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    04/04/2024 |

    Single Platform or Multi-Platform for Marketing, CRM, CMS and Sales Technology?

    It’s not such an easy question when you’re evaluating technology for the sales and marketing part of your company. Do you go with one solution that crosses every aspect of your marketing and sales execution, or do you go with the best in breed for each area and integrate them all together?

    There’s no universal right or wrong answer, but there is a right answer for your company, and to make that decision you should have the facts at your fingertips.

    For the most part, it comes down to a tricky little word called integration. Most software providers say their products can be integrated with any other tool. While that might be technically accurate, some are easier to integrate than others, and this is the key to deciding whether to choose a single platform or go multi-platform.

    Single Platform

    A single platform for multiple applications should mean that the platform is built from the ground up on one database with a consistent user interface. In other words, there is only one database for all the data that the application’s entire functionality references.

    This means there is a single record for your prospects and/or customers. You’ll have insight into their entire buyer journey, from the time they first visit your website to the time they convert, get engaged with sales and become a new customer.

    One set of data for all those interactions is housed in a single database. Even if sales initiates the first contact and the prospect visits the website and downloads a piece of content, that experience is recorded and stored in one database.

    There’s no need to hop out of one app and into another or pull data from one app and into a data management or BI tool. Everything is central and sorted, organized and displayed in one easy-to-find motion.

    Multi-Platform With Integrations

    Multiple platforms integrated together are not necessarily bad, but they do present some challenges that you should understand.

    First, these software providers will almost always tell you their tools can be integrated. While this might be true, consider the level of complexity. For example, HubSpot claims easy integration with Salesforce, but it depends a lot on your Salesforce instance.

    Think carefully when looking at integrations. What is being integrated, how does it need to be integrated and what types of options are you willing to consider for the integration? 

    Do you want a custom-coded integration that requires ongoing maintenance and oversight to keep it working? If either of the tools change, the custom code might have to be changed too. Custom-coded integrations are usually costly to build and maintain.

    You could consider middleware. In this scenario, they’re responsible for keeping the middleware working, but you’re paying a monthly fee for use of the middleware. In this case, the upfront cost might be less, but you have the ongoing cost of the middleware license.

    The main difference between this and the single platform option mentioned above is that changes made in one application likely won’t flow over to the other application simultaneously – at least not until the integration is upgraded too.

    Multiple employee, prospect or customer records need to be maintained if you lack a single database. This could mean having to enter the same data more than once.

    Additionally, with these separate records, this would require separate implementations, and therefore a longer time before you’re actually up and running with your solution.

    Also, if data isn’t exchanged in real time, it impacts the integrity of the data, and you may not necessarily be able to make your decisions in real time because you’re waiting for a scheduled data exchange between two applications.

    Regardless of whether you go with a single platform or multiple platforms, these projects are complex and risky. You can reduce the risk and chances of project failure by limiting the number of platforms, integrations required and partners doing the integration work.

    Who’s Doing the Integration and Implementation

    Finally, it’s worth talking about who’s doing the implementation, integration or configuration. Generally, there are two options – the software company or an implementation partner that works with the software company.

    On the surface, it might look like having the software company do the implementation is better, but this introduces some interesting challenges. First, most software companies are good at developing, rolling out and supporting software. When it comes to installing it, configuring it and training on it, they’re usually relying on people who build it to also install and configure it. Sometimes this results in a lot of custom coding to get the tool to do what you want it to do.

    It’s great that you get the features and functions you want, but the custom code makes ongoing maintenance more challenging for you and for the software company. In short, every customer has a custom version of their software, so upgrades, updates and services become more challenging.

    When you work with an implementation partner, they’re experts at implementation. They have extensive experience implementing the tools as they were designed. They don’t have the benefit of custom coding because they don’t have access to the code base, so they recommend and implement the tools as they were designed, making them easy to update, upgrade and maintain.

    Implementation partners also typically have access to a wide variety of additional tools, giving them a wider breadth of experience around implementation. For example, we implement and integrate HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Zoho and a few other tool sets. This gives us a detailed understanding of how to get different tools to work together and the differences between these tools.

    Criteria for Helping You Make Your Decision

    First, projects like this have several important variables. First and usually foremost is money and budget. Next is how quickly you want your system up and running, and finally comes the technical expertise to handle the project.


    Level of Investment

    When it comes to the all-powerful dollar, single-platform technology solutions are generally less expensive than solutions that require multiple tools. That’s because fewer integration expenses are associated with a single platform.

    For example, if your marketing, CMS, CRM and sales tools are all on one platform, you still might have to integrate them with your financial or ERP system. But if you go multi-platform, you’ll have to integrate your marketing with your CMS, CRM and sales tools and still connect them all to your financial or ERP back-office system.

    In this scenario, it’s a small integration project for the single platform but a massive and multi-level integration project if you use multiple tools for marketing and sales. No judgment here – if you need multiple tools, just be prepared for the expense, timing and complexity of working to connect all these different tools together.



    Single-platform tools can usually be configured and rolled out faster than multi-platform tools. Typically, you have one provider doing the implementation across the tool set, and they organize the configuration, onboarding, training and rollout.

    If speed isn’t an issue for you, then multiple platforms might be fine. But if you want this done quickly and want your go-to-market team working within the tools, a single platform is probably going to be the fastest way to get you going on a more automated approach to revenue.



    Finally, you have to consider who is going to be doing this work. It’s highly unlikely that your internal team is going to be doing any of this. Usually, either the software companies or their partners run these projects.

    If you’re going with a multi-platform option, you might need multiple implementation partners – one for each of the tools, or at least a couple that might be able to handle the full project.

    If you go with a single platform, you usually have one implementation partner to handle the entire project. These are complex projects, and the more hands on the project, the more likely you’ll have issues.

    Why a Single Platform Usually Make the Most Sense

    It might sound like this article is for using a single platform and against the multi-platform option, but that’s only partially correct. Every company is different, and there might be good reasons for some companies to go multi-platform.

    However, if we look at most use cases and client experiences that we’ve seen over the past 20 years doing work like this, single-platform solutions are almost always cheaper to own, faster to get rolled out, easier to use across the organization and generally produce better ROI after the tools have been rolled out.

    Also, recent research shows that 25% of tech projects fail outright, 20% to 50% show no ROI and up to 50% need massive reworking when finished.

    If your goal is to limit the risk of failure or risk of no ROI, then a single platform does that, while multiple platforms run a greater risk of challenges with the project over time.

    Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist headshot
    CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

    Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

    Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

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