Lack of streamlined sales process
Evaluated Zendesk and Salesforce (Desk). Former was expensive, latter was complicated.
HOW FRESHSALES HELPED
Easy onboarding and implementation
User-friendly and intuitive
Seamless integration between Freshsales and Freshdesk
More opportunities for cross-sell and upsell
Early into the conversation with Cara Herbig, Global Accounts Manager at iotum, a cloud-based meeting solutions company, I ask her what the company’s sales process was a few years ago. Pat comes the reply, “Honestly, it was all over the place.”
Incidentally, this was the time the company was using Salesforce. “We didn’t log anything. Every time a customer inquiry came in, we would shoot a message over instant messenger to the concerned person within the team, and manually enter every detail to track progress,” she explains. For example, if a team member wanted a report on the list of leads, the data would usually be shared in a Word document with details of the current status on the leads, or sometimes as a Google document file on rare occasions.
But what was the challenge with Salesforce? Cara indicates that the team bought a few licenses with Salesforce but it was expensive. “It was a lot of money for the way we were using it. The team used it sporadically, and it wasn’t really effective. It didn’t make sense anymore so we had to cancel it,” she says.
After working through Salesforce, PipelineDeals, spreadsheets and Word documents, the company finally found a good fit with Freshsales CRM in 2018. Today, the company has eight agents on board, and uses the CRM extensively to manage prospects from lead to close, and nurture.
Founded in 2004, iotum provides teleconferencing and group communications related cloud products, such as Calbridge for conference calls, freeconference.com for free conferencing among teams and companies, and Talkshoe for podcasters. The company competes with Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Cisco Webex among others.
iotum doesn’t have a large sales team in place. Cara, for instance, primarily manages SMBs in terms of enterprise reach. The company also has a reseller model, wherein it acquires customers through third-party sources. “Let’s say an enquiry comes in through chat or support. The typical process that follows is - I would be notified and I’d have to begin engaging with the prospect from there,” she explains. If the prospect requires a highly technical integration, she loops in the development engineers or the COO. If it’s a white-label lead, the marketing director gets involved. “In essence, everybody in the organization dabbles in sales from time-to-time. We are a small business as such,” she adds.
The earlier experience with Salesforce wasn’t iotum’s first brush with the company. A few years ago, the team set out on a search- this time, for a support and sales software. My colleague and I were tasked with comparing pricing, features, and implementation between Zendesk, Salesforce (desk), and Freshsales,” recalls Ryner Aguirre, the customer success director at iotum. He explains that while Zendesk testing and support was top notch, its pricing was way out of budget. “Salesforce testing was the most confusing one and never took off, so we didn’t get a chance to see what that software could have done for us. When we made requests from their support team, our questions went unanswered and we had to try to fend for ourselves,” he shares.
When it came to Freshdesk, they found that it was easy to follow. “Freshdesk sales representatives were available to meet with us online and give us a presentation, something we had requested from Salesforce but they flat out denied the request,” he adds. Bottom line, Freshdesk was affordable, and the support locked the deal.
Soon after adopting Freshdesk, the company signed on with Freshsales to set its sales process in place. “One of the biggest reasons we signed up with Freshsales was because both software belonged to the same parent company, Freshworks. So we wouldn’t have to move data between two different solutions. The integration was seamless,” she shares.
“The implementation and onboarding for Freshsales was very helpful. The CRM is very user-friendly and intuitive, and it was very easy to set up. In fact, after we attended Refresh 18, the user conference organized by Freshworks last year, we became more involved in using the CRM actively. We learnt how to set up sales campaigns and workflows, and it is proving to be advantageous for us.”
There are various ways by which iotum acquires prospects. For example, in some cases a prospect comes through Freshdesk, the support platform, when there is an opportunity for cross-selling or upselling. “If the support agent gets a hint that the prospect is interested in purchasing a product from us, we create that person as a lead within Freshsales. Since Freshdesk and Freshsales are integrated, I can pull up ticket history to get context into the prospect’s earlier conversations with our company,” she explains. Of course, with the email sync between Freshsales and an external mail service provider, any number of email exchanges are captured within the CRM itself.
"There are now three ways by which we can progress with the lead. Either engage in an email exchange with them, engage on call through Freshcaller, or loop them into a sales campaign," she says. Talking specifically about Freshcaller, Ryner Aguirre, the customer support manager at iotum notes that, "The Freshcaller- Freshdesk integration makes it more convenient as far as availability and awareness when customers are reaching out to our support department." The team uses the Freshcaller page itself to monitor the team's availability, tracking, and analytics. "The analytics page is helpful when trying to determine peak calls and team resources, for example," he adds.
All-in-all, the entire process is streamlined now at iotum. "The leads or customers are not lost in a spreadsheet or somebody’s google doc file. It’s completely traceable and trackable across all platforms,” says Cara.
So, what happens once the lead is qualified? He/she enters a deals pipeline. And here, the company manages two pipelines. One is the enterprise pipeline which tracks progress on direct customers like SMBs. Cara adds that this process is fairly quick. The other is the interactive channel pipeline, which tracks deals coming through resellers. “This has a longer sales cycle, is more complicated, but very important for us,” she says. She further explains that “There are more stages involved in this pipeline, and more activity between steps. So, when someone in our team wants to track a prospect, they can easily look at the pipeline, identify the deal, and get instant context into the developments in the past few weeks, how much progress has been made, and more.”
The team at iotum also uses the reports feature quite extensively. “Right now, I mostly use this feature to perform deal analysis. It’s all about tracking opportunities right now,” says Cara.
There are three clear Freshsales focus areas for iotum going forward. Firstly, Cara’s participation in Refresh 2018, the global user conference by Freshworks, gave her perspective into how her team can use sales campaigns to convert and nurture leads, and use workflows to improve efficiency. “Sales campaigns allows us to nurture leads and move them into the sales process if they respond well to the campaign. And, how we monitor is by tracking metrics on opens, clicks and such,” she says, adding that this will be something her team will explore more in the future.
Talking about workflows, she adds that there is a need for the team to more effectively manage its time. “We’re also planning to set up workflows to eliminate manual work and improve overall productivity in our teams,” she adds.
The third focus area is Freshchat, a chat software by Freshworks, which iotum recently signed up for. “To start off with, we’re planning to use chat largely to address sales enquiries when prospects land on our website. We’re getting a lot of enquiries but we’re still getting used to it; trying out different features, and finding out how to use it for our business more optimally,” she shares.
“We like that we now have a product that we can use as part of the overall process. It gives us more stability and continuity when new hires come on board, or when we are cross training.”