San Francisco-based Salesforce has made a series of enhancements to its B2B marketing automation product Pardot. 

Pardot was acquired by Exact Target, which was then acquired by Salesforce. It has held on to its core identity of B2B marketing and continued to build out its functionality, now embedded in the Salesforce platform.

The changes were announced by Adam Blitzer, SVP and general manager of Pardot, via a blog post published this morning. 

Reading through them, they clearly make sense as separate improvements. A Chrome extension for Engage that can track emails (well, of course). Faster data synchronization (absolutely a must have). Data visualization and new customization features for reporting (not an area that should stand still, so very good).

Big Picture Collaboration 

Then you read them again and see the big picture: the changes also deliver some nice productivity and collaboration savings for users.

Bingo, Blitzer told me as I ask him about the changes and their "big picture" implications and then proceed to tell him what I think they are myself.

"Pardot is not just about providing the best B2B marketing automation package," he said. "It's also about marketing and sales alignment and bringing the marketing and sales teams closer together through tighter collaboration and improved productivity." Which is most important -- the features or the collaboration and productivity — can be very difficult to say as it is clear they cannot stand alone.

Consider the Chrome extension for Gmail. It's a marketing automation plug-in that lets sales reps send trackable emails directly from Gmail, Blitzer writes in his post —complete with a side panel that surfaces lead information directly within Gmail for sales reps.

"As you can see, this lead information goes beyond simple things like email open and click activity, and offers a holistic view of prospect activities such as attending an event or viewing website content," he writes.

Stealth Sales Tools 

Blitzer elaborates a bit on the backstory of this feature for me. Companies don’t realize just how prolifically B2B sales reps use email, he said. "They also don't realize how much data is around that channel."

Even something similar as the rep's signature can help move a sale along, he said.

In other words this extension is not just about making life easier for sales reps so they can sell more and better; it's also a new B2B tool, almost a stealth one as it is disguised as an innocent email plug-in, for sales.

It's a similar story with the other enhancements. The data synch with Salesforce is now the fastest out of any marketing automation tool, checking for changes every two minutes, according to the blog post. It's convenient for the reps, and by the way, Blitzer writes in his post, surfacing prospect insights so sales reps can respond before the competition is crucial.

Likewise the new reporting functionality in Pardot. "Tight data integration with Salesforce gives users new ways to visualize data on a variety of different reports," Blitzer writes. One example is the new visitors report, which displays reporting of anonymous visitors — and identifies prospects to the website.