Customer Relationship Management system - HubSpot review by Surge

Surge Review: HubSpot, the full stack CRM and sales tool

 

UPDATED 1 JANUARY 2019

Stuart Goulden

@StuGoulden

HubSpot offers joined-up software for marketing, sales, and customer service, powered by a free-of-charge CRM. It’s a tool I know extremely well, using it as a secret weapon for a number of clients to help them plug gaps in the sales processes and close more deals.

  • Rating 10/10
  • Price FREE+
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  • LOVED
  • Holistic solution. Clever automations. Integrates with your favourite tools. Ultimately uplifts conversion.
  • LOATHED
  • Nothing of note.

What is HubSpot?

In short, HubSpot contains everything you need to start, nurture and grow relationships with your customers.

You start with its free CRM and build-up from there. Its sales tools are designed to co-ordinate all your outreach efforts and improve their conversion rate, as manual tasks are replaced with automated templates, triggers and tracking. Its marketing tools help you to feed more qualified leads into the top, middle, and bottom of your funnel. This is achieved by transforming your website into a well-oiled marketing machine with easy-to-install live chat, landing pages, forms and CTAs. And once a customer comes on board, HubSpot’s service hub makes it easy to connect with them, through company-wide tickets, contextual information and knowledge portals.

That’s really just scratching the surface of what HubSpot can do so let’s dive into the detail.


HubSpot Features.

Lead generation plugins

HubSpot’s drag-and-drop website tools, such as forms, landing pages and live chat, mean that visitors enter your sales funnel with real purpose and are given the personal assistance they need en route to a sale.

Automated emails

Use a prospect’s location, traffic source, device, persona, call-to-action and more to trigger drip campaigns tailored to that individual.

Content marketing

Tools such as topic suggestions, as-you-type SEO advice and a social scheduler get your content seen by search engines and shared across social networks.

Contacts

Once added to HubSpot a contact is automatically enriched with contact details, company info, enquiry details and notes, and can be assigned to an owner with associated tasks.

Conversations

Automatically log every interaction and lead insight across all touchpoints and team members. Also save common emails as templates and snippets for easy repeat use.

Deals

Get a snapshot of everything in your sales pipeline. ‘Deals’ show the number of leads, team notes, related actions, and percentage chance of winning the sale at every step of the funnel.

Sales Dashboard

Customisable overview of your company’s sales and marketing function. Choose from a wealth of existing reports, covering inbound activity, sales team performance and business forecasting. Easily shareable as reports.

Notifications

HubSpot tells you the second a contact takes an action, promoting you to check in with your hottest leads. Also get reminders of any follow up tasks, meetings and lapsed leads.

Social Hub

Monitor social mentions and give them the attention they deserve. You can also schedule and auto-post content directly from HubSpot and compare which platform drives the best ROI.


Things to consider.

One version of the truth

When used in tandem, HubSpot’s three main modules will automatically capture a single, up-to-date view of the customer, from the moment they make contact to first sale and beyond. Unite your entire team around this accurate data and proceed with confidence.

Requires team effort

HubSpot is only as strong as its weakest link. So, if a rogue salesperson or a customer-facing CEO isn’t plugged into HubSpot it will undermine all your contact data. However, used properly, it will revolutionise the effectiveness and efficiency of sales and service functions.

Follow-up flawlessly

Get notified the instant prospects open an email, click a link, or open an attachment for timely, relevant follow-up with the hottest leads. Prospects will never get left in the cold again.

Potentially overwhelming

There are so many different modules to HubSpot it can be confusing if you try to do too much too soon. However, thanks to the free subscription tier and the on-boarding tips, you can acquaint yourself with its core features and upgrade as you grow.

Integrations galore

Connect your HubSpot CRM and Marketing data to all the other tools your team uses. Slice and dice your data as needed to spark new updates and actions on platforms such as MailChimp, Zapier, WordPress, SurveyMonkey, Slack and Zendesk.

