Today at its #Inbound14 conference, HubSpot announced the launch of its sales platform. The platform consists of Sidekick, which is a sales acceleration product, and the HubSpot CRM system.
HubSpot is known for its marketing platform, and today serves 11,500 customers with it. The new sales platform extends the capabilities of the HubSpot system from the marketing department, traditionally responsible for generating and nurturing leads, over into the sales department, which is responsible for turning leads into sales.
The announcement comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that HubSpot filed its S-1 for an IPO.
The company describes Sidekick as a rebrand and relaunch of HubSpot’s Signals tool, which debuted last year. The relaunched product adds new features. Sidekick is a browser extension that assists with prospecting, connecting, and engaging with potential leads. “Real-time notifications tell you when, where, and how prospects are engaging with you by opening or clicking your emails or visiting your website,” the company’s announcement reads.
But according to CRM industry analyst Brent Leary, the news today most likely to be of interest to small businesses is about the HubSpot CRM system (see screenshot below).
A Free CRM System for Small Businesses
According to Leary, the HubSpot marketing platform today already supports lead generation. “The HubSpot name has become synonymous with the term ‘inbound marketing’ and it helps with generating the lead, nurturing the lead and scoring the lead. But when the lead has been enriched enough to be transformed into a buyer, it leaves the marketing department. It flips over to the sales force. That’s where a CRM system normally kicks in. If a business doesn’t have a CRM system, they may not be able to capitalize on that lead.”
Before now HubSpot hasn’t had a CRM system of its own. Leary adds, “HubSpot has integrations already with other CRM systems, such as Salesforce and SugarCRM. Larger customers of HubSpot typically are the ones that have already integrated with another CRM system. I am sure those larger customers will continue to use the CRM of their choice. It’s the smaller customers of HubSpot that today tend to operate without any kind of CRM.”
HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe confirms that this system is designed for small businesses. “One of the challenges for small businesses historically has been building sales and marketing systems that connect without massive integrations or technology needs. Our customers have been asking us for years to build a CRM that can be used on its own or with the HubSpot marketing platform.” (See our backstory interview with Volpe about HubSpot CRM and the need for sales and marketing alignment.)
Many Small Businesses Don’t Use CRM Today
In Leary’s view, there’s a large need for CRM in the small business market. “There are many more companies not using CRM today than are using it, especially smaller businesses. Just look at how many small businesses don’t even have websites. It’s around 50%. So it’s not surprising that the majority of small businesses have no CRM system.”
Instead, they use substitutes for a full CRM system. They may use spreadsheets, their email system, or even their accounting software to do some basic contact management. But with those kinds of tools, a business doesn’t get the automation that can help them create a customized opportunity cycle to manage leads better, Leary adds.
“I’m not surprised by this move. HubSpot is suited for businesses that have a complex sales cycle and get a lot of leads from inbound marketing. Today it has a footprint on the larger end of small businesses well into middle market businesses. Smaller businesses really need a seamless CRM experience with their marketing system,” he observes.
HubSpot CRM connects to Gmail, Google Apps, Outlook, and Apple Mail. It offers a view designed to help sales teams navigate and chart opportunities.
Sidekick is available now at Hubspot.com/sales, but the CRM is currently in a public beta. The CRM system will be rolled out more widely starting with existing HubSpot customers by early 2015. It is free and can be used as a standalone system or combined with the HubSpot marketing system. It is available for the desktop and on HubSpot’s app for iOS and Android.