In this episode of Shaping eCommerce, I'm joined by HubSpot's Pete Kelich, and today we're going to be talking about the background of HubSpot, the opportunities you might have as a company looking to increase your sales and improve your customer engagement, and to understand where HubSpot has come from and where it's going in the future. So, Pete, thank you for joining me today. I look forward to hearing a little bit about HubSpot, but first, could you just give us a quick breakdown of your role in the HubSpot business?
Absolutely. And I appreciate you having me on here, Tim. So, my role here at HubSpot is what we call Channel Account Manager. Basically, we have a whole extensive HubSpot partner ecosystem of over 4,000 partners globally. I work with a number of those partners and really help them to understand HubSpot and the different levels of HubSpot — obviously, there's a ton packed into our software these days. I also help any potentially good fit clients evaluate the HubSpot software to see if it's a right fit for their business, and again, which levels, which specific products may be a perfect fit, and obviously which ones maybe aren't the best fit. So, I'm really helping from an evaluation standpoint, to see what's a good fit and what's not a good fit.
I've been with HubSpot for a little over six years now. We'll talk and share a little bit about where HubSpot's been and where it's going. I've definitely seen it grow a ton in my time here, especially in the last few years with new product releases and obviously updates and things like that. So, I'm definitely excited to dive in.
Cool. So, when I think about HubSpot, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that IronPlane is a HubSpot partner. We are really interested in doing similar things to what you just described, where we have potential clients or existing clients who are either on HubSpot or considering using HubSpot as an element to enhance their eCommerce experience. So, we often go into that conversation similarly, where we're assessing, "Is this a good fit?" and "Which components of this tool would suit their needs best?"
I think a really good place to start would
be a little bit of the history of HubSpot, and then maybe move into a brief description of each of the hubs.
Yes, absolutely. So, HubSpot, I don't know the exact year when it started; I should have probably come prepared with that . But the company founders, Brian Halligan on the sales side, and then on the product side, Dharmesh Shah, went to MIT together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So, it's a Boston-based company where our headquarters are still located today.
When the company first started, it was really a marketing application — a very small marketing app really geared towards SEO. As the company started to grow and saw where the industry was going, they built that marketing app into a more robust marketing system that included email marketing, a marketing automation component, social media, and things like that. That was really the start from a marketing standpoint. So, we like to say it's built by marketers for marketers. It's always had that marketing lens to it. Obviously, as different things started to unfold, we started to introduce what we like to define as a CRM platform, and now, today we have customer service tools.
So, we like to think about our product as a flywheel. The idea is that we have tools to attract visitors to our website. From there, we have sales tools to help a sales team actually nurture and close those visitors into customers. Then, once somebody becomes a customer, we have the right tools to make sure that they're a satisfied, delighted customer. The idea is, if somebody's a delighted customer, they're going to refer people back to our brand and we keep this flywheel moving. And, the faster it spins, the better our business is doing, right? That's kind of the methodology that we roll with.
Yes, and you know, it's interesting that when I think about HubSpot, I immediately think about inbound marketing. It's kind of a funny question, and maybe you don't even know the answer, but is this a concept that was created by HubSpot or just marketed by HubSpot? It seems like the two are very closely related.
Yes. It's a great point, actually. So, our founders actually coined the phrase "inbound marketing" way back when, which now seems like a pretty relevant term to everyone, right? It started off as the idea that people weren't really watching or paying attention to as much traditional media. They weren't paying attention to the commercials when they were watching TV.
The idea was to get people to come to us versus a huge outbound approach. Obviously, that's changed a little bit. It's morphed itself into what it is today. But yes, they actually coined that phrase way back when, when they started the company.
And, these days, another term that's coming into currency is "demand generation" as opposed to "lead generation." If you think about outbound sales, it's closely aligned with lead generation, where you're just interested in telling everyone how awesome you are via phone calls or emails or cold calls, and you want leads as your end result. You definitely care about their intent, but you really want that kind of volume in lead generation.
I think of inbound marketing as perfectly paired with the concept that I'm hearing a lot about, which is much more about demand generation, where you're providing this really valuable insight into an industry or a business, a vertical say, and you're engaging with a community and attracting people to you. You're helping generate this demand, and inbound marketing is a key element of that. So that's something that we're very interested in developing for our own business and also for sharing those ideas with our clients and prospects.
Yes. I think the term "thought leadership" is a big piece to that, and attracting people based on your expertise and the content that you put out there.
