HubSpot Implementation: 6 Questions Your Business Needs To Answer First

Sales and marketing technology like HubSpot can drive significant change for businesses. But before you jump into implementing HubSpot CRM and Marketing Automation, it’s critical to know that technology is not a strategy. Too often we ended up working with clients who are throwing technology at business problems without clearly defined business processes and strategies that the technology can lean on to help achieve business outcomes. When it comes to strategy, that’s where our FieldGuide ™ approach comes in. But when it comes to process, here are several areas your business should explore prior to or in conjunction with a standard HubSpot Implementation.

Are buyer profiles clearly defined

One of the first things you need to be clear about is who are you selling to. If you answered “everyone” hold up. . . is your marketing budget unlimited?

Try again.

Buyer personas, or profiles, are critical to ensure that sales and marketing messages are segmented to the right person and the role they play in the sales and marketing process for your organization.

HubSpot Implementation Buyer Personas
Image Source: https://amywright.me/buyer-persona-questions/

Why does it matter to the setup process for HubSpot? Because depending on how your buyers are defined, you may need custom properties created to further segment and define them. You may make the decision to activate target account properties and buying role properties via the account-based marketing tools from HubSpot.

Knowing who you’re selling to and how your organization plans to communicate with them is absolutely critical to a successful implementation. This tool from HubSpot can help get you started.

Is the lifecycle of a customer documented

How does your company get new business? What’s the journey a prospect takes? Understanding the lifecycle of a client or customer ensures that your HubSpot setup is aligned to both support those processes from a technical perspective but also enable easier reporting and collaboration between sales and marketing. As much as marketers want the buyer’s journey to be cute and linear, our multichannel, multidevice buying experiences today result in a process more like the following:

b2b buyers journey

Questions to answer that can help sort through the noise above:

  • How does sales prospect? Where do the contacts come from and what are the steps sales takes and the behaviors shown by a prospect to show they are ready to advance?
  • When a lead is identified by marketing, what information is needed to qualify it’s ready to talk to sales? What behaviors show high intent to purchase as a reflection of past leads that converted through the sales process quickly?
  • What customer experiences resonate positively with customers and turn them into advocates? How are they identified?

Why does any of this matter to your HubSpot Implementation? Knowing as much of your customer lifecycle in advance will help you identify areas to plug in technology to scale and gain efficiencies, whether it’s scaling prospecting or identifying triggers for when to send an NPS survey.

Are sales processes outlined

Once a lead has identified a business opportunity, what happens? Does everyone follow a similar playbook? There are several reasons to have an outlined sales process, or at the very least, an understanding of the steps involved, as you head into a HubSpot implementation.

First, any customization that needs to occur around lead statuses to communicate the status of a sales opportunity in the hand-off period between sales and marketing, before a deal lands on the pipeline.

Second, deal stages and weighting play a heavy role in forecasting and ultimately the closed-loop feedback reporting upstream through marketing attribution.

Finally, sales automation. What areas in the sales process can steps be automated or technology leveraged to drive additional insight to make the sales process more successful?

HubSpot Implementation Sales Automation

Have measurable goals been set

Have goals been outlined? What are you trying to accomplish and how will HubSpot help achieve and measure those goals? The reason for this knowledge going into a HubSpot setup further informs any custom setup that needs to occur across objects which then trickles down into reporting and dashboard set up.

conversion rate benchmark report
conversion rate benchmark report from Unbounce

Now sure where to start with goal setting? Maybe your organization doesn’t have any benchmark data and is starting from scratch. Just start. Be realistic, and set SMART goals that are realistic and be open to adjusting reactively if they are too easily attained or it becomes clear they are too far out there. It’s better to set a goal and measure towards it and have to adjust than to not set anything.

Sales and marketing alignment

Is everyone in agreement on buyer profiles, lifecycle stages, sales process, goals? Ensuring you have sales and marketing alignment between your revenue teams is absolutely critical.

