Sep 18, 2020
In this past week, I had two potential customers who were deciding between our RapidStartCRM Power Apps or Zoho. For one of them, I had no choice but to recommend Zoho. I you want to know why, keep reading.
I got a call from Bob, the owner of Little Bitty Inc., in Podunk, Nebraska. Bob was managing the finances for his 5-person business in his checkbook, and managing his sales with a Google spreadsheet. He said he had been considering Zoho, but then saw an ad for our RapidStartCRM talking about how it was "Simple-to-Use". I realized at that moment that "Simple-to-Use" is a relative term, and was pretty sure that our app was not "Simple" enough for Bob. Plus he wanted to move his checkbook onto something, and that is not what RapidStartCRM is. My mind flashed across an integrated RapidStartCRM/Business Central scenario for a brief second, and then I said, "Bob... if I were you... I would go with Zoho".
I'm all about RapidStartCRM, or even just Power Apps, being a path forward from spreadsheets, but for Bob... it was going to be too much of a leap. Zoho was going to be good enough for Bob. I actually like Zoho, and for a customer like Bob, I think it is the perfect solution. Zoho is not particularly powerful, nor extendable, but then... neither was Bob.
I got a call from Rich, the IT Manager at Acme Solutions, a 30-person business in Atlanta. Rich had already moved his company to Microsoft 365, and was ready to tackle his sales team's challenges. They were currently using Excel Spreadsheets and SharePoint to manage their pipeline. Rich was also looking at Zoho, but just their CRM capabilities, Acme did not need the finance side. But since Rich had recently moved to Microsoft 365, he thought he would explore Microsoft's options. He did a trial of Dynamics 365 Sales Pro, and while he liked the power and extensibility, compared to Zoho, he concluded that it was simply too complex, and would need to be modified quite a bit to meet their specific requirements. He knew that Zoho could not be modified to meet his exact requirements, but it was cheaper and easier to use. So he had decided to start with Zoho, and see how far it would take them... it was better than spreadsheets. He got a call from a Microsoft rep because he had trialed Sales Pro, and after explaining his concerns, she suggested he check out RapidStartCRM, and so we ended up on the phone.
Knowing he was considering Zoho, I assumed price was important, so I started by pointing out to Rich that RapidStartCRM was free, and ran on a $10 Power Apps Per App license. He informed me that was about half the cost of Zoho's lowest plan, which I opened a browser and confirmed, Zoho's base plan was $18/month. This actually backfired on me as Rich became suspicious that since RapidStartCRM was less, Zoho's CRM must have more. I asked about his requirements and it sounded like 80% of them were covered with RapidStartCRM, out of the box, the same 80% that Zoho also covered. Then we explored that 20% that Zoho could not get to, and even though the requirements were quite specific, none of them were complicated to extend to in RapidStartCRM, which again is a Power App. In fact, we extended the conversation of his requirements, talking about some platform capabilities he was not even aware of, and then he decided those were now critical! I really love the "discovery" aspect of these calls.
I would love to say that RapidStartCRM is the ideal fit for any company, in any situation, but that's simply not the case. It was the perfect fit for our new customer Rich, but not a good fit for Zoho's new customer Bob. I think the key difference is looking out beyond today's need. While there are plenty of simple-to-use apps, including Zoho and RapidStartCRM, it is really about where you can eventually go with them. Microsoft likes the term "No Cliffs", meaning you will never hit a wall with the Power Platform and have to migrate elsewhere. I like that term also, and so do companies that are expecting to grow into bigger companies.
Two things happened that changed the landscape for us. The introduction of the $10 Power Apps Per App Pass (license), and our decision to make our apps free. Where I had been quite used to making the case for more capabilities at a higher cost than the competition, we are now offering more capabilities at a lower cost than the competition. It sure makes selling easy! :)