Email plug-ins

Some people on your team might resist responding to their emails within HubSpot. Fear not. With the HubSpot Sales Chrome extension for Gmail, HubSpot Sales Office 365 add-in, or the HubSpot Sales Outlook desktop add-in, you can access HubSpot’s core sales tools directly in your inbox.

Site speed

Installing HubSpot’s full functionality on your website will inevitably slow down its load time. Expect the tracking pixel to add upwards of .5 second to the load. Only you can decide whether that is a price worth paying for a higher conversion of visitors and more joined-up sales efforts.


HubSpot pricing.

HubSpot CRM

No trial, forever free
free-
  • Contact management
  • Contact & company insights
  • Company records
  • Gmail & Outlook integration
  • Documents
  • Forms
  • Contact activity
  • Facebook & Instagram lead ads
  • Canned Snippets
  • Email scheduling
  • Email tracking notifications
  • Email templates
  • Conversations inbox
  • Team email
  • Live chat
  • Conversational bots
  • Calling
  • Meetings
  • Deals
  • Tasks
  • Ticketing
  • Reporting dashboard

Marketing Hub

Free and upwards
FREE
  • Forms
  • Contact activity
  • Contact management
  • Contact & company insights
  • Ad management
  • Conversations inbox
  • Team email
  • Live chat
  • Conversational bots
  • Reporting dashboards
  • + More features unlocked with paid tiers

Sales Hub

Free and upwards
FREE
  • Gmail and Outlook integration
  • Contact management
  • Contact & company insights
  • Company records
  • Deals
  • Tasks
  • Email scheduling
  • Email tracking & notifications
  • Email templates
  • Documents
  • Calling
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Canned snippets
  • Reporting dashboards
  • Conversations inbox
  • Team email
  • Live chat
  • Conversational bots
  • + More features unlocked with paid tiers

HubSpot’s free plans across all its modules is almost too good to be true. The forever free CRM alone stacks up against its pricier competitors and the paid versions of the Marketing Hub, Sales Hub and Service Hub leave plenty of room to grow into. Upgrading starts at $42 per month per module and will unlock features such as Email Sequences, Automations, A/B Testing, Salesforce Integration, Teams and Custom Reporting. If you’re subscribing to the full software suite, you can enjoy a 25% discount too.


Verdict.

It still surprises me how many companies I encounter, large and small, that rely on an out-of-date Google Doc or worse to manage their customer relationships. By implementing a simply yet scalable system, paired with the right culture, they can transform their end-to-end sales and marketing operations to attract, convert and delight customers, and do so far more resourcefully.

HubSpot is a truly great all-rounder in this regard. It tackles lead capture, marketing automation, personalisation, conversion, tracking and feedback in one fell swoop. The tools that make this happen are a real joy to use and you’ll be wondering how you ever went without the likes of connected forms and live chat, automated drip campaigns, templated emails and scheduled follow-ups. If you’re anything like me, you’ll take genuine pleasure from looking at your deal pipeline, knowing that each one has followed a clear, smooth path to becoming a customer.

HubSpot CRM, HubSpot Sales, HubSpot Marketing do work as isolated modules but they are stronger when deployed together. For some companies that could involve some initial upheaval and a minor cultural shift but you can expect the initial pain of setting it up to pay dividends. Getting into a flow will require everybody in your sales, marketing and service functions to be on board. Make sure your company takes the time to engage and properly train all users rather than simply pointing them to the free HubSpot Academy. With the right support, it should quickly become apparent that HubSpot is both a liberating and empowering alternative to more manual and ad hoc arrangements.

On first inspection it might appear that HubSpot is better suited to B2B sales but it could also act as the engine for a B2C marketing function. If yours is unsystematic or broken, and causing promising new leads to slip between the cracks, I recommend taking advantage of HubSpot’s forever free tools and treating your company to a single centralised hub for all customer contacts. Trust me, you won’t look back.

HUBSPOT.COM

Founder of future-led marketing agency and start-up studio, Like No Other.