When Dharmesh Shah and I started HubSpot 10 years ago, we had a clear goal: We wanted to make it easier for marketers to adapt to a changing world. Inbound marketing was the vehicle, and our mission was to bring all the tools you need to attract, convert, and close new customers together in one place.
But here’s the thing -- change is constant when it comes to people. The places buyers spend their time, the expectations they have, and the things marketers and sellers need to do to be successful in 2016 are totally different than just a decade before. I’ve actually spent the last couple of months channeling my “inner anthropologist” to better grok how people live, work, shop, and buy, talking to people in all sorts of roles and with all sorts of backgrounds in the process. That was the topic of my INBOUND talk this year, and I recommend checking it out.
However, it isn’t just the buyer who has changed. Smart marketers and smart sellers are a lot different than they were back when we started HubSpot. And this is what’s been driving our product direction over the past year.
Marketers and Salespeople Are Evolving
Ten years ago, we started out building for marketers who needed help getting the right tools matched up with the right strategy, because it was darned tough to do, and few people had the skills to do it.
But the marketer of today has evolved. Many of the folks I encounter are a lot savvier. They are digital natives who lean in on technology whereas 10 years ago they were often more timid. This idea of building a software “stack” -- a connected set of tools that helps you do your marketing -- is a more integral part of marketers’ day-to-day.
And this shift isn’t exclusive to marketers. Ten years ago, the VP of Sales made the call on a CRM system, their only piece of technology. Today, sales teams are also getting in on the same game of building their “stack.” When I watch savvy reps at work, they are testing new prospecting tools, tweaking their approach with tracked email templates, and using a bunch of additional point tools to be more effective. What it takes to be successful at sales is changing, and tech-savvy sales teams are winning the day.
The Challenges of Building Your Stack
Of course, this shift brings a new set of challenges along with it. When every team that touches the customer is out building their own stack, and there are new tools every day to kick the tires on, the familiar challenge of connecting the dots between all these pieces is actually getting harder.
There are two ways this usually plays out. In some companies, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service have gone down different roads, building their own “stacks” that exist separately. Each team gets the gratification of doing what they want, but the customer loses in the end -- with little continuity between touch points, it often feels like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
The second scenario is one of technical integrations. Someone on the team recognizes how important it is to integrate, and sets out to tie all the disparate tools and systems together. This is a noble pursuit, and one that makes sense for companies of a certain size and scale.
The trouble with this approach is that it literally never ends. Each new tool adds a new integration into the mix, and integrations come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of quality. Some are great, some are superficial, and some require constant babysitting. Before long, managing integrations is the full time job of a growing ops team, or the worst nightmare of a small team with better things to spend their time on.
Building Your “Growth Stack”
Seeing these shifts in marketers, salespeople, and how each group uses and adopts technology has been fascinating. I experience these shifts firsthand with many of the folks I see getting started with HubSpot today.
One thing I’ve noticed is that more and more of these folks have “seen the movie” before. They’ve felt the pain of ignoring integration, or they’ve been on a team that ended up in an ops nightmare trying to do it themselves. This time around, they want to avoid that outcome at all costs.
I also see more and more teams that recognize the importance of Sales and Marketing working together. Even five years ago, the idea of Sales and Marketing alignment was a distant ideal for most people. Today, more teams seek opportunities to work together as a larger growth team.
And when these teams consider tools, they don’t build a sales stack and a marketing stack. They build a growth stack: an interconnected set of tools used to drive growth that share a common foundation.
Grow Your Business with HubSpot as the Foundation
Over the past few years, we’ve been hammering away to make our CRM, sales tools, and marketing platform an awesome triad to help our customers power their growth. In the years to come, our priorities won’t change. We’ll be aiming to build the best possible growth stack in the world -- a foundation that supports and accelerates any business’ growth -- and working to make it easier for you to add on other pieces if and when you need them through powerful integrations in our HubSpot Connect platform.
However, making our tools better is only one part of the equation. They also need to be accessible to as many people as possible -- from sophisticated teams all the way down to companies that are just getting started. This was the driving force behind our announcement of HubSpot Marketing Free, a dynamic set of tools to help you collect leads and context from your website. Together with our free CRM and free sales tools, it’s possible for any team to start building their business on our growth stack without spending a penny.
We truly believe that we can give millions of companies back the time, the money, and the mental bandwidth they used to spend on worrying about their tools, and this will free them up to focus on growth. If this sounds like a shift your team could benefit from, learn more about building your growth stack with HubSpot using our free marketing, sales, or CRM tools, or see some of the dozens of other tools we announced today.
Originally published Nov 9, 2016 5:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017