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HubSpot must prove core sales features to be taken seriously in enterprise CRM market

To compete against Salesforce, Oracle and co, software slinger needs to do more, says analyst

HubSpot, a company best known for marketing technology, is having another stab at enterprise sales management by claiming its new CRM is flexible enough to fit customer processes.

But analysts are sceptical of its chances of beating the big CRM players.

With a $600m install base growing 20 per cent every year, HubSpot is well ensconsed in the marketing world. It has been banging on the door of CRM for six years and this week launched features it reckoned would finally make it a credible player in enterprise sales management.

The company claimed it's introducing “custom objects” to create and store categories of customer records to tailor the application to fit the users' sales processes.

HubSpot's own research cited "76 per cent of sales leaders" as saying their team only use a small fraction of their CRM's capabilities while half are quoted as saying their CRM is "difficult to use."

Ed Barrett, HubSpot sales director, is a veteran of IBM and has managed CRM rollouts using Siebel (Oracle) and Salesforce technology.

He said of the new features: "The important thing from a sales practitioner perspective is, do you have the data for the management, and, [do] you have the usability and the functionality for the users, and very few applications combine both of them very well. That’s why we have the reporting capabilities, as well as the custom objects to allow the application to fit the end customer process."

But perhaps prospective customers should be cautious.

Ilona Hansen, senior direct sales technologies at Gartner, said CRM users were asking if HubSpot should be taken seriously in the CRM market. She expressed concerns about its capabilities on the enterprise reporting and data management side of the product.

"HubSpot needs to come up with more detail and I don't see it," she said.

Sales forecast consolidation was one example of functionality where users would be right to probe HubSpot's wares, she suggested: "In the enterprise this is core to make it through the door and I don’t see that well established. "If HubSpot is pushing hard against Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft [in competing for enterprise accounts], it would be gone before it has its toes through the door. Some areas of functionality are not there," she said.

SAP and Oracle have "years of experience in enterprise data management [and] can manage the data points, clean up data and merge data in background," Hansen said.

HubSpot might not be convincing everyone in the market that it is ready for enterprise CRM this time around - but with a loyal customer base in marketing, it is likely to keep on trying. ®


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