Tools We Use - Zoho CRM

Tools We Use - Zoho CRM
Joel Baglien profile picture

By Joel Baglien, VP Business Development

Categories: Tools

Zoho has developed a great online CRM – it is both easy to use and can be highly customized.

Zoho ( provides a suite of online tools including a CRM app that we started using at High Monkey about three years ago. We had previously used other CRM tools and each of them had limitations around usability, customization, and reporting.  What we found with ZohoCRM was a more intuitive interface, the ability to easily customize only what we needed, and reporting that both made sense and was customizable.  In this blog post, I will introduce you to the two primary areas that sales teams in most organizations will spend a majority of their time . . . Leads and Opportunities.
First, a couple of definitions that we use at High Monkey (your organization’s interpretation may vary).
A Contact is a person from an organization that may have expressed interest, dropped off a business card at an event, opted in to your mailing list, or filled out an online form.  We use Contacts as a ‘catch-all’ of bare-bones information about people or organizations – a repository of unrefined data.
A Lead is a person with whom we may have had a conversation or about whom some research has happened (e.g. – LinkedIn, website, search, etc.) as a way of ‘vetting’ whether the person could become a client. Leads are where we track initial phone and email contacts with a person or ‘reaches’ into an organization. We spend a lot of time working with Leads.
An Opportunity is an individual who is at a more serious stage of conversation or consultation, and who is likely to receive a proposal of some kind in the future (i.e. – you can almost smell the money 😊). Opportunities are assigned an anticipated close date, so they require daily or weekly monitoring, nurturing, and updating.

Let’s start with Leads.
To view Leads, the ZohoCRM global navigation bar lets you customize for the links you use most often.  You can select a pre-defined view of leads or you can easily create a custom view (for example – a view of only those Leads that are assigned to you).  If you are part of a sales team, you can share custom views that you create. 
ZohoCRM remembers the last view of leads you were using however, Leads can be sorted dynamically by column headers.  The small up arrow next to the column name means the Ascending or an A-Z view has been selected – naturally there is a Descending (Z-A) view to help you find what you need quickly.
Creating a new lead is as easy as clicking a ‘+’ button on the top right of the Leads page. 
Leads can be populated from a list by importing a CSV file and mapping the fields to those in ZohoCRM.
When creating a new lead, it will automatically be assigned to the person who creates it.  You can change the ‘Lead Owner’ by selecting another person from your sales team. Fill out a handful of information fields on the ‘Create Lead’ page and save. That’s it.
Clicking on a Lead name takes you to a Lead detail page for that person.  You can edit any of the primary information about the person, the Lead Owner, or Lead Status.  An additional level of editing is available for field such as details, address, and description information about the Lead
Two of the most useful data fields for individual Leads are Notes and Open Activities.
Each Lead provides a text area titled ‘Add a note . . .’  Notes are simple keyboard entry or cut and paste.  The latter is helpful if you want to add the text of an email or pre-existing text (OneNote or another text source).  Notes are automatically date and time stamped and display the most recent note first.
ZohoCRM allows you the option to create a follow up Task for any Lead and you can view all your Tasks in the ‘ACTIVITES’ area within ZohoCRM. The ‘Open Activities’ area is where you can set reminder Tasks for yourself to follow up with a Lead.
When you create a Task, it receives a descriptive name in the ‘Subject’ field, a due date, a priority, and an owner.  The ‘Priority’ and ‘Owner’ fields allow you to select from customized drop-down lists. Reminders can also be set for each Task and they can repeat daily, weekly, etc. as either pop-ups or email alerts.

Moving on to Opportunities
While you can create an Opportunity directly in ZohoCRM, the most efficient way to create an Opportunity is to convert a Lead that you have nurturing.  In the Leads view.  It’s a simple process of clicking on the Lead name and selecting the green ‘Convert’ button on the Lead page.

The ‘Convert Lead’ screen is shown below.  Noteworthy actions in the conversion process are:
•    Both a New Account and a New Contact are created when you convert a Lead.
•    During the conversion process you can edit the ‘Opportunity Name’, add information to the ‘Closing Date’, ‘Stage’, and ‘Contact Role’ fields.
•    The new Opportunity is assigned an Owner – this could be you or someone on your sales team.


You will see a confirmation screen if the conversion is successful and the Opportunity will be available to view and work with in ZohoCRM’s Opportunities area.
The benefit of converting a Lead to an Opportunity is that the Lead becomes associated as the Contact Person and all previous Notes move forward with the Opportunity.  
Within ZohoCRM, the process of editing an Opportunity and creating follow up Tasks, follows the same process and rules as Leads.  
The primary difference between a Lead and an Opportunity is the ‘Stage’ information.  You can change the Stage by clicking on one of the circles – this process allows you to move an Opportunity through the process until it becomes ‘Closed Won’ (YAY!) or ‘Closed Lost’ (BOO!).  Hovering your mouse cursor over a Stage circle will display a caption for the Stage as shown below for ‘Closed Won’.  The ‘Discovery Call’ Stage is selected.

Let’s Go Home
Working backward, ZohoCRM also provides a very ‘Data-Rich’ Home Page
The ZohoCRM Home Page allows you to add and arrange content widgets (ZohoCRM calls them ‘Components’).  As head of Sales for High Monkey, I have the following Components displaying on my Home Page: Open Tasks, Todays Leads, Closing This Month, Pipeline by Stage, Pipeline by Probability, Leads by Status, Sales by Account, Opportunities by Type, and YTD Closes.
Each component is clickable and allows you to drill-down into the data. For example, the YTD Closes Component provides me with a detailed view of closes for each member of the High Monkey sales team with information about the Account Name (Client), the Opportunity Name, and Expected Revenue. 
ZohoCRM provides a simple tool to add Components or create custom views of data within the Home Page.  Other data fields, lists, templates, can be easily edited within ZohoCRM and are immediately shared with a sales team because of ZohoCRM’s online subscription model.
I know this overview of ZohoCRM just scratches the surface of what you can do.  ZohoCRM meets our needs very well at a reasonable subscription price-point.  If you are exploring CRM systems, ZohoCRM is worth a serious look.