In this episode of SYNC-Cast, powered by Commercient, Joe Stephan, Vice President of CRM and Marketing Services at Concept, and host Heath McKnight discuss how companies can modernize and improve their sales with HubSpot CRM, and how Commercient SYNC HubSpot and ERP data integration helps streamline processes. Plus, Joe offers his tips on the successful implementation of HubSpot CRM.
Mentioned in this episode:
Find Joe on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-stephan-8b9b7256/
00:00 – Introduction of Joe Stephan and his work at Concept.
01:05 – How adopting Salesforce helped Concept, which they then offered to help their customers modernize their sales processes as a Salesforce Certified Partner.
02:32 – Concept created a digital marketing agency to help their customers.
03:31 – How Concept became a HubSpot Diamond Solutions Partner.
05:10 – How Joe and his team help customers leverage CRM, particularly if they have antiquated or no processes at all.
08:43 – Joe’s tips for a successful HubSpot implementation.
12:15 – Best practices for improving adoption of CRM.
15:29 – How Commercient SYNC ERP and CRM data integration helps sales teams get a 360-degree view of customers, accounts, and more.
17:50 – The benefits of Commercient SYNC and marketing.
18:40 – How to learn more about Concept.
Heath McKnight 0:03
Hi, welcome to SYNC-Cast powered by Commercient. My name is Heath McKnight. Today joining me is Joe Stephan from Concept. Joe, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Joe Stephan 0:18
As you mentioned, I am the director of CRM and technology at Concept. So currently, I manage our CRM agency, our digital marketing agency, as well as our internal technology team. From a high-level Concept offers three core services, we’ve been in business for about 20 years. And we started off primarily as a sales development firm.
So the best way to describe that is we would essentially, through outbound calling, take care of the first half of the sales process for our customers. And we would qualify those leads and send them over to our customer sales team to effectively close the business on those qualified leads. Well, several years ago, we decided to adopt CRM internally to best support those sales development efforts in those programs. It allowed us to showcase the ROI and value we were providing with those particular projects for our customers. But it also gave those customers real-time visibility into the opportunities, the analytics, all the activities, and everything we were generating for them.
But it also opened up another door for us. Many customers, at the time, weren’t using CRM internally. And they really liked the way that we developed our processes. And we’re using CRM to support these programs. So as they were accessing our database is, you know, to get the visibility into the leads we’re generating.
We started to see some adoption there from organizations that we’re working with. And they would come to us and say, “Hey, we really liked how you built out CRM, and we’d like you to help us implement a CRM for internal purposes in use.” So at the time, we weren’t a CRM partner of any solution, but we went out and became a Salesforce partner at that time. And we started supporting customers to help them implement and consult on their CRM solutions.
That’s how our CRM agency started, which is the second core division that we currently have a concept today. And then, if we fast forward a few years, we also had a lot of customers who started coming to us saying, “we could really use your help managing some of our inbound lead efforts, help us put together some marketing strategies, content, website management, and social media posts, things like that.
So we decided to start a digital marketing agency within our organization. And it’s been about three or four years now since we started that particular group. So today, Concept is this full-service sales and marketing consulting firm that supports the technology to best support those groups, whether it’s CRM, marketing, automation tools, or sales enablement tools. So those are the three core divisions we have at the organization today.
Heath McKnight 3:25
That’s incredible. And you started out for many years with one, just one core division. And because of your own use of CRM, you created this other division. And that was only like you said, from my perspective, in the last few years, and probably many others. CRM has exploded in the last five years. I know that Salesforce has been around for 23 years now, as of 2022. And then I think it’s incredible that it just naturally evolved into the market, the digital marketing side. And in addition to Salesforce, I know you support HubSpot, marketing, and CRM. Can you tell me a little bit about how you came into the HubSpot side, especially since people look at HubSpot first as marketing? And then the CRM side second.
Joe Stephan 4:20
Yeah, absolutely. HubSpot came into the picture when we started our digital marketing agency. It was, from a marketer’s perspective, a tool that was easy for our team internally to use to best support our customers and for our customers to use as well. Everything from developing the content, managing their social media posts, creating the automation and workflows, driving website traffic, and forming submissions into their database.
So we looked at a variety of options at the time and determined what are some of the best solutions out there currently that we can use to help us support our customers from a digital marketing perspective. And we landed on HubSpot being one of the primary ones. And we do support some others as well.
But at that time, we became a HubSpot partner. And it’s really just exploded over the past couple of years. We started off with the baseline partnership. And since then, more recently, I would say, actually, within the last few weeks, became a diamond partner of HubSpot and are supporting customers on the marketing hub platform, the sales hub platform, the CMS operations hub, and the service hub today. So they have a full suite of products and services that can help any core division within an organization achieve their goals, automate processes, and just have a centralized location to manage all their information and data.
Heath McKnight 5:53
Excellent. And I know you shared about your role, but on a day-to-day basis, if you don’t mind, maybe just kind of taking me through how you’re helping these customers, especially if they’re coming either with very limited CRM, like a built-in one from the ERP, or some of these CRMs that, frankly, we have customers that Commercient, they moved to a much more robust CRM, they were on a CRM that hadn’t been supported. Like a decade ago, it was the end of life, but they just have it. So sitting on computer servers, they’re so dependent on it, or they’re just pen and paper, spreadsheets, etc. How do you come in and your team to help them almost from square one to get to where they need to be with the marketing and the CRM with hubs?
Joe Stephan 6:49
It’s not always a quick process, right? There’s typically a lot of change that needs to happen within an organization. But we start at the very beginning, from the first time we engage with a prospect or a customer. We sat back and tried to go through as much discovery as possible to identify how does your organization function? What are some of the pain points? Where are the gaps currently within those processes, what’s involved in sales, and what’s involved in marketing are the two working in tandem? And often, as you mentioned, we work with organizations that have antiquated systems; antiquated processes are no processes at all.
So what we do throughout every stage of our onboarding with a new customer is we’re going through that discovery, we’re providing consultative approach, in terms of, you know, how we would recommend not only developing this process with our knowledge of sales development, and as we, you know, help manage and support that for some of our customers, we’re helping them develop these processes, and then incorporate them into the platform.
Oftentimes, it does start with the sales team. There are obviously a lot of variations to that. But we are starting if we’re starting from square one, and they’re currently putting everything on pen and paper using Excel files, or they have their contacts currently being managed in Outlook, we need to start somewhere. So usually, it starts with the sales team and helping them build out what that pipeline looks like. What key metrics do you need to attain, and what does your reporting playbook need to look like? And what’s this whole process? Where are leads coming from? Where do we hand these leads off from a marketing perspective to sales, then we’re also helping the marketing group develop those processes and help them develop their strategies.
And then, the critical piece is marrying up those two, getting them working in tandem, and allowing marketing to best support sales and sales also leverage marketing and help them achieve leads for that particular group. So we do that through the use of the different tools that we have available to us within the HubSpot suite or even some additional applications that customers may use some data procurement tools, and sales enablement tools.
Heath McKnight 9:24
That’s incredible. And if you have like maybe three or four tips for getting a great HubSpot CRM, and marketing hub implementation, what would you share with the customer side of how they can have a successful implementation?
Joe Stephan 9:50
I would say some of the things that we come across: number one, I’d say be open-minded about what’s currently being done within the organization today, and have some pretty clear defined goals of where you’re trying to go. Oftentimes we get into projects with customers, and they know that we have some issues, but they don’t know the best way to approach that. That’s what we’re here to help you uncover and achieve, but having a baseline of an understanding of where do we want to go as an organization? What are some of those? What insights and goals do we want to make sure we put in place? And how can we best attain those by adopting these platforms? I think that’s important.
Also, when evaluating CRMs, and digital marketing platforms, as you mentioned, I think a little bit earlier, in a call, you have customers who are switching from one CRM to another, oftentimes, and especially in my experience, going from one CRM to another it’s not really going to fix the core problems that you may have. Yes, this new platform may have a new bag of features and bells and whistles and tools that could help, but I think you have to address the root cause of the problem, whether it’s an adoption issue, whether it’s the system that wasn’t built out properly from the get-go. So, taking a step back and ensuring that, as you’re evaluating a CRM, you’re doing it for the right reasons, and you’re making sure you’re putting forth that proper evaluation from the get-go.
I would always suggest working with a partner to help with the implementation. Even though a lot of the back-end functionality and the tools that are available within HubSpot, Salesforce, or any other CRM can be easy to figure out and how to implement, often, partners are going to understand the ins and outs of the application and be able to take your processes what goals you’re trying to achieve, and best support them, and best build them out within the platform to achieve a successful implementation. And then I think the last thing is really ensuring that you have a defined process, and for the sales group, and the marketing group, following the implementation, making sure you have that playbook, outline detailed ready to go. And it’s communicated across the board with all individuals within the organization that it would be relevant to so that you ensure successful adoption of the platform, you help increase productivity, efficiency, and ultimately sales for the organization.
