HubSpot recently announced the acquisition of Rekindle, a startup that helps sales intelligently leverage the “contact graph” to find relevant business contacts. This move is indicative of yet another level of integration between marketing and sales, between martech and salestech.
And for HubSpot, it’s an extension of its value from the top of the funnel right down to the bottom.
HubSpot’s primary value proposition has traditionally been at the top of the funnel with inbound marketing, focused on lead generation, although the company introduced a rudimentary CRM last year. This contrasts somewhat with other Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs), many of which focus more on lead nurturing.
Either way, marketing automation’s sweet spot has always been in the top half or two-thirds of the funnel — the portion before the handoff of a lead to sales.
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Of course, nearly all marketing automation tools integrate with CRM systems, the traditional technology platform for sales. But as we’ve seen in our recent Marketing Clouds report, the process of marketing engagement doesn’t end when a lead is handed off from marketing to sales.
So integration with CRM isn’t enough.
In addition, most marketing automation platforms don’t bring sales into the engagement automation process, resulting in siloed and isolated customer experiences.
This is exactly what CallidusCloud CEO Leslie Stretch means when he talks about connecting “leads to money” … and why the disconnect can cause problems.
“A CMO will know to the dollar exactly what is being spent on marketing, and maybe the number of leads, but the relationship between that spend and revenue or growth isn’t clear,” he told me.
HubSpot has increasingly invested in sales enablement over the past year. In addition to its simple CRM system, the company also offers Sidekick, a tool that integrates contact interactions into email.
In this light, HubSpot’s acquisition makes a lot of sense. Rekindle helps salespeople connect with lost connections and friends of friends, helping to surface surface relevant business contacts within a broader network — automating a task that many salespeople do manually today.
Several other MAPs seek to address the gap between marketing and sales, as well.
Rick Carlson, president of SharpSpring, explained it this way:
“There are things you can do with a fully integrated offering — like putting some automation in sales people’s hands, and alerts when leads come back to your website or otherwise send a buying signal — that you can’t do when they’re separate.”
That is one of the challenges for companies when it comes to integration. It isn’t easy to carry over data and functionality from one tool to the next. It makes sense that HubSpot wants to create a single platform that provides automation capabilities throughout the entire sales funnel.
After all the company was already the fifth-ranked marketing system in our marketing clouds report, in spite of typically being considered simply a marketing automation system.