Zoho Conversational Interface Serves to Unify Sales and Marketing

    The line between sales and marketing functions has been slowly blurring for several years now. But the rise of voice-enabled digital assistants may soon obliterate those lines altogether. Zoho this week unveiled Zia Voice, a conversational user interface that can be employed across its portfolio of customer relationship management (CRM) applications.

    Zoho provides access to a core CRM application alongside Zoho CRM Plus, a higher-end offering that combines sales and marketing functions to better manage customer experience.

    Rodrigo Vaca, vice president of marketing for Zoho CRM, says Zia Voice is unique in that every feature of the company’s applications can now be accessed equally well using either voice commands or a graphical user interface (GUI). That capability has significant implications for salespeople that are increasingly crafting their own marketing materials. Zia Voice makes it possible for salespeople to simply ask where a specific piece of content is or if there is anything that addresses a specific topic. That means salespeople will no longer have to hunt through Zoho Plus using a GUI, says Vaca.

    Zoho Zia also makes use of algorithms to predict when deals might close, when best to contact a customer, and apply sentiment analysis to communications.

    While conversational interfaces are not all that new, Vaca says Zia Voice is the first time all the GUI functions in an application have been replicated in a conversational interface.

    In general, Vaca says these days the sales, marketing and customer support teams are all driving sales in equal measures. Regardless of which department drives a sale, a CRM application is at the core of any sales motion, says Vaca.

    “The lines are blurring across sales, marketing and customer service,” says Vaca.

    The opportunity is to make it simpler for individuals in any of these departments to access reliable customer data.

    Zoho this week also announced Catalyst, an instance of a serverless computing framework that makes it simpler for organizations to build mobile applications on top of Zoho CRM software. There is also a software development kit to build mobile applications and a mobile device management (MDM) to help manage them.

    As organizations look to move beyond basic CRM to manage customer experiences, the tasks that individuals are being asked to master are becoming more complex. Digital assistants that leverage AI technologies should go a long way to giving every sales and marketing person their own personnel assistant to handle a lot of these tasks on their behalf.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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