Heath McKnight 13:01
Excellent. And if you don’t mind, share a little bit about helping with adoption. I know that, in some cases, that can really be a pain point for companies. But I’ve talked to companies, and they said that when the sales team saw the tools that HubSpot CRM has to help them grow those sales, the adoption was tremendous for them. And they have almost 100% adoption on it. And if they don’t, it’s going to be there. Any suggestions on helping with adoption?
Joe Stephan 13:40
Yeah, we typically see high adoption with HubSpot. Specifically because the user interface is very streamlined and simple to use. HubSpot has put a lot of time into r&d to develop it. For the everyday user, the whole interface is very efficient and streamlined, whether you’re on the sales or marketing side. What we do as a partner to help with adoption in every project we incorporate for an organization is to ensure that we have a customized training solution built into the project.
So we spend time and work with the project committee or the executive leadership group to ensure that they’re trained on the processes. And then we also work with the sales team and sales leaders. And then, we work with the marketing team and the marketing leaders. We go through this extensive training with the group, and then we always recommend having some follow-up trainings with the team. We don’t want to overwhelm and just sit down in a room for eight hours going through an application because you tend to start to lose people’s attention spans, and they forget what they learn there.
We like to make sure that we focus on the processes that have been defined by the organization and through the implementation to ensure a successful rollout of the tool itself. And then we like to give team members several weeks to start to work on the application and determine what isn’t working, where am I struggling, where we have adoption issues, and then circle back to have additional training to make sure that everyone’s comfortable with the processes that have been defined and outlined.
If there are issues that need to be addressed, maybe something’s a little bit clunky and we don’t like how the process is currently flowing, and that’s preventing somebody from doing their day-to-day tasks, we want to hear from the end users as well, so that we could take that back to the executive leadership team or project committee, whomever we’re working with, so that we can address those concerns, address those issues, resolved those components within the platform to ensure the continued success of the application. I typically recommend to our customers that one-hour training with a sales group is simply not enough. You need continuous training with the team to ensure that adoption remains and they’re leveraging the application to the best of their abilities.
Heath McKnight 16:11
Excellent. And before we wrap up our call, I just want to ask a little bit about Commercient SYNC data integration and how important it is for the sales and marketing team working within HubSpot, having access to that ERP data, be it QuickBooks Desktop, Sage 100, SAP, and other ERPs or accounting systems?
Joe Stephan 16:38
I can tell you almost with every project that we work through after we get the sales hub implemented or marketing hub implemented, it’s an extremely common request from customers and a pain point for them to come to us and say, “hey, we really need to get visibility into our financial data or ERP information, we want to centralize that information in one place.”
That’s what Commercient SYNC enables our customers to do. It gives that 360-degree view of a customer of an account to know what’s going on and other systems. And not only that, in many cases, you have sales team members responsible for entering some information in CRM, HubSpot sales hub, let’s say, and they have to follow that lead through the process to closure. And following that, post-sales when the actual orders take place or invoicing needs to happen. They may also input account information and data over in their ERP instance. Well, that’s inefficient, you don’t want to have to run duplicate data entry, and it’s ineffective for sales teams and users using both systems.
So having that two-way SYNC of data streamlines the process for internal groups. From a sales and account management perspective, I can tell you that knowing exactly how much business a customer’s done and what they purchased allows them to tailor their conversations accordingly to help their customers with additional product lines and cross-sell opportunities. It also allows them to stay engaged and attentive to their customer needs by having ERP information directly into HubSpot in their CRM.
From a marketing perspective, I could say it’s important for them to leverage ERP and financial data to help from a targeting and a messaging standpoint; they may identify customers who possibly have not used certain products or services for a certain period of time, and they may want to showcase promotions, or they may want to showcase additional or new product offerings, or service offerings, that they have to try to get those customers re-engaged. So knowing exactly where a customer stands and what they’ve done in past sales helps both groups tailor their processes within both systems.
Heath McKnight 19:28
Excellent. How can our viewers and listeners learn more about Concept?
Joe Stephan 19:35
You can go to conceptltd.com. We have several product and service pages where you can look at our CRM, digital marketing, or sales development services. Periodically we do put out blogs, so if you follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or even Facebook, we do post a lot of blogs and just relevant content for sales and marketing groups, whether it’s you know how to best prospect and what’s currently going on in the industry. And here are some tidbits on how to best leverage some of these tools that we personally leverage internally here at Concept as well. If you go to our website, you should have links to all of our social media accounts. And you can certainly just look us up through any of those social platforms as well.
Heath McKnight 20:27
Awesome. Thank you, Joe, for your time today.
Joe Stephan 20:31
Thank you so much, Heath.