contract_cropI received this email from Ryan Brown with Media Environment Designs, one of our D-Tools certified partners. MED is switching from another CRM System to Zoho and Ryan asked me a few great questions that would affect the success of their implementation depending on how they were answered. As I was responding to the questions I thought it would make a good post because Zoho CRM handles Leads and conversions to Accounts and Contacts in a unique and interesting way that should be explained in detail.

The first part of the question has to do with Lead Source. All leads need a Lead Source because you can track revenue by Lead Source and you want to see where your marketing dollars are best spent. The way I define Lead Source is how did the lead hear about us or what specifically got them into the system.

I recommend that all but the smallest business’s use the stock Zoho CRM Lead Sources single pick list field and supplement that with a custom Sub-Lead Source single pick list field. This way you can easily break out specific marketing efforts and present a much smaller list on your web to lead forms. In our case we have 18 Lead Sources represented in the “How did you hear about us?” question in our Contact Us web to lead form, but we have 73 Sub-Lead Sources that represent our specific trade shows, print ads, seminars, etc. We can even create specific web to lead forms that have the Lead Source and Sub-Lead Source hidden so the user does not even have to make a choice on specific promotions but that gets to be PITA to manage.

So in Ryan’s email he got Lead Source and what the Lead was interested in confused. They are not the same. Lead Source is how did they hear about us. What the Lead is interested in is a different process which I will explain later on.

One of the things that Zoho CRM does really well with respect to Leads and Lead Source is that the Lead Source and Sub-Lead Source stays with the Contact when converted rather than attached to the Account. This was/still is a huge problem in NetSuite. Think about it, you could have multiple leads for the same account and these leads could of come in from different marketing events. NetSuite gets all schizophrenic with this issue because a Lead is at the same level as Account and there is only one Lead Source and it is impossible to get accurate revenue info when Lead Source is attached to account.

To break it down some CRM systems make you sell to Accounts that have Contacts. In Zoho CRM you sell to Contacts that are part of Accounts and each Contact can have a different Lead Source. This is a small but important difference between Zoho CRM and other CRM systems. Final word on Leads is Zoho CRM has a neat system of keeping Leads separate from Account/Contacts and you can set it up so an admin has to approve all leads before they get into general circulation.

So now we know the right way to handle Leads in Zoho, the next question is how do we identify what each Lead is interested in. To handle that I would create a custom field in Leads called “Interested In” and link that to Contacts on conversion. Using Ryan’s example this would be a multi-pick list field so the user could add more than one choice, containing D-Tools Training, Financial Management, Crestron Programming etc. This information would stay with the Contact on conversion.

Ryan also wanted to keep track of what contacts and accounts were interested in or have purchased in the past. Zoho CRM has a Product entity that looks into the Products table and lets the user add products to an Lead, Contact or Account. If added to a Lead the product will be moved over to the Contact on conversion. However this process is not automatic. The user has to add the Products manually, they are not linked to the Sales Order. To be really useful the Product entity in the Contact and Account Tabs should be linked to Sales Orders. I think the Zoho CRM team is aware of this issue and we should see some sort of update on this process soon.

Ryan also wanted to create and export targeted lists and Zoho does that extremely well. Here is a post on Creating List Views and here is a post on Creating Email Campaigns. Zoho CRM has the ability to combine different entities in reports so you can find Contacts of Accounts that meet a certain Account type criteria. Ui below:

The last point is that Ryan wanted to tag Accounts and Contacts with the same information so if a Contact moved the information stays with both Contact and Account. That can be done but then you are dealing with bunch of redundant information and it gets very hard to efficiently manage. You need to pick your battles and having all the information everywhere is not the best choice. Some information should be at the Account level and some should be at the Contact level. For example you don’t need an email address for an Account just for the Lead and Contact and Pre Qual Scores are just for Leads and dont have any use once the Lead is converted.

Zoho has a killer Map Custom Field UI where you can choose which fields get converted to which entity. The picture below is from our system and shows what is mapped. This is a complex process but Zoho CRM makes it really simple.