(This column originally appeared in Forbes)
I have to admit, as a CRM specialist HubSpot has really impressed me over the past few years.
What was once a popular inbound (and outbound) tool aimed towards marketers, the platform has evolved into a full-blown customer relationship management system. For a while I would tell companies evaluating HubSpot that it was a “good marketing platform with a CRM add-on.” But that’s not necessarily true anymore. It’s now a very good all-around CRM platform. And getting better.
By better I mean that the company is expanding the capabilities of its software to slowly (but surely) turn it into a suite of business applications that can perform most tasks that a company needs. Just look at the features that the company announced this week at its Inbound Conference. For HubSpot, it’s all about improving “connections.”
“Businesses are in a crisis of disconnection today,” the company’s CEO said in a press release. “Their systems and data are disconnected because of cobbled point solutions. They’re disconnected from their customers, as buyers tune out saturated channels. “We’re committed to helping our customers grow in this new world by providing strategies, technology, and communities that foster deeper connections.”
To back up her claims, HubSpot rolled out expansions to its payments capabilities, which now allows merchants to better customize their payments and there will soon be capabilities to connect those details with HubSpot payments transactions and to its quote-to-cash solutions that do quoting, billing and contracts.
The company also added new AI features to help identify problems in a database including the automatic flagging and resolving of errors before data is published. There’s also a new “custom object builder” which will help enforce more consistent data entry with property validations and a “data quality command center” with insights and analytics on data integrity.
Also, they announced a new analytical tool that will “provide marketers with detailed visualizations that make it easier to identify moments in the customer journey that can be optimized for better conversion, and deeper insights into customer behaviors.”
On the service side (wait, service?) the company announced new connectivity tools to help teams doing service to better connect with their customers, complete with a helpdesk, channels and automation. There will soon be integration with the communications platform WhatsApp and enhancements to inbound calling.
All of this is great, but it speaks to a much larger change happening within the HubSpot ecosystem. All you need to do is look at the platform’s new features and expanded modules and it becomes obvious: what was once just a marketing application now has a “sales hub” a “service hub” and an “operations hub.” It’s doing quoting, billing and contracts. It’s receiving cash. So what’s next? Well, isn’t that obvious?
It’s accounting. And I bet that’s coming too.
As the company evolves its platform to handle all areas of a customer’s business, it will eventually need an accounting solution. Sure, the company can (and does) provide integrations with some of the more popular accounting platforms for small and mid-sized businesses. But isn’t it time to step up and take those products on directly? If I’m one of the 150,000 HubSpot customers that has enjoyed the product’s evolution, I’d be interested in a one-stop, full-blown, integrated business application. Right now, that’s what’s missing from HubSpot.
My advice to the company’s leaders: go for the accounting. Go ahead and take on Intuit and Xero and Sage and the others. You can build something just as good, brand it just as well and attract a growing number of your 150,000+ existing (and future) customers to choose your platform because of its all-in-one capabilities. Start now, build relationships with the accounting community (who will be your biggest influencers) and capitalize on the dissatisfaction I hear from many of my clients with the existing accounting options available for them.
Zoho has done this. Microsoft and Salesforce have done this. Given the company’s expansion of late, I’m betting that HubSpot will too.