HubSpot Introduces Free CRM Solution and Sidekick Sales Acceleration Tool

At the Inbound conference in Boston Tuesday, marketing and sales platform provider HubSpot announced the upcoming release of its free CRM solution and touted the company's new sales acceleration tool, Sidekick. An answer to growing demand by customers, the CRM solution will enable users to pick up leads as they transition out of the marketing domain and into the sales force, while the Sidekick sales acceleration tool will help with prospecting, connecting, and engaging with potential leads through real-time engagement notifications.

Best known for its inbound marketing solution, HubSpot has until now been missing the CRM capability needed to leverage the full potential of a lead as it transforms into a sale. "Today, sales and marketing are linked across the customer experience journey, and having to go to separate sales systems is not ideal," Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, says. Though HubSpot has allowed customers to integrate other vendors' CRM solutions with its marketing platform, the lack of a built-in CRM solution put a cap on how seamless the process could be.

Once it's made widely available, HubSpot's CRM solution will streamline the process by connecting to Gmail, Google Apps, Outlook, and Apple Mail to track email interactions with leads and contacts, offering a single-view timeline of the interactions. "We've had a number of customers ask us for a CRM system to help better arm their sales forces with customer data once the leads leave marketers' hands. HubSpot's CRM solution is going to take our marketing platform to the next level," Mike Volpe, HubSpot's CMO, says.

HubSpot's move is a reflection of not only the demand for solutions that facilitate a smooth lead transition between sales and marketing departments, but also the importance of CRM integration throughout the funnel. "The integration of marketing and sales is vital for any enterprise success and it makes sense for HubSpot to make sure marketing leads don't get lost in sales," Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research, says. "With HubSpot's SMB focus, the vendor has a good chance to create value for its customers with this move, making the handshake between marketing and sales [more than just] an interface," he adds.

The Sidekick sales acceleration tool is an important addition for HubSpot as well, analysts agree. Sidekick is a reincarnation of Signals, a sales acceleration tool that HubSpot launched last year. Revamped and improved, Sidekick is a browser extension that will generate real-time notifications to alert sales teams when a customer has visited the brand Web site or opened an email. "Sidekick will empower sales teams with real-time effectiveness," Volpe says, "and give them a better grasp of what's happening with their leads as it is happening." It will also send signals back to HubSpot marketing to increase targeting and strengthen lead generation, which will serve as a feedback mechanism that further links the two departments, according to Mueller.

Sidekick is already available, while HubSpot's CRM solution is still in beta testing and won't be launched until early 2015. Overall, analysts expect that the solutions will be well-received. "Most customers we talk to at HubSpot would consider the new offerings and in fact are quite excited," Wang says.

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