Cloud-based CRM slugfest: Insightly vs Zoho

  • Even large enterprises are jumping on the cloud CRM bandwagon
  • What you should look for in a CRM solution, by way of two examples

Cloud-based CRM slugfest: Insightly vs ZohoCUSTOMER relationship management (CRM) is now moving to the cloud-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) spectrum.
It used to be that the big companies used desktop CRM software, while cash-stripped small and medium businesses used SaaS.
This is changing. Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2018, 4% of all large organisations (worth US$1 billion and more) will use SaaS CRM. This will increase to 10% by 2020.
It appears that while it is still important to acquire customers, businesses are changing their approach to it.
Gartner also predicts that CRM sales will continue to accelerate into the future, ahead of other software.

Cloud-based CRM slugfest: Insightly vs Zoho

Acquiring Customers
A customer is any entity that pays to consume the business’s product and services. One major problem facing any business is that customers have to be identified and developed.
Even if the business is well known and customers were to approach it directly, the business will still have to manage and record the customer interaction.

Cloud-based CRM slugfest: Insightly vs Zoho
Source: Zoho

This is where CRM software comes into the picture. With the rise of the SaaS business model, even small businesses can tap into the power of CRM to manage their business.
For a typical sales process, there are stages that a business will have to go through:

  1. Business Lead
  2. Business Client (also known as Contact in CRM parlance)
  3. Opportunities
  4. Project
  5. Reports

Every client begins as a lead. A lead can be found through referrals, website queries, walk-ins and various other methods. They would have to be qualified by the salesperson through their interactions in meeting with and talking to them.
A salesperson receives numerous leads, and these leads would require time to consider his or her proposal.
CRM functions
A good CRM software would have to track all the leads for an organisation, and the salesperson who is following up with the client.
After every meeting, a good salesperson should keep a written record of the interaction for future references. In addition, he or she should note the opportunities that each lead presents, assuming that they are qualified leads.
A good CRM software would facilitate such record-keeping because this is necessary to convert a lead into a client.
When an opportunity is won, the lead is converted into a client. Regardless of whether the opportunity is won or lost, the salesperson would have to record the reasons for it. This will come in useful in future interactions.
Unless your business is selling individual items – for example, if your business is a supermarket – it is likely that the entire sales process is complicated, with deliverables at different dates.
Essentially, the sales is now a project, and a CRM software is required to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
After all these activities have been completed, it is essential for a business to understand exactly what has been done so far.
The report would track the sales revenue for each salesperson and for the business as a whole; the opportunities gained or lost; the leads profile and follow-up; and lastly, the client’s profile and follow-up.
Insightly and Zoho
While there are other functions, these are the basic values that a CRM software provides to businesses.
In this article, we will be looking at two leading SaaS CRM software: Insightly CRM and Zoho CRM.
Insightly is a specialised CRM software that was founded in New Zealand by Anthony Smith.
For a business to work properly, it would have other tools in addition to CRM. As Insightly does not have these features, it offers integration with other firms for applications such as SaaS accounting solution Xero.
Insightly brands itself as the No 1 free CRM software.
Zoho started as AdventNet in 1996 and only jumped onto the cloud computing bandwagon in 2005 with the creation of Zoho Writer and Zoho CRM.
It had its first hit product with Zoho CRM and has since created dozen of SaaS applications. Zoho offers fully integrated services for its products. We will go into that later.
First, let us look at the similarities of both CRM software:
1. Both have free versions and 14-day trials for the paid versions.
2. Same CRM features such as

  1. Leads Management
  2. Contact Management
  3. Project Management
  4. Social CRM
  5. Mobile
  6. Google apps integration

3. Both target small and medium businesses with strong features and low monthly pricing for less than US$100 monthly.
Let me expand more on social CRM, mobile and Google Apps integration, since they were not covered earlier.
Social CRM means that the system will trawl through the contact’s publicly available social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to find out their opinion on your product or services. In addition, you can maintain your social media presence and react to any comments on your company.
Mobile allows you to check your CRM on your smartphone. This is useful for you to respond to urgent matters on-the-go.
Google Apps provide you with professional email and other Google analytics tools to look at the performance of your website.
Differences: Support
The level of support is different for both companies. The first striking issue is that Insightly does not provide email support for users of its free version, and directs users to its own knowledge base. On the other hand, Zoho provides email support for such users. but at a lower tier than its paid users.
This is reasonable as paying users should get better service and the availability of email support would lower the barrier for businesses to try out Zoho in the first place. This is because they need to invest time and money to try out the software in the first place.
On the other hand, if you are looking to provide support to your own customers, Zoho has its own integrated support SaaS known as Zoho Support. For Insightly, you might want to consider helpdesk SaaS like Freshdesk or Zendesk.
Differences: Marketing
Besides support, Zoho provides strong marketing support as part of its service, and also provides Google Adwords as part of the package.
More impressively, it allows you to track visitors to your website so you know who they are and how long they spend on each section of your website. Zoho CRM taps this technology from Zoho SalesIQ and they are fully integrated.
This allows you to guess the intention of your leads and contacts for more business opportunities. After all, they had a reason to visit you in the first place.
With Insightly, you would have to use supported marketing specialists such as DirectIQ.
Differences: Report
Besides this marketing strength, Zoho also allows you to see your sales figures for each client, and by each representative.
Insightly’s reporting is limited to the sales activities of each salesperson and the company as a whole. It does not show the actual revenue from the customer.
These are the main differences between Insightly and Zoho. There are others, but they are mainly due to the fact that Zoho has a more comprehensive software package than Insightly.
The last major difference would be in pricing.
Differences: Pricing

Cloud-based CRM slugfest: Insightly vs Zoho

Each company names its packages differently, so I decided to use the Tier 1 to 5 designation to differentiate them properly.
For example, Insightly uses the word ‘Plus’ to describe its mid-tier package, while this is the top-tier name for Zoho. The quoted prices are for a one-year commitment but billed monthly.

As you can see, both provide free products as part of their freemium strategy. They allow you to use their products for free until you realise that you need to pay them for extra and much needed features.
By then, you would have already have built some dependency on them.
Overall, Zoho is cheaper than Insightly from the third-tier onwards. The only difference is that Zoho allows you to get customised pricing based on your location and number of users. This is not available for Insightly.
There are many ways to justify the use of CRM in your company. The most obvious would be a return on investment, but even with that, there are quite a few methods to do so.
Gartner has the following chart on the various business justifications for using a CRM:

Cloud-based CRM slugfest: Insightly vs Zoho

You should read the Slideshare presentation for more information on how to do it.
The basic point is that you should always discuss the reasons and benefits of using CRM within your company. It is important that you frame your business’s long-term strategy around the CRM processes, rather than the CRM software itself.
This will reduce the CRM implementation cost and complexity.
My personal preference would be Zoho, given its features above. Another plus point is that it has a Singapore office.
With Insightly, no Asian office could be found on the Web, and it doesn’t provide details of its office locations, except to note that the company is based in California.
You can try out both and see which suits your organisation better.
Ong Kai Kiat is a professional freelance writer who enjoys the process of discovering and collating new trends and insights for an article. He is reachable at [email protected].
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