I’m a marketing junkie.
I love digging into a product or service, finding the story of the business wants to tell, and then connecting people in need to a sales team ready to help. Next to a notepad and a curious mind, HubSpot is the best tool in my arsenal for getting marketing and business results.
But my relationship with HubSpot hasn’t always been a love affair.
We had a rocky start. For a long time, I thought my experience was unique, but I recently connected with other HubSpot users at a local HUG (HubSpot User Group), and I realized that many of us go through the same challenges.
This is not to say HubSpot is a flawed product! Nor it is a criticism of the dedicated marketing experts using HubSpot. I see those bumps in the road as phases most of us go through in our HubSpot life.
My hope is, with hindsight and by sharing my experience I can help other businesses and marketing pros like me unlock the power and joy of HubSpot even faster. With this insight, you can find rapid results with the inbound platform.
My experience with HubSpot started with a problem.
I was working at a construction software start-up. We were a small team with a powerful product, one that really added efficiencies and saved money for contractors and construction companies.
The problem was, selling software to a construction manager wasn’t easy. They knew contracts and engineering plans. They didn’t know software. It took a lot of teaching and demos to help them understand the power of the software. For our company, effectively managing prospects over the 12 to 18-month sales cycle with a tiny team was almost impossible. Prospects and opportunities would constantly slip through the cracks. Sales were lost because we couldn’t keep up with demands.
Solving Business Problems with HubSpot
We needed a way to identify and nurture prospects, and then guide them on the buyer’s journey. We also needed a better way to measure the impact of our messaging. With a new product, we needed to know if our marketing was working, and where we had to make a change.
… all problems that could (potentially) be solved with a sales and marketing platform. The owner of the company assigned me and a sales director with finding and identifying a software solution. We had a budget, were given a cost analysis document that would generate an ROI (Return on Investment) estimate and told to find a solution by the end of the month.
Finding a Business and Marketing Software Solution
If you’ve ever had to find a new software solution, then you know how easy it is to collapse under information overload. There is no limit to the demos, webinars, trial periods, blogs, white papers and more. Ask one question, and you’ll have 20 “solution providers” or “success consultants” ready to help.
My partner and I sat through demos from many of the top companies. We did a trial test with InfusionSoft and spent a week or two getting to know Marketo. We played around with a few low-impact solutions (Constant Contact and Emma) and even had a consultant for Salesforce buy us lunch while he took us on a “Needs Analysis” that resulted in a 12-page “Critical Requirement Document.”
In the end, we chose HubSpot because it delivered on our requirements. Other systems did as well, but there were several reasons why HubSpot stood above the crowd for us:
- HubSpot supports the buyer’s journey. It felt like the Inbound methodology was what our best customers wanted from us. It was how we wanted to do business.
- The reports and dashboard provided the insight and tools we needed to eliminate the bottlenecks that lead to lost sales. Sure, other tools could provide reports, but with HubSpot we could see the connections.
- Automation was easier in HubSpot. Other systems provided sales and marketing automation, but you needed to be an expert in software development to get it to work.
- Ease-of-use was critical. With some software systems, the set-up and implementation felt… daunting. With HubSpot, set-up seemed easy. In about 20 minutes, my sales partner was already tracking an email he sent a prospect.
Granted, there was still some concerns in the office that HubSpot was the right choice. There was a strong push for Salesforce, and one of the developers had a friend that worked for another system, but HubSpot just felt right to us.
The First Steps with HubSpot
… After all that work, getting the initial login for HubSpot was one of happiest days of my career.
With my login, I quickly set up my account. Within an hour, we imported our top prospects into the CRM and I was setting up an email nurturing campaign. By the end of the day, I had a CTA on our website and a landing page to collect information.
By the next week, problems were creeping into the rollout. Half the sales team was refusing the use HubSpot, and the CFO had billed a customer incorrectly after pulling data from HubSpot. The marketing was already behind schedule, and the owner wanted to talk about the problems.
Stumbles on the HubSpot Journey
In retrospect, the mistake I made was focusing on the software rather than the people when I was planning.
The rollout strategy focused on the software – building custom landing pages and content, creating email lists, implementing a sales process, and building forms. I didn’t build-in any time for training or rolling out the new processes my small team would need. I didn’t collect any feedback before drafting my rollout plan.
The sales team was frustrated that they were trying to balance sales and work with learning a new software system. They didn’t like “handing” off prospects to marketing automation. One older sales team member thought HubSpot was “watching” him and refused to put any information in the system.