Sales and marketing alignment allows for a streamlined customer journey where the path is clear and communication channels are understood. This type of clarity builds the important trust needed for a customer to take action. “The Trust Factor” study reported that 84% of consumers would not engage with a brand until trust was established.

There are many additional reasons to align your sales and marketing teams that affect both your customers and your internal personnel and culture.

Do you know what content you have

Do you know what content exists in your organization? A content audit can often be beneficial ahead of or in line with a HubSpot Implementation. A content audit is a comprehensive analysis of all of your content collectively. “Content” in this context includes your website content such as offers, blogs, and infographics, as well as offline sales and marketing materials, like sell sheets and brochures.

Why would you do a content audit as part of your HubSpot Setup? Knowing what content you have in your hopper lets your team hit the ground running. Rather than spinning your wheels as you stand up your technology, you can pull from existing resources and repurpose them for email, landing pages, and conversion paths decreasing the time to value on your technology investment.

Ready to Implement

Do you have to have answers to all of this before implementing HubSpot? No. But you should have these business processes top of mind as they are key to customizing your HubSpot set up so you can achieve full value and the fastest time to value from your software investment.

HubSpot Like a Pro: Our Top HubSpot Training Recommendations

I know it might sound cliche, but we genuinely are lifelong learners over here at Lake One, and one of the best training academies around is HubSpot. Their platform is top-notch, and their training is too. It includes software how-tos, practical exercises, plus tips, and strategies to take your skills to the next level.

What does HubSpot training entail? HubSpot has two types of training – certifications and individual courses. Certifications result in a literal badge and certificate. The courses tend to be more digestible and focused on a specific topic area. As far as the material, you can expect a video with an adjustable play speed, study guides, quizzes at the end of lessons, and, if applicable, an exam. It’s self-guided, so it’s easy to walk yourself through the material at your own pace.

According to HubSpot, there are over 165,000 professionals who have grown their careers by getting certified with HubSpot Academy. And there are a lot to choose from. As a HubSpot Platinum Partner, we get asked which HubSpot training courses we recommend quite often.

Below you’ll find a list of our top HubSpot training recommendations.  

Building the Foundation

There is a certain base level of understanding needed to embrace HubSpot – regardless of your practice area. You need to get Inbound. Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. Elements of Inbound can be applied cross-functionally. 


New call-to-action

HubSpot Inbound Certification

Time: 2 hrs

This certification gives an overview of inbound and gives you the essential base needed to understand the HubSpot methodology and why the platform functions the way it does. You’ll learn the fundamentals of inbound, the methodology, and about the flywheel. This course talks about inbound as it applies to marketing, services, and sales. 

The Flywheel Model

Image Source: HubSpot.com

HubSpot Reporting

Time: 5 hours 

At Lake One, we don’t shy away from the numbers. That’s why this is a must on our list of HubSpot training recommendations. No matter your role, we believe you should have a basic understanding of HubSpot reporting, and it’s capabilities. In this training, you learn how to incorporate data-driven decision-making using HubSpot reporting tools. It will cover reporting tools for the CRM, Marketing Hub, CMS Hub, Sales Hub, and Service. Sounds like overkill? Even if you don’t complete the cert, pick and choose the lessons that pertain to your role and the reporting you’ll need. 

Note: This certification does require a HubSpot Professional license to obtain. 

HubSpot Training Recommendations for Marketers

Whether your role is the high-level strategy or you’ll be in the weeds, the courses below will give you the knowledge needed to rock HubSpot and plan for success. 

HubSpot Marketing Software Certification

Time: 5 hours

If you plan on functioning within HubSpot, this is a must. HubSpot is a big platform with many tools, and to get the most value, you need a foundation of knowledge and an understanding of how they all work together. These lessons will literally help you do marketing in HubSpot. 

