Sales success starts with great software:
It's funny. I get so wrapped up in inbound marketing and growth driven design, that I often forget where my roots are. I forget that I'm actually a salesperson first, marketer second.
But, business development is where I made my mark in this world before starting my agency. And it's where I spend a lot of my time today.
Anyhow, I was on Quora answering a question about I thought the best sales management software was, and I thought this would make a great article, because it's not what you probably think.
MORE LIKE THIS: Why Hubspot is the Best Blogging Platform Out There
Yeah, but user testing is important:
I've used a lot of different CRMs in my day. When I was in mortgage and staffing, I used AS400. As may know, this program's origins date back to 1979, and we were still using it well into the 2000's. I also used JDEdwards, Oracle, and one of my employers was an early adopter of Salesforce.
So, I've personally touched and thoroughly used a number of the more popular platforms. I've even managed a sales desk using nothing but an Excel spreadsheet.
Today, my company uses the Hubspot CRM (aka Hubspot Sales) exclusively, and I recommend it to ALL of my clients.
Well, because it's the best CRM out there (for most).
WHY Hubspot's CRM is the way to go:
1. It's free
It doesn't cost anything to give it a try, so why not?
Okay, well I understand just as much as any other business owner that NOTHING is free. My time is my most valuable commodity, so if I'm testing software or investing resources into learning and integrating something into my sales and marketing processes, it better darn well be worth my time.
That said, this one is, and the fact that it's not a trial, it's an actual free, fully functional, totally usable subscription. So, even if you don't want to pay for the premium features, you're still going to get a darn good program. For start-ups and micro businesses, this is a no-brainer for me.
For small to medium-sized businesses, it's a little more complicated than that, I get it, but still worth exploring for sales leaders and business owners.
2. It's intuitive
It's not good enough to be the best free CRM though, is it? Not for your business. Not for my business... Not if your serious about your sales objectives, anyhow.
No, this program needs to be intuitive. It needs to understand how it fits into the sales process, and how to transition between sales and marketing.
In case you're not familiar with Hubspot's marketing software, or the methodology they are famous for developing, let me fill you in.
They developed a methodology called inbound (more HERE). The purpose is to help businesses generate sales from leads coming their website and other online marketing assets, like social media, blogging, and gated content. It's very education-centric, and puts the needs of the user ahead of any business development agendas.
Long story short, one of the reasons why their marketing platform is so successful is that they are committed to carving out the technical pitfalls associated with digital marketing, and allow inbound practitioners to focus their energies on strategy, creativity, execution, delivery, and analysis... you know, the stuff that makes being a marketer FUN.
When they built the CRM, they did it with the exact same ideas in mind. A sales management software should cater to MY needs, not the other way around, and Hubspot understands this better than anybody else.
In fact, their first iteration of the CRM was such a hit that they updated the marketing platform to mirror it.
3. It integrates easily
It's important to have integration capabilities, so let me outline some of the programs Hubspot can integrate with.
These are the actual "Hubspot Integrations" that don't require any bridges or 3rd party apps to make work:
- Google Calendar
With the help of 3rd party integration apps from companies like bedrockdata.com (a company I highly recommend), you can even integrate the likes of Zendesk, FreshBooks, Perfect Audience, PandaDoc, teamwork projects, Slideshare, Hellosign, DataHero, infer, BrightInfo, Bigcommerce, Appcues, scripted, blogmutt, smartling, unbounce, Workflowmax, Sugar CRM, Zoho, Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Magento, Uberflip, ReadyTalk, GoChime, snapengage, RelateIQ, membrain, Zerys, Shopify, and Invoca.
And those are just what's featured on Hubspot's featured integrations page. If you want to know more about their API, go HERE. Make sure you research these thoroughly for your integration, and even talk to members at inbound.org for more guidance.
4. It has some really cool features
Going back to the whole point of this - you're trying to find the best sales management software, which means you need something that reduces friction for your sales people.
If there is one thing I hated about being in sales was all of the documentation required. What I hated about it (as well as my colleagues) is that the programs seemed to be more focused on management's interests, not the interests of the actual sales people.
They didn't reduce friction - they caused it. And sales people and administrative friction don't mix. They just don't.
Here are some cool features automatically included that reduce friction and make being in sales fun again:
- Sales Dashboard: When I log in the first thing I see is a dashboard that shows me what my monthly quota is and where I am in relation to it. It also shows my activity overview and provides a glimpse of my sales pipeline.
- Deals Pipeline: I can easily view my deals in process based on multiple categories. They include high-level overviews of the revenue and closing date expectations, and they are easy to move around from one to stage to the next.
- Centralized Contact & Deal Data: There's nothing like having all of your contacts' activities right in front of you without having to dig. What's more is that you can even see your marketing activities, so you have relevant discussion points.
- Email integration: You can send emails directly through the program, or you can send them from Outlook or your Gmail account, and have your contacts updated automatically. They're even piloting a Beta that will allow us to import incoming emails with the push of a button.
- Scheduling emails: Sometimes your sales people don't get to writing their follow-up emails until after hours, so Hubspot's Gmail integration allows you to schedule emails to be sent out at a day and time of your choosing.
- Auto-synching: Okay, this is probably a gimme for most, but let me explain, because I don't mean the auto API calls. Rather, I'm referring to the smart list features available in the marketing software. We can set up rules that place people on pre-determined lists based on their behaviors. For example, I have one client that calls every prospect that downloads a certain piece of content and provides their phone number in the non-required field. That list updates automatically when somebody new downloads it. Frictionlessness.
Here are some freemium and paid features that really streamline the process:
- Hubspot Calling: This is one of my favorite things. I call clients and prospects directly through the app. Every call is automatically logged and recorded. Friction - GONE.
- Hubspot Calendar: You can set up your availability, sync with your Google calendar, and people can actually book time with you based on what's open. No more scheduling merry-go-rounds!
- Email sequences: Your sales people can create email sequences for following up with prospects, which means it's off their to-do's, off their plates, but still being managed through your sales process.
4. The marketing software is unmatched
We talked before about integration, and Hubspot does that very well. However, there's something about using its native marketing software that makes so much more sense, because the integration is seamless this way, and there is nothing necessary to keep the bridge open and active.
But don't take my word for it. Check out what g2crowd.com users are saying:
HubSpot vs. Pardot (This is SalesForce’s Hubspot equivalent)
Act-On vs. HubSpot (This one gets the closest)
Act-On is the only one really giving the marketing software any competition according to these reviews, but Hubspot still wins.
What does it for me is that Hubspot developed the marketing methodology known as inbound, which has since become the industry standard, just as their certification program has.
The methodology itself is laser-focused on your business' sales objectives. The whole point is to generate public interest in your company based on organic attraction - and because they built the software to fit the sales-centric methodology, the transition between the two departments is also a core focus.
5. It wins according to users
Okay, so this is where the real test comes to play. What are actual users saying about the different platforms in comparison to one another? Certainly, you don't just want this guy's one opinion!
I went to g2crowd for this one as well:
When you click on those, you'll see that Hubspot wins head-to-head in just about every single category for the CRM as well.
6. It is constantly updating
Here's the crazy part... Hubspot's CRM is NEW. It's only been around a little over a year. And yet, it has managed to surpass its biggest competitors in the blink of an eye.
And it's no accident.
There is a major commitment to improving the product, and centralizing it around the sales & marketing processes. They're constantly updating the program, and they're listening to users for direction. There's an ideas forum where they encourage us to offer up ideas, expand on others, and vote for those we feel warrant action.
In fact, I had one of my ideas implemented last year! (It was a feature in their email automation workflows that wasn't very user friendly at first).
It's not perfect, but it's the closest thing to it:
Okay, so it's not without its faults, because there are some things that bug me. For example, (when I originally wrote & published this article) they don't have an Android app for the CRM, and the mobile marketing app is still a little buggy. These things actually bother me a great deal, even though I can always just go on their website using my smart phone. An app is kind of a no-brainer in my opinion.
However, as I mentioned before, they have an ideas forum, and there is a lot of support for this and many other updates and ideas. In fact, this exact subject is currently in development.
Check out this Hubspot CRM Implementation guide: