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Using Salesforce and HubSpot to Scale B2B Marketing

Providing Marketing Services to B2B Tech Companies

Barry: Perry, maybe you could tell us a bit more about your agency before we take a deep dive.

Perry: Sure. It starts with my co-founders and me. We have been in the startup, high-tech ecosystem for more than 20 years. I don’t want to date myself too much, but after having been in every role possible in the system, starting from the developer, biz dev to product sales, I decided to start a consultant agency in 2013. It then became Penguin Strategies in 2014, where we started by providing two or three types of services. These are the two services that, at the time, weren’t being delivered in one place which are content and marketing technology. Today, they are probably under Rev Ops, but at the time, they weren’t.

We were the first HubSpot agency in Israel, so we represented them in the Israeli ecosystem and focused on the B2B tech company in general. Then very quickly, we found that there was a lot of need for what we were providing. We started getting leads from all over the world, which led us to start a small US-based subsidiary which ended up growing quite a bit. And fast forward, we started adding more services to help provide a well-rounded, 360 degrees service set to our niche customers, B2B tech companies. And so we’ve added more and more services.

I won’t talk about the marketing digital agency services, but over the last two or three years, we’ve doubled down, and we’ve been calling it, along with the other vendors, Rev Ops for over two or three years. But I think it’s finally catching on, and leading up to about a year ago when we acquired a Salesforce agency so that we could provide not only a 360 service in general but also within the rev ops, HubSpot and Salesforce probably account for 99% of the main CRM and marketing automation vendors.

HubSpot vs Salesforce

Barry: Congrats on the expansion. Let’s talk about HubSpot vs Salesforce. I think that’s an area of interest for our listeners. We were discussing that you could use Salesforce and you could use HubSpot. Some people that use Salesforce hate HubSpot. Some people that use HubSpot hate Salesforce. Is it a branding thing? Is it what people are used to? What’s going on with HubSpot Salesforce these days?

Perry: I love that question. Let’s put it into context, as they say, as our grandmother would understand, well, maybe not. Our six-year-old definitely would understand this. Take Android and iPhone. They have the same polarized believers for each of them. You have people who don’t care, but at the end of the day, they both can do everything. Everything you could imagine that you would need in a phone, a listening device, whatever you use your phones for, they both can do it.

And then so, why does one buy the other? It is a branding thing. It is a following. The same thing can be said for Salesforce and HubSpot today. Maybe two or three years ago, it was different. But I think it is true today, especially since HubSpot has matured their CRM and sales offering with their service offering and all the new integrations they provide.

When you’re talking about a tech company that wants to scale from what they call series A to unicorn, there are certain cases that we don’t have to go into right now, but you could use either one platform, be happy, and get it done. And so then it comes down to the user. It’s branding.

Most of the marketers have become HubSpot groupies, like the iPhoners. And then, you got the sales teams or Salesforce groupies. I don’t want to say that this guy’s with the iPhone, this is the Android, but that’s how I see it.

Oftentimes, companies come to us and ask, “Which one should we decide on?” And it’s hard to help them because sometimes, they’ve already made the decision. Because in their mind, they know what they want. But I think 80% of the selection criteria come down to who will be the user, what kind of history they have, or whether or not they come with a clean slate. So that’s where things are.

Barry: Right. Absolutely. This podcast could be about just marketing and branding.

Perry: Go for it.

Barry: We’ll go there for that. That’s interesting and cool. It was about two or three years ago that HubSpot started rolling out enterprise plans so that they could focus more on those advanced features.

And I guess those trickled down to some of their companies that are trying to get to unicorn status, some of those advanced features. Would that be a correct assessment of why they’ve improved so much in the past few years?

Perry: Yes, that is a critical statement. Three or four years ago, the enterprise plans were just a little better than the professional ones. I think it was two years ago when they started to make a huge difference in their plans. So that companies that scaled above ten salespeople, 100 salespeople, or more could use the system. And there are a few of them.

I think the most famous one, the biggest problem that HubSpot would’ve had until that time, is that everybody says, “What’s one of the advantages of HubSpot?” It’s the user experience. And I think we have to hide behind that. That’s a big advantage. But, with the user experience being so good came inflexibility. You weren’t able to do a lot.

You could add a field here or there, and what came with the new plans two years ago that made a huge difference was custom objects. Other important features came with it, including permissions and all kinds of things, but the customization was the big tidal wave of difference.