HubSpot training recommendations

Email Marketing

Time: 4 hours

No doubt, if you have HubSpot, you plan on leveraging marketing emails. From contact management and segmentation to email deliverability and analyzing your email sends, you’ll learn how to build an email marketing strategy. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to leverage the marketing tools on the platform to send and analyze emails. 

HubSpot CMS for Marketers 

Time: 2 hours

This is a specialty course, but still makes the cut for our HubSpot training recommendations. Why? This course is beneficial if you want to take your landing pages to the next level. Understanding HubSpot’s CMS is your ticket to customization and high-performing pages.

Note: This certification does require a HubSpot CMS Hub Professional account to complete. You can sign up for a sandbox account if needed. 

HubSpot Training Recommendations for Sales

From the CRM to leveraging HubSpot’s sales tools, partake in the courses below to get the basics and level up your HubSpot sales skills. 

Related Reading: Turn Your Website Into a Lead Machine with HubSpot Lead Flows

HubSpot Sales Software

Time: 2 hours

The HubSpot Sales Software Certification will help you organize your records in the HubSpot CRM to identify the best contacts to reach out to and get the most out of your Sales Hub tools. 

Sales Enablement

Time: 6 hours

According to HubSpot, the Sales Enablement Certification will teach you how to develop a marketing-driven sales enablement strategy. This course was designed with marketing managers in mind, but other marketers and sales leaders can benefit from learning the principles involved in this approach to sales enablement.

Frictionless Sales

Time: 2 hours

Are you looking to enable your sales team to spend more time selling? Or better align them to your target buyer? To help your sales team grow better, you need to find ways to remove friction from your flywheel. This course helps you learn the frictionless selling framework so your team can spend more time actually selling.

HubSpot Individual Courses

All of the training called out above are certifications. Depending on your day-to-day responsibilities, you may want to take a lesson specialized in Account Based Marketing, content strategy, or social media. We recommend just picking an area of interest and getting started!

ABM Planning Template Download

Making the Time for Professional Development

Underutilization of HubSpot is more common than you might think. Don’t let a lack of training be the reason it happens to you. We know better than anyone that it can be challenging to make time for professional development. So here are a few tips from the Lake One team – who are actively working on practicing what we preach 🙂

  • Document a Training Plan: Whether it’s the training courses listed above or others available in HubSpot Academy, decide which ones make the most sense for you and then document a training plan.
  • Give Yourself a Deadline: After you’ve documented a training plan, give yourself a deadline. A little accountability can go a long way.
  • Chip Away at the Training: It can be tricky to block a day, so try blocking off an hour-long block or even 30 minutes to chip away at training.
  • Make It a Team Event: Tie your training into a company goal or, better yet, bring along a coworker and turn it into a friendly competition!

Turn Your Website Into a Lead Machine with HubSpot Lead Flows

You did it! Your site traffic is growing. Your blogging, social media, and offline brand development are all working. You kick back, relax, and wait for the leads to flow in. But aside from the robo-SEO service from Kazakhstan, your lead forms aren’t doing much. What’s wrong? It’s possible your offers aren’t aligning with your content or your website visitors aren’t getting pointed to your highest value conversion points. How do you fix it? If you’re a HubSpot user, it’s HubSpot lead flows to the rescue.

hubspot lead flows blog

What is a Hubspot Lead Flow

A HubSpot lead flow is a special kind of conversion unit that you set up in HubSpot. It is a pop-up form based on parameters you set and can either gather lead information on the spot – or direct a website visitor to a high-value page like a resource center or limited time offer.

Forms vs Lead Flow

So what’s the difference between a HubSpot form and a lead flow? The biggest difference is the way the two are served to a user.

A form is a static destination that you have to create a conversion funnel (call to action, landing page, etc.) to drive a website user to.

A lead flow brings the form and point of conversion to a visitor based on key behaviors and parameters you’ve identified.

For example, the user is reading content related to a new offer you have, or they are on a list of MQLs and you want to serve them a decision stage offer, or they came from a referral URL as part of an account-based marketing program and you want to personalize an offer to them.

How Can a Lead Flow Supplement a Visitors Experience

Not all pop-ups are appreciated by users and a lot of sites go overkill with exit-intent “Are you sure you don’t want to subscribe to our email list before you leave? PLEEEEEEASE!?”. But if used judiciously, lead flows can improve the overall visitor experience on your site. Here are a few best practices to consider.

  • When choosing where they “pop in” consider other notifications, i.e. chat or cookie notices. Having them all overlap creates chaos.
  • Use exclusion lists to make sure people aren’t seeing it that shouldn’t
  • Be as specific as you can in your targeting and matching up the offer to the visitor

HubSpot Lead Flow Example

The obvious use of a lead flow is to offer a piece of content in exchange for lead intel right away. But the creativity comes in targeting and in the application. But there are creative ways to make the most of the feature as well. Here is a lead flow example that goes beyond immediate conversion.

When crisis strikes, lead flows are a great way to get your website visitors to your most critical content right away. This example from Communication Firm and Lake One client, Beehive Strategic Communication is a great example. They also utilized an exit-intent on the page to allow visitors to get an update as new resources become available.

How to Set Up a HubSpot Lead Flow

Lead flows are a snap to set up. Here is a step-by-step outline and video walkthrough to get you going:

  • Under the “Marketing” navigation, head to Lead Capture > Forms
  • Select Create Form
  • Choose Pop up Form > Next
  • Choose Type and Name your form
  • Build your call out and define the action you want your CTA to take
  • If capturing lead info in the Pop-Up, build the form
  • Optional: send a follow-up email
  • Define your targeting parameters
  • Set options for mobile and how long to not show to those who dismiss
  • Preview
  • Turn it live

Need help putting your lead flows in motion? Schedule a free consult.

 Book Your Consultation Now

Evaluating HubSpot for Startups? 4 Questions to Consider

Two things we love here at Lake One. Startups and HubSpot. Startup marketing has a special place in our heart. Most of our team has had a stint in a funded startup at some point, so we know the culture and mindset that drives startups. We team up with venture funds and accelerators here in the midwest to share marketing insights with startups every year. Many of those startups, through their venture fund or accelerator, get access to a special perk known as the HubSpot for Startups program. We’ve worked with many startups through this program and want to share some of the essential questions we’ve helped organizations consider when evaluating HubSpot for startups.

Evaluating HubSpot for Startups

What is HubSpot for Startups

HubSpot for Startups is a special program for startups who are members of or alumni of more than 2,000 approved HubSpot for Startup Partners. These partners are incubators, accelerators or Venture Capital firms all over the world. Additionally, there are revenue guidelines that apply to your startup. If you’re eligible, startups earn significant discounts on HubSpot Growth Suite subscriptions and gain access to startup specific resources. You can learn more about the program and see if you’re eligible for it here.

Is My Startup Ready for HubSpot?

One of the first questions to consider when thinking about onboarding with the HubSpot for Startups program – is your startup ready for a platform like HubSpot? There’s a couple of different ways to think about this.

Inbound

Would inbound marketing for your startup work? Not every startup is a great fit and those resources might be better served somewhere else.

How do you know if you’re a good fit? If you answer yes to some of these questions for example:

  • Do you sell your product or service direct to your end-user?
  • Do you have a long, complex sales process?
  • Is your good or service a considered buying process, in other words, does it require multiple decision-makers and/or a lot of research?

Market Traction

Does your startup have some initial traction? This is important because traction indicates some semblance of process. When you adopt marketing and sales tech, data governance around your CRM and thinking critically about logic for workflows is a key part of the success you’ll have with your technology. That’s not to say you have to have everything figured out, but if you’re expecting the tool or an agency partner to make your startup launch, you’re probably not ready for this investment of money and time yet.

Which Hubs Should I Leverage From HubSpot?

Let’s assume you’ve made the decision that the timing is right. The discount is awesome from HubSpot – does that mean it’s worth signing up for all three hubs of the Growth Suite? Not necessarily.

Just like not every startup will lend itself well to inbound, or your maturity level might not have the traction needed for a platform like HubSpot, every Hub may not be immediately valuable to you.

Reflect on your most pressing needs with your startup.

Sales

  • Are you looking to scale and define sales processes?
  • Do you want to better report on your pipeline and have the ability to forecast?
  • Are you looking to automate certain aspects of your sales process like prospecting and outreach?
  • Do you need one source of truth for your CRM that supports both sales and marketing activity?

Sales Hub is worth a look.

Marketing

  • Do you have a long sales cycle with a complex product with prospects that need educating?
  • Do you have manual processes dragging down your team?
  • Do you want to be able to launch rapid tests with landing pages, emails and other creative?
  • Do you want to be able to send segmented and personalized email content?
  • Do you want a tool to launch lead capture without needing IT?

Marketing Hub is worth a look.

Service

  • Are you drowning in support tickets?
  • Wish you could just send people links to commonly asked questions so they can help themselves?
  • Is customer service a top priority for your brand?

Service Hub is worth a look.

You may find you want to go all-in right away, but know you can always add on over time as well. Take one Hub, implement it and get it operational. As a HubSpot partner, we’ve seen a lot of abandoned Hubs where teams just got overwhelmed.

How Long Should I Expect to Implement HubSpot?

Implementation time will be directly related to the complexity of your business and it’s processes. On the low end give yourself 4-6 weeks. It can scale up dramatically if you’re dealing with large amounts of existing customer data, integrations with third-party tools or your own product.

How Long Should I Expect to Get an ROI?

Technology is not a strategy. So the ROI will be contingent on how effective your strategy is within the platform. Whether it’s lead gen and conversion or customer experience improvements. That said, some rules of thumb, for example, are a lead gen program from inbound can take anywhere from 6 – 18 months to start building momentum. Also, give yourself time to continue to apply learnings around lead quality. It takes time to build the momentum around driving high quality traffic at volume.

search terms growth - inbound story

Is a HubSpot CRM Right for Me? 7 Questions to Consider

If you do a Google search for “easy to use CRM” you’ll return more than 50 million results. Why so many? Because people hate using CRMs. Back in 2001, Gartner measured a 50% CRM failure rate. Chief among the reasons: lack of focus, complexity, and lack of commitment or buy-in. I’ve worked across multiple CRMs from Salesforce to HubSpot. As our client work spans marketing and sales teams, we inevitable tackle the CRM question. Many times we get asked, “Is a HubSpot CRM is right for our company?”. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. This is how we help our clients answer this question. 

Is a HubSpot CRM Right

TL;DR

If your organization matches any of the following, the HubSpot CRM might be a good fit for you:

  • You’ve struggled to adopt a CRM,
  • You’ve struggled to align sales and marketing
  • Your sales processes aren’t extremely complex
  • You like access to support without large costs
  • You’re looking for a functional CRM without blowing the bank. 

Don’t go it alone. Let’s figure out your best CRM option together.

REQUEST A CONSULTATION

Where are you in your CRM journey?

If you’re relatively new to CRM, or an organization that’s struggled to adopt CRM across functions, HubSpot can be a great option. It’s been built to drive ease of adoption. Its integration to email inbox makes managing contacts easy, and it let’s reps spend more time selling and less time updating contact records. 

Are your sales and marketing teams in alignment?

If you’re looking to drive alignment throughout your marketing machine through the lead management – and you’re using the HubSpot marketing platform, HubSpot sales is a smart addition. Rather than adding more tools and tech to the mix, keeping with one platform helps drive data quality and reporting consistency. (Ps- Here’s a way to check your Smarketing alignment if you need it.)

How complex are your sales processes?

