…your competition has a 'scripted template' for bashing you!
We recently had a few prospective CRM customers contact our sales team as they were shopping around for a CRM product and they had narrowed it down to just two products: Zoho CRM and Salesforce.com CRM. In the context of our conversation, they were nice enough to forward us the communication they had with their Salesforce.com sales rep regarding Zoho.
As a marketing guy, what caught my attention is that Salesforce invested some time and energy on creating a template that they send out to prospective customers who are specifically asking about the differences between Zoho and Salesforce. We know it can mean only one thing: they’re increasingly seeing people ask why should they go with Salesforce vs. Zoho. And we know that because it’s the same we’ve been seeing on our side – not only have people been asking why should they choose Zoho over Salesforce, but people have been actually switching from Salesforce.com to Zoho CRM.
So we thought we’d speed up the sales cycle a little bit by addressing these questions once and for all for our prospective customers. Below is a summary of the major points Salesforce is telling customers about Zoho, and then, in the interest of fairness, our side of the story. Customers should evaluate and consider both sides, and of course, then do their homework.
Salesforce is saying: We are the market leader and we’ve got more awards. Yes, Salesforce did just cross $1b dollars in revenue…. Mostly, of course, because their product is overpriced. How is that a good thing for customers? By the way, we have some awards of our own as well – we’ve been named a 2008 Market Leader by DestinationCRM magazine, and our CEO, Sridhar Vembu, has also been named a “CRM Visionary”.
Salesforce questions our commitment to the CRM space/product. Salesforce is telling customers that we, Zoho, are not committed to CRM because we have many products. Yes, we do offer a comprehensive portfolio under the Zoho umbrella, and that is core to our strategy and the value we offer customers. But I wouldn’t question our commitment to our CRM product. Sitting this side of the fence, I can tell you our biggest chunk of our revenue comes thanks to our excellent CRM product. Need I say more about our commitment? But by the same token, we would also question Salesforce's long-term prospects as a standalone entity. What is the last well-known CRM-only company that you can remember? Siebel? Correctomundo!
E-mail and Document Management Integration. I think Salesforce has done a good job integrating e-mail with their CRM product. We’ll honestly concede we are a little behind integrating some of our other products into CRM. We have been busy building a strong foundation for that. In the near future we’ll show how Mail and CRM integration should be done. We’re in beta tests for this already and it’s looking sweet.
Customer, do your homework!
If you are a customer looking for a great CRM solution, here are the 3 things you should consider when deciding:
• What are my CRM needs, and what plans do my prospective vendors offer me to address them?
• What is the total price, and the conditions, that I’d need to pay for that system?
• What is the experience I will have with the product once I start using it?
It’s important that you compare not on a plan-vs-plan basis, as that can be deceiving. Instead, make a list of the functionality you need, and the corresponding plans/editions from your prospective vendors that address those needs. And then of course, figure out how much you’ll need to spend to get the CRM system that you need. But of course, also actually sign-up for a trial and use the system for a bit, take it for a spin. Which one is easier to use? Which one is faster? Which one will my sales team feel happier with?
There's also another important part about the experience - what will happen if in the future you want to take your business elsewhere? We have been very vocal that your data always belongs to you. Zoho will never keep your data hostage. You should ask that of the all the vendors you're considering - oh, but you already know what they'll say. Check their reputation instead. Hey, and what about requiring long-term contracts? Zoho offers you the option to subscribe on a yearly basis, but doesn't force you to - no pun intended.