Great. So, okay. We've got a little bit of the background now into HubSpot, and can you break down the hubs for us?
Sure. Yes, absolutely. So again, when we first started, my job was very, very simple. We were pretty . . . I don't know what the right word is. We had one real product that we sold. Now, of course, we've expanded into a bunch of different arenas, all with the same idea but, obviously, there are different products there.
First and foremost, sitting at the core of our product, when we think about HubSpot in its most basic form, it's a CRM platform. It gives the ability to house and manage your contacts and your database from one system. The biggest thing with HubSpot — as we get into these other hubs — to think about, is one contact record for everything, and one source of truth. That's really what HubSpot is at its very basic level.
It gives you one place where all data and information feeds into. So, if I'm in marketing, or I'm in sales, or I'm in customer service, I have one place to go to and I'm looking at the same data that everyone else is. At the basic level — it's even free — is our CRM platform. You can think of that as contact management — keeping your company records that house those contacts, keeping all of that contact activity in one unified place.
There are som
e other things like a conversations inbox in there, where you can manage all of your different communications, but that's really what we think about when we think about the CRM platform that sits at the bottom. From there, we have our various hubs that you can, at different levels, turn on and utilize the different functions in each.
The first would be our Marketing Hub, which has been our flagship product pretty much forever. When we're thinking about marketing, we're talking about blogs, landing pages, and content tools designed to attract people to your brand — with SEO functionality built into those. We have an ads tool (if you're leveraging paid advertising, Facebook ads, Adwords — we can hook those up to HubSpot as well, and manage that whole process and retargeting right through HubSpot), and a social media component that's going to replace something like a Hootsuite or a Buffer — really a social media publishing and monitoring platform that's built in.
Probably the biggest piece of HubSpot, and why a lot of folks evaluate HubSpot — I would say the number one reason — is the marketing automation. It's constantly on G2 Crowd, coming up as the top-ranked marketing automation.
What it allows you to do is create different customer journeys based on who someone is. If you're nurturing someone from visitor to qualified lead versus if somebody's a qualified lead and you want to give them more bottom of the funnel offers to try to get them in touch with a salesperson or get them in front of your products more so that they make a purchase, you can leverage the marketing automation for that entire piece, right?
If-then branching logic to say, if somebody takes this action, you send them this route. Or, if they go to your pricing page, you want to send them an email that looks like it's coming from a salesperson. There's a ton that you can do there. And that's really that engine that drives everything from a marketing standpoint, and from a sales standpoint, I should say as well, with notifications and things like that.
Form creation you can also do inside of the Marketing Hub, and creating CTAs and smart content. We refer to it as "smart content." I think most folks in the industry use the term "dynamic content," right? Changing what somebody sees based on who they are.
And then, I think, one of the key benefits across the entire platform, as we get through it, is from a reporting standpoint. We have full marketing analytics. So, page analytics, website traffic analytics, and one of the high ticket items is attribution reporting, right? Being able to see that entire journey of when somebody first comes to your website, all the pages they look at, the emails they open, the links they click on, the meetings that they've had with somebody on your team, all the way through to when they become a "Closed Won" customer of yours and, even further than that when they become a repeat customer or purchase a different product. The idea is we can replicat
e that and then maybe see some of the potholes and stay away from those in the future. So that's really a marketing hub.
Just in terms of the tracking, I know that a lot of people are worried about third-party cookies and how that all gets managed in terms of marketing information. And I've seen a little bit of confusion about what the impact is on tags and pixels. So, if you could just describe a little bit of the technology, not too in-depth, but just at a very high level; and, are there any perceived changes as we move into a more privacy-concerned and privacy-constrained digital environment?
Yes. We use a reverse IP lookup, probably similar to a lot of other software technology out there. When somebody comes to a website, we're basically dropping a cookie on their browser, and then once we get them to fill out a form and consent to the cookie tracking, we'll retroactively populate all of that information to their contact record to show them.
I know there are some differences. It's been in Europe for a while, and we have customers all over the world, it's worth mentioning. So, there are little differences.
HubSpot, as a company, obviously has pretty large companies on our roster, so it's very important to make sure that data privacy is upheld. Right now, we're in a really strong place in terms of our product being exactly where it needs to be. And, obviously, if there are any updates in the future, we'll always update the product as we go there, as well.
