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Enterprise buyers often limit their search for CRM solutions to major players, such as Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft. In reality, there are dozens of good CRM systems, and buyers would do well to extend consideration to other, less well known, contenders.
The latest example is Zoho, which this week unveiled some significant upgrades to its cloud-based CRM software, including the launch of Zoho SalesInbox, an email client powered by Zoho CRM and built exclusively for salespeople.
The 20-year-old company also announced its first two data centers in Europe, in Dublin and Amsterdam. By the end of the year or early next, Zoho will add its first data center in India, said Zoho Senior VP Raju Vegesna.
The new CRM features appear to be a move up-market for the company, as it targets the biggest CRM players such as Salesforce and SAP. Zoho–with headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif., and Chennai, India– says it has about 20 million users worldwide, spread across more than 300,000 “active companies” (as it calls them) in 130 countries.
Vegesna challenged the notion that Zoho is moving up-market, saying his company is already there. “We serve all layers of the stack. It’s just that our products are deepening,” he said. Nonetheless, many of the announcements not only mirror recent announcements by CRM giant Salesforce but also Microsoft’s recent announcements around Dynamics 365. The CRM market competition is heating up around usability, integration of other apps, and making better use of data, and Zoho is looking to compete in these areas.
This week’s multifaceted release is the biggest in company history, Vegesna said, and it encompasses other solutions including major upgrades to its CRM, an expanded apps marketplace, and exclusive developer tools and programs.
Using customer data in Zoho CRM, Zoho SalesInbox prioritizes customer conversations, ensures that salespeople never miss an important email, and provides context for email conversations. It works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo! Mail, Zoho Mail and other standard email hosting services.
"Email and CRM are the two pieces of software that are the most critical for salespeople,” Vegesna said. “Yet, they usually don't work together very well. With Zoho SalesInbox, we're solving that problem and creating a new product category that transforms how salespeople use and interact with email."
In a briefing with Computer Economics analysts, Zoho demonstrated briefly how SalesInbox addresses the problem of siloed email and CRM systems. SalesInbox features a user interface that is easy to understand and rich with useful data that is cordoned off into four main columns and a set of easy-to-configure folders on the left. It was fairly simple to drag and drop data into various columns or create smart folders that seamlessly pull data from the CRM or other systems.
Highlights of Zoho SalesInbox
SalesInbox includes the following: