Can’t Afford CRM Software Right Now? Try Zoho Free: Comprehensive Review

There is always that dilemma of starting a new small business but not having enough startup money to afford all of the bells and whistles. If your business is successful, you will eventually be able to purchase a subscription CRM Software that you need for your thriving business.

Realistically, when trying to get your feet off the ground, if you don’t always have the money right away, you’re going to have to find an alternative. This is where Zoho CRM comes in.

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What is Zoho CRM?

Zoho CRM has been rated as one of the best Zoho CRM Softwares out there — the free version is a great choice for those among you who are seeking a cost-effective customer relationship management software that features the core, simple functions that your business needs.

As to what Zoho is, it is a customer management system that includes workflow automation, social collaboration, opportunity-to-sales tools, analytics, data, contact management, lead gathering and more.

It is recommended to try this software is you are new to the small business world and do not have the startup money to invest yet. If you have never used CRM software before, it is an especially good idea to test drive this kind of software to see if it is right for your business and a good investment for your future.

What Type of Business Zoho is Used For

It is recommended that this free Zoho CRM be used only for Small Businesses, as the features are simple (hence, why it is free). If you have a Medium to Large Enterprise, you will certainly need to invest in a subscription CRM Software service.

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This free Zoho CRM is best suited for small businesses with typically, no more than 10 employees. This is a simple CRM solution software that is budget friendly — but that means giving up most of the pumped up features of subscription CRM services.

See some of our reviews below of great subscription CRM Software solutions:

Dynamics Cloud CRM Software by Microsoft

Dynamics 365 by Microsoft

In conclusion, while this free software has more features than most other free options, it is not recommended for growing your business quickly. The capabilities are limited but still helpful for a small business to grow relationships with customers, start their business, and forecast the promise of their business.

Zoho CRM Features

The free version of Zoho CRM has limitations that subscription CRM solutions do not, but it is still quite impressive in comparison to other free CRM softwares. In fact, Zoho is packed with the necessary services that a small business needs.

Features of Zoho include the following:

Automation

The automation features of Zoho allows you to manage your workflow, sales opportunities, and contacts. You can automate tasks so that you can spend time selling your product(s) rather than doing repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Call logs are automated and calendars are automated, as well, which helps to save you time and become more productive as you get your small business off the ground.

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Multi-User Capabilities

The multi-user interface of the free Zoho CRM means you can onboard up to 10 users for free. This is an impressive aspect of this software, since most free CRM software solutions make you pay after only a few users.

Social CRM

The integration of social media is easier than ever with Zoho. This CRM integrates with both Facebook and Twitter in order to automatically link contacts to your social media account. Social media integration allows you to save time while seeing updates with contacts, accessing the latest interactions that customers or potential customers have had with your social media account, and accomplish this all from your Zoho dashboard.

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360 View

Zoho features what it calls “360 View,” which is also in its paid version. In this free Zoho, the CRM stores and displays information that you will need to make business decisions. For example, you can view your contacts, your sales cycles, sales pipelines, and more in order to increase your sales, identify trends, find new opportunities for sales, and take better care of your customers.

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Mobile CRM

Mobility is everything when it comes to CRM Software. As one of the most important aspects of CRM technology, being able to access your information anywhere is of utmost importance to a small business owner.

Zoho features this mobility through the Zoho CRM Mobile App, which is available for both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. You can even access in offline mode. You can view your customer data, contacts, leads, events, messages, calls, tasks, and more.

This is crucial to a small business owner that is busy and always on-the-go.

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Third Party Integration

Another great aspect of the free Zoho CRM is that it can connect to a large range of third party services and applications in order to integrate your customer relationship management data with the rest of your operations.

For example, you can use Google applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Tasks. Zoho will work seamlessly with these third party applications and even allow you to save your Gmail messages right into the CRM software, so you can keep your emails from your customers, potential customers, and contacts in one place rather than a separate account.

Zoho can allow you to export tasks and export events into their respective apps, as well, so it can work both ways.

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Analytics

Analytics is, of course, key to every business. With the free Zoho CRM software, you can track your business sales, measure your employee’s performance, see your business performance, and utilize a range of reporting capabilities.

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Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools are effective in businesses — especially social media. Along with the third party integration and Social CRM tools, you can use Zoho as a social media account for staff and collaboration in-house.

This tool includes an in-house news feed where you and employees can post updates, share files, and message others directly for a safe and effectively in-house communication and collaboration system.

Security

The security of the free Zoho software includes controlling who can access the software, which users can do what, set individual user permissions, and create profiles for users. You can even assign control access, roles, and restrictions.

Pros:

Zoho is better than most of the free CRM software available. With the range of options at your disposal as seen above, Zoho definitely ranks top on the list of available features and functions in a free CRM service.

You can also take advantage of Zoho’s customer service in this free edition. From blogs, webinars, tutorials, a searchable knowledge base, eBooks, user guides, social media support, and a help desk system, you can help yourself use Zoho to the fullest.

The business solutions offered in Zoho CRM means that as a user, you also have access to other productivity tools in the Zoho suite.

This includes:

  • Project Management app projects
  • Email Marketing campaigns
  • Collaboration tool meeting
  • Accounting software books

…and more.

Also, if you decide to upgrade your Zoho CRM in the future, you can easily integrate your data into a subscription Zoho package at any time, as well as integrate with any other Zoho product. This automatic syncing of your CRM data between products/solutions means less time spent manually transferring information and more time managing your business from a single platform.

Cons:

As a free CRM software, Zoho will have its obvious limitations. While it is a good CRM software for small businesses, it is by no means perfect in terms of its functionality. Some may be deal breakers, but as a free service, you have to pick your battles.

Lack of Customization

You can do a lot with the integration tools in the free Zoho CRM, but you cannot do a lot of customization options with the software itself. If you need to tailor the software to the unique needs of your business (custom reports, additional modules, or unique functions) you will need to purchase the most expensive of Zoho plans, which costs about $35 per user / per month. In terms of CRM Software, this is actually a great deal per month, as Large Enterprises often pay over $200 per user / per month. So, consider that as your business grows.

Customer Service

As mentioned above, you can take advantage of a number of customer service options; unfortunately, most of them are self-learning tools, guides, and so on, rather than support with Zoho professionals. For example, this free Zoho CRM does not come with phone support. You can use the Twitter help desk, but that may not cut it if you have a real problem you can’t solve by trial and error or Google searches.

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The Zoho help desk system included in the free service as been said to be extremely slow or even unresponsive at times. This is especially true after you submit multiple messages, so don’t plan on taking advantage of this tool as a sole source of support. Getting help from a representative may be more difficult than you initially thought.

Clunky Interface

Finally, the Zoho interface is functional for a small business, but again, as the free version, it is not as user friendly as the paid versions. It has been said to be “clunky” and somewhat less intuitive to use as other software.

The problem is it takes too many steps to perform a simple task, such as navigating through sections. However, despite the somewhat clunky interface, it is pretty easy to use. There is even an easy to read navigation bar at the bottom of the dashboard that features a tab for different functions such as: Accounts, Leads, Contacts, etc… You can also add new items in a single click and use the search bar to find content quickly.

Conclusion

Overall, the free version of Zoho CRM is pretty impressive compared to other options. For being a free service, it has a lot of features and allows you to have more users than expected. The features are impressive to. From collaboration tools, third party integration, social media tools, automation, analytics, mobility, and more, Zoho’s free CRM software is simple and appropriate for a new small business trying out CRM technology for the first time while getting on your feet.

 

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