When important sales data began falling through the cracks in 2011, Universal Financial Consultants (UFC) knew they needed to find a new way to manage their sales pipeline.
“In order to continually improve, we measure the activity of our salespeople on a frequent basis and monitor the business that we are able to broker with our agents,” said Operations Director Natalie Vasacas. “Up until 2011 we were trying to keep track of this data with Google Docs and Excel spreadsheets, (but) we struggled because we had no viable way to update the most important information. We knew something had to change.”
So, UFC, based in Clearwater, Florida, and one of the largest brokerage general agencies in the country, explored the CRM options on the market. The platform needed to be straightforward, easy to use, and one that the sales team could adopt without an arduous training process.
“We looked at everything, from Salesforce to Redtail, and initially decided to go with an internal recommendation (because) the vendor of our agency management system was developing a CRM with Microsoft Dynamic,” she said. “In the beginning, we made a decision to try their system, as it integrated with what we were already using, (but) we soon discovered this choice was a big mistake.”
The Challenge: Trial by Error
UFC signed on to be a pilot office for the new CRM product and spent a year actively using it, sending their ideas and feedback to the vendor. But when it came time to use the finished version, Vasacas said it fell short of their expectations.
“I would consider myself an above-average CRM and Microsoft user; I’m not formally trained in Microsoft applications, but I have over 20 years of hands-on experience,” she said. “I knew that if I couldn’t understand how to use this platform, there would be no way my sales team could use it readily.”
At that point, UFC had to once again begin the search for another CRM.
“I knew we could no longer waste time on any more unproven platforms,” said Vasacas. “I suppose we learned that the hard way.”
They needed to find a CRM fast that could be implemented quickly and cost effectively.
“Salesforce wanted us to spend $30,000 in implementation costs, and it would have taken anywhere from three to four months to roll out and do training,” she said. “Price was a huge factor for us because we’re not a huge company like IBM; we’re a smaller operation, and we couldn’t afford to waste more time and money, both of which seemed likely with Salesforce.”
Getting Down to Business with Zoho CRM
“When transitioning to a CRM, you want it to flow with the business that you’re in,” said Vasacas. “I set up a demo account with Zoho and was won over right away. I loved the fact Zoho had all these other applications like Zoho Reports, Zoho Campaigns, and the integration of Google Apps.”
With Zoho Reports, Vasacas described how she generates visual representations of UFC’s sales data, the data that is now carefully monitored, organized, and tracked via Zoho Reports.
“Once you turn on the analytics, you can create some beautiful designs,” she said.
Additionally, through Zoho CRM, UFC has used Zoho Campaigns to monitor its salespeople and track deals made with each of its agents.
“We pull up an agent’s record and can see the analytics of emails sent to them. This helps us monitor what deal we were working with beforehand and what that agent might be interested in later. We love that integration (between Campaigns and CRM),” Vasacas said.
“Also, Zoho CRM was half the price of Salesforce, and I was able to develop the basis for our system on my own within a few days. This autonomy was something I never even realized I needed, and I wouldn’t trade it now that I have it,” she said.
“Zoho CRM was so easy to learn, and the results have been powerful. Overall, it helps us evaluate our business relationships, so we can focus more on the most profitable ones.”
What Would You Say to other Customers about Zoho?
“I recommend Zoho all the time. We explored the other big name CRMs on the market when we were looking for the right platform. In fact, I still do. Any time these CRMs come out with something new, I’ll look into it to stay current, but I have yet to find anything that suits our needs as well as Zoho does.“
To see how Zoho CRM can help you the way it did for UFC, click here