Skip to main content

Fresh Wind for SME CRM?

It appears to be demo time for me. After Jon Ferrara gave me a deep dive into the leading social sales application Nimble and I got a dive into the new travel management solution Traform by my old friend Balamurugan Kalia, Sreelesh Pillai introduced me toFreshsales, the new social solution by Freshdesk, a company that got founded in the second half of 2010 only and until now focused their efforts on customer service and support.
An interesting twist in Sreelesh’s story is that Freshdesk built Freshsales initially to accommodate their own needs and to deal with the demand caused by their growth. Growing at about 50% over the last year or so, the Freshdesk team realized that the applications (yes, plural, including tier 1 solutions) that they used did not really fit their needs.
The Freshsales solution covers simple applications for leads, contacts, accounts, deals (opportunities). Leads and contacts can get imported into the system by means of a csv upload. This way it is also possible to migrate Salesforce data into the system. Google contacts or contacts from Office365 are not automatically synced or used.
E-Mail and phone conversations that are initiated within Freshsales are tracked against the lead/contact to provide a historic context about what is going on with the person. In case mails are sent directly from an email account one needs to bcc the own Freshsales email address (e.g. in order to have the interaction tracked by the system. This then transparently creates a new lead if the recipient e-mail address is not yet known to the system.
Using territories and rules on territories a lead can be automatically assigned to a sales team member. Essentially we have here a way into territory management, including territory realignment; simple, yet powerful.
Deals are tracked via a Kanban-style view of stages. These stages unluckily do not seem to be configurable, but this should be a very easy fix.
A connected Google calendar can get synchronized and shows as an agenda view. This seems to work better for syncing Freshsales appointments into the Google calendar than the other way round. The polling of the Google calendar does not happen frequently enough, which is something that the team wants to work on. Appointments that are created within the Google calendar do not show up in Freshsales in real time, whereas incoming e-mails from leads/contacts show a notification.
For marketing purposes there is the ability to send out trackable e-mails including a mail-merge functionality that offers simple mail templates that one can create within Freshsales. Mail-merge recipients can get selected via filtering the leads or contacts using a number of categories. This is enough for building simple one stage email campaigns. Not having telephony connected to my system I assume that this process is the same for generating call lists. Telephony integration is provided via twilio.
Freshsales also offers a pretty interesting lead scoring solution, which is probably one of the most distinguishing features of the application.
A lead score is a way of ranking leads based upon profile attributes and engagement levels. Freshsales implements this by offering a rule engine and 3 standard views to group leads (hot leads, warm leads, cold leads) along with the ability of creating additional views. This ability is necessary for several reasons, one of them being that a customer’s definition of hot, warm, and cold is different. In this example he delivered views can get modified and stored into new custom views.
Configuring lead scoring is very simple. Lead scoring happens by creating and then applying rules that evaluate different attributes of the lead/contact and interactions like email open, e-mail click, etc., as well as activity within a web app or web site. To support the latter in a real time fashion some libraries and scripts are delivered via the Freshsales admin area. These scripts need to be embedded into the web site that shall support lead scoring. They provide real time interaction with Freshsales. This functionality is also used throughout Freshdesk and Freshsales in order to support cross- and up-selling.
E-mails are tracked via embedded beacons and web activity is tracked by UTM codes.
A number of preconfigured reports exist that can get adapted. Additionally, it is possible to create new reports.

A Fresh Way towards CRM?

The Freshdesk team has built a clean solution here that shows some interesting features with the telephony integration and the territory management. I really like the territory management and the approach to lead scoring.
So far the application offers a limited choice of prepackaged integration points, which is in all likelihood due to the solution being, well, fresh on the market. As with Freshdesk there is a more matured service solution already available I would expect fairly fast paced updates to come. As with other young solutions that target smaller companies there is only a rudimentary campaign management at this stage. The built-in territory management and the necessity to upload leads and contacts into the system, as well as the Salesforce migration option, suggest that bigger companies are clearly in scope for Freshsales. Adding on here while making this part of the onboarding even easier could become an important attractor for businesses, especially those that do not yet have any CRM system set up.
Overall I think that it is a nifty solution. The automated creation of leads, their automatic conversion into contacts or the automated creation of deals are interesting functionalities that make life for the sales team easier. The same holds true for the automatic enrichment of leads, contacts, or accounts.
However, there is some scope for improvement; there always is – else analysts would be out of business ;-). The Google mail and -calendar integration is interesting although I would argue that Freshsales will be configured against a business e-mail, therefore simply should offer all e-mail in the built-in views. Conversely, there should not be a difference when working directly in the Gmail. The same holds true for the calendar.
There is a limited social media integration. For newly created leads, contacts, accounts there is an identification process for social media profiles. However, engagements with leads and contacts do not show up in the conversation history, nor is there a view that allows the sales reps to actively engage with them, based upon triggers, e.g., mentions on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. With the advent of chat as an engagement platform being able to integrate the main players here (Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, iMessage, Google Hangouts and -Messenger) becomes an important factor. Having this would emphasize on Freshsales targeting ‘high velocity sales teams’ in the online retail, business services, education areas.
Last but not least I would look into an initially simple but extensible multichannel/multi stage campaign management functionality that allows for segmenting customers and addressing them via various channels, based upon different triggers.
By strengthening the marketing functionality Freshdesk has the opportunity to position itself as a suite player that offers (limited) best-of-breed functionality across marketing, sales, and service.
The current roadmap foresees to enrich Freshsales with functionalities in the following areas:
  • Automated email campaigns 
  • Advanced lead scoring
  • Dashboards & reports 
  • Collaboration on deals and accounts
  • Workflow automation based on lead score and events
  • Chrome and outlook plugins
  • More integrations
I am looking forward to seeing these embedded into processes and more refreshing things coming from the Freshdesk team; I really do.

Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

A Love Affair - Nimble Smart Contacts for Outlook Mobile

Social Selling pioneer Nimble has an awesome start into 2017. First it got number 1 in CRM satisfaction by G2Crowd earlier in January, then friend and CRM godfather Paul Greenberg named Nimble a winner of the 2017 CRM Watchlist awards, and now Nimble announces the Smart Contacts add-in for Outlook, a deep integration into Outlook for iOS, with an integration into Outlook for Android coming soon. The Nimble Smart Contacts add-in brings the power of Nimble’s view on contacts to Outlook for mobile users, after the widget and Outlook add-on already offered this functionality for the web- and Outlook clients. The add-on follows the philosophy that for most companies the e-mail account is still their CRM system; given this, this is a straightforward enhancement. Nimble acknowledges that there are two main email systems used in businesses: Gmail and Office365, and now fully supports them both. This integration delivers the profiling data that the Nimble back end gathers practically at any plac…

Mass Distraction - The Case for a Consolidated Marketing Platform

These days, customer experiences increasingly need to be delivered with the help of technology. This does not mean that direct interactions and people are no more important in marketing, sales, or service; on the contrary, but that an increasing number of customers is using the web, social media, chat, or an app to identify suitable products or services or to resolve an issue, when needed. The Customer Executive Board found that 57 per cent of the buying process is already completed before sales personnel get engaged. A Cisco retail study confirms the American Express findings and states that around 60 per cent of all in-store purchases start their journey electronically. The American Express Global Barometer claims that 60 per cent of all customers abandoned a purchase because of poor service experiences. Over the past 20 or so years the way products and services get sold and customer service as well as marketing get delivered to customers changed dramatically. Gone are the times wher…

Google and SAP - A Marriage in the Clouds

On Mach 8, 2017, SAP and Google announced another marriage in the cloud during Google’s Cloud Next event: SAP HANA is certified on Google’s Cloud Platform GCP, and is generally available now. SAP Cloud Platform and more products and solutions are to follow. The Google Cloud Launcher marketplace will be utilized to offer and deploy to and for customers and partners, starting with SAP HANA, express edition, which is already available, too. Further topics that are covered by this partnership are ·Improving Google’s containerization technologies for enterprise workloads ·Security, privacy, and integrity of customer data in the cloud. As part of this SAP software shall act as a data custodian (NB: How that works in legal and political environments remains to be seen) and joint solutions for access control, governance, risk and compliance shall get developed ·Integrate Google’s G Suite into SAP applications. This has already been implemented for Identity and Access Management. More on the still f…

Clash of Titans

Following all those announcements of AI, machine learning, IoT, IaaS, PaaS and what not over the past months, I was beginning to wonder where the big business software vendors are going. What is the game plan of Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP? How does newcomer Adobe fit in there? Maybe Amazon and Google, too; or Facebook. It is a time for another Quo Vadis – this time: Quo Vadis, industry? Clash of Titans In the last about 2 – 3 years we have seen a strong acceleration of innovation, or at least talk about it. -Cloud computing, offering nearly unlimited scalability and elasticity of computing resources has become main stream. Cloud computing also allows for nearly 100 per cent uptime -Since the advent of the iPhone (yes, I know this was earlier than 2013) the proliferation of sensors has increased a lot, resulting in them becoming cheaper and cheaper, allowing for an increasing number of data rich applications -This has also driven fast mobile connectivity, which has become nearly u…

Watson meets Einstein - Elementary my Dear Holmes

This week Salesforce and IBM announced a global strategic partnership to deliver joint, AI based solutions based upon Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson, their respective AI platforms. The upcoming solutions will be designed to “deliver everage artificial intelligence and enable companies to make smarter decisions, faster than ever before. With the partnership, IBM Watson, the leading AI platform for business, and Salesforce Einstein, AI that powers the world’s #1 CRM, will seamlessly connect to enable an entirely new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, commerce and more.” IBM Watson will be connected to the Salesforce Intelligent Customer Success Platform in a way that augments the customer specific insights that are delivered by Einstein with its structured and unstructured data that comes from a variety of sources, in order to be able to use specific as well as more generic, yet industry relevant, information. “Together, Watson and Einstein wil…