Zoho CRM’s Customer-Centric Model Targets Growth

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Christopher Sirk

Business software company Zoho has been around a long time, since 1996 if you can believe it. Now they’re a huge player in the CRM industry, offering 45+ digital tools for business.

Today, one of the most popular platforms on the market, Zoho provides a classic full-featured CRM tool that helps businesses of all sizes rationalize everyday work and scale responsibly, without breaking the bank.

Zoho CRM Review

Zoho CRM Dashboard

The Zoho story

CEO Sridhar Vembu started the company that would become Zoho in Chennai, India. Over the past two decades, Vembu’s organization has evolved into a multinational entity with headquarters in Austin, Texas and 11 offices placed around the world, including Bay Area and India-based operations. 

Back in 2008, Forbes described Vembu as “the Smartest Unknown Indian Entrepreneur” of our times. While he’s better known now, there’s certainly compelling evidence to back up the smarty-pants part of the accolade: for one, Vembu bootstrapped his company from complete obscurity to one that makes about $350 million in annual revenues today. 

This is a pretty incredible story, given that it’s the total antithesis of the Silicon Valley venture capital model for scaling up operations. 

Zoho’s grown exponentially larger over the past decade, and now has everything from spreadsheet tools to business suite offerings. It has become entrenched as one of the big players of CRM, gunning for Salesforce’s crown, and former Zoho employees have gone on to start a number of successful spin-off companies, most notably Freshdesk (a direct competitor to Zoho).

One of the ways Zoho has made this model of growth feasible certainly has to do with its economical and ingenious methods for recruiting and controlling costs. Most of the company’s employees are still based in India, and rather than solely hiring students fresh out of top engineering schools, the company has created Zoho University.  

Zoho University is an in-house initiative that recruits students from higher secondary schools with little or no experience and trains them to become software developers and engineers. In a work environment where no investors or stock market pressure exists, students have the space to develop their skillset quickly and confidently. 

Zoho’s value proposition as a company, inside and out, is to empower people and businesses by providing the right vision and tools. 

The company is a disruptor of expectations in more ways than one. As a self-financed ‘product’ company from India with huge reach in the American market, they have kicked against the odds and come out on top, big time.

Zoho CRM overview

Zoho CRM targets small and medium-sized businesses with its simplified user interface, customizable modules, practical automation, and social media savvy features. The platform lets you define workflows, rationalize your everyday tasks, and manage leads; in other words, it does all that other good ‘ol fashioned CRM-y stuff and does it well.

Here are a few of the platform’s most notable features.

Generating leads from multiple channels

With Zoho, you can nurture leads across email, social media, telephone, live chat, webinars, and in-person. With lead assignment rules, you can route specific kinds of leads to the right team or team member, so the most qualified, knowledgeable person for a certain segment becomes the first point of contact. 

Customize lead details by adding new custom fields, disabling standard fields, and make sure your lead generation strategy fits the goals of your sales and marketing processes.

You can identify high-quality leads that exhibit specific characteristics, such as demographics, ‘likes’ or shopping habits. Social media integration allows you to monitor customer feedback on Twitter and Facebook, keep track of engagement and conversation history, get notifications, and sync leads between your social media accounts and the CRM.

With Zoho CRM for Google Ads, you can get detailed information on your Google ad campaign spending and ROI. Zoho integrates with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, so you can view total information on a contact or prospect’s LinkedIn professional profile from directly in Zoho. Lead ads and information sync with Facebook allows you to target hyper-specific audience segments.

Sales force automation and sales process management

Sales management tools include automation of routine sales processes, and the ability to build and trigger complex workflow sequences with multiple rules and up to 10 conditions per rule. You can send emails in-app, do task scheduling, update and customize data fields, and track deals stage-by-stage to seize opportunities as well. 

Everything is designed to help you take the right action at the right stage of the sales process. 

Insights from analytics

Zoho CRM’s analytics give you the ability to make data-driven decisions, across all levels of your organization. Segment or blend data from leads, contacts, tasks, quotes, and campaigns. Determine your sales funnel’s conversion rate. Use a variety of charts to visualize data from existing templates, and build customizable real-time reports that incorporate metrics from sales trends, marketing campaigns, sales activity, and team and individual performance.

Share dashboards, set control permissions for users, and share reports out of the CRM environment by exporting them as CSV, PDF, and Excel files. 

AI assistance

The Zoho platform comes with an AI-driven sales assistant named Zia, which optimizes CRM data with data mining and machine learning. Zia is able to predict sales, offer suggestions on strategy, and provide opportunity and deal alerts. 

Zia crunches data over time to see how individual sales team members are using Zoho CRM and deduces marketing campaign tweaks and customer behavior insights accordingly. The AI assistant can also analyze your workflow automation settings and make optimization suggestions.


If you want to experience the Zoho platform without committing financially, you may want to give their free CRM a whirl. The free version is available for up to three users, although it is somewhat limited features-wise (for example, there’s no mass emailing feature and limited customizability).

The paid Standard version of Zoho pumps up the usability factor with robust sales forecasting and KPI tracking. The Enterprise version adds ever more sophisticated tools, such as stage-by-stage sales funnel tracking and customizable data comparisons across teams, users, regions, and more.

Well-rounded, sensible CRM

Zoho offers an all-around good choice for any business looking for a full-featured CRM. The practical, bootstrappy DNA of the Zoho company is definitely apparent in the platform they’ve built.

With Zoho, everything is built to support the lean efficiency of daily operations and generate growth. This is a CRM platform all about providing companies with the tools to scale sustainably and on their own terms.