Google Apps and Zoho CRM Integration: A Winning Combination

by Denise Hazime on May 22, 2013


Between so many recent Zoho CRM projects, small and large, our team has seen a strong relationship between the successful adoption of Zoho CRM and Google Apps. I have believed for quite a time now that both systems are pretty good - and I am delighted to see that many of our customers are becoming aware of the same.

About Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a very apt and feature rich CRM for small and medium sized teams doing sales work. Like all CRM's, adopting one today is critical to the performance of sales, marketing and customer service. When the team size grows above 2 or 3 members the collaboration effect kicks in - the time needed to stay on top and in sync with sales projects grows exponentially. This is when Zoho CRM becomes a terrific Salesforce Automation (SFA) tool. It stores all your sales information (Prospects, Customers, Opportunities and activities around them) in one place and handles the complexity that comes from  all kinds of possible connections between these pieces.

About Google Apps

Google Apps is the messaging and collaboration suite of the third millennium. As good of a cloud based team platform as one can wish for. Google has put vast resources into adding products and features to the package that make collaboration a breeze - e-mail, chat, schedule, create and store out of a single environment. Even across smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops (if you still happen to have this latter...). The apps to access Gmail, Google Calendar, Drive or Google+ are there for both iOS and Android and while I’d like to avoid the nearly religious aspect of the issues I must say that having used both platforms I overall cast my vote on the Android platform when it comes to mobile devices.

But we have put these great tools together in many Zoho CRM projects and we observed the outcome to be great synergy. By signing up for a cloud based application you are inherently making technology choices downstream and the following summary of benefits should serve as a guide for users wishing to make choices about their CRM.

One User to Access It All

Existing Google Apps user credentials can be used to access both systems, either through signing in to both systems or through using Google’s Single Sign On feature. In this second scenario you would log into Google Apps and then click on the link in the Navigation Bar’s More menu - and be in Zoho CRM without any further steps.

Typically you would have all your users in Google Apps and some of them in Zoho CRM. When the need for a new CRM user arises it can be taken care of with a simple click as Zoho lets you create CRM users based on your Google Apps user list.

CRM in Your Inbox

This is the single most valuable integration point between Zoho CRM and Google Apps - working with core CRM objects without leaving your Gmail Inbox. The Inbox Gadget displays right under your e-mail and it looks up existing records from Zoho based on the sender’s e-mail address. If a matching record (Lead or Contact) is found it will be displayed right there. If no match is found you can create a new entry with a few clicks.

For existing entries you can create new Tasks (to do items), Notes (think of Post It notes) or Potentials (sales opportunities).

All this right from your Gmail Inbox, without leaving it for a second.

Email Integration Through and Through

The ability to send and receive e-mails is weaved into Zoho CRM in more areas than one can count, single and mass e-mails can be sent quickly and with minimal effort. If your Google Apps mail server is configured to be the email gateway for Zoho your e-mail conversations will be synced between Zoho and Google Apps.

One important distinction to make is that Zoho CRM tracks e-mails around contact (as opposed to Google’s subject line based message grouping), so that when you look at a contact’s file you can see emails exchanged between the contact and your team members. This makes retracing previous e-mail communications easy and straightforward. If there is ever an e-mail in the system sent to, received from and cc’d for a Contact with a specific e-mail address, a copy of that email will be preserved for the files - including attachments.

Contact and Calendar Sync

Who has not attempted to keep their contacts and schedules organized between multiple systems. Google Apps is very powerful when it comes to managing contacts and calendars - and syncing them to mobile devices. Zoho CRM is built for holding large numbers of contacts but it also offers a calendar for each user. The data in Contacts and Events can be synced with Google Apps both in a one-way or a bidirectional fashion. This way you can build a syncing chain where information is kept in sync between Zoho, Google and your mobile device. No contact or meeting will go without syncing!

Drive Integration

The concept of Google Drive is slightly ambiguous in the sense that it is both a file storage and sync  service and a suite to author documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings. The document creation capabilities of Google Drive are actually very good, but that is the subject of a different discussion. For our purposes here let us just say that almost all document types stored in Google Drive can be brought over to Zoho CRM and be attached to an object there. The one exception is Google Drawings - files in the .gdraw format cannot be copied over.

It must be made clear though that this integration is static, files selected for attachment from Google Drive to Zoho CRM will be copied (and converted as needed) and that copy attached in Zoho. Subsequent changes to the source file will not be reflected in the attached copy. For that to happen the copy has to be deleted and the updated version copied over again.

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