Much of the recent hullaballoo in the marketing-tech world has been around big acquisitions or full platform launches. Often that buzz has to do with large, full-suite CRM vendors adding to the breadth of their offerings. So when a high-growth player like marketing automation company HubSpot takes a step that may seem at first glance as doing the opposite, the industry takes notice.
During Hubspot’s Inbound14 conference the vendor announced the impending availability of its eponymous CRM software, which will first launch to HubSpot customers in early 2015. The free tool offers a basic suite of features; for example, it connects with popular email clients and automatically logs emails into contacts, and it includes a database of contacts and companies, as well as deals and tasks. It also provides a timeline view designed to help salespeople better track leads and opportunities. HubSpot’s initial target customer for the tool is its own customer base; the product will be available to the broader market after an initial rollout to interested existing customers. The company currently has no plans to compete with such players as Salesforce.com, according to CMO Mike Volpe.
Even so, the launch has created a social buzz. So, we asked CRM authority Brent Leary, founder of CRM Essentials, for his take on what the launch might mean for marketers.
Is HubSpot CRM really CRM or is it more of an advanced contact management system?
I would say on its own it’s probably closer to being advanced contact management that allows individuals and small sales teams to manage their opportunities pretty nicely. It’s definitely not a competitor to any of the more sophisticated SFA/CRM solutions like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, etc. But for companies looking to use a CRM system for the first time it’s a good entry point for them to get their feet wet. Especially for free. And while it is a standalone product, you won’t get the full impact of HubSpot CRM unless you’re also using the HubSpot marketing platform, as the two are fully integrated with each other.
How will it benefit marketers?
The big benefit to marketers is the ability to more effectively and efficiently share lead activity and data with the sales team. So, all the information captured about a lead through the marketing platform—what they look at on a website, whitepapers downloaded, webinars attended, etc.—automatically updates the lead record, which is seen by the sales folks using HubSpot CRM. They can see every email leads open as part of an email marketing campaign executed by the marketing team. And they can see what led to a lead’s conversion to a full blown opportunity.
And once the sales team wins an opportunity in HubSpot CRM, the marketing team now can see what activities not only lead to converting leads, but what activities lead to closing deals. All of this allows for better campaign optimization, as we as better collaboration and alignment between the sales and marketing teams.
How do these tools change HubSpots positioning in the market?
There’s a sizable percentage of the HubSpot user base that is not currently using a CRM solution…. This allows HubSpot to offer a sales and marketing combination for solution for companies with smaller sales teams that don’t have complex SFA needs, but do need something to more effectively manage their sales process and improve communication between sales team members, and between sales and marketing. And as marketing becomes more science than art with the amount of data available continues to grow exponentially, more companies will need systems to help manage this.