Call it a new take on a “freemium” pricing model. Today Zoho introduced a new CRM product for small businesses called Zoho ContactManager. After a 30-day trial, you can pay as little as $1.00 per month, or whatever you decide you want to pay. The company says the pricing model is an industry first.
Zoho already offers a full CRM or customer relationship management product. The new ContactManager is a more streamlined product, specifically for small businesses. You can organize and manage your business contacts. You can see a unified view of activity related to a given contact, in one place (see image below). It also has native app capabilities with the iPhone and Android phones, so you can use it on mobile devices (pictured above).
According to Brent Leary, CRM industry analyst and partner at CRM Essentials, “It’s an entry-level product that makes for an easy transition between using a solution like Excel, to using a full-featured CRM product. It’s a cloud-based contact manager made for small businesses that need to share contacts, not do more complex things like manage the entire sales process. So small businesses will not be overwhelmed by all that comes with some CRM applications.”
Leary says the pricing model may sound crazy but makes sense for a vendor like Zoho — and makes sense for small businesses to try.
“The pricing model is totally a customer acquisition experiment” to take away the barriers for small businesses to try it, Leary says. He adds that this new small business CRM product from Zoho makes the decision process easy for small business customers. “Zoho has created something that makes it almost a no-brainer to try if you are a small company just starting to get up to speed with the cloud — both from the product perspective, and also from a pricing model perspective. There’s almost no reason not to try it,” he adds.
Leary says ContactManager integrates with other Zoho services. That is a smart move, he says, because it will build customer loyalty among small businesses while they are young. And it gives Zoho additional opportunities to upsell to paid products, including the full-featured Zoho CRM, as those small businesses grow, he adds.
The product allows small businesses to easily pull information from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Then the information is placed in a central location where team members can have access. The new product also integrates with Zoho Mail and Zoho Creator.
Zoho ContactManager requires no contract. As is the trend these days, it requires no credit card to start the 30-day trial.
Zoho Corp is based in Pleasanton, California and also has offices in Chennai, India. According to the company, it has more than 100,000 customers worldwide. It also has an extensive developer community that creates add-ons to extend the usefulness of Zoho products and integrate with third party applications.
For additional background, see Leary’s 2012 interview with Raju Vegesna of Zoho, about the company’s philosophy toward small business CRM.