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Zak Pines | August 24, 2016

Pardot just killed your CRM integration. Now what?

Salesforce recently announced it'll be eliminating its connectors between Pardot and three major CRMs: SugarCRM, NetSuite, and Microsoft Dynamics.

While it’s not a complete shocker given how tightly SalesForce has been aligning Pardot with its own CRM, it’s always a surprise when a software vendor turns away active, paying customers with an end of life announcement.

Let’s unpack why SalesForce took this significant action and review the options for customers using Pardot with any of the three CRMs.

Why did SalesForce end of life its integration support for Pardot with SugarCRM, NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics?

Two big reasons stand out here:

#1 - It allows Pardot to invest in its core functionality

You gotta figure that the majority of Pardot’s customers are not on these three CRMs, so by definition Pardot is serving its greater good of customers with this decision. Instead of applying resources to evolve and maintain their point-to-point CRM connectors, Pardot can apply those resources to core marketing automation functionality that will benefit more of its customers. It’s a bold decision, but the math makes sense for Pardot.

#2 - Maintaining & evolving systems integrations takes dedicated, specialized resources

If you are a software company like Pardot or a customer working directly with vendor APIs, it takes significant engineering resources to build an integration.

What this decision underscores, though, is that there are just as many, if not more resources, that need to be applied to maintaining and evolving an integration.

There’s keeping current with the latest API best practices, evolving support for new objects and custom fields, managing API thresholds, and scaling the volume of data communicated across systems as use cases and reporting requirements evolve, just to name a few areas.

It’s also worth noting that amongst Pardot main competitors, the only native integration with these three CRMs is Marketo with Microsoft Dynamics. In fact the only native integrations offered by HubSpot is a SalesForce native connector, and the only native integrations offered by Marketo are with SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics – connectors for the other CRMs are not natively supported by these marketing automation vendors.

What options should Pardot customers consider?

The decision may make business sense for Pardot, but what do you do if you are a Pardot customer currently paired with a CRM from Microsoft, NetSuite or SugarCRM?

In the end of life announcement, SalesForce comments that one option is "Manually import data periodically from SugarCRM, NetSuite or Microsoft CRM into Pardot."

I have to assume that for any Pardot customer, or at least anyone who is seeing significant value today from Pardot, manual data imports are not a viable option. A critical use case for a marketing automation is real-time interplay with the CRM system to both feed leads to the sales organization, as well as pull back important feedback on those leads. Manual data imports won’t cut it for this type of real-time interaction, not to mention the cost and risks of error around such a process would be very significant.

So what are the options?

#1 – Move to a new CRM system

There’s speculation that SalesForce is doing this to force their customers hand and push them to move from NetSuite, Dynamics or Sugar to SalesForce as their CRM. For most customers, especially those on Dynamics or NetSuite, that’s not a likely outcome. These CRMs are highly embedded into existing business process, not to mention having a large base of sales users. So a CRM switch will not be viable for most or all of these Pardot customers.

#2 – Move to a new marketing automation system

This move runs the risk of pushing customers away from Pardot, and SalesForce/Pardot had to have taken that into account as the weighed the cost-benefit.

The option to move off of Pardot will likely depend on how embedded Pardot is in the customer’s business process. Is it deeply integrated with its website and digital marketing? Are there a high volume of templates being used across landing pages and emails? Are there established workflows for lead management and nurturing? How satisfied is the team with Pardot as a marketing automation ecosystem? Does the company have budget or appetite for a marketing automation system migration, and the disruption that could cause?

These answers will drive if the marketing team wants to remain committed to Pardot or look at competitors such as Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua or Act-on.

#3 – Build (or pay someone to build) a custom integration with Pardot

This is an option that Pardot is putting forward for customers to consider. The big issue with this option is it will require engineering resources to develop the integration. Perhaps the bigger issue to consider here is that it’s not a "one and done" situation. Once you build the integration, you will also need regular engineering resources to ensure the flow of data is operating as expected, troubleshoot and fix any issues, and also evolve the integration as business requirements change.

This is likely a tall task to get that kind of blanket commitment from an engineering group to be able to support marketing and sales systems in this ongoing manner. Remember, this is a task that Pardot themselves have chosen to stop committing resources against.

#4 – Use an automated cloud integration product

That leaves us with a fourth option, which is an automated cloud integration product

There are a few advantages of this approach for the Pardot customer using SugarCRM, NetSuite or Dynamics:

  • No disruption to existing systems for sales or marketing
  • No need to procure engineering or systems integration resources to build your own custom integration
  • And no need to procure those resources to maintain and evolve your integration

For more on Pardot integrations, view our “The Essential Guide to Integrating and Customizing Pardot”.

 Our team is also available for 1:1 consultation if you’d like to engage with a specialist to discuss options for working through these considerations. We also encourage you to share comments or questions below.

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