- Posted by Randy Hendriks
- On April 20, 2017
- 0 Comments
- B2B Marketing, B2B Sales
Ready to use a CRM for the first time, or considering switching to a new one? After working on most of my business accounts with Salesforce (the granddaddy of all CRMs) for years, I’ve had the chance in the last couple months to start exploring the HubSpot CRM solution. I’d like to think of it as the VW of CRM’s: just enough power under the hood, with the right mix of practicality and style.
If you’re not familiar with the term CRM, it stands for Customer Relationship Management. Typically, a CRM (sometimes called a CRM system or CRM tool) is a cloud-based platform used to keep track of customer activities and track the progress of new sales opportunities. While many have integrations expanding into marketing on one end, and customer service on the other, at its core a CRM system helps you move beyond tracking leads through emails, spreadsheets, and those indecipherable notes you make on the back of business cards, towards an integrated system (think: closet organizer for your sales leads).
VA Partners often recommends the HubSpot CRM to our clients as a cost-effective and easy to use solution, in comparison to Salesforce which can require customization and isn’t quite so intuitive. Admittedly, I would not yet classify myself as a power user, but looking at HubSpot through the lens of a new user, let me give you a quick outline of some of the features that stand out:
With the price tag of “free”, it’s hard to find anything to complain about here. In fact, what is most beneficial for many start-ups is that HubSpot does not limit the number of users. In comparison, Salesforce’s lightest packages start at 25$/user/month. HubSpot’s ploy is definitely to upsell you on their other marketing tools, but their CRM solution, which includes email integrations, deal flow tracking, and basic reports is definitely enough to get you started.
While having some background using other CRM platforms probably helped, I found the onboarding process in HubSpot very intuitive, helping me get up to speed quite quickly. I followed the tutorial which walked me through the basics of inputting new companies and contacts and creating a deal flow, all in about fifteen minutes. I really appreciated how new company data points such as the address and contact numbers would pre-load after I entered the company’s website domain name, saving hours of data entry.
In comparison to the hours I spent fighting with Salesforce’s email configurations, I was able to set up HubSpot’s email tools in about five minutes. With the free version, I’m given the ability to track and send emails from within the CRM or via Gmail or Outlook with a dedicated BCC address. I can also have easy access to attachments as trackable links, and store five templated emails which can sync contact and company names as well as other data points to personalize them. I’d love some batch email functionality for sending out mass emails, but this requires the earlier mentioned upsell to the HubSpot marketing tool.
A new tool in HubSpot is the Queue function which creates phone call lists. Taken from a list of tasks, the call queue can be set to make calls directly from HubSpot or your phone, with a range of time set between calls. I’ve found I can move through call lists much more quickly using this tool.
If you are using HubSpot, or any other CRM for the first time, know that it’s only as good as the data that’s been entered. Make sure you log all your sales activities because as one of my old mentors used to tell me, “If you didn’t record it, it didn’t happen.” HubSpot’s intuitive design helps you log events quickly and even sets up automated follow-up reminders to keep leads from getting stale. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t get so bogged down in the details that you simply give up on the process. While there might be space for all sixteen of your new prospect’s social media handles, leaving a few boxes empty won’t derail the process.
While it may not have the customization or reporting functionality of Salesforce, I found HubSpot a breath of fresh air. Not to stir the pot too much, but it was like the first time I started using a Mac after being locked into a Windows world or driving my first Volkswagen after a lifetime of Chevy’s: great aesthetics, intuitive design, and practical convenience. It’s hard to go back…. but who needs to?
If you’d like a little more detail about CRM choices, check out this blog on the best options, from free to paid.