Cool. Okay. So, we've talked about the CRM as this kind of bedrock, if you will, of HubSpot, but then maybe as components that you could move into that CRM, or move out, you've got this core marketing hub functionality that you described. I think there are probably three or four other hubs out there to at least mention, right?
Yes. Absolutely. I mentioned CRM sitting at the base, and we talked about the Marketing Hub. From there, I would say our Sales Hub is the next most popular. The best way to look at that is, you take your CRM where everything is stored and tracked, and the Sales Hub is a set of sales enablement features designed for a sales team to really help make them more effective and efficient with their day-to-day activities.
at's things like email tracking — being able to see if somebody opens and clicks on your emails that you're sending, or things like templates — if you have any standardized emails that you send all of the time, you can create them as templates and store them in the CRM and send them out.
Sequences, we can think of as one-to-one sales automation — I have a bunch of templates, I want to drag those into a sequence, and have those emails go out over a week or two-week period.
Meeting scheduling — this is similar to something like Calendly. If you're familiar with that, the idea is you can integrate your calendar into HubSpot, and then you can create meetings links. So, instead of that ping pong match of back and forth, trying to get a time that works for both parties, we can send our meeting link, or a team meeting link with multiple people involved, and have somebody book a time right on our calendar. The idea is really reducing friction there.
Things like pipeline management — the ability to manage our deal pipeline. If we're more B2B or incoming sales, if we're an eComm company that does a lot of volume — keeping track of all those sales and being able to see when somebody's a Closed Won customer for remarketing, upgrades, and cross-sales, and things like that.
Again, the best way to think about it is as a set of sales enablement tools that sit on top of the CRM, designed to make a sales rep's job easier and more efficient.
I know that we're going to get into the other ones, but just a moment on the sales component. It sounds to me like the way that you're describing the sales environment, it's more akin to a B2B selling environment. Is that true of the sales component? Are there some B2C elements that could be parlayed there? And, in terms of the Marketing Hub, is that similarly B2B-centric, or is it something that could do either?
Yes, great questions. Typically, with our Sales Hub, it's geared more toward a B2B environment — a company that has an active sales team that's going out trying to acquire new logos, actively selling into an installed base of customers. So, typically B2B but, that said, we have a lot of B2C customers that do have a small sales team that actively reach out to maybe an existing customer base or net new customers to try to sell them their products. It can definitely be used for B2C, but I would say the majority of our customers that leverage it are growing B2B sales teams.
From a marketing standpoint, I would say for a long time we've been very B2B-focused, and over the past couple of years, we've shifted into actually becoming a very, very solid solution for B2C, as well. It's around that marketing automation component.
Just like somebody may nurture maybe an ABM [Account Based Marketing] approach from a B2B standpoint, B2C customers can also be nurtured in a very similar way. By using marketing automation, there are things you can do to nurture customers to make that first purchase, and there are things you can do to nurture repeat customers and cross-sell and shopping cart abandonment — a lot of these terms that come with a more eComm B2C focus. Shopping cart abandonment is a big one. But remarketing, retargeting, cross-sell, upsell — all of these are different places that you can use the marketing automation involved with HubSpot for.
I don't want to ask too many questions and interrupt the flow, so I'm just going to make a note because I want to ask a little bit about the concept of one tool versus many. We'll get to that a little bit later, but if you can just touch on the other hubs, that would be great.
Yes. Absolutely. We talked about the CRM platform — it's kind of sitting at the core, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub — again, sales enablement features. The next one would be the Service Hub. This is our version of Zendesk if you will.
The idea is it's built into the same platform where your marketing team is working, where your sales team is working. So, this is like your help desk functionality. Think about live chat with bots. Think about automated surveys that you can send out when somebody goes through your — whether it be purchases of a new product or goes through your customer support process — it's a ticketing pipeline and a help desk at its basic form.
But obviously, with HubSpot, there's a ton of automation that comes into play there. So, we can automate when somebody chats in and has a question about a certain product or a certain service that you offer. You can have an automated ticket created and assigned to somebody on your team so that they can follow through with that process. And ultimately, you make sure that nothing slips through the cracks there from a customer service standpoint.
I mentioned earlier in the conversation, we think about our product as that flywheel, attracting people to your brand, helping to nurture and close them into customers. The Service Hub is really that last piece of the flywheel. It's — okay, now you have this set of customers — how do you make sure they're happy with your brand and they're delighted so they come back, they buy more things from you, and they refer other people back to your brand? So it's that last piece of the flywheel as we've defined it. That's the Service Hub.
