very few appreciate the full potential of implementing a software platform like Zoho.


It can literally overhaul your entire business operations - systemising and automating every process involved. In other words, it's a business gamechanger, and we're here to tell you why. Read on for a bite-sized breakdown of the business activities and processes we're most frequently asked to streamline in Zoho.


In this blog post, we'll cover:

Lead Capturing

Vector image of lead capturing with Zoho CRM

There are several pathways that a prospect could reach out to you via including your website, social media, online ads and referral partners. We can integrate these pathways with your Zoho CRM to automatically capture the Lead details without any need for manual data entry. In addition we can capture the source of the lead so you can run reports showing the return on investment of your marketing activities. Zoho Campaigns is perfectly designed to assist with this as it tracks engagement across multiple platforms.


Another way we can save you time in this process is to send out automated email responders to new prospects which could even be variable based on pre-defined criteria. If you want new Leads to be allocated to certain members of the team based on specific logic e.g. product interest or geographic location, we can configure this to eliminate the need for any human intervention.


Managing Prospects


Once a new Prospect has been added to the CRM, there are typically several steps that need to be completed before the Lead is classed as qualified. These steps differ from company to company but typically include an initial meeting/call to answer a number of qualifying questions, a home/site visit or the completion of a qualification questionnaire.


Zoho CRM can support these sales activities by standardising the pre-sales process to ensure that every Prospect goes through the same qualification steps and that the required data is captured at every key stage of the process. We can also automate follow ups to ensure that no Prospect slips through the net without being thoroughly pursued.


Managing Opportunities


Once a Lead has been qualified, it will then be classed as an opportunity and converted into a Deal which is when it will be added to your sales pipeline. We can track every stage in the process up to when a Deal is closed and won using Zoho CRM Blueprints. This will ensure that your pipeline is systemised and the data is clean and detailed enough to effectively report on.


There is considerable opportunities here for us to ensure the CRM users are only seeing the relevant information at each stage of the process and that nothing is skipped or overlooked when transitioning from one stage to the next. We can also automate steps that would typically be manual and time consuming like document management, follow ups and data capturing.


The overall goal of course is to ensure more of your opportunities convert to customers and there is much we can do to support this.


Request for Quote


If your business needs to buy and sell products and/or services from 3rd parties in order to deliver your commercial services, it’s possible you will need to request a quote from your suppliers before you submit a proposal to your customers. This can be a very labour intensive process and can also delay your ability to quote in a timely manner.


We can build a complete RFQ management solution using Zoho Creator which will track all of your outstanding RFQ’s, streamline the capturing of the supplies date and automatically chase up a response from anyone that has failed to submit. It’s the biggest time and headaches saver with the added benefit of reducing your procurement costs and minimising your quote turnaround time which in turn will undoubtedly lead to more won deals.


Costing Calculator


For some industry types, before you can submit a Quote, you need to calculate how much it will cost you to deliver the job. This will often include the delivery of products and services, all of which need to be factored into the costs before a mark-up is calculated and your quote is submitted.

An image of how to use costing calculator in Zoho CRM

We can assist with determining your quote price by building a custom costing calculator which factors in all of your variables, discounts, mark-ups and contingencies. We understand that a one size fits all model is rarely useful and so we can build a solution that considers all of your variables with the ability to overwrite any values if needed.


Quoting


Building custom quoting solutions within Zoho CRM is one of our most commonly requested projects. It seems that the process of generating Quotes or Proposals is one of the biggest pain points for a lot of businesses. Whilst the ability to add products or services to a standard quote template seems straight forward enough, in reality it’s just never that simple. There are always variables like marks-ups, discounts, price books, approvals, filters and logic that complicate the process and render off-the-shelf solutions too restrictive.


The custom quoting applications (CPQ) we develop in Zoho are built to the exact specifications of each individual client. The outcome is a streamlined process for the sales team, significantly reducing the time involved and eliminating the chance of human error. If it’s typical that you present multiple versions of the Quote, we can manage the version history ensuring every copy is retained and labelled with a unique quote reference code.


Regardless of whether your quote is accepted verbally or digitally, we can automate the entire conversion process to generate a Sales Order or Invoice by replicating across the Quote line items.


