3 Recommendations for an All-In-One Sales and Marketing Platform

As an inbound consultant, I see more and more good examples of how marketing and sales have moved closer together – at least digitally. Leads created in marketing are now automatically delivered to the sales team, who can now spend more time on hot leads rather than cold calls.

That’s an awesome development to witness!

This progress has mainly come about thanks to the many tools that marketing departments now have access to. Tools that measure their efforts and make them more aware of where results are coming from. But most importantly, the same tools allow them to process leads and score them based on behaviour. This means that the high-scoring leads they pass on to sales are, in many cases, hot and ready to convert. Win-win for all!

Things to consider before choosing a sales and marketing platform

Which platforms can best support collaboration between sales and marketing? In this article, I’m presenting three platforms with varying price points, but also varying levels of complexity:

  • HubSpot (full CRM, sales and marketing solution)
  • Act-On (with integration to Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics)
  • Pipedrive (with integration to Mailchimp)

I’m not going to rank them according to ‘best/worst’ as it all depends entirely on how things are run in your company, including:

  • Your budget – how much can you afford?
  • Your internal resources – what is your technical understanding and experience with similar tools?
  • The need for complexity in the product – what features would you like in a tool?
  • Scalability – what are your future plans?

The more aware you are of your ambitions and plans, the easier it is to choose the right tool from the start. That way you won’t end up with another new IT project in two years.

HubSpot

This tool contains both CRM and a full sales and marketing platform. You can even build your entire website in the same solution and thus have all your marketing knowledge gathered in the same platform – without integrations. It is one of the more costly platforms mentioned in this article, but then also one of the more advanced of them all.

The features listed below are from their Pro Marketing and Sales licences – CRM comes free with both.

Marketing:

  • Landing pages, blogs and e-mail templates
  • SEO tools, tracking and analysis
  • Lead scoring
  • E-mail automation and workflows with all possible triggers
  • Smart lists, dynamic lists
  • Live chat (with integration to Slack)
  • Pop-up forms and chatbots
  • Personalised content in forms, e-mails and web pages

Sales:

  • Full overview of your pipeline
  • Ongoing sales reports
  • Overview of your tasks and follow-up
  • Sending offers and attaching products (created in HubSpot so you can track if they open and read the offer)
  • Tracking sent documents (e.g., presentations or terms and conditions)
  • Full integration to tools such as Outlook so you don't have to log in to HubSpot
  • Automation of sales processes and follow-up (e.g., automatic mail sequences)

 

And the list goes on... With HubSpot you get a platform where you can start out with the most basic licence and then scale up as and when you need. That said, it is a platform for companies with ambitions to scale up within 2-3 years.

We have written an in-depth article on HubSpot, where you can find out whether HubSpot is for you.

Act-On & Microsoft Dynamics/Salesforce

Act-On is not a complete solution in itself. It’s a good solution for those already running Microsoft Dynamics, but require a layer of automation for marketing. If you are a Salesforce user, there is an integration to Act-On as well, in case you want an alternative to Pardot – the marketing automation tool developed for Salesforce (primarily a B2B tool).

Key features in Act-On:

  • Landing pages, e-mail templates and forms
  • SEO tools, tracking and analysis
  • Lead scoring
  • E-mail automation and workflows
  • Sales get info from Act-On directly in Dynamics or Salesforce for the activity on a lead
  • Sales will be able to see a score on a lead
  • Upon follow-up, sales can use e-mail templates set up by marketing

Act-On has most of what you need. It is not as advanced as HubSpot, though, and may require additional integration depending on your level of ambition. But it is a good bet for an automation platform with good integration to the CRM most companies already have.

Pipedrive & Mailchimp

Pipedrive is a CRM and sales platform and, as such, cannot handle leads that come from inbound marketing. Instead, you create your own leads that have been added from other sources. In order to get the marketing department to join in (as well as enjoy all the benefits of inbound marketing in general), you’ll need to integrate with an automation tool such as Mailchimp, AutoPilot, Drip or similar.

Pipedrive features include:

  • Link your inbox and track e-mails from there
  • E-mail templates
  • Keep track of your tasks: Who should you call? Who's missing a follow-up from you?
  • Get an overview of your pipeline and make reports and analyses of your sales work
  • Sales workflow automation: Reasonably basic, but can automate simple follow-ups within submission of tender or when creating a new contact
  • With a ‘Gold’ licence you can also create products

Mailchimp is a platform that most people already know. But to ensure that everyone is up to date, here’s a quick reminder:

The platform has evolved a lot over the last 3–4 years, so if you think it’s just a platform for sending newsletters, it might be wise to read on.

These days, with Mailchimp you can:

  • Create landing pages
  • Segment based on behaviour
  • Set up linear flows (i.e. not just send out your newsletter)
  • Create ‘abandoned cart’ follow-up e-mails and product recommendations (if you have an online store)
  • Personalise the content you send out

A bonus tool…

I’ve chosen to include a little bonus tool called GetResponse. It’s the ambitious ‘little brother’ but nonetheless a fine tool for those who want to start out with a full solution, but on a smaller scale, and who do not have a roadmap that indicates great scalability.

Features in GetResponse:

  • Send newsletters
  • Create landing pages
  • Get a complete overview of your pipeline
  • Lots of templates for automation workflows – follow-up on purchases, abandoned cart, lead nurturing, etc.

GetResponse is the light version of HubSpot with a bit of scalability depending on which level you choose to start. You have the most important functions in segmentation and lead scoring, as well as automation options. What the others do not have, but which you get in the package here, is the opportunity to host webinars directly via the platform. The platform can be used for both B2B and B2C, but has more possibilities for the B2C segment than, for example, Pipedrive.

Summary

I said that I wouldn’t give a ranking of these tools, and I always keep my promises.

The tools I have outlined above are three (or four) good suggestions for creating a sales and marketing department that will definitely make your competitors shake in their boots.

One thing I will say is that there are many other options to choose from. So, if you cannot see something here, don’t panic! Use this article as your baseline and do your own research from here.

What are your thoughts? Are there any tools not on the list that you think we should have included? Did we under- or over-sell any of the tools that were on the list? Let us know!