Zoho CRM Basics


I’m Peter McCredie, a small business owner from Australia.
The business name is EarthCom Communications.
I worked in IT from the late 1980’s and started EarthCom in 1998 as a CRM database consultant.
10 years later I started a Telco business in a shopping centre with EarthCom running alongside.
The last couple of years have been copywriting and developing business stories. I want to mesh the writing back in with the CRM consulting.
I’ve been away from database consulting for over 10 years. I want to learn Zoho from the ground up.
I use it as my own database, but need to review everything, working through as efficiently as possible.
I would appreciate any suggestions - thanks in advance.

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Hey Peter @mccreedie welcome to the forum.
Sounds great.
Are you anywhere near Sydney? Someone told me Zoho are opening a new office there.

Hi Paul and thanks.
No, I’m in Perth - opposite side of the country.
I hear that Zoho has increased it’s level of acceptance in Australia in the last two years. Would that be as a result of advances in the software?

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Hmm I’m not sure.
There’s an office in Singapore. Maybe that opened a few years ago with Australia in mind?

p.s. if you have CRM consulting services.
Drop your offer in the Pitch Anything category.
Just remember where you picked the leads up from :wink:

That would make sense. In the Telco industry there are carriers that are owned in Singapore, where decisions on corporate structure are made - such as whether the Australian operations are to be a centralised business model or not.

But I digress. It’s been a year since I began learning Zoho CRM, and then stopped while I developed the other part of my business (writing). I now need to commit to learning the software, helping some clients, obtain certification and get back into CRM database consulting.

Would you know of a study pathway that exists that would guide me through Zoho in a time efficient manner, without cutting corners? Any ideas would be a great help.

Are you looking at Zoho ONE?
That is a much better offer for businesses and consultants.
Run the whole business on ONE platform.

Not really heard of anything.
There’s companies that offer paid courses but I doubt they are anything official.
What are you trying to learn that makes it that complicated?

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the tip and yes, I’ll remember.

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It’s the volume of knowledge more than anything. All of those modules/applications to work through.
By default, I’ll just work through everything I can find online and make a library of the key points, summaries and hyperlinked documents for quick reference.

In future I’ll want to customise to make the application suit the client’s business process. I’ll also need to figure out a way to build prototypes where the customisation needs to go through proof of concept. Not sure how to set up “test” databases in Zoho at this point.

Looking forward to it.

You can actually setup and sell Zoho CRM as your own platform.
Edit as you like. Although not for individual clients… Or you could but that would be a lot of work.

Yeah I think this is why there’s not certification.
So much can change and you can edit it to suit your own needs.

Zoho One looks like the most obvious, but I’ll look at the low cast or no cost versions as well, as I’m bound to have not-for-profits with minimal budget coming along.

One of the areas I cover in writing branding stories for business owners and their companies, is to see if they give back to the community. This is a great piece to write about for their branding. If they don’t give back, I can find the most appropriate not-for-profits for them to talk to.

If the not-for-profit gets the sponsorship, they will need to verify with the sponsor how the money/goods/services are being used. So I’ll need them to run it through a CRM.

Long story short - Small, medium and larger implementations, but not necessarily in that order.

Yeah that’s cool.
Not for profit is fine. But if they want to be as productive and time conscious as possible.
Then paying the $$s will save them time and money in the long run.

Missing features for a couple of bucks a month seems daft to me.

Yes, on the certification issue, I get that. But when I did the certification for Microsoft SQL Server a very long time ago, the same changes and edits applied, but the certification was more to with managing the database and making sure you didn’t do anything stupid and screw up the client’s database.

Back in those days, most databases were locally installed rather than cloud based. Trying to read between the lines from your comment, I’m assuming that Zoho’s service takes the database management out of the consultant’s hands - except for setting up a new account, users, field names, lookups - things that you probably won’t get wrong.

I’m also assuming that Zoho isn’t going to allow me to create a new table or change a link between tables to preserve version control and that’s fair enough.

So as you can see, I have a lot of user manuals to read and videos to watch.
It’s time to dip my toe back into the water and it should be fun.

Yeah it’s cloud bases.
In paid versions though you can create modules, add fields to current modules as you like.

Managing local databases is cool. But not needed anymore.
I think, and was thinking about it yesterday.
What people really need is a better way to provide reporting on their data.
Zoho Reports/Analytics I find painful.

A remote ODBC and connect to something like Crystal reports is much better.
And… that can link to other people’s current SQL servers for the platforms they already use.
There will be a good market for that kind of work.

Yes you’re right.
Some of them are small and underfunded.
What I’m able to do is show them how we can get them some money through a sponsor, but to reinvest some of that back into their systems and their branding.
Because I can then show them to larger potential sponsors, who need them to present as having their act together.
That’s why a small group may need a low cost entry and pay for some consulting time. In the next round of funding I need a fully featured database.

So you raise a question for me Paul. Is there an upgrade path for the basic Zoho CRM to Zoho One? That would be important.

Yeah. In as much as you can go from Zoho CRM Free to Zoho ONE 30 day free trial.
If they don’t see the value. Jump back down to the fee Zoho CRM.

@mccreedie is that what mean?

Yes Paul I’m on that wavelength as well.
I used Crystal reports a lot for that and bringing your data through to an external SQL database is perfect to solve some problems.
However, what has come on in leaps and bounds since I was pounding the keyboard is the use of dashboards.
My son has worked for an American company that consults on dashboards only, to corporates around the globe.
They gather the data from multiple databases, including legacy databases, and customise dashboards for executives. The funny thing is that they want their customers to learn how to edit the dashboards themselves, so that the consultants don’t have to keep flying back to change it for them.
Microsoft has one called Power BI. It’s free. There you go guys, go make your fortune on a side hustle.

I started with CRM databases in 1998 and there were dashboard or business intelligence tools then, but they weren’t as easy to use and some just didn’t talk to enough databases.

No I’m saying connect with other services not bring it through.

Crystal Reports would be much better for validating data entry and flagging errors.