SalesforceCRM vs. Hubspot - Tausight Sales and Marketing Runs on Hubspot

We are getting great reviews on our product to secure protected health information. Having just returned from HLTH2019, I heard from CIOs, CMIOs, and investors that we were on the right track to solve PHI security issues. It is now up to the Tausight team to execute on that vision. So this week's post is about our choice to deploy our go-to-market systems on Hubspot.

Why Hubspot? Five months ago, faced with the prospect of stitching together  Salesforce's CRM with a CMS, and a marketing automation system from multiple vendors to support Tausight's growth, the promise of Hubspot's integrated platform, seemed very appealing. Now, having deployed the Hubspot platform successfully, the Hubspot fully integrated approach is paying big dividends for us. I like Salesforce, having used it in the past on multiple occasions.  But the flexibility and best of breed approach seemed to be overkill for our needs.

Consider this B2B business process fact - despite the similarity of business requirements among B2B companies, organizations end up with dramatically different implementations of CRM, marketing automation, and CMS systems with wildly varying results. Organizations do massive amounts of customization driven by the elusive goal of improved efficiency. They think they have to chose "best of breed" tools to gain competitive advantage. Yet in the end, all this customization and integration ends up in high administrative costs and, ultimately, a system so complex that it can't easily be changed.

Having inherited these B2B go-to-market systems multiple times after a change in executive leadership, I know the nightmare a CMO or CRO can walk into where even the most basic information is tough to get out of their go-to-market systems. With the advantage of starting from scratch, I didn't want to go down this road with Tausight.

Of course, there are no absolutes. Some organizations need highly customized systems and have benefited from this customization. But for the vast majority of B2B companies between 1 - 1000 employees, I will propose that this massive customization and integration effort doesn't yield the results required. Yet time after time, CxOs go down this path and end up with a CRM, marketing automation and CMS nightmare.

How do intelligent CxOs get into this situation?

First, CxOs generally don't understand data models and the impact their decisions can have on making things complex. They think they can accomplish with system design what they should be achieving with operating discipline. Adding ten required data fields for an opportunity won't improve your deal flow. All it does is clog up the system, piss off the reps, and the fields are soon forgotten in six months. This example is relatively benign. The reality is that most CRM implementations build out custom objects that screw up what should be a simple data model into something unrecognizable and too complex to make sense of the information.

Second, CxOs hire CRM and marketing automation administrators to "manage" these systems. Managing these systems is what they do. They work to keep their managers happy. Need more fields? The administrators will add them. Need workflows? Done! Custom objects - oh yeah! Yet all the while, these systems are becoming more complex, the data models are getting messed up, and you are going down a path of system complexity. What about documentation of all these custom changes? There is likely none.

At this point, the arsenal of consultants starts calling the CEO and CxOs now offering to help solve these problems. One company I joined had spent $400,000 in Salesforce consulting fees to make things more "efficient," and we still could not understand what was actually happening in the system. Let your Marketo administrator loose, and you will have hundreds of landing pages, hundreds of workflows, and campaigns. It becomes a mess. The amount of complexity in your system is directly related to the number of administrators you hire.

Third, while the best of breed systems might give you a minimal edge in business operations, it is not clear they are worth the integration and management hassles to get them to work together. Once you start stitching together best of breed systems, you now need administrators to make it work. Salesforce has a vast ecosystem of add ons for CRM. I have seen some great ones, but what I haven't seen are the benefits outweigh the complexity. We once put in place a task management platform for the sales reps that automatically created tasks for the reps, so they didn't have to do extra clicks. The app created a data model of tasks making the core salesforce tasks objects redundant. As soon as we did this, standard reporting no longer worked. Complexity went up an order of magnitude. We had hundreds of "sales call plans" in the system. Trying to track marketing success through these programs was impossible and the sales team could not effectively track basic operations.

Why are we using Hubspot?

I wanted to deploy an integrated CRM/MARCOM tech stack. I am willing to sacrifice some best of breed functionality for the simplicity and efficiency of a single vendor. I realize with Hubspot my CRM isn't as customizable as Salesforce CRM. But, from the points above, I don't need that much customization. Hubspot also just works and allows me to focus on what is actually harder to do - instill operating discipline into the sales and marketing teams while also focus on building a clean database representative of our market.

Right now, with 1/10th of an employee, we are running a CMS, CRM, and email marketing platform and building a clean database of my market. So far, we couldn't be happier with the benefits and ease of use for our team. We have not even unlocked the entire capabilities of the suite.

Here are some anecdotes about why Hubspot CRM is working for us -

For sales - Hubspot's pipeline/deal tool is excellent, especially the visualization tools. Our deal flow looks like a Jira Kanban diagram. The ability to easily map out different deal processes is also super useful. In this case, I think Hubspot wins over SalesforceCRM, beyond the integration vs. best of breed argument.

Second, gmail integration means our reps record all their emails in HubSpot. But even better — and this is what used to drive us crazy in the past - reps can easily add names just by bcc'ing Hubspot in their replies. So if your contact at a prospect sets up a meeting and invites you to it, along with 20 of their coworkers, a simple email to the entire list adds everyone to Hubspot. Since Hubspot knows the email address of these people, Hubspot knows their domain, and they get automatically added to the right account. To accomplish this magic, Hubspot thoughtfully got rid of the dreaded "leads" object.

CRM requirements are pretty basic - accounts, contacts, deals, tasks — basic structure. The Salesforce "leads" object is a weird aberration that might be useful to some but causes many reporting and other issues in Salesforce. CRM is easy; keep it simple. You are either associated with an account or not. Sales reps notoriously don't convert leads to contacts and associate them with the right account unless there is an opportunity created. Even with opportunity creation, they won't add more leads to the opportunity. Without the lead object, all this complexity goes away. You can undoubtedly configure Salesforce not to use the lead object. But out of the box, leads are a component of how it works.

Fourth, since we use the CMS system to power our website, if we want to know who is visiting our website from a sales perspective, Hubspot tells us. No third-party tools required. If a sales rep wants to know if their email is opened, Hubspot tells them.

Fifth, importing leads is very easy in Hubspot. I did this last week. We imported 2500 contacts, and it just automatically built these contacts into account structures, then pulled in all the information about the account from LinkedIn or other sources. When we imported the contacts, it automatically created a "list" inside Hubspot so I could always retrieve the names. With no lead object, adding new names places them in the right account.

Sixth - their CMS is easy to use. With the CMS system, I use templates from Inbound Labs, and without design help, we manage a site. Adding a form is super easy. It just works and starts to feed the CMS system. Progressive profiling of forms is included along with analytics and A/B testing of forms and pages.

At some point, I will retain a creative agency to manage my look and feel and templates better. I will also hire a data analyst and make them responsible for the construction of our database. Since the system is easy to use, a data analyst should be able to spend 90% of their time on data and 10% on administration. Most organizations are forced to hire an administrator and never get around to the data analytics part since the administrative burden is too high.

We are still early in the process at Tausight. We reserve the right to rewrite this posting in a year or so. But right now, out of the gate, Hubspot is providing us with efficiencies and insight into our customer base that I have never had in the past with a lot more administrators and lot more money getting spent on systems.