CMS would be something that is becoming more and more popular across our customer base. I think we've had a basic CMS tool for a long time. Now, in the last couple of years, we've put a bunch of resources internally into really building a strong CMS option, so that if you're leveraging HubSpot from a CRM, marketing, sales, and customer service standpoint, it almost naturally makes sense to evaluate having your entire website and your web presence built on HubSpot, as well.
We have different levels of the CMS. Again, it's a platform to build your website on. There are a couple of things to mention there. The biggest thing with our CMS is that with it, unlike some of the other ones out there, you don't need various plugins to run your entire website through HubSpot. We take everything, we bundle it all under one so that when you purchase the HubSpot CMS, you don't have to look elsewhere for different things.
Obviously, there's the security component of that. There are a bunch of different things we can get into — bells and whistles. But, we have an enterprise-level CMS with memberships and password-protected pages — it's come a long way. We're seeing a lot of traction, especially with our existing customer base that is leveraging some of the other hubs from HubSpot, as well.
So, we've got Marketing, we've got Sales, we've got Service, we've got CMS. Is that the full list, do you think?
We have one more, and this is probably our newest product offering. It's our Operations Hub. This is really designed for companies that are leveraging pieces of HubSpot, but they're also maybe using NetSuite or some homegrown solution, or something outside of the HubSpot ecosystem.
We don't want to just turn those customers away. Really, why we built this product is it gives customers an easy way to integrate those solutions into the HubSpot system. So, a company that's using HubSpot from a CRM standpoint and a marketing standpoint, but they're using call it Zendesk for their customer service. They love the product. They don't want to move over to HubSpot. That's completely fine. We can leverage our Operations Hub to make sure that connects seamlessly and we're still getting as close to one source of truth for our data and our information as possible.
There are a couple of other things in our Operations Hub — from a webhook standpoint, from a custom-coded automation standpoint, different field mappings that it includes, and data sync. But that's really the idea. It's a tool to help connect outside systems into the HubSpot ecosystem.
So, I would imagine that the Operations Hub probably requires someone with some development skills to be able to link the two systems together, or are there out-of-the-box connectors already in place?
Great question. Anybody with technical chops; a developer is obviously going to have a great time with our Operations Hub. That said, we have a huge extensive app marketplace with out-of-the-box integrations that already exist. We have a ton of partners that build integrations as their service offerings that we leverage.
Also, HubSpot — we have our own internal team, actually. To go back a second, there was a company called PieSync about three years ago that existed. We actually acquired PieSync and turned it into what we now call Data Sync. It's basically a whole team inside of HubSpot that's building these native integrations. The benefit is always working with one provider versus a third-party partner, or some integration company that we're running the integration through.
But to your point, Tim, yes. Obviously, a developer can get in and can get their hands dirty, and they can use the tool to build their own integration. But, we do have a ton of out-of-the-box integrations already built that, either by a small fee, or many of them are free. For instance, their Salesforce integration or NetSuite integration, or integrating with some of the SMS tools out there — it's all ready to go.
You mentioned Salesforce, and I suspect that some companies who are considering the next move with a CRM and a sales enablement platform, and a marketing automation platform will be looking at Salesforce. I'm curious if they're like the 800-pound gorilla that HubSpot is kind of competing with? Are there other CRM platforms that are notable competitors to HubSpot that our audience would like to learn more about with respect to the distinctions of HubSpot and how HubSpot differs?
Yes. Like any company, we definitely have competitors. Salesforce sits at the top of that list. The big difference, to not get too far into the weeds, between a HubSpot and a Salesforce is really the routes our founders took at the beginning of the company. We like to say, "Crafted, not cobbled." — it's a slogan that we use around here. The idea is that at HubSpot, everything is built internally. Whereas, at Salesforce, they've taken more of a route of purchasing different companies. For instance, a number of years ago, they purchased a marketing automation company, Pardot. They've purchased Slack. They like to purchase and then integrate the systems into their existing CRM platform, where HubSpot takes the route of building everything from its own roots. We have our own team that builds everything internally.
So, it's a little bit different way to look at it. But again, they're definitely a competitor of ours. The one point to mention, though, is we have a ton of customers that leverage Salesforce as their CRM. It's been around way longer than HubSpot CRM and, frankly, for the right size company, it's still a really good option for a CRM. That said, that's why we introduce things like Operations Hub and our integrations — to make sure that those companies can still take advantage of our world-class marketing automation and just integrate that with a CRM system like Salesforce.