My partner in marketing was pulling her hair out because she couldn’t recreate the graphic emails to her satisfaction in HubSpot. Our financial team was using four different databases to collect customer billing information because we hadn’t set up our contact records correctly.
The owner had a dashboard on her desktop to track the work we were doing, but it wasn’t lining up with what she heard from the sales team. They were logging calls and doing demos, but not recording them in HubSpot. Rather than seeing progress, she was seeing gaps.
After a month of frustration, my partner and I scrapped our “rollout plan” for HubSpot and went back to square one. We decided to start small, implementing a single strategy or feature. We had “HubSpot” sessions during lunch where we could conduct training and discuss potential strategies and projects. We analyzed current processes to see how HubSpot would fit. Once we got that strategy right and everyone was on board, we went to the next strategy.
Over time (and work), HubSpot became the foundation of our sales and marketing strategy. In the first year, we increased sales 22%. The next year, we had doubled our sales with a pipeline that was four times larger and more robust than anything we had before.
5 Tips for Launching HubSpot Correctly
Looking back, I can see I made mistakes when I first started using HubSpot. As I was fumbling around, the company leadership and sales wasn’t seeing the results I promised, or they wanted. Sales was told HubSpot could make their job easier, but all they could see was more work on top of what they were already doing. We tried to do too much at once, without making clear the benefits or reasons. I assumed that everyone was excited to use HubSpot as I was.
Here’s how I dug myself out of the hole and leveraged HubSpot to push the business to greater heights.
1. Take the Training
Many of us (myself included) like to dive in feet first with a new project. We immediately log in to the new software and start work on a high-profile, complex project that is more exciting than useful. Training is for wimps, we tell ourselves.
HubSpot is a methodology as much as it is a software package. The trainings in the HubSpot Academy are designed to not only teach you what buttons to press, but also why the software works – the strategy. Take the time to finish the training, and make sure your team understands its importance.
2. Use HubSpot Resources
I admit, I don’t like meetings or phone calls. If I don’t see the need, then mentally I’m looking for a way out. With HubSpot, you have a software expert ready and willing to work with you when you first set up your account. Take the meeting. Use them.
They’re not there to sell you more, but to help you get the most from your software. Their advice and suggestions are backed by best practices and the experience of thousands of other companies that have used HubSpot. If you have a question, ask. If they have a suggestion, use it.
3. Start Small and Use the CRM
In my experience, HubSpot’s power is building relationships, which is the focus of the CRM. The HubSpot CRM is the glue that holds the system together, so even if you already have one, it’s worth adding the FREE HubSpot CRM if only to track and record the work you do in other areas of HubSpot.
Get your contacts in HubSpot, then tackle small projects to get started. Build a few templates the sales team can use or create a list or two in the CRM. Set up an email campaign for the list. Make sure the small initial projects are successful and start collecting data on them before you move onto a new project.
4. Plan First, then Implement
Take some time to plan and evaluate your current processes before diving headfirst into HubSpot. Look at your buying cycle, create a buyer persona or two, and dig into your customer support cycles. Once you finish this evaluation, you can identify the problems or challenges you have and see how HubSpot can help.
For example, you’ll benefit if you can incorporate your existing sales processes into HubSpot, which means you need to understand how sales works. Make the transition for the sales team as seamless as possible, and they’ll see the value in working inside HubSpot. If you don’t address and facilitate their current processes, they won’t see any reason to change.
5. Call in the Experts
Even if you are using the HubSpot resources, there may come a point when you need some help. You may need powerful content as the centerpiece of your campaign or help with a report that your manager needs. At times like this, don’t waste time doing work you aren’t comfortable with. Contact the experts for help.
Just because you have HubSpot doesn’t mean you’ll never need an agency or freelance resource again. In fact, as HubSpot starts bringing the company more opportunity, having outside resources you can rely on will help your business scale. There are plenty of resources you can reach out to in the HubSpot Solutions Partner program. Don’t be scared to ask for help.
The Next Steps with HubSpot
In the end, HubSpot was just what the company needed to take their business to the next level. We were able to automate many of the tasks that wasted the sales teams’ time. With our nurturing campaign, we were able to identify the best prospects – the ones that were ready to buy, while still helping the prospects that were still doing research.
Since then, I’ve worked with several other companies that are actively using HubSpot for business growth.
If you’d like to learn more or see how HubSpot can help you overcome challenges that are holding you back, then contact GO2 Partners today. We’re a HubSpot Gold partner working with B2B companies across industries.
Let us know how we can help.