Generally, the more complex the sales process gets, the more time you need to put into your B2B CRM strategy. If your organization struggles with CRM adoption and aligning your sales and marketing team around consistent processes – HubSpot’s CRM is a great entry point to building your sales and marketing data muscle. 

Having a sales & marketing Service Level Agreement can help streamline your process. Here’s what ours looks like.

Is a HubSpot CRM Right

What kind of support and training do you need?

How do you learn best? Are you a self teacher who can poke around new software with ease? HubSpot is an intuitive CRM with a fantastic knowledge base and support team. If you’re looking to get a CRM up and running fast, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better support resources without shelling out thousands of dollars for training or administrators. 

What kind of efficiency would your sales team benefit from?

Ironically, sales reps spend the minority of their time actually selling. Too often they’re stuck with the administration of their CRM. HubSpot’s CRM is loaded with easy to use tools to drive sales rep efficiency so they can spend more time selling and less time administering software. 

What’s your budget threshold for software?

How much do you want to invest in your CRM? Consider all the costs. Subscription fees – term – setup and ongoing maintenance – support. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly CRM with some horsepower, HubSpot might be the right fit for you. 

MarTech Assessment

What are your reporting needs?

Generally speaking, the more robust your reporting needs are, the more HubSpot may not be able to deliver. There are a lot of reporting options available within HubSpot, and with the reporting add-on, you can accomplish more. But compared with enterprise-level CRM, this is one area where the CRM doesn’t always stack up.

5 Reasons the HubSpot LinkedIn ad integration has us swooning

Hubspot gave us a nice Valentine’s day gift today – integrating LinkedIn ads to their ad product. As inbound marketers who look at a multichannel approach that includes ads – this is welcomed news (especially because we found a lot of problems with alternative solutions). On this Valentine’s day, we’re swooning over this product update. So what does this mean for B2B marketers looking to add LinkedIn marketing to their mix? What’s got us all excited about the Hubspot LinkedIn ad integration? Let’s break it down.

Benefits of hubspot linkedin ad integration

Seamlessly sync Linkedin leads with Hubspot CRM

This is probably the most exciting thing we’re looking at. Historically, you’ve either had to use third party tools like Zapier to connect Linkedin and Hubspot or assign someone manually to go in daily to download your lead list and update your CRM. Yuck! With the native integration to Hubspot, when a prospect submits a lead gen ad, they get created as a new contact in Hubspot (winning!)

Easily report ROI through the CRM

LinkedIn’s ad product is coming along from where it was even last year, but reporting ROI is still a struggle. Now, closing the loop at the contact level, you can report ROI either by assigning a static value to all contacts or with real data from your CRM’s pipeline and opportunities that flow into it from your LinkedIn marketing activity.

Auto tracking

Another area of challenge with LinkedIn ads, is referral sourcing and tracking. Ads don’t always seem to get tracked well in Hubspot – now, campaigns are auto tracked. Of course, you can still append additional parameters, but if the idea of tagging a bunch of blogs that you’re running as sponsored content sounds laborious – take a breath.

Close the gap on remarketing

Similar to Facebook, reaching customer and prospect lists with audiences is even easier now with a direct connection between your CRM. Shortening any step in a day full of tasks is a welcomed event.

Hubspot LinkedIn Ads

Very B2B friendly

What we’re most excited about, is that while Google and Facebook have their place, for B2B clients who really benefit from inbound, sometimes Google and Facebook is hard to advocate for in aligning with inbound further up in the funnel. Now, with the LinkedIn ads product for Hubspot, it feels truly useful across a customer’s journey and fully aligned with the mantra of being helpful.

Word of caution

When connecting, Hubspot will sync past LeadGen Forms. This has caused some weird timeline details on some portals we’re working in. The benefits of the sync going forward far outweigh any quirks with some of the retroactive data, but if you see some historical changes to the way you were tracking your Lead Gen Form contacts, be aware there is a historical sync that takes place.