Zoho adds enterprise features to its CRM software, eyes Salesforce.com

Zoho is doing some 30 migrations per day away from rival CRM platforms, according to a company official

Zoho has added a series of features to its CRM (customer relationship management) software in a bid to appeal to larger companies as well as lure away customers from the likes of Salesforce.com.

In some respects, the Zoho update amounts to the company catching up to Salesforce.com and others rather than showcasing truly new innovations.

Zoho CRM Enterprise now includes improved territory management, allowing customers to be broken up by factors such as geographic area and revenue, allowing sales teams to hone their efforts around specific groups of prospects. In addition, Zoho has added the ability to run sales forecasts according to geography.

Larger companies with multiple divisions and lines of business may also need more than a standard set of CRM modules. To meet this need, Zoho CRM Enterprise now includes the ability to create custom modules that are compatible with the standard set.

Zoho has also taken a page from Salesforce.com by integrating customer Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles directly inside the Zoho CRM interface. Salespeople and customer support representatives can keep an eye on the social streams, looking for signs of discontent, then respond directly to the person offering help, said Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist for Zoho.

Other improvements include better integration between Zoho CRM and Zoho Campaigns.

The updates are available now. Zoho CRM Enterprise costs US$35 per user per month, a price that significantly undercuts Salesforce.com's Enterprise package, which runs $125 per month.

Salesforce.com and its adherents may argue there's no straight comparison to be made between it and Zoho. But Zoho is nonetheless finding success for its CRM, with more than 40,000 paying customers, according to Vegesna. Between 10 percent and 20 percent are using the Enterprise edition, and Zoho is completing about 30 migrations per day to its system, "typically from Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics," he claimed.

Zoho's announcement comes just days before Salesforce.com kicks off its annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, and days after SugarCRM also announced a major update to its product.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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