Now, they could compete in the CRM space because before that, it was hard to do channel marketing, channel sales, and different types of things that were impossible. You could do workarounds, but when you want to scale it, you don’t want to do it that way.

Barry: Absolutely. Shameless plug, I guess. Here at DealHub, we also recognized this trend that some HubSpot users are going out of the market. That’s one of the reasons why we focus on integration with HubSpot, which helps both parties. The users, if they need an advanced CPQ, and us because we now have more people that we could sell to.

So that’s also beneficial in technically business terms. Now we’re talking about Salesforce versus HubSpot. But then there’s also Salesforce and HubSpot or HubSpot and Salesforce. Let’s explore that. Do people use both platforms? Does the sales team use one platform and marketing use one platform? Or does sales sometimes use the free version of HubSpot but then they use the paid Salesforce version? What’s going on over there?

Perry: Right. I’m not going to call this an official statistic. But just based on my experience, if I look over the last two years, currently, we work with somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 companies. We grew quite a bit over the last two years, and we do some project-based work on the Rev Ops side with about 100-150 different companies, and between 60% and 70% of them are using Salesforce CRM in HubSpot marketing.

And their integration is so native and good, although you may have issues with any integrations. And that’s, a lot of times, we get called in to help fix them. But the integration is so good that they live well next to one another.

The Breakdown Between Salesforce and HubSpot

Barry: Okay. Because I’ve heard recently from one specific person, and you have 150, so excuse my sample size of one, that they were struggling a lot with Salesforce and HubSpot talking to each other. Is it that it just wasn’t configured correctly, and they need to use Penguin Strategies, or what’s going on over there?

Perry: It always comes down to configuration. I mean, one of the funny ones that I always see is there are a few things that are different in the way HubSpot and Salesforce work. Specifically, for example, the way a lead is treated. In Salesforce, a lead needs to be converted, whereas HubSpot treats it as a contact from day one.

But where it usually breaks down is on the little things. For example, the dropdown. So let’s say, we’re transferring a contact from one system to the other, and in the dropdown for the country, one is ‘USA’ and one is ‘United States of America’, boom! With cases like that, all of a sudden, you created a whole mess.

Sometimes, it creates duplicates. The Rev Ops person unknowingly creates an extra field because they thought it wasn’t going to work, and the cleanup is very painful. Because if you’re an expert on one and not on the other, it causes friction in the integration.

So that’s where a lot of it breaks down. But ultimately, especially those two, I mean, we’ve done integrations into Microsoft Dynamics to Pipedrive, into other CRMs, which they can be integrated perfectly as well, but they’re not as natively integrated as HubSpot. Because HubSpot and Salesforce have been integrated so many times, there’s no reason for it not to work.

Barry: Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. I love that example of the country one. Last week after the podcast recording, I spoke to that about a person going global or that was the example they gave, was the country’s subject, or they gave it by state, TX versus Texas. So it sounds like this is a common denominator of abbreviations of states and countries.

Perry: Absolutely. There are many examples, but that’s the main one told over and over again. The secret.

Barry: The secret to Rev Ops. I think there should be a Rev Ops board, like standards or best practices. Do it with ‘United States of America’ or ‘USA’, and everyone else will be known as doing it wrong. And then you’ll have everyone will be on the same page. I invite you to run that there.

Perry: If I can get HubSpot and Salesforce to listen to me, that would be great.

Barry: All right. I’ll be your champion. We’ll work on it together then.

Perry: Awesome.

Converting MQLs to SQLs

Barry: Okay, cool. So we learned a lot of important things. Let’s talk about bringing the marketing leads to sales leads. I feel like if you guys are focused on rev ops and you have HubSpot in sales ops, maybe you could talk about some of the other patterns you see. It’s rare that I get to speak to someone who’s seen so many different types of companies in so many different situations. I think it would be really interesting to see some of the patterns and issues that people have when they’re trying to bring marketing leads to sales leads and some of the ways to fix them. 

Perry: So again, I like to give my examples. I think one of the issues that you have is people. They always ask, “We want best practices. We want the trends.” Basically, what they’re saying is, “We want to do what everybody else is doing.” Well, everybody has a bit of a different definition of MQL, SQL, Opportunity, and when they move them from one to another. But I think that there’s a big change happening, especially in the last couple of years, and most companies aren’t there yet. What I mean by that is people hate to be contacted when they shouldn’t be contacted.

