Zoho CRM vs Highrise CRM – Review and Comparison

Zoho CRM vs Highrise – Comparing Small Business CRM Systems – Packaging and Pricing

The vast majority of Zoho’s CRM features are common across all three of its editions.

The free edition is limited by (a) the maximum number of users (three) and (b) storage allocation. It excludes the following features/modules:  (a) products, (b) security administration, (c) workflow and (d) mail-merge.

The Professional edition is limited by storage allocation and other tools that are only available in Enterprise edition such as (a) deduplication, (b) web tabs and (c) groups.

Highrise provides the full contact management feature set across all three editions. Yet each edition is limited by (a) the maximum number of users, (b) the maximum number of contacts (c) the maximum number of opportunities and (d) the maximum storage capacity.

User Interface and Experience

The screen design of Zoho is very similar to older version of Salesforce. Tabs are restricted to navigating between primary record types such as (a) accounts, opportunities, contacts etc. Most record types are presented as a single continuous page. This requires quite a bit of scrolling in cases where a record is very detailed: for example attachments, opportunities, contacts, notes, activities, products, quotes, sales orders, invoices, related accounts and cases.

The customizable sidebar within Zoho provides access to the following modules/functions: (a) search, (b) recent records, (c) a quick create option with a customizable drop-down menu, and (d) a calendar.

Unfortunately, personalization is limited to simple setup options. A number of skins are available out-of-the-box.

Highrise CRM provides a very simple user interface. Their screens appear to be very similar to Capsule CRM. In terms of getting around the system, the primary navigation is via the sidebar: (a) welcome area, (b) latest activities, (c) contacts, (d) tasks, (e) cases, (f) opportunities and (g) recently viewed items.

Users can the Add a contact / Add a task buttons and the search bar – appearing across the top of the screen.

The Search is limited to the record name. This is a major downside with trying to create a filtered call list. There is a filterable list view in the main pane though. And there are simple tabs within each record view.

There is also a record-specific sidebar on the right side of the screen to show additional information for a record, e.g. email address, contact, phone etc.

Managing Contacts and Companies

Zoho CRM supports both B2C and B2B business models, thus both the Contacts and Companies scenarios. Zoho also provides basic contact information, including Skype ID. It allows users to initiate a web conference directly through the contacts tab. The following subpanels/tabs are available and can be added to contacts and accounts: attachments, opportunities, contacts, products, quotes, activities, notes, cases, quotes, sales orders, purchase orders, emails, invoices and campaigns.

Zoho CRM supports parent / child relationships for subsidiary companies or divisions. Contacts can even be assigned automatically through workflow. Google maps integration is also available for address details.

Highrise CRM supports both the B2B and the B2C business model. Contacts can be either people or organizations. The limitation is that they cannot be converted from one to the other.

Custom fields can be added to the end of the contact form. Customizable but not very user friendly.

Users can import contacts from a .CSV file, Excel file, Basecamp (which is a sister product for project management), Microsoft Outlook or Sage ACT.

Highrise CRM includes basic tabs for notes, contacts (only for company records) and opportunities within contact record view.

The right hand side sidebar is for upcoming, contact-specific tasks and additional information.

There is Google maps integration for addresses, yet this is very difficult to view without opening up the full map.

Highrise also provides a daily digest email.

Managing Tasks and Activities

Zoho CRM provides basic capabilities for task and event management: (a) create/edit a task or event (b) support for recurring events (c) invitees, including external invitees can be added (d) inbound/outbound calls can be logged and (e) a stopwatch feature is provided to record the amount of time spent on individual calls.

Highrise CRM provides only very basic capabilities for task management.

Event and calendar management is not provided as a standard out of the box function. On the other hand though, iCalendar support is provided for Apple iCal and other applications that support the iCalendar format.

Customers can also purchase Highrise Backpack – an additional cost service that provides calendar and notes capabilities

Interestingly, tasks can be created by email through a DropBox account (also very similar to Capsule CRM)

The latest activity screen provides a simple overview of latest activities and upcoming tasks.

Managing Document Attachments and Mail-Merge

Document attachments in Zoho can be uploaded from (a) the user’s desktop (PDF, Word, Excel or PPT), (b) from Google docs or from (c) Zoho docs.

Mail-merge can be performed with the Zoho Writer. This is only available in the paid versions of the product though. Mail-merge templates can be loaded from Word, Google docs or Zoho docs. New templates are created using Zoho writer. Mail-merges are initiated from the list view in contacts or accounts. It is noteworthy that merged document are not automatically added to records as attachments.

Document Attachments can be uploaded from the user’s desktop. Format options include PDF, Word, Excel or PPT.

Highrise users can create mail-merge lists. Yet in order to carry out a mail-merge itself, the user is required to export the list to Word, for example, and then carry out the merge from there.

Managing Opportunities

In Zoho CRM, Opportunities are referred to as Potentials. These can be created individually or imported from an external source. Potentials provide a similar structure to accounts and contacts. They allow users to track basic opportunity information, including stage and probability. Zoho offers a customizable stage/probability mapping tool as well as the ability to track competitor information. Once these Potentials/Opportunities are created, attachments, products, quotes, contact roles, activities, emails, notes and campaigns can be added. Please note that contact roles are supported (for example the decision maker, influencer, etc…) and Zoho provides ‘Big deal alert’ capability.

Zoho provides basic capabilities to manage suppliers and generate purchase orders. Supplier information is captured in the same way as customers. And purchase orders are handled in the same way as invoices.

Highrise provides very basic opportunity (deals) management capabilities. Three sales stages are available – pending, won, lost.

Those stages are not customizable, the opportunity category list can be customized.

It is noteworthy that once created, notes and attachments can be later added to opportunities.

Managing Cases and Knowledge Base

Zoho CRM provides basic ticketing / case management capabilities. This includes configurable case assignment and escalation rules; these are only available in paid versions of the product.

Online case logging and update capabilities are available within Zoho CRM. Basic knowledge management capabilities also exist in the system. Knowledge Base articles – known as Solutions – can be captured and made searchable to other agents.

Please note that articles can have attachment; but articles cannot be linked to individual cases.”

Highrise includes very basic case management capabilities. The Case status is either open or closed. Users can track the case name and description, and once captured, attachments, tasks and contacts can be later added. Additional free text can be added as background information.

Highrise provides no knowledge base.


In Zoho CRM, Dashboards are available out-of-the-box for the following modules: leads; accounts and contacts; opportunities; campaigns; cases and solutions; products and inventory. These Dashboards can be edited, but they unfortunately cannot be filtered.

Custom dashboards can be created in Zoho, but the maximum number of dashboards is limited by the edition. Components are based on lists or reports. Dashboards are also limited to a 2 column, fixed width format. It is noteworthy that if the list or report does not exist, the user must exit the dashboard editor, create list or report and then reopen the editor. The bar, pie, line, funnel and table chart types supported.

Dashboards are not available within Highrise. Instead, users have a welcome and getting started area.


The sidebar search allows users to search against all entities including custom entities, but does not include attachments. Zoho search is not a global search feature. Users can also use the advanced search feature – allowing users to search against a maximum of 6 specific fields in each entity. Six fields are defined by the administrator in settings and can be applied across all users.

The Sidebar at top of the Highrise screen allows users to search against record names.

Contacts though can be filtered in the contact list view.

There is a separate search function for notes, emails and comments.

Managing List Views

In Zoho CRM, lists are called Views. These are created using filters (this is very similar to Salesforce.com). These lists are limited to a single entity; thus users cannot create a list of all accounts in a city with an escalated case status. Moving/Advancing through a list records requires using the back and forward buttons. Uses can jump to records starting with a specific letter by using alphabetic navigation across the top of the screen.

Highrise provides basic list management capabilities through the use of tags and filters. Records can be tagged individually or as a group. Interestingly, filters can be based on individual tags or multiple tags. Problematically, when tagging a record, there is no easy way of seeing the different types of tags available to the user. For example, users start typing the name of the tag and are then prompted if an existing tag exists in the system already.

A number of standard system filters are provided out of the box: (a) recently viewed contacts, (b) recently added contacts, (c) recently imported contacts, (d) contacts without notes for the last 30 days, and (e) people without tags.

Integration Options

In Zoho CRM, Microsoft Outlook integration can be purchased at an extra cost. This integration is delivered through a plugin which synchronizes contacts, activities and tasks. Please note that Emails can be associated with Zoho records.

Zoho CRM also integrates with Microsoft Office, Google docs and Zoho docs for attachments and mail-merge.

Zoho CRM integration with Quickbooks is also provided as an extra cost service. This is limited to: (1) basic data import from Quickbooks (contacts, quotes, products, vendors, sales orders, and invoices), (2) bidirectional sync of contact and company fields, and (3) ability to map standard and custom fields between the two applications for sync.

In Highrise, Email integration is achieved through a DropBox account – very similar to Capsule CRM. Inbound emails are thus forwarded to the DropBox account to attach to their contact record in Highrise. Outbound emails are CC’d to the DropBox account in order to link.

Highrise Calendar and task integration takes place through iCalendar.

Highrise also integrates with other solutions from 37 Signals – including Basecamp (project management), Backpack (calendar and activity management) and Campfire (collaboration management).

