HubSpot has raised its profile as a vendor of innovative marketing technology solutions. It’s built a reputation as an innovator in areas like marketing automation, social media campaign management, and now it focuses on customer relationship management (CRM). The move into CRM is a natural progression that takes advantage of its key technologies. Available for free, but with a range of paid tiers starting at $50 per user per month, HubSpot CRM aims squarely at small to midsize businesses (SMB). It is worth exploring as a solution that can grow with a businesses’ needs.
HubSpot CRM has got a decently designed user interface (UI); and it integrates well with other HubSpot products. However, it trails our Editors’ Choice winners Apptivo CRM and Zoho CRM, mainly due to a lack of feature depth and a few other rough spots. Still, for SMBs that need a reliable, well-maintained platform without a lot of training overhead and a freemium pricing model to boot, HubSpot CRM can be a good choice.
It’s worth noting that HubSpot CRM is separate from the company’s namesake product, HubSpot, a long-time leader in the digital marketing automation space. HubSpot CRM includes free versions of the Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub products. Features include lead generation tools, web forms, live chat and bots, advertising tools, and helpdesk tools. The company also has email marketing tools starting at $50 per month.
In November, 2019, HubSpot azquired PieSync. This could be very beneficial to HubSpot users since PieSync delivers a combination of live and historical data synchronization that runs both ways between apps, but in the background. That means the combination will let HubSpot users sync data in real-time, which means much more accurate information delivered just when sales reps need it even during a live call.
Freemium to Enterprise Pricing Options
HubSpot CRM’s unique freemium approach, which means it offers the core CRM features for free with add-on features optional, makes it an accessible and enticing option for SMBs. Unlike competing products that offer a time limited 14-day or 30-day trial offer, HubSpot users can get down to inputting their contact information, generating leads and kickstarting their CRM functionality straightaway. Businesses will also appreciate how they can pick and choose add-ons as they need them and not have to deal with huge upfront costs for a lot of functionality they might not need. HubSpot makes its profit from paid add-ons that extend functionality. Three paid Sales Hub plans with premium features include Sales Hub Starter ($50 per month and up), Professional ($500 per month and up), and Enterprise ($1,200 per month and up).
The free plan includes 15 minutes of calling per user per month. With this feature, users can make calls directly from a web browser with the option to record them. The software automatically tracks calls and adds them to a CRM record. Also included are five templates per user per month, 200 notifications per user per month, five Snippets, five Documents, and one booking page for each user.
Snippets are reusable text blurbs for chat and email responses. A booking page lets users share access to their calendars for quickly making appointments (requires Google G Suite or Microsoft Office 365. The free plan also includes one deal pipeline and one team (aka department) per account. There’s no limit on users, and you can save up to 1 million contacts, companies, deals, and tasks. It comes with online support only.
Sales Hub Starter includes eight hours per month of calling along with unlimited templates, Snippets, Documents, booking pages, and notifications. Like the free plan, it comes with one deal pipeline and one team per account. It adds Prospects, Messages, and Sequences (requires G Suite or Office 365) as well as phone and email support.
With Prospects, HubSpot CRM can reveal which companies are visiting your website and which pages they are engaging with most. Messages lets you chat with visitors as they browse your site; Sequences automates follow-up emails. Unlike with some CRM soltutions, where it was easy to get lost in the navigation, I was always aware of what part of the process I was in with HubSpot CRM.
The Professional plan includes 33 hours per user per month of calling, in addition to everything in the starter package. It also adds automated workflows, predictive lead scoring, smart notifications, unlimited deal pipelines, unlimited teams, shared filters, products, a custom report builder, a custom dashboard for each account, and Salesforce integration. With smart notifications, HubSpot CRM will analyze your sales activities from the last 24 hours and make recommendations related to leads and activities.
Finally, Sales Hub Enterprise, launched in 2018, includes everything in the professional package, plus a range of other features. These include single sign-on, e-signature, quote approvals, call transcription and recording, sales playbooks, and more.
The software opens up to a concise sales dashboard, which has a basic design similar to Pipedrive CRM. By default, it shows your team activity, sales performance, deal forecast, deals closed versus goal report, and productivity. You can add as many modules to the dashboard as you want and remove elements that you don’t need.
HubSpot CRM’s user interface gives you an active area in the middle of the screen. This container for whatever you are working on can be controlled by the top navigation options. The top ribbon is black with white text links leading to Contacts, Conversations, Marketing, Sales, Services, Automation, and Reports. These make up the key navigation buttons from where to access the latest information on leads.
HubSpot CRM integrates with Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. When you connect it to your email account, a HubSpot CRM window appears to the right of your inbox, showing contextual information from the software. From your inbox, you can opt to log emails, which attaches them to a CRM record, as well as track opens and clicks.
The software will add new contacts as needed and scrape company information from its website automatically. This feature is part of HubSpot CRM’s goal of reducing repetitive tasks for users. You can also send emails directly from a HubSpot CRM record, so you don’t have to toggle between the CRM software and email client. From your email, you can also access templates, Sequences (email campaigns), documents, and embed a link to your calendar. Email integration is a nice feature, as you can get a lot of CRM-related work done right from your inbox.
When you add a person to HubSpot CRM, they are called a contact. HubSpot CRM doesn’t use the term “lead”; to differentiate contacts, you can update their status to unqualified, open deal, in progress, and the like. With all its email integration, it was a little surprising to see that HubSpot only allows one email address per contact.
HubSpot CRM can also integrate with Twilio, which enables you to make phone calls directly from the software. HubSpot CRM automatically logs these calls, and you can optionally record them. As outlined above, free and paid accounts get a certain amount of free calling each month.
Next to the Contacts tab is the Companies tab, followed by Deals. Each tab shares a consistent design, with a list of contacts, companies, or deals underneath a search box, Customize button, Import button, and a Create button to add an entry. You can customize the rows and columns of the list view, choosing from in-software options or creating new properties. If you want a quick look at an entry, you can click preview and see a snapshot of it on the right side of your dashboard. You can make edits to the preview panel as well, which is convenient.
You can add contacts (and companies and deals) one at a time using the Create button or by importing files. HubSpot CRM walks you through the import process, ensuring that everything is formatted properly and helping you map fields.
On the Deals tab, there’s a pipeline view along the top, where you can see how many deals are in each stage. Hit the Customize button to edit deal stages to fit with your company’s processes.
You can access your calendar by clicking on the Sales Tools drop-down menu. HubSpot CRM doesn’t have a native calendar; you’ll need to connect your Google or Office 365 account. One convenient feature is that you can share a link to your calendar with your availability so you can book meetings without a sequence of back-and-forth emails. You can also embed the link on your website so that prospective customers can schedule demos with your sales team.
HubSpot CRM offers an array of reports related to activity, such as contacts created per day, and performance. Paid accounts can generate custom reports as well.
An Intuitive and Affordable CRM Solution
If you’re new to CRM and already use HubSpot’s marketing or sales software, then HubSpot CRM is a fine choice as a natrual addition to your sales and CRM solutions stack. It’s straightforward to set up and use, with plans to fit every budget. It offers outstanding email and calendar integration and removes a lot of the tedious data entry and management that some CRMs require to get up and running.
As your company grows and changes, you can upgrade to HubSpot CRM’s premium products, but the free version works well for first-timers. HubSpot CRM serves as a suitable entry point into using mature CRM products such as our Editors’ Choice pick Salesforce Sales Cloud Lightning Professional.
The Bottom Line
HubSpot CRM is one of the more innovative CRM providers we’ve seen. Aimed at small businesses, the platform has a freemium model as well as a range of add-ons. With these, it can evolve into an end-to-end martech solution for SMBs.
HubSpot CRM Specs