HubSpot announces enhancements to CRM
Updated with commentary from HubSpot's VP of Product, Andy Pitre.
Timed to coincide with the opening of this year’s virtual Inbound conference today, HubSpot has announced CRM enhancements designed to make their offering more customer-centric. They include advanced customization and reporting capabilities and a new enterprise level of Operations Hub, available in November, in addition to the existing free, starter and professional levels.
It also announced the launch of open beta for a new HubSpot Payments solution.
CRM enhancements. Designed to make HubSpot CRM more connected, customizable and customer-centric, the new announcements include:
- Operations Hub Enterprise will allow analysts to curate data sets, including pre-selected fields, for downstream users to build reports on, supporting more consistency in reporting;
- A custom behavioral events API will allow Marketing Hub Enterprise users to track key events in both HubSpot and third party apps;
- Account administrators will have enhanced capabilities to customize their HubSpot CRM instance to reflect the way their business runs, including a business units feature which will allow them to manage multiple brands;
- A new sandbox environment supports experimentation before features are rolled out;
- Custom surveys and a new customer portal will be available in Service Hub; and
- HubSpot Payments, within the CRM, will support collection of one-time and recurring payments.
Payments, available to U.S. customers only, will waive fees on the first $50,000 of ACH payments each month.
Doubling down on CRM. We spoke with HubSpot VP of Product Andy Pitre about the significance of HubSpot’s focus on CRM. “The problem that exists is that, when CRM came about as a technology, the idea was to literally take paper records of people, bring them into computers and create databases of your customers. The original idea was to keep all the information about your customers in one place. But CRMs have not done a good job of making it easy to get data into the system; they haven’t done a good job of making it easy to validate and deduplicate and enrich the information inside of the system. The opportunity a lot of people are seeing is to build a better customer database.”
Pitre acknowledges that another term for this is enjoying wide currency: CDP. “For me, I’d rather double down on the term CRM,” he said. “Companies have CRM systems, and have other systems that are storing customer data as well. Part of the problem is bringing data together within the same system, so that’s the big thing we’re trying to do with Operations Hub — building a better framework for syncing between HubSpot and other systems.”
Another challenge is the separation between the system of record and often multiple systems of engagement. “Add another system of reporting on top of it as well and you end up in a world with three or four systems of record — and if you have three or four systems of record, you really don’t have any. We want to build a CRM which will do the job it was designed to do in the first place rather than re-brand it as a different term.”
One reason that major marketing suites have developed and offered a CDP over the last one or two years, said Pitre, is that they haven’t been building a unified platform; they’ve been integrating various solutions which they have acquired. “At HubSpot, we started with the idea of a unified platform. We started with our marketing platform and built the CRM on top of it. We built our Sales Hub on top of the CRM platform, we built our Service Hub on top of it. We haven’t had to go back and build something new and different. “
Bringing capabilities up to the enterprise level is, in part, a response to the needs of customers that have grown along with HubSpot. “Their problems are starting to look like the problems of larger companies,” Pitre said. “And larger companies are beginning to look at HubSpot as a legitimate CRM system they can think about buying. That wasn’t the case maybe three or four years ago when we were really focused on small and mid-sized businesses.”
Why we care. At a time when many are seeking to deprecate CRM as a burdensome system of record, HubSpot is doubling down on its offering. There was a time when its CRM just seemed to be an add-on to its marketing automation solution (and a free add-on at that). It has become a central element in HubSpot’s offering. We also observe HubSpot’s continued elevation from serving SMBs to challenging those vendors that primarily serve enterprise customers.
Our observations here were reflected in comments by the HubSpot CRM team at the virtual Inbound keynote this morning. “We want to be the number one CRM for scaling companies,” said Libby Maurer, VP User Experience, while Lou Orfanos, GM and VP Product, emphasized the inhouse “crafted” approach in contrast to CRMs which have been “cobbled together” through acquisitions.