And to most people, that’s, “Okay. Well, that means don’t buy a list and spam it.” And I think it extends to people that are just kicking tires, let them kick the tires. Rather than they download an eBook, you put them into your list; you call them three times, send them two emails, SMS, WhatsApp, whatever. Everybody’s got their secret formula. And depending on the type of product you have, not every company can do this, but what they can do is called product-led sales. Where if you can let them try it, you can make them beg for it. Almost going back to the olden days, when someone wanted to buy something, they had to actually walk into your store.

Because at the end of the day, Rev Ops people just do what the salespeople and the market do. We can make anything happen. We can automate everything. We can have this email automation to remind you to call. All these different things, we can automate them. But at the end of the day, we want customers to buy. And I think that we’re starting to miss the point with some customers, and these are opinions that I’m having, and I don’t know how you’ve seen it. But we fall into that trap “Let’s do best practice.” It’s time to start looking at those best practices. There are companies that are doing this, and I think those are the ones that are going to win in the next five years until everything changes again.

Product-Led Sales

Barry: Yeah. So PLG, or I think you called it product-led sales, are you guys working a lot with those types of clients when they’re doing Rev Ops? It’s more of helping the product side so that people can see that they’re trying out the product?

Perry: Yeah, because there must be integration into the touch points. It’s not just demo, but it’s also when they do a free trial or something like that, and then what triggers can we get from the system? Because there are so many APIs available, creating these packages that can automate over and above what we’re doing today. Not just time-based, but more trigger-based.

Barry: Yes, let’s talk about that. The specific tech stack. Does HubSpot or Salesforce have product analytics to get those triggers? I understand trials would be maybe something, I guess. Or do you have to build a custom object for it? Or, do you need a specific product type software to talk to HubSpot or Salesforce?

Perry: So then we’re moving into new territory, what we’re talking about right now because you’re not going to get product analytics in your CRM. But you can get the information into your CRM so that when the sales guy calls, he not only knows that the trial started 30 days ago but maybe that the guy didn’t touch it for 30 days or that they’re logging 20 hours a day. You have to decide what you want to show up, and it can show up either by using custom objects or a custom field.

There are many different options, but you can take it even one level simpler. I was talking with someone about this the other day because this was a HubSpot marketing implementation. One of the things that the enterprise provides is trigger-based actions. What does that mean? What does that mean when I said before that someone comes in and begs for your product? If someone came to certain pages on your website, that could be seen as that begging.

I’m going to your pricing page, and I’m clicking on all these as someone who’s very interested. So you have to decide what to do with that. Do you call them? Do you send them an email? How do you do it so that you can keep moving? But the fact that you don’t know that it happened, or there’s no trigger for you to know that they come to that specific page, not just that they came to your website, but they came to a specific page. They’re looking at the most pricey option of your product.

And you’re not getting a notification that begs to be fixed. And so there are so many different areas that we could optimize in sales, marketing, and how we’re interacting with our potential customers or even with our existing customers who want to maybe be up-sold to that. There’s a lot left on the table for us to do. And I think that a lot of it is not being done because people just don’t know that it is possible.

Barry: Okay, cool. I like that you brought it back simpler. Because I did throw us into the product-led growth, but that idea of the begging is the pricing page. And people don’t know it’s possible because if it’s a new feature by HubSpot or by Salesforce or because there’s so much to do, and they’ve never talked to CS HubSpot rep.

Dynamic Content

Perry: It’s like any product. There are so many features people forget or they don’t know. It’s not even a new feature. They’ve had it for quite a few years, and there are different ways to use it. And I mean, not everybody has a website that has a good CMS. But let’s just say it’s not. Your landing pages that you’re using, let’s say we if we’re talking about HubSpot, if you’re using HubSpot landing pages, I’ll give you another feature that a lot of companies don’t realize they could use, is that they could have dynamic content. The dynamic content is not a new topic, but there are so few companies actually use it.

Whether on HubSpot, WordPress, or any other platform they have, there are basic ones, like country. If someone comes from a certain country, it’s about the language and how you present the information. You can connect it to your database, especially if it’s a HubSpot landing page.

So if you have been to my website 100 times and you’re a SQL or whatever we want to define you, and you are from a certain country, then maybe I don’t give you the default language. I change the language. I’m not talking about the fields. Everybody knows that we can do progressive profiling. Well, most people should know. I’m not going to ask you your first name again. I already know your first name. So let me ask for a new piece of information. To me, if you’re not doing that, then you have to go listen to the 101 podcast.

