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Our takeaways from the final Manchester hug of 2019

By SJ Hood November 07, 2019 Culture

Wednesday, November 6th 2019 was the final Manchester HubSpot User Group (HUG) event of the year. With a cold autumn drizzle coming down and thick coats adorned, my fellow Client Success Manager, Ellen, and I made our way to Manchester Art Gallery to spend a full morning learning and connecting with other HubSpot fans. These were our top takeaways:

HubSpot HUG venue

First speaker - Richard Mann - QuarterOne

To kick the morning off, Richard Mann from QuarterOne took to the stage! QuarterOne provides reporting and forecasting software for CRM data. Lately, they’ve been working very closely with HubSpot and the QuarterOne integration is currently sat on the front page of the HubSpot Marketplace. (Not sure what that is? Check it out here.

Richard’s focus was around taking the Sales and Marketing Alignment (that HubSpot and HubSpot Partners do so well) one step further. In the experience of the QuarterOne team, aligning your whole business is the key to success. And the key to that? Getting your finance team on board.

Richard shared with us his ‘Six Steps for Building a Bridge to the Finance Team:’

1- Break down walls

Most companies find that there are barriers separating their sales, marketing, finance, and operations teams. Sometimes these walls are metaphorical and can be broken down by internal comms initiatives and open communication. A feat that is easier said than done, of course. But sometimes the aforementioned walls are physical. Many offices unintentionally keep their teams siloed and unable to collaborate just by the simple fact of building layout. Keeping teams in different rooms or buildings could be keeping them from working together more efficiently. Whether your walls are literal or figurative, the first step to getting your finance team aligned with sales and marketing is to break them down and pave the path to collaboration.

2- Be a finance hero

In general, a siloed finance team won’t have access to all of the data that is available in a company. Their records will be very detailed for financial history, but when the CEO or Managing Director comes to them asking for predictions of the coming year and beyond, they don’t always have the necessary information relevant to provide those figures. That’s where sales and marketing have a big opportunity. In the world of CRM usage (particularly with HubSpot), these teams can have access to vast swathes of data that finance doesn’t get a chance to see. How can that be used for building bridges? Take some time to compile that data (maybe information on leads and your sales pipeline?) into a format that is easily viewed and understood by the finance team. Show them that what you’re doing will impact future growth and make their jobs easier at the same time.

3- It’s all relative

When you’re sharing your data with the finance team, it’s a good opportunity for you to also look into past data and performance. Have a look at trends you’ve noticed and take into account where the company was previously. While a small sale coming through may seem minor, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that it’s 20% larger than the previous average sale size. Or perhaps you didn’t realise that your current team is providing 87% more MQLs than five years ago. Data is everywhere, but it’s meaningless until you put it into context. And having that context will make negotiating for a bigger budget with confidence much easier.

4- Know your speed

Every company operates at its own speed which can be measured by something called Sales Velocity. To understand your Sales Velocity (SV), you need to take into consideration the number of leads coming into the business, the cost of acquiring leads, how many of those leads are converted into customers, and the lifetime value of those customers. You then compare those factors to how long it takes for a customer to go through that full journey. The reason this is important is that you have to understand the time it takes for new business and new revenue to make its way into the business. This will help you balance the long term thinking of marketers with the comparatively short term thinking of finance teams.

5- Know your rate of change

One major area that can create friction between teams is the introduction of change. Even the request for new software or a new piece of tech can throw a finance team off-kilter. The way to avoid that difficulty is to get aligned on your rate of change. Predictably, the rate of change is how long it takes to implement changes in your business. This won’t be an exact timeline, naturally, as changes come in all shapes and sizes. But agreeing on how long certain amounts of change can take and the general attitude of readiness to change can make all the difference with your interactions. Adopting an agile approach is an easy thing to say, but almost impossible if your organisation’s rate of change hasn’t been agreed across the board.

6- Get closer to the purse strings

The easiest way to align your teams is to get them working closely together. If you’re a marketing or sales person who wants to have better alignment with the finance team, your first bet should be working with them directly and coming to them with ideas. Present a business case to them and show them what you want to be spending money on and why they should agree to it. Take a bit from all of the points above and get right in there and involved in the financial decision-making process. Pulling all of these suggestions will get your finance team aligned with your sales and marketing teams and give everyone a more holistic and useful view of the business.

Second speaker - Alexis Deuwel - HubSpot

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Our second speaker, Alexis, was a Customer Success Manager (like Ellen and I!) from HubSpot and he brought us some of the biggest updates HubSpot announced at Inbound in Boston this year. HubSpot’s focus for 2019 has moved from creating new products (as with the Service Hub they introduced last year) to making sure their users are getting more out of HubSpot on all levels. There was a lot to touch on during this talk so the top-line information is to follow:

Contact and company de-duplication

HubSpot recognises that data cleaning is always a pain point for customers, so they’ve implemented a new way of merging duplicate contacts created by using both personal and company emails.

Better workflow management

With the latest round of updates, HubSpot has improved workflow ability. Previously, when creating a workflow, each piece had to be done in line with the order of use. Now you are able to create separate pieces and connect them together as well as being able to reconnect to actions further along in the workflow.

Native lead ad creation with Facebook

HubSpot has developed a way for users to create Facebook ads! Instead of creating them through Facebook, users are able to create ads directly in HubSpot without having to switch platforms.

New email editor and templates

HubSpot’s new email editor is a very exciting update! Now the HubSpot emails have a handy new drag-and-drop editor, making the creation of engaging and beautifully designed emails much easier and without the hassle of bringing in your design and dev teams. They’ve also released a ton of new ready-made templates.

Knowledge base editor and templates

Similarly, if you are using Service Hub, you’ll be happy to hear that the drag-and-drop editor has come to knowledge base as well! You can keep everything on brand and clean without getting pages re-designed and developed. Additionally, if you don’t have a design team handy or just want to try something new, HubSpot has released new knowledge base templates as well!

Sales automation updates

Sales haven’t been left out of the updates! HubSpot has been very focused on the idea of frictionless sales and creating a smoother, more effective sales process for its users. This includes improved capabilities with automation through sequences!

App marketplace on home page

For those of you who love your HubSpot integrations, we have some good news! The app marketplace will be easier to access than ever as it migrates to the home page. HubSpot has also made filtering through the available apps easier with a new system!

Facebook messenger with chatflows

Messenger has become part of our everyday lives - most of us have it on our phones, desktops and tablets - so it makes sense that HubSpot users would like to keep it as a touchpoint for their customers. Now they can! And all from the comfort of HubSpot!

Support forms in Inbox conversations

Knowing that some conversations require particular expertise, HubSpot has added support forms to inbox conversations so that chat windows can be used to gather information and connect your customers or leads to the best team to help them.

Attribution reporting

Data has been called the Oil of the 21st Century, so you can think of reporting like a refinery - someone has to make all of that data usable! HubSpot’s improved attribution reporting allows users to see more clearly where and how their leads are coming in, making marketing better and more targeted.

More was covered on the day, but these were the most exciting! Of all of the amazing updates that HubSpot have released this year, Alexis says that his personal favourites, and what he thinks are most helpful, are the attribution reporting and the changes to workflows. We’re inclined to agree, but we will be playing with all of the new features ourselves before reaching any conclusions.

Overall, this was a great morning full of learning and fun. We always embrace an opportunity to learn more and grow from listening to experts in their fields. We certainly took a lot away from today - if you’d like to know more, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Ellen and I love talking to customers and are always happy to talk HubSpot.

Demonstrating ROI to the board