For Social integration, adding Twitter account details to a contact record will import the contacts Twitter profile picture and their tweets will appear in the Highrise twitter tab.

Mobile and Offline Availability

Zoho CRM has browser support for IE7 and Firefox 3.0 and above. Offline access is free in Enterprise and an extra cost option in the Free and Professional editions. The dedicated, persistent iPhone client was launched recently. Zoho provides Mobile browser support for iOS and Android devices. Zoho CRM functions on other mobile browsers, such as Opera, but is not supported.

Highrise is browser agnostic; claiming to function on all modern web browsers.

Offline not supported for Highrise.

A persistent iPhone client is available for free. This includes dashboard, contacts and tasks.

There is no Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone support directly, but a number of third-party solutions provide such support at a cost.

Customization and Security Options

In Zoho CRM fields are added through a drag and drop configurator. These fields can be deleted or hidden. Tabs, including external websites, can also be added. Views and search layouts can also be configured. Profile-based security is only available in paid versions.

Highrise provides very limited customization and security options. User groups can be defined and the sharing of records can be limited to specific groups.

Basic custom fields can be added to the end of contact forms. Customers can upload their logo onto the splash (start up) screen. Users are able to change the color scheme of the application and these settings apply to all users.

Highrise provides 128 Bit SSL security.

Storage and Data Import

Data storage in Zoho CRM  is limited by edition. The Free version supports up to 100,000 records and 100MB of file storage. The Professional edition supports unlimited records and 250MB of file storage. The Enterprise edition supports unlimited records and 500MB of file storage.

Please note that additional storage can be purchased at $4 per GB per month.

Importing: Contact records can be imported from Outlook or Salesforce. Zoho CRM importing supports a range of other files formats.

In Highrise, data storage is limited by edition. The Basic version supports up to 5,000 contact records and 5GB of storage per company. The Plus version supports up to 20,000 contact records and 15GB of storage per company. The Premium edition supports 30,000 contacts and 30GB of storage.

Data can be imported from a variety of sources including .CSV, Excel, Basecamp, Outlook or Sage ACT!

Addons and Plugins

Zoho CRM offers a number of addons/plugins. The Plug-in for Microsoft Outlook is priced at $3 per user per month.

The Zoho CRM Plug-in for Microsoft Office is priced at $3 per user per month.

The Zoho CRM Mail Add-on is priced at $3 per user per month for the Paid versions and $5 per user per month for the free version.

A Data Export is available yet priced at $10 per request.

CTI is priced at $6 per user per month.

Zoho CRM QuickBooks integration is priced at $25 per Organization per Month.  Support Integration for Quickbooks is priced at $3 per user per month.

Projects Integration is free for all Editions

Mobile Edition is priced at $3 per user per month.

Highrise integrates with other solutions from 37 Signals, which can be purchases separately or as part of a suite.

A frequently purchase addon is Basecamp, which provides project management. This allows unlimited users and is priced from $49 to $149 per company per month depending on the number of projects.

Backpack is often purchased for calendar and activity management. This allows for 6 to 500 users and is priced from $24 to $149 per company per month.

Campfire provides collaboration management. This allows for 12 to 100 users and is priced at $12 to $99 per company per month.

Other 3rd party applications that integrate with Highrise API are available from the Apps and Extras section. One popular such app is Constant Contact.

Social Media and Collaboration

Zoho CRM Web conferencing can be performed through Zoho Talk.

Zoho does provide IM capabilities.

Document collaboration is available through Zoho Docs.

In Highrise, Twitter feeds can be integrated into the sidebar of a contact.

An additional cost add-on solution for Highrise online collaboration called Campfire is also available from 37 Signals.

Support and Community Options

Zoho CRM offers online support for all customers, while Phone-based support is available for Professional and Enterprise Editions only

There is also a Community forum: discussions, customer-to-customer help and product enhancement suggestions.

Highrise provides an online, searchable knowledge base of help topics. They also provide a top 20 FAQ list.

Highrise provides no telephone support. Instead, all trouble tickets must be created by email or through the online help knowledge base.

There is a Customer-to-Customer support community – called Highrise Answers.

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Mark Shaw

Director at Accent Gold Solutions
Author: Mark Shaw, Director of Accent Gold Solutions, is certified in a number of CRM systems - including SAP CRM, SugarCRM and ACT! Having studied Business at the University of Massachusetts, he went on to consult several large Energy Utilities in the US and Europe - including designing a Sales Database for the largest European provider of Natural Gas. Using his unique combination of sales and marketing experience, Mark has set up and led successful sales teams for several firms, including Xerox.
Read more about Mark on our About Us page. Google