I’m talking about changing the language of the landing page so that it’s different. And imagine you could do it on your whole website. Anywhere on your website, you could change the language on your home page and product page, based on where your customer is in the sales cycle or where are they coming from, all kinds of different. That’s so powerful and simple, especially from a Rev Ops perspective to do. So why aren’t more people doing it?

Barry: It’s a great point. It’s a big loss. And you know the importance of it, it makes sense. We’ve been talking about it for the past maybe 15 years. Localize, talk to your user, and personalize.

Perry: And what do you get? You get people’s first names and email addresses. That’s the best they can do.

Barry: It’s hard, but it’s not hard. But then it’s hard. The hard thing is about the easy things, I guess. It’s interesting. So how do you guys, as an agency, remind yourself of those things? Meaning, you’re so used to all these features, how do you remind yourself that, “They might not know these 101 features or about these 101 products?”

Perry: Look, I understand. I talk as if it’s like I want to make everybody feel better. Even companies that we work with and we know that they have these options. And we still tell them, that many companies are just not able to do it. They don’t have the mind space to think of how to implement it. Because this is the fact that it’s available doesn’t mean that it will not take a lot of work and time. You have to come and decide on;h how should the alternate landing pages look like? What are the words that we should use? How can we be more creative? And there’s a lot to do on the marketing teams, the copy teams, there’s so much. So give ourselves a break, but at least, hopefully, the listeners now know that this is available so that they can advance.

The hard part is A, keeping up with it, and B, helping convince our customers to do it so that they can get more value out of it. We stay in business by making our customers successful. So if we can push the envelope a little bit further, then we have customers that do everything I just said and more, and we have customers who barely do progressive profiling because they don’t let us. And that’s part of being a consultant. If it works out and they succeed, it’s because we did a good job. If they don’t, it’s because they didn’t listen to us. That’s the typical consultant.

Barry: Obviously.

Perry: Yeah. Obviously. But that’s fine. I mean, and that’s just the name of the game.

Barry: Yep. I do have a specific tactical question about landing pages. Sometimes, for example, Google, this is also a story about Wix. It’s not just about HubSpot, just because I don’t want to put anyone down. But there is this thing with Google that you can see how quick sites are. I forgot what the bot is called, but you put your link into the site, and then you can see the speed of the site. I’ve heard from the grapevine that sometimes landing pages of HubSpot, Wix, Squarespace, and even Elementor built on WordPress; all these sites that aren’t hard-coded are a bit slower on Google and therefore traffic goes down because they are slower, or even if they’re not slower, the Google bot reads them as slower. Do you have any insights on this or any thoughts on that?

Perry: We could do another podcast with our SEO department. I imagine that there’s truth to what you’re saying but SEO is a lot more complicated than just about speed. That’s one of the elements. Overall, what we’ve seen is the quality of the content is the biggest driver, and that’s decided by the readers. But absolutely, the technical elements have to be done properly.

And just because it’s done on one of those platforms that you just said is not a good enough excuse. Because probably, in most cases, people use the template and run and let it go, rather than do the template, run the tool you just said, which shouldn’t only just check for speed, but all the other technical elements and go in and make sure that they get fixed so that you maximize on the speed.

Getting a hard-coded website is a bad idea, no matter what. It doesn’t matter how fast it is. It’s a bad idea because the cost of keeping it up is not going to be not whatever Google advantage you’re going to get. And there’s no reason that you can’t get a template because most of our customers don’t have templated websites. They may use Elementor, HubSpot, or one of the other ones, but they’re designing their own thing. But they have the ability.

And most of these platforms, I’m not so familiar with Wix, have an ability to go to behind the scenes in the code to optimize and fix it. And that’s whole department here at Penguin that deals with that for a portion of our customers on a month-to-month basis.

Barry: Yeah, absolutely. I think I’ll have to do that 101 SEO podcast with your team. Perry, this was awesome.

Perry: Pleasure.

Barry: It was a lot of fun learning about Salesforce. We got to geek out on branding a bit and HubSpot. And I think there were some things that will remain with me forever. So I’m grateful, and I hope that our listeners got as much value as I did from this podcast. And thanks again, Perry.

Perry: Thanks for having me.

Barry: If people want to find more information about your company or I have questions for you specifically, what’s the best way to reach out?

Perry: Perry, P-E-R-R-Y@Penguinstrategies.com.