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. The leads that marketing creates are delivered to sales who can now spend more time on hot leads rather than cold calls.

That’s an awesome development to witness!

This progress has mainly happened thanks to the many tools that marketing departments now have access to. Tools that measure their efforts and make them more aware of where the results come 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 the joint sales and marketing work? In this article, I’m presenting three platforms with varying levels – both in terms of economy, but also in complexity:

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

Of course, there are several parameters you can choose to rank the above. However, I won’t rank them according to ‘best/worst’ as this is an individual case. It all depends entirely on a number of considerations about your company, including:

  • Your budget – how much can you afford to pay out?
  • 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, so you don’t have a 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 the knowledge gathered in the same platform – without integrations. But of course, you also pay for it based on how much you choose to buy and at which license level. The below features are from their Pro and Marketing and Sales licences – CRM comes free with both.

Marketing:

  • Landing pages, blogs and email 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, emails 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, for example, Outlook so you don't have to log in to HubSpot
  • Automation of sales processes and follow-up (e.g. automatic mail sequences)

The list could be much longer. It is a platform where you can start out with the most basic licences and then scale it up. But it is a platform for companies with ambitions to scale up within a clear time frame.

Therefore, we have written an in-depth article on HubSpot, where you can become much wiser about whether HubSpot is for you.

Act-On & Microsoft Dynamics/Salesforce

Act-On is not a complete solution in itself. It’s a good offer for those who already run Microsoft Dynamics, but lack a layer of automation for marketing. There is also integration to Salesforce if you want to use Act-On as an alternative to Pardot, which is Salesforce's marketing automation team for their CRM (primarily a B2B tool).

Key features from 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

As mentioned, 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 you already have.

Pipedrive & Mailchimp

Pipedrive is a CRM and sales platform that, as such, cannot handle leads that come from inbound marketing. Here 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), integration with, for example, Mailchimp, AutoPilot, Drip or similar automation tools, is needed.

Features in Pipedrive:

  • Link your inbox and track emails from there
  • Email 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 also get the opportunity to create products

Mailchimp is a platform that most people know. But to ensure that everyone is up to date, we will go through the platform quickly. 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.

With Mailchimp today 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 emails and product recommendations (if you have an online store)
  • Personalise the content you send out

A bonus tool…

I have also chosen to include a ‘joker’ called: GetResponse. It hasn’t received much publicity yet, but it is a fine tool for those who want to start out with a full solution on a smaller scale, and who do not have a roadmap that indicates great scalability. It's a platform that has a lot of features, just at the other end of the scale to HubSpot.

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.

There are many other options to choose from, but the above are three (or four) good suggestions for creating a sales and marketing department that will make your competitors shake in their boots.