I am a Dialogflow consultant, trainer and app creator. About a year back, I cancelled a bunch of software tools I was using and moved to Zoho One. This is my review of Zoho One after using it for about a year. It is not intended to be a comprehensive review, and it is definitely the limited view point of someone who currently runs a one person business.
In case you are wondering, Zoho One is not just a CRM, but includes a full suite of apps you can use to run your business. However, if you are a one person business, you are eligible for something called all-employee pricing (discussed later), which makes the cost of the entire bundle about the same as choosing individual apps. Since a CRM becomes much more useful when bundled with other apps included in Zoho One, in my view this makes Zoho One the best option for freelancers and consultants.
All employee pricing
There are actually a few important advantages you get as a one person company which makes Zoho One even more appealing.
The price of Zoho One goes down dramatically ($75/mo -> $30/mo) if you go for the all employee pricing. Since you are a one person business, of course you are eligible for all employee pricing. 🙂
Even if you are only a one person business, you probably need a website. You can use the free website that you get as part of Zoho One (not very customizable). Or you can just go with WordPress.
Once you have a website, it would be very helpful to have a live chat backed by a CRM. With Zoho One, you get these out of the box too. If you are not aware, Zoho’s live chat app is called SalesIQ.
And remember that Zoho also comes with an email broadcasting service called Zoho Campaigns. This means you can actually DO SOMETHING with the emails that you collect from your live chat widget.
But what if you are very busy and you are not going to be available to answer the chat? You can still add a small chatbot to answer FAQs and allow your website visitors to leave a message.
In my experience as a Dialogflow consultant, people overestimate the intelligence of chatbots and underestimate the benefits of live chat, which is why using a live chat integration with a chatbot is a pretty good system for a one person business.
With the recent updates to Zoho SalesIQ v2, you can now also add a little FAQ chatbot to your website using Zoho Answer Bot. If the answer provided by the chatbot is not very useful, the website visitor might want to chat with you. This chatbot-to-agent-handoff is very easy to implement in SalesIQ.
Integrate live chat with chatbot
Maybe after some time you might feel that you have reached the limits of Zoho’s Answer Bot. In all fairness, it is quite limited, especially when compared to a full fledged bot framework like Dialogflow. At that point, you can replace the Zoho Answer Bot with a Dialogflow website chatbot.
And in my view, Zoho SalesIQ is probably the best live chat integration for Dialogflow. This is especially true if you are a one person business like a freelancer or consultant, because the value of Zoho One keeps increasing over time while the price remains (mostly) the same. And all your apps are more or less in one place, so they are already integrated behind the scenes.
You will find some complaints online about Zoho products being unable to do feature X that a competitor can easily do. As a one person business, it is extremely rare that you will need such a feature. For simple use cases, Zoho apps work very well.
Use Zoho Flow to integrate with other apps (Zapier alternative)
You are probably already using some software other than Zoho. Zoho has integrations with a ton of apps. And you will usually find that Zoho Flow (a Zapier competitor) can help you connect your app to Zoho.
Zoho’s support is “good enough”
It is true that Zoho’s support can be a bit slow and disorganized. But it will be at a speed which a one person business can usually work with. It is quite unlikely that you will create an email marketing broadcast to send to 10,000 subscribers and find that you urgently need a specific feature provided by (say) Hubspot. These are things you might read about, but unlikely to personally affect you.
In other words, using Zoho might force you to simplify your business processes a little, which is usually a good thing for a one person business.
But do you even need a CRM?
One more thing: you probably think you don’t need a CRM right now. It seems like one more thing to manage. Maybe you are wondering if you can afford it at this stage. Or you might be thinking that it will force you to buy even more apps from other vendors to get everything working. You probably don’t want all the added complexity.
But it is worth remembering that a CRM allows you to consolidate much of this information under a single roof. This means there is much less chance of things slipping through the cracks. Here again, while Zoho CRM is not spectacular, I would say it is pretty solid. And Zoho CRM is not very complex, certainly not any more so than any other reasonable competitor. Plus the Zoho One suite already has a lot of the additional tools you might need (such as an email marketing service).
A couple of useful tips if you choose Zoho but don’t want to spend much time learning how to use Zoho CRM. Just do the following: add all new “people” information into the Leads module, and try to stick to existing CRM modules (that is, don’t try to create custom modules)
My point is: the downside is quite small, and the upside is quite high. And if you find that Zoho One actually helps you cancel even one of your paid apps, you will be able to come out ahead. And the rest is just a bonus.
For me, this app was ConvertKit. I was paying more for ConvertKit before than I am now paying for the entire Zoho One suite. 🙂
And after I moved to Zoho, I have also utilized the following apps:
- obviously SalesIQ chat,
- PageSense website analytics tool
- Writer for creating PDF eBooks
- Forms for getting feedback from readers and customers
- Showtime for conducting webinars
- Show for preparing slides for the webinars
- WorkDrive for saving a bunch of files
- Meeting for online meetings
- Sign for sending digital signatures
- Flow for creating glue code to connect different apps
I used some of these apps just to try them out, so I don’t use all of them regularly. But it is quite good to know that I do have these tools in my toolkit if I need to make use of them more heavily.
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