The days of the Rolodex are long gone, but the need to manage and retrieve business information quickly is more important than ever. For the same functionality as that little mechanical Ferris wheel-like tool, most people rely on their email client's built-in contacts manager. The problem is that's chump change in terms of what most businesses need. Zoho knows this and has stepped up its already powerful game to include a new tool called Zoho ContactManager. (Note: This is not Zoho Mail's Zoho People feature; it's much different and a lot more powerful.)
The features of Zoho ContactManager include the ability to:
- Track all contacts;
- Track related opportunities, activities, and other details;
- Specify where each contact fits within their company (for better messaging and sales coordination);
- Import contacts from third-party business applications;
- Establish contact assignment rules (which helps to automatically assign contacts to the appropriate salespeople);
- Customize using intuitive drag and drop customization wizards;
- Integrate POP-enabled email using the Zoho Mail Add-on for CRM;
- Synchronize contacts, tasks and calendars between Zoho CRM and Outlook with the Zoho CRM Plug-in for Microsoft Outlook;
- Create mail merge documents and mailing labels using the Zoho CRM Plug-in for Microsoft Office; and
- Integrate with web-forms for end-user contact entry.
Zoho offers a 30-day free trial of ContactManager. Then, for a limited time, you can sign up for the full version of ContactManager on a "pay what you want" basis.
Importing your contacts
One of the first tasks you'll want to do is import your current contacts; you can import from a CSV file, an XLS file, Zoho Contacts (from the email tool), or Gmail. You'll see the import window when you log in to Zoho ContactManager. Let's walk through importing from Zoho since I assume you'll be integrating with the other tools from your Zoho account.
From the import window, click the Zoho icon and wait for your contacts to load. To import your contacts from the listing to ContactManager, click Select All or select individual contacts. Click OK to finalize the import. This process might take a while depending on how many contacts you have. When the import process is complete, a report will return the number of contacts imported and the number of pre-existing contacts. Now that you've imported all of the contacts from Zoho Mail, you're ready to start using them within ContactManager.
Using Zoho ContactManager
One feature I find extremely handy is the ability to compose an email directly from a contact listing. To do that, follow these steps:
- Open ContactManager and locate the contact you want to email.
- Click that Contact's name.
- Click the Emails tab.
- Click the window marked Click Here To Compose Email (Figure A).
- Compose the email.
- Click Send.
Composing emails from within a contact listing in Zoho ContactManager.
Deals is another feature that might appeal to you, depending on your business. To create a deal for a contact, click the Deals tab and then click Add First Deal. In the resulting window (Figure B), you can enter details for Deal Name, Deal Value, Closing Date, Description, and Tags.
Creating a deal for a contact in Zoho ContactManager. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
You can also associate social accounts to a contact. For instance, say you want to associate a Twitter feed to a particular contact. To do this, follow these steps:
- Open Zoho ContactManager and locate the contact in question.
- Click the Social tab.
- Select Twitter from the Show drop-down.
- Click Configure Now.
- Allow access to your Twitter account (if prompted).
- Select the Twitter account to associate with the contact (Figure C).
- Click Associate.
Now you can send tweets to that user from within the contact listing.
Associating a Twitter account with a contact in Zoho ContactManager. (See an enlarged view of the image.)
From within a contact listing, you can add tags to the contact; this will help enable much more powerful searching functionality from within ContactManager. To add tags, click the Add Tags link within the contact and type your tag. I highly recommend doing this, especially if you have a lot of contacts.
If you're looking for a powerful contact manager to integrate into Zoho, look no further than ContactManager. Not only will be you able to enter comments about a contact, you can tag them, create deals for them, add tasks, and even interact with them socially. The only thing missing is phone integration.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.