Proposal


The proposal document is an opportunity to present your business and your brand to new prospects. In addition to the breakdown of the products and services you’re quoting for, you may also want to include a company profile, case studies, testimonials, photos and product specs. Compiling all of this information can be time consuming and open to costly or embarrassing mistakes.


FWRD can help you generate an automated, intuitive proposal document that includes or omits specific information based on the products/services selected or a pre-defined criteria. We can then export this into a PDF format and automatically send it to the specified contact. The proposal will be assigned a status which we can use to trigger automated follow ups if the proposal is not accepted after the given timeframe.


Sales Order


If you’re in the business of selling products, there’s a high chance you will need to raise a Sales Order by way of confirmation that your customer has agreed to purchase a number of items. We can automate the generation of this document using Zoho Books or Zoho Inventory based on the items included in the quote.


We can also automatically adjust variables such as payment terms according to the agreement made with each individual customer. You have the option of manually adjusting the sales order before sending or having the whole process automated.


Contract Management


If you’re in the business of selling services, a contract is a great way to outline the terms of your service agreement and have it signed by your customer to protect yourself from potential risk. The process of manually generating a custom contract, converting it to a PDF, attaching it to an email then sending it out to the customer so that they can download it, print it, sign it, scan it, attach it to an email and send it back is painful, outdated and unnecessary.


We can automate the entire process for you using Zoho Sign. This includes the generation of custom documents using templates containing merge fields which we can populate with data from the CRM. The contract will be signed digitally which results in a legally binding completion certificate. Zoho Sign has military-grade encryption to ensure the highest level of data security and is compliant with the current e-signature laws.


Onboarding


Once you’ve engaged a new customer, you may need to obtain information from them in order to compete the set-up of their account. Depending on your business, this might include financial details, product information, contact details or service preferences. Perhaps you are currently handling this by sending them a questionnaire which they have to print, complete and return.

An image showcasing how Zoho CRM forms are made

We can streamline and automate this entire process for you using Zoho Forms. First we’ll digitalise the questionnaire and implement any function logic necessary to make the submission process as quick and easy as possible for the recipient. On completion we can send a copy to the customer along with specific members of the team to confirm it’s been submitted.


We’ll also attach a copy to the related contact record and push the submitted details from the questionnaire into the relevant CRM fields, updating the record status at the same time to prevent any automated follow ups being sent to the customer. Our clients report that digitalising this entire process has been one of the biggest time savers for their team.


Purchase Order


Once your customer as accepted a quote which contains physical products, you may need to raise a Purchase Order to order these items for your supplier to fulfil the order or to replenish your inventory. We can automate the creation and submission of your Purchase Orders using Zoho Books or Zoho Inventory.


If required, we can simply duplicate the items from the related Quote or we can raise the PO based on the current stock levels recorded in Zoho Inventory for the items included.


Once the Purchase Order has been raised, we can adjust the status of the inventory for the ordered items to differentiate between the stock on hand and the stock on order. This will allow you to take subsequent orders based on stock that is still on order before it has been received into inventory. Alternatively, you may work under a drop ship model which we can also accommodate with ease using Zoho Inventory.


Stock/Inventory


It can be very challenging to properly manage your inventory but failing to do so could cost you dearly in either stock value or customer service standards. Failing to order stock in time to deliver an order could have a massive impact on your resources if your team are unable to deliver a scheduled job because they don’t have the items in stock required to do so. This delay is not only inconvenient and costly but portrays a negative view of your businesses ability to deliver.



With the help of Zoho Inventory, we can provide you with a clear picture of your stock on hand plus your stock on order to ensure you are always able to fulfil your orders and deliver your jobs. Zoho Inventory helps you easily keep track of stock in and stock out through the management of your Purchase Orders, Backorders and Drop Shipments all in a single inventory management application. Track every item or batch in your inventory with serial number and batch tracking then allocate each item to a customer once sold to effectively manage warranty and ongoing service/support.


We can set and if necessary, automate minimum re-order levels to guarantee your stock is always replenished. If you store your stock in one or several warehouses, you’ll need a warehouse inventory management solution to check stock levels, manage inter-warehouse transfers, and generate reports for specific warehouses on demand.



We often use a combination of the native integrations between Zoho Inventory and Zoho Books plus Zoho CRM in addition to custom integrations with Zoho Creator to support our custom quoting applications. We’ve also supported customers with integrating Zoho Desk to handle stock items associated with customer support tickets.