Got it. Yes, that's the thing. It's not an "either/or" necessarily; it can be "both/and."
Absolutely. We have a ton of customers that leverage Salesforce from a CRM standpoint and leverage our marketing tools with that, through the integration. We have customers that actually prefer our CRM, but are using Pardot from an automation standpoint, and maybe they're in the process of moving that under the HubSpot roof, but they're not quite off of it yet. We've created a system where companies can slowly move off of things, or they can stick with things for the long haul and still use the HubSpot products as well.
That is a great introduction, Pete. Thank you for that. It gives us both the distinctions between different CRM options — "crafted," in the case of HubSpot, versus "cobbled," in the case of a company like Salesforce (and, they're not alone in that approach, by the way in my experience) and also, in identifying the Hubs — I believe there are five — you've got the Marketing, the Sales, the Operations, the Service, and the CMS — all of which can be pieced together in various ways to become the HubSpot CRM.
To add a layer of complexity here, I think we have to dig into the different levels that you can subscribe to for each of these hubs. There is a free version — I don't know if it's applicable to all of those hubs. If we can just very briefly talk about each of those levels and who you think those levels are suitable for, whether it's verticals, or size of business, or size of sales team, or whatever. Just give us a brief idea of the different levels. That would be great.
Yes. Absolutely. It's something that's really important to HubSpot. We have this (it's not just us) walk-trot-run availability to our product where we, at each different Hub if you will, have a Free version, we have a Starter version, a Professional, and then an Enterprise level.
What that means is, a company that's maybe just getting started, and they're just getting their web presence up and running, they're just hiring people, they're just really starting to figure out their infrastructure — they can utilize HubSpot Free or Starter Tools, which is going to be a more basic set of tools designed for a company that's just getting started — versus a company that is starting to scale and really grow its business, which is going to be a better fit for somewhere between that Starter or Professional version of HubSpot.
And then obviously, from there — a company that's been doing it a while, maybe they have a large sales team that needs some sophisticated tooling or a robust automation platform with the ability to customize some things — we have our Enterprise level platform that's a good fit for them.
So, we can really meet any business with where they're at today. We didn't use to be able to say that, frankly. A few years ago, before our Enterprise level tool was really where it was today, we were really a tool geared towards small to medium size businesses. Over the past few years, we put a ton of stock and resources into our Enterprise level system to get that to where it is so that we can really bring a team of 300 sales reps over from a system like Salesforce or something like that.
But yes, to your point, all of the products — they have a Free, Starter, Professional, and Enterprise so that we can meet a company where they're at. Then, the idea is a company can start at a Free or a Starter level and they can grow along with HubSpot. If they grow to a certain point and they need a more robust system, they don't have to look elsewhere, they can just upgrade to that next plan with HubSpot and unlock that functionality that they need. And again, they ingrain themselves in the ecosystem. They don't have to look towards a bunch of different companies or players to bring something together. Everything can really be done right under one roof with HubSpot.
So, you've got the Free version. I wonder if I could get just a little bit of advice from you for a company that's considering HubSpot. I think they might be interested in trying out the Free version, but I wonder if that's really the best way for them to really understand what the platform could do for them because I feel like it requires a base level of understanding of how to use it. Is there an avenue where a company like that could get a demo or have access to your frankly amazing support and educational information? Is there guidance that you can give them there?
Yes, absolutely. What I recommend to everyone is we have an entire sales team here that would be more than happy to give anyone a demonstration of the product that they're potentially interested in. But again, it comes back to that Free version and we have two-week trials for all of our different levels of HubSpot. So first and foremost, I think the Free [version] is a really good way to just get a feel for HubSpot, how it would feel to work in HubSpot, from a basic CRM standpoint — being able to click around and just get a feel of what the day-to-day would be like.
From there, if you're a company that is in that scaling phase, and you're saying, "Okay, we're definitely going to need marketing automation, maybe we're leveraging a different platform, or we're at that point where we need to start automating some of our outreach," We can do a two-week trial of the system and you can get your hands dirty. We have trial guides. You would have access to our support team through that.
And then lastly — I always like to mention because it's an often forgotten piece to HubSpot, but super valuable — is our Academy. HubSpot has an entire academy database of resources that are all free, which is always nice. So if you are jumping into HubSpot and you're trialing one of the systems — let's use that marketing automation piece, for example, or our social media tool — you can just literally go to Google and type in HubSpot marketing automation academy, and there'll be a number of resources, training videos, and certifications that come up that will guide you through learning the HubSpot system. It's all free resources that we put out there, available to our prospective customers and our current customers.
