Zoho Introduces App for Small Business Contact Management

Zoho has introduced ContactManager, a solution for small businesses that currently store their contact information in spreadsheets. Designed for small and medium businesses, the interface takes into account the more personal interactions that teams may have with their customers, vendors, or sales leads.

In addition to standard contact information, such as email address and phone number, the ContactManager application will pull in information such as email interactions and a contact's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Users will also be able to assign tasks to another team member and monitor their progress. Similarly, an employee can share a win in the form of an update that will be tied to a specific connection. That history will then be stored with the appropriate contact.

"All the latent information for the contact is contextually presented in the product," Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna describes, which offers a marked improvement for small businesses currently working off spreadsheets. The company also offers a variety of import options, including from Excel spreadsheets, and can draw in company information from sources such as Crunchbase, TechCrunch's open database of companies. The product will work with Zoho's existing CardScanner app, which extracts information from business cards.

Vegesna sees the product as an optimal solution for the smallest businesses, who have limited needs with their contacts. But he also believes the application could also serve as a stepping stone for the company's more advanced products, such as Zoho CRM. "The next stage after the customer is comfortable with the ContactManager is using something like a CRM system," he affirms.

Industry analyst Esteban Kolsky of ThinkJar believes that the new tool will help Zoho gain more customers. "Zoho does really well with small businesses, small firms with two to three people that sell one product to a small market. Eventually those companies may grow, or they'll need more functionality, and they'll look to Zoho" for its CRM, invoicing, or other business tools.

Zoho is offering the ContactManager for a 30-day free trial. After that, the company is using a "Pay What You Want" rate that will see customers paying as little as one dollar per month for the add-on. Vegesna says the decision was inspired by other companies that have tried the model, including food service companies such as Panera. Kolsky sees it as a unique way to solve a universal problem: how to price a product. Plus, if indeed the "aim for the product is to introduce Zoho to different people," Kolsky says, pricing matters less than the ability to gain a long-term customer who adopts the rest of the products in its suite of functionality.

ContactManager is designed to travel with teams, and will be available as a native app on the iPhone, Android, and downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play store.

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