Project Management


Managing all the elements of a project delivery is admin heavy and fraught with potential risk when it comes to oversights and mistakes. Zoho Projects is a software solution that supports you in managing every element of your project. Once you have built out the project scope into task list and tasks, you can easily manage internal communication relating to each task within the project, track time against the tasks and report on the overall progress of the project.


The reporting features ensure your project stays on track and on budget and Invoices can be generated by making use of the integration with Zoho Books. There is a native integration between Zoho Projects and Zoho CRM but we’re often asked to build custom integrations to push and pull specific information from one application into the other based on workflow related triggers.


Document Management


The management of your company wide digital files and customer related documents can be a challenge for many businesses. The ability to share files in real—time to ensure that everyone is referencing the most up to date documents is typically one of the top items on our customers wish list. In addition to these basic requirements, there a number of ways we can utilise Zoho Workdrive to streamline the way customer documents are managed within your business.


A typical automated process that we regularly implement starts with automating the creation of a customer folder based on a trigger in the CRM, for example a Closed Won Deal, and naming the folder based on a pre-determined criteria e.g. {customer name} - {job number}. We can also automate the creation of a number of sub-folders that sit within the main customer folder and label them accordingly e.g. Contracts, Quote, Invoices.


Another helpful time saver is the ability to automatically save certain documents into the customer folder on generation (Quote, Purchase Order, Invoice) or completion (Onboarding Form, Contract).


With Zoho Workdrive, we can also create shareable links to your folders so that your customers or 3rd parties can upload documents directly into the folder or download existing documents if necessary. These are just a handful of the helpful features offered by Workdrive that will see your teams productivity improve significantly.


Invoicing


We understand that cashflow is king in business therefore the efficient management of Invoices is one of the most critical activities we can assist with. We can automate the process of generating invoices based on the values in the Quote, Sales Order or any other predetermined values. We can give you the option to automatically generate the Invoice then manually send following review or automate the entire process of generating and sending it, regardless of whether it’s a one off or recurring Invoice.


Accounting


Whilst many of our customers are still using market leading platforms like Xero or Sage to handle their accounting requirements, more and more are opting to save the cost of their subscription fees by opting to use Zoho Books under their Zoho One subscription.

An image of a laptop using Zoho One

This move also eliminates the need to integrate Zoho with a 3rd party accounting platform which is an additional cost saver. Another benefit of making the switch is that we can automate the creation and delivery of many key documents contained in the accounting platform e.g Invoices, Purchase Orders, Sales Orders, Bills and Credit Notes. This process can be based on complex rules and logic to determine to right time to generate and send these documents.


Customer Service


Zoho Desk is a complete solution for managing all elements of your customer support. The process of automatically generating support tickets could not be easier for your customers and the process of managing them could not be easier for your team. Enhance customer satisfaction by implementing service level agreements and ticket escalation rules to ensure every support request is resolved in a timely manner. One way in which we can add value to your support management is to build a custom integration between Zoho Desk and Zoho CRM.


By default there is a native integration between these two platforms which syncs basic customer information. This can be further enhanced by extending the integration to include data relating to warranty periods, purchased products, support packages, repairs and maintenance, inventory and invoicing. When Zoho Desk is combined with this type of data which is stored in other Zoho Apps, it become exponentially more powerful in managing and automating your end to end operational processes.


Feedback


Checking in with your customers to ascertain their level of satisfaction with your services is vital to retaining your customers. Sales that come from repeat or referred business is the cheapest and most rewarding sales you will make. These sales opportunities will only be derived from happy customers.


We can assist with this process by sending feedback surveys to your customers at pre-determined points in your delivery process. We use Zoho Survey to collect this information efficiently whilst making it super easy for your customers to submit. We can also present the feedback collected in visually appealing and insightful reports and dashboards.

Remember this is just a snapshot of what Zoho can do.

If you don't see what you are looking for on the list, contact us to discuss your specific requirements. We build completely custom applications on top of Zoho platforms all the time and love the challenge of figuring out how to standardise a complex set of problems.


We take great pleasure in systemising time-consuming processes that are being done completely manually. That’s what our team of talented developers live for.


There is no task too big or too small for Zoho, just give us a chance to show you.




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