Since 2005, Zoho Corporation has been steadily carving its own niche in the CRM software market with Zoho CRM, the CRM component of its Zoho Office Suite.1 The system’s position as a solution marketed primarily towards startups and small to medium businesses is highly evident in its pricing; not only is it cheaper than market leader Salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud, it also has an entry-level free version for up to three users.
This free version is Zoho CRM’s biggest draw. Although less feature-rich compared to the paid versions, the free edition of Zoho CRM still comes with lead and contact management, email marketing, web forms, customer support, and social media integration.
The free version, however, is crippled in terms of record and file storage limits. It can only support up to 5,000 records and has a 256MB file storage limit per organization,2 meaning three users will either have to make do with the shared 256MB storage size or employ third-party online file storage solutions such as Dropbox or Box.com.
Other features missing from the free version are the Zoho Mail add-on, integration with Quickbooks, and plugins for Microsoft Outlook and Office.
Zoho CRM’s paid versions currently come in three different editions — Standard, Professional, and Enterprise.3 The Enterprise edition is the most feature-rich, but it also comes with the highest price tag of the three.
Additional features found in the paid versions that have been removed from the free edition include a more robust lead management module, email marketing, customer support, and inventory management. The paid versions also integrate with multiple Zoho apps as well as third-party programs such as Evernote and G Suite.
Zoho CRM is good at what it does for the price it is offered at. The system, however, is purely CRM. What Zoho CRM doesn’t have is a true project management module. Zoho offers a project management solution called Zoho Projects, but it’s a separate purchase from the CRM with its own tiered editions.4
The relatively low file storage capacities of even the more expensive paid versions is likely a reflection of this; Enterprise, the most expensive edition, only comes with 512MB worth of file storage for each user. Users will have to shell out extra if they want more space to store pertinent files.
Zoho CRM also has a module that allows users to generate reports, but this feature pales in comparison to the separate Zoho Reports app. Where Zoho CRM is only able to generate relatively simple reports, Zoho Reports goes lets users drill down deep and present data in a variety of ways as well as collaborate with each other when building reports.5
Zoho Reports fully integrates with Zoho CRM, but since it’s a separate purchase you’ll need a bigger CRM budget if you ever want to take advantage of its reporting tools.
The two features mentioned above — project management and rich reporting tools — perfectly encapsulate the main advantage of WORK[etc] over Zoho CRM and other similar CRM systems: while these systems are typically built to handle only one aspect of your business, WORK[etc] integrates all of them into a single, all-in-one system that lets you control the entire customer management lifecycle every step of the way.
You can, for instance, turn an email into a lead or a contact, create and deploy a project, invoice your customer, and provide post-project support using only one system. No extra fees for extra features as they’re all already in there — from project management and billing all the way through to customer support and reporting.
1. “Zoho Office Suite”. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved August 18, 2014
2. “Zoho CRM – Free Edition – Free for 3 Users”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
3. “Zoho CRM – Editions & Pricing”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
4. “Collaboration Tools | Plans and Pricing: Zoho Projects”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
5. “Online Reporting and Business Intelligence Service: Zoho Reports”. Zoho.com. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
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