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  • Lack of accountability and transparency in sales process 

  • Data cluttered and available in silos

  • Salesforce was more a shelfware and was complicated 


  • Simple, easy to use CRM 

  • Ability to get a 360 degree view of contacts and access activity history in one single place 

  • Transparency in deal tracking and estimating deal probability 

  • Great support 

  • Easy reporting was founded by Ravi Raj, Madhu Mathihalli and Mitul Tiwari in 2016, as a conversational AI platform which provides customers with automated response to questions on a company’s product or service, thus saving that company’s employees hours spent otherwise in performing mundane, repetitive tasks. The interface can be deployed on a customer company’s website, mobile app, or as a chatbot on messaging platforms like Slack, Skype and Facebook Messenger.

Funded by Blumberg Capital, Storm Ventures, Engineering Capital and 11.2 Capital, Passage works with some big league customers across automotive, retail, telecom, hospitality and the like. 

The need for a CRM 

One of the biggest challenges Passage’s sales team faced is lack of transparency. Quoting an example, Jacob Vincent, who manages sales at the company, tells us, “Let’s say I want to reach out to Coca-Cola or Wells Fargo. I don’t know if any of the account executives have reached out to them already. I don’t know how the conversations are progressing, and I don’t have insight into who handles each account either.” 

Jacob and his team, when they set out on the search for a CRM to bring transparency and accountability into their sales process, looked for three key aspects; one, that it should integrate with Gmail, two, that it should have the ability to track a prospect’s journey from the time he/she visits the website to the time the customer raises a support ticket, and three, that it should scale as the company grows. 

“We searched on Google and G2 Crowd, and through word of mouth it boiled down to evaluating Zoho, Salesforce, Hubspot, Copper and Freshsales CRM,” recalls Jacob. The team used Salesforce briefly but soon realized that it wasn’t an ideal fit for the business. “Everybody, from the founder to the VP of Sales found it hard to use Salesforce,” he opines. 

“Salesforce required extra steps to add and track data. It was difficult to identify whether all customer data was present in the CRM, and it was even more challenging to report out of it. It was more a shelfware than software.”

Jacob Vincent

Director of Sales and Business Development

Passage AI

With a largely outbound-driven sales process, the team also relied heavily on campaigns, which meant additional spends on Pardot, Salesforce’s B2B marketing automation tool. 

When Salesforce proved inadequate and expensive, Passage turned to Freshsales CRM. 

“The free trial in Freshsales was very useful because I was able to test the features across every plan to identify which ones matched our sales teams’ functionality and requirements. All this without paying a penny! And, every time I had a doubt, instead of sending an email to support and waiting for days for a response, I could just get into a live chat with the Freshsales support team and resolve it.”

How Passage uses Freshsales 

Once the prospects come in, Jacob tells us that they go through simple steps across the deal pipeline, helping the team keep track of the progress they are making with each of them. “Based on our conversation with the prospect, once we know that they are interested, we put them through the qualification bucket,” explains Jacob. Qualification typically involves setting up meetings and addressing gaps in their need. Following this, the team evaluates the prospect’s requirements and begins the negotiation process. “Particularly at this stage, even the engineers in our team can access deals in the pipeline because they’ll have an idea of what the prospect’s requirements are in terms of deployment; for example, whether they need HR onboarding in Japanese, whether they need data cleansing and such,” he shares. It gives the team an idea of the workload that will come with each deal, he notes. 

Talking about deal rotting in Freshsales, Jacob tells us that when the team moved from Salesforce to Freshsales, some deals that were carried over may have rotten, and this feature helped them identify and clear the pipeline accordingly. “Suddenly we’ll realize that a deal has been created 300 odd days ago, and it needs to be closed out. Effectively, deal rotting helped us cleanse a lot of data on the system,” he says. 

While Passage largely relied on outbound sales, inbound is something that the team has recently begun exploring. As part of the process, it has started using sales campaigns and Freshmarketer, the Freshworks marketing automation tool extensively. 

“With Freshmarketer, we are starting to have conversations around inbound. We’re trying to do a funnel analysis to identify who is coming to our website, whether they filled out the website form, if not why? What are the next steps we need to take to ensure higher sign-ups through the website and such.”

Top 4 Freshsales functionalities 

Freshsales-Gmail integration: By integrating its Gmail inbox with Freshsales, the team at Passage is now able to access all email communication on both the CRM and their office inbox. “This integration ensures that I can work from anywhere. I can choose whether I want to spend an entire day sending emails through Gmail, or through Freshsales, and I know that all this will be recorded into the CRM as well,” says Jacob. 

Transparency in deal tracking: “This, primarily in terms of deal tracking, deal rotting and weighted pipelines (deal probability).” Jacob tells us that the ability to forecast expected sales based on deal probability is a huge success. “Some times, the management wants to know, based on historical deal data, what is the likelihood of a deal closing when it’s in a particular stage. Earlier, I’d have to manually evaluate it. But with the deal probability feature, I can evaluate it in simple steps and extract the data in no time. It also creates accountability and transparency in the business.”

Ease of reporting: “I don’t need to be a certified Freshsales architect or business administrator to extract and view reports on the CRM. It’s very easy with Freshsales. It’s like day and night when I compare the experience I’ve had with Freshsales compared to Salesforce,” opines Jacob. 

Quick support: “If I have a doubt, I can just click the FAQ icon on the page, or talk to someone on live chat to resolve my queries. It gets sorted in 15 minutes at the most. I encourage my team to follow this practice as well,” says Jacob. 

“Moving to Freshsales is like transforming from a hoarder house where everyone keeps everything, to a Four Seasons Hotel where everything is in place. There’s no measure to the kind of advantages we’ve had with Freshsales. Our usage has gone up from 30% to 70% ever since the team started using this CRM.”