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Comparing CRMs: Zoho, Salesforce and Act!

Choosing the right CRM (customer relationship management) technology can make the determining difference in the success of your business because it directly effects how you manage your customer relationships. It can also be overwhelming, with so many CRM options and features among them. We chose to review the features and differences between three of the top CRM providers (Zoho CRM, Salesforce and ACT!) to help you to determine which CRM is the best choice for your business.

Contact & Account Management  

Zoho offers a wealth of customer information including pending deals, latest activities, associated contacts, ongoing projects and even more, from a single location. Sales people can respond on social platforms, manage communications and engage potential customers through live chats, emails and calls. With Zoho, sales reps can also receive and segment post and ping notifications from prospects, customers and leads. They can also communicate through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook from within the CRM.

Salesforce offers a complete view of customers including their activity history, communications, internal account discussions and social data. Sales people can collaborate, share insights and relevant documents, follow up with leads, and track conversions.

Act! stores your customer information in a central location so you can easily share updates and customer information with your colleagues. Account contacts can also be prioritized by applying filters and views. You can also interact with customers’ social media profiles.

Lead Management  

Zoho’s lead management capabilities include lead generation, analysis, scoring, automatic assignment, data enrichment with Zia AI and campaigns. Integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator lets sales representatives connect with prospective customers and view all of the gathered information about them. With Zoho, you can generate leads from Facebook and sync those with the option to set leads individually or in combinations.

Salesforce lets you track your lead information, access their contact information and relevant insights, and write & track emails. Also included are marketing campaign performance, configurable automatic lead scoring and routing, and lead tracking from marketing campaigns.

Act! offers you lead management capabilities including capturing, nurturing, scoring and campaign tracking. Act! enables you to create response-based activities and opportunities, capture leads through forms and surveys, and notify your sales reps as responses come in.

Opportunity and Pipeline Management  

Zoho CRM makes generating, scoring, converting and monitoring leads, as well as moving them through the sales funnel, easy. Apart from tracking, managing and prioritizing deals, you can also access key information such as teammates, deal amounts, associated contacts, expected close dates and more. Zoho CRM supports notes, meeting and activity scheduling, notification configuration and quote creation. You can visualize deals on a Kanban board or customize the layout by using templates or creating one of your own. A Kanban board is an agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency (or flow).

Salesforce lets users track and manage opportunities that are created manually on lead conversion or import. Users can create pipelines with custom stages and move the opportunities as needed. An opportunity record contains customer details, files, notes, products, calls, tasks, activities and more, and can be viewed in a tabular format or can be viewed on a Kanban board.

Act! helps users create and manage opportunities with a list view, detailed view and pipeline view. Customization gives the user the flexibility to configure existing sales processes or create multiple processes with custom stages. Users can associate contacts, groups or companies with opportunities and communicate with all parties involved.

Workflow Automation  

Zoho CRM is equipped with predefined workflow actions such as updating fields, sending emails and scheduling tasks. Defining custom actions lets the user meet specific business requirements such as notifying customers with personalized SMS texts for order confirmation, dispatch or delivery. Webhooks allow user-triggered actions in third-party apps on event occurrences and Zia, the AI assistant, helps analyze workflows further.

Salesforce automates business processes through a point-and-click interface. Workflows can guide sales reps through qualified conversations, recommend next best steps, and automate manual tasks. You can also automate approvals for things like deal discounts, and travel and expense reports.

Act! lets you create a series of configurable, connected steps for situations like scheduling activities, sending emails and sharing Act! or Swiftpage marketing email blasts. You have the option to run the email blasts manually, use triggers or schedule them at regular intervals.

Mobile CRM Capabilities

Zoho Marketplace provides user integrations to extend the CRM capabilities and offers custom applications to perform specified activities. Notable integrations include G Suite, Office 365, Mailchimp, Shopify and PandaDoc. Zoho offers REST APIs, Bulk APIs, Notifications APIs and Query APIs. Additionally, it integrates with Zapier to enable more than 2,000 integrations.

Salesforce AppExchange offers more than 1,200 integrations of free and paid applications including Slack, QuickBooks, Mailchimp, JIRA and DocuSign. Salesforce provides developer tools and multiple APIs such as REST API, SOAP API, Data API, Bulk API and Streaming API.

Act! provides add-on products across different categories such as accounting and finance, automation, reporting, quotes and proposals, and project management, along with common CRM categories such as sales, marketing, e-commerce and customer service. Act! Connect integrates with Google Contacts, Facebook, Instagram, Slack, QuickBooks, Freshdesk, SurveyMonkey, Shopify and more.

Reporting and Analytics  

Zoho CRM offers prebuilt and custom reports with tabular, summary and matrix views. These reports offer scorecards that follow top deals to a dashboard which monitors current growth indices and KPIs. You can embed static or interactive live reports in your company intranet.

Salesforce gives you a real-time view using prebuilt or custom reports, which you can create using drag-and-drop fields, filters, groupings, and charts. Users can track conversion rates, lead volume, sales forecasts and other metrics using built-in dashboards, or dig into advanced analytics.

Act! offers pre-designed report templates for printing or displaying group, contact, company and opportunity data visually. The report designer has custom templates for personalizing a user’s reports. Dashboards provide dynamic snapshots of productivity and performance, pipeline health, top-performing products, win and loss analysis, and more.

Team Collaboration  

Zoho CRM truly facilitates team collaboration through notes, @mentions, tags and social feeds. You can discuss deals, collaborate on ideas and projects, broadcast announcements to your team or portions of your team, post updates and share files. The platform integrates with chat tools to create commands and bots to pull up CRM records, reports and analytics.

Salesforce Chatter is the system’s collaboration platform which displays live feeds, facilitates real-time team communication, offers updated content and makes recommendations on the discussed subjects. Users can post, comment and @mention people and groups, share files, join public or private groups and collaborate on opportunities and account records.

Act! supports adding notes to CRM records, including groups, companies, contacts and opportunities. Users can mention teammates through Act! Companion, the mobile app.

Self Service Portals  

Zoho CRM lets you create company branded self-service portals with a digital catalog for partners, vendors and customers. With Zoho CRM, you can determine permissions and displayed data, place orders, view products and services, and update contact information. Administrators have control over access to the invite-only portals while defining permissions to read, write, edit and comment on the presented data.

Salesforce does not provide this feature.

Act! does not offer a self-service portal.

Cost Per User  


$20-65/mo per user


$25-$125/mo per user


$22-$55/mo per user

In Conclusion  

When comparing operational costs and provided features side-by-side, Zoho CRM  undeniably beats out the competition. Zoho CRM offers a robust list of features and integrations that make sense and are user-friendly. Zoho CRM also offers a free plan that is limited to 3 users, 5,000 records and 10 email templates, which will allow users to get a feel for Zoho CRM without any risk.

With all CRMs, there is a bit of training suggested to get used to the way that that particular CRM works within itself. Partnering with an expert helps you to master your CRM faster and more efficiently. Planned Growth is proud to be a Zoho Advanced Partner, trained to assist our clients through every step of the way. We work to not only help set up and implement your Zoho CRM, we also work to make sure that you fully understand how to get the most out of your new CRM. Schedule a free demo with Planned Growth today to start getting the most out of your CRM or give us a call (800) 625-4769 . Visit our Zoho Business Software page to learn more!