To recap, I always recommend folks start with a free CRM and get their hands dirty a little bit with it. Once they feel ready, we have that two-week trial that we offer so they can actually utilize the exact tools they want. From there, jump on the phone with a salesperson here at HubSpot to go through a customized demo, or leverage the Academy videos and training resources that are really, really world-class. And again, it's worth mentioning that they're free, and that you don't have to pay for them to learn the HubSpot system.
And, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that anyone who's interested in considering HubSpot can reach out to IronPlane. As a HubSpot partner, we coordinate the conversations, we help advise whether we think it's a good fit, and we engage with the HubSpot team to make that introduction and education happen. Absolutely.
I'm really glad that you've mentioned the Academy because I've worked in technology for over 25 years now, and it's really impressive — I would say there are two fronts that are impressive. One is the Academy — the quality of the content, the way it's structured, the way it's organized, the diversity of content that you can absorb — about using the platform, but also about best practices to improve your marketing game, to improve your sales game — really exceptional stuff.
The other is the Support Team. I don't want to make it too big a point, but it's probably one of the best support teams I've ever engaged with consistently. I don't think I've ever had a single bad experience engaging with someone in support at HubSpot. So, flattery aside, that's just my own personal experience. And, I do think it's worth giving a shout-out to the teams behind, which are hubs in their own right, I think.
Yes. Absolutely. I think it's an excellent point. To your point about the Academy, it's not just HubSpot-focused tools. There are certifications and trainings with just industry topics — account-based marketing, growth-driven design, and some of these topics that come up — we just have free content to learn about those topics. It doesn't have to lead to a HubSpot software conversation at all.
And then to touch on our Support Team, they're absolutely great. I think HubSpot puts a huge focus into that last piece of our own flywheel, which is delighting our customers. And we know that by doing that — Tim, to your point, you're singing our praises — other customers sing our praises and that refills our flywheel and it brings people back to us to investigate our software and our products, just because people have such a good thing to say about our Support Team when they do sign up. So, I appreciate you saying that. Obviously, they are great and they make my life easier. That's for sure.
Awesome. So let's see if, if we were to paint a picture of the most commonly subscribed set of Hubs and level — I know that you work with a variety of different companies from SMBs to enterprises — but just generally, could you outline what you might recommend as a design for a pretty mainstream B2B business?
Yes. Absolutely. Our flagship product, the one that is our top seller — it's been our top seller forever — is the Marketing Professional subscription. The reason for that, typically, is because that's where the marketing automation component of our tool comes in. That's the level that unlocks that feature.
From there, recently, if we're talking about something to be combined with the Marketing Professional, it's our Sales Professional, because it's a true set of sales enablement tools that reps tend to really like using. We utilize them internally as salespeople at HubSpot. Obviously, our customers leverage the tools. But they can even sit on an existing CRM. We don't have to use those tools with HubSpot CRM, even though that's when they work the best. But let's say a company is leveraging a Salesforce or a Zoho, or some of the other CRMs out there — they can still purchase and utilize our sales enablement tools and have all of that information feedback into their CRM, through an integration. I would say that combination is definitely our number one.
So, Marketing Pro and Sales Pro. But we're very quickly actually seeing our Service tools come into the fold. And, I don't know if it's just because of where things have gone or HubSpot's messaging, but people are really recognizing the need for a strong post-sale process.
Obviously, live chat has become very, very important — having some sort of help desk where people can get their questions answered quickly and effectively, internally making sure that things aren't slipping through the cracks so we have those delighted customers. That one is quickly coming into the fold as another highly sought-after product.
And we're seeing a lot more people when they evaluate HubSpot from a marketing standpoint or a CRM standpoint, their brain naturally goes towards, "Well, what's this Service Hub over here? What does this do?" Because people recognize that it's important to delight your customers for a number of different reasons. I'm very, very thankful to our Product Team that they're continuing to improve it, but even just the base level of the product is really, really strong.
Yes. And, it's worth noting your Product Team. I've seen already, over the past couple of years we've been using HubSpot, the community of comments about "Why don't you have this? Any good CRM should have this capability. Why don't you?" But progressively, bit by bit, the more votes that an issue gets, the more attention it gets. And I've seen actually several of these issues being resolved over the past year, which is great to see.
One more note about the overall experience of the platform, and especially the Academy and the support and the product development, is the critical element of adoption. What I've seen — when you don't have a good product, or you don't have education opportunities about how to make the most of that product, and you don't have a good support team — adoption tends to be much, much lower.
In terms of the total cost of ownership or return on investment, if you're contemplating a CRM, just my own point of view is you have to invest in getting the adoption up within your own team. So, if you have a much more traditional sales team who really has been using pen and paper to do all of their sales, and the phone, and just meetings in person, and that's how they do it, and they don't want any software, new-fangled stuff. I know a little hyperbole here, but you get the idea. In terms of moving them along, this is very helpful. Academy and learning and support really will increase the adoption and I think that's one of the most important things about any software that you're bringing into your tech stack.
Absolutely. I mean, the product is only as good as the people that are actually using it. We've had people move over from — and I personally have worked with customers moving over from — a different system that they set up and they just never used. I think the way that HubSpot has built its product makes it easy to jump in and start to use it at a walk-trot-run pace.
We can meet you where you need to, but our customers realize that once they start using one piece of HubSpot, it's very easy to move on to another because of the way that the product is built. If you master using a contact record, a company record is exactly the same. A deal record is exactly the same as that. A ticket record is the same for the customer service team. It all looks very similar and it operates very similarly. So, it's very easy to get that adoption across multiple teams and for one group to be able to teach another part of the company — again, hats off to our Product Team. They've done a great job with how they've built it and obviously how we go to market with it. For sure.
Yes, and I think that's a good overview of HubSpot. Obviously, if people have questions they can reach out to me directly and we can set up a call like this with them and discuss their own issues.
I'm curious where HubSpot's going in the future. Can you give us a sense of whether there's going to be a particular product focus, whether you might be able to tell us anything about new functionality launches or anything like that over the next two or three years?
Absolutely. There have been a couple of things.
We actually just re-released our Service Hub a few weeks ago now, because of exactly what I mentioned — we're seeing more and more of our customers really want to leverage that and bring it into the fold. Obviously, for customers that are already leveraging another piece of HubSpot, whether it be Marketing or Sales — it really makes sense for them in most cases to also bring that under the same contact record. But even customers that aren't leveraging other systems — people are recognizing that it's important to have a strong post-sale process to delight customers. So, we're definitely focused on that specific piece of our product.
We're continuing to create a strong process for our payments tool. We just released HubSpot Payments, which is basically the ability to create payment links and run that entire checkout process through HubSpot. There are a ton of benefits to that. You can keep all that information in the same area where you do your marketing, and you can use it for reminder emails and upgrade emails. There's a ton there from a data standpoint. But also, it's one less thing that our customers have to worry about going externally from HubSpot. I think how we're building that is going to become very, very interesting in the near future. It's released, but we're slowly making even more and more improvements to it. I just saw — it came out today — the ability to utilize the payments in our meetings tool, as well, which is very interesting.
So, that's one piece. As a whole, over the past couple of years, we've had a big focus on going upmarket and making sure that we can service our top, top customers. We're seeing more and more people move over from the Salesforces of the world, so making sure we have a very robust solution for larger teams.
One of the things that I can't say for sure is going to be released in the near future — If nobody has heard of our inbound conference, we have a giant event that we put on in Boston every year; this year, it's in September. It started off as really a HubSpot-focused event. It's turned into a more just industry event, where folks come and our partners come; it's really exciting.
But that's when we make our big product releases — long-winded way of saying that one of the things I'm really hoping for and we'll see is some sort of true project management solution built into HubSpot. I think it would be a very seamless fit into what we already have. We do have a very lightweight projects tool built in today. But if our customers and our partners, and agencies specifically — if they could have that end of things also built under the same roof, I think it would be a very, very powerful solution. It's already a powerful solution, but that piece would really make it pretty awesome. So, we'll see if that's coming.
Tim, to your point, one of the cool things about HubSpot is we really buy into what our customers tell us. So, if somebody's on a forum and they mention that we need something and we get a lot of upvotes on it, it literally goes up the line for what our Product Team will build into the product. That's how it works. I've seen it internally. So, for any current customers out there, if there's anything you would love to see built into HubSpot, jump on, post something about it, get some upvotes on it, and it'll happen. Can't say it'll happen tomorrow, but it'll slowly happen over time. That's for sure.
One thing that's really interesting to me is I completely understand and appreciate the benefit of more things under one roof. But, you can think of that as, "Well, where do you draw the line?" Because, for example, you mentioned Slack and Salesforce, and now you're mentioning project management — yes, that would be cool to have in HubSpot, but you've already got some really pretty great integrations with Slack.
Where do you draw the line between doing it yourselves versus integrating with something that already exists that does a pretty good job? I would say that Slack is a little bit different because it's so well established. It's also owned by Salesforce. But the project management side of things is interesting because there are so many different project management platforms.
Right. Asana, others.
Yes. Right. So, I guess I'm just curious — why build versus integrate, rather than build versus buy?
As a company, when we recognize an area in the marketplace that we can capitalize on, I think naturally from a business standpoint we try to make it happen. But, I really do believe that when everything is operating under one roof from one company and we don't have to utilize integrations — listen, integrations these days, they're built very strong, most of them are very seamless, they work really well. But when we have one company, if we have a tech-related question or a support-related question, and we can go to one place to resolve that — I think there's a ton of power there. And frankly, I think the whole system works better when it's all under one roof.
Obviously, we do sell all of the products together and there's a discounted rate when you buy everything together. It's definitely not required by the majority of our customers. They don't use every single piece of HubSpot. But, the numbers and the power and the data when a company does fully immerse themselves with HubSpot — it's really, really strong.
When we look at other opportunities like a project management solution or — we mentioned SMS earlier — I know that's something that's high on HubSpot's priority list. From an SMS standpoint, we have a ton of integrations out there with some really, really great companies: Kixie, and SMG, and some really great companies. If we can bring that all under one roof, it becomes that much more powerful. The company has one provider that they go to for everything. I think it's interesting, for sure.
Well, I will definitely be at the September event — I'm looking forward to that. Being a Boston local, it's particularly easy for me.
So, one closing question, unless there's anything else that you'd like to highlight, is — if there's one thing that you were to say to a company that's considering HubSpot, what would you give them as advice?
I get this one a lot. I think the thing that I would say is don't be overwhelmed. Because HubSpot, as we've grown, there's a ton to the offering, right? If you go to the HubSpot pricing page, it's pretty easy to get confused. There are a ton of different products with different levels. At the marketing level, there are marketing contacts versus non-marketing contacts. What defines a sales user versus a free user.
Don't be overwhelmed. We have these different levels for a reason so that we can create a walk-trot-run approach for all of our customers and leverage the HubSpot team, whether it's myself reaching out to one of our partners like Ironplane and you, Tim — obviously, you guys utilize the system internally for yourselves. You use it very, very well. So you have a personal case study for how to use it.
Leverage your resources and just don't be overwhelmed because, again, this isn't something you have to bite off all at once. This is something where you can start small and you can upgrade as you need functionality, or you can start with something and then a week later recognize that you need something else.
And, it's a very easy upgrade process, or you can start and then you can upgrade. It's easy to become overwhelmed just with the offering that we've created at HubSpot. But, the positive is that we have something for everyone, which I think is different than a lot of other companies out there.
Awesome. And in closing, if you could just give people a little bit of information about where they can find you online and maybe some more just general information about HubSpot and where they can get more information.
Yes, absolutely. I think when it comes to any of the specific products and their levels, our pricing page is going to be the best. Obviously, you can jump into Google and just put in HubSpot pricing or hubspot.com/pricing.
A really, really strong resource — it's been out for a while, it's changed a little bit, but it walks through the methodology of HubSpot and how we look at it, and the different tools that are available on each level — is hubspot.com/why-choose-hubspot. That one's a really, really strong resource. I would highly recommend that one.
And then lastly, we do have a video demo that's available. It walks through the entire product. Let me pull that one up to see what the actual URL is. It's hubspot.com/software-demo. That's a full demo video of our entire product.
We'll include these links in the show notes, just so that everyone has access to them more easily.
Well, thank you very much, Pete, for joining me today. I know we covered a lot of ground. We may end up choosing to dig into one of the hubs in particular at a later time, whether that's with you or another member of the HubSpot team. I'll let you know, and we'll look forward to that, but thank you very much for your time today.
Absolutely. It was my pleasure. Thank you very much. It was awesome to be on here and yes, onwards and upwards from here. That's right.
Pete Kelich is currently a Senior Channel Account Manager at HubSpot, where he has managed and helped over 500 companies grow through utilizing the HubSpot software for themselves
and clients. Fun fact: Pete played on the Bryant University baseball team.