I really wanted to like FreshSales, or at least be able to tolerate it until they made improvements over time. I think very highly of their helpdesk FreshDesk, and a year ago they got some heavy-hitter funding. Yet their FreshSales product management appears to be asleep at the wheel.

Setting aside all the CRM nice-to-have bells and whistles (like deal funnel management) the CRM sine qua non certainly includes:

  1. Let sales people send/receive business emails.

  2. Let sales people make/receive business phone calls.

As of mid-May 2017 FreshSales is IMO literally hazardous to your business on both counts for the following reasons:

1. Using it in the USA for business email seems to me like a huge CAN-SPAM fine just waiting to happen. How anyone could offer a bulk-email campaign capability without built-in support for opt-out links is puzzling. (Google “can-spam fines” sometime.)

  • There is no opt-out URL capability eg, no built-in support for inserting a URL into outgoing email that allows the recipient to opt-out of future emails from your FreshSales account.

  • IMO simply adding text like “reply to unsubscribe” is not the answer because if you miss such an unsubscribe request for any reason, for example if your spam blocker ate the unsubscribe request, or that email goes to your salesperson who doesn’t handle it correctly, it is my (layperson) understanding you have violated CAN-SPAM.

  • It gets much worse. When you edit a lead you have the ability to (manually) set a “don’t disturb” flag. And their API docs sound like that will prevent that person from being emailed: do_not_disturb (boolean) The lead have enabled do not disturb or unsubscribed to your mails”. However, if a sales person starts to compose an email to that lead, that field is not even displayed by default, and so if the sales person proceeds and hits send… yep, the email gets sent anyway. Ditto bulk emails, unless you manually add a filter on the “do not disturb” setting. (FreshSales support confirmed this.)

2. Inbound phone call voicemail greetings are Text-to-Speech, worse than some cheap answering machine. Which creates a terrible impression for callers.

  • FreshDesk uses Twilio to offer integrated voice functionality. That should be a good thing, Twilio is awesome, powerful, and flexible.

  • Twilio makes it trivially simple to use a greeting that is a recording instead of text-to-speech, you simply point the voicemail handler to an audio file that can be anywhere on the internet.

  • So even if FreshSales engineers somehow got stuck on how to let people record or upload a greeting, there is quite literally no excuse for not allowing you to upload your own greeting to your own website or S3 and point FreshSales to your URL. (Having used Twilio in-depth myself, I can tell you it’s likely a 5 minute change to their code.)

  • To add insult to injury, their FreshDesk product includes both a simple IVR setup capability and recorded greetings, so leaving those capabilities out of FreshSales as of mid-May 2017 is just plain bizarre.

  • A serious flaw with both FreshDesk and FreshSales is they silently discard your messages that are not at least 5-7 seconds. So if a customer calls and says “I’m really upset call me back asap” you will NOT get that message. Nor will you get the message that says “Whitepaper looks great, please call Tim back!” An incredibly stupid design decision by someone who fails to understand that getting 100 1-second hangup messages is preferable to throwing away 1 message from a pissed-off customer or a terse prospect.

I have no doubt they will get a viable version at some point, but our own assessment was to steer clear until phone calls and emails are handled with at least nominal competency.