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HubSpot rethinks Sales Hub with added AI capabilities to tackle 'activity armageddon'

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher September 6, 2023
HubSpot announced a new version of Sales Hub at Inbound today. Here’s the skinny.


All products need to evolve, and Sales Hub is no exception.  The challenges are many today:

  • Economic uncertainty
  • Increasing changes in tech, including AI
  • Getting used to a Zoom-world
  • Constrained budgets

Michael Walton, HubSpot VP of Product, Sales Hub, says the firm wanted to attack a problem widely seen in the market today - the use of disjointed tools and data.

Walton acknowledges that the kind of growth that was easy to drive two years ago isn't so straightforward anymore. The playbook - add more reps, do more activities, add more tech - needs to be fixed. He shared a HubSpot stat that 63% of Sales reps' time is spent on activities other than connecting with prospects and customers. 

Looked at from the customer perspective, people are getting inundated with messages across the board, AKA ‘activity armageddon’ and it’s not working.  

Relevance is the key to breaking through. It's about the right activities and the relevant actions to execute in those activities. It's about the right conversations. And it’s about helping sales teams eliminate the busy work that keeps them from doing the right things.

HubSpot’s product team looked at other solutions, including legacy CRMs, and saw the challenges - too many disparate apps that sales need to work across. disconnected datasets, different AI tech with potentially different recommendations, the need to integrate systems, and more manual effort to keep systems in sync. Sales is jumping between systems and often don't know how to complete tasks or get the insights they need to help them make the right decisions. 

Faced with this, HubSpot has gone back to the drawing board and added over a dozen new features. 

A new set of prospecting tools

Sales Hub includes a set of prospecting tools designed to help sales development teams be more productive. The first is the Prospecting Workspace, which is in public beta now. This new workspace helps SDRs manage leads, calendars, tasks, LinkedIn messages, calls, emails, and goals in a unified experience. 

The alternative (i.e., the way it was) was to click back and forth in the HubSpot menu to go to each type of activity. The pitch for the workspace is that it is designed to help sales teams focus and prioritize. It also means they don't need to bounce between systems (whether inside HubSpot or using different applications) - everything is in one place.

HubSpot has also added advanced lead management and reporting. Companies can now capture richer information with leads, such as where they are coming from, what activities they are doing, how they are progressing, and what the outcomes are with regard to sales. This is a single pane of glass for sales and marketing to see what is happening with their leads. The data also ties back to help derive more insights on what's working and where to focus time and effort. 

It's important to mention here that HubSpot does not talk about leads in the sense that most of us do. A lead is not a contact in HubSpot. Walton says that a lead can be associated with one or more contacts and is associated with an account or customer. He also notes that the lead relationship with a company can happen multiple times over the history of the lifetime of a target customer. It sounds a little confusing, but the data structure is built to capture all the information for a lead, and you can then create views that pivot on that data (e.g., a company view, a contact view, etc.). 

Building intelligence into deal management and forecasting

The new Sales Hub comes with smarter, more intelligent deal management and forecasting tools that heavily leverage HubSpot's data advantage and AI. On the deal management side, AI helps to prioritize efforts and focus on the right deals. In private beta, new AI-powered forecasting uses predictive AI and a company's historical sales to project future sales. Walton explains: 

We use our predictive AI capabilities and historical sales that they have to help project future sales for them. And it really it's awesome because it helps also show in the context of previous forecasts that they've had before and learns from that aspect on their own particular data of how to project what's coming forward for this. So, if you're off on your projections, then the insights you're going to do or where you're going to tell you to focus your time, it's not going to be effective or accurate. If your projections are spot on, and we can help you predict that, we can also help guide you as to what are the right places to spend your time and energy.

Deal insights provide contextual insights directly in the deal board to help sales understand which deals to focus on at which time. A new set of programmatic deal tags enables companies to categorize deals (e.g., deal size, industry, etc.) and have them show up as colored labels and presets on the board. 

Also new is the ability to book meetings for other sales reps, lead form routing (also in public beta now), and a new sync between LinkedIn Sales Navigator and HubSpot's Smarter CRM. 

One part of the larger HubSpot Customer Platform

Remember that HubSpot wanted to create a Sales Hub that resolves the issues around disjointed systems and data. To that end, Sales Hub is only one component of a similar vision for the entire company. 

Underlying everything is the idea of smarter CRM. Walton argues that HubSpot is a platform that creates connections with customers, and underpinning everything is a new kind of CRM - a so-called smarter CRM that feeds everything a company does with its customers. This includes data modeling, data management, user administration, and governance, insights, and activity. 

And then, on top of that smarter CRM are the engagement hubs - Sales, Marketing, Service, and Operations. There are no data silos, and every hub has access to the same data, giving companies a complete view of the customer across the entire lifecycle. Walton says: 

We have data across marketing sales, customer success, customer service, right? We know if a deal that you're working on right now also as a set of tickets already out with your customers, your team trying to get something fixed, or hey, we know that marketing is currently engaging them on a completely different topic right now. All of that information and insights are available to us, which means richer insights for all of the front office teams across the board to help them to work collaboratively together across the board.

He makes the claim that the HubSpot Customer Platform is easier for teams to adopt and use, easier and less expensive to set up and maintain, but most importantly, it’s better able to give teams the insights they need to make the connections. 

Here’s the AI bit…

HubSpot also announced platform-wide AI-powered capabilities:

  • AI assistants that help draft content, create images, generate blog ideas, build websites, and develop reports. If you have HubSpot, you may have seen these already.
  • AI agents for customer service, including live chat and email. These agents are launching in early 2024.
  • ChatSpot has been in public beta since March, with 80,000 total users to data creating over 20,000 prompts. ChatSpot combines chatGPT with other unique data sources, including CRM data, to provide rich insights and information. 

My take

The new Sales Hub is a great improvement. The prospecting tools are exactly what sales development teams need to bring more clarity to their work, and the lead management tools will help bring sales and marketing more aligned and working together. Plus, the AI capabilities - no one can argue they will help everyone.

I'm looking forward to hearing what's new in the Marketing Engagement Hub. HubSpot can also improve significantly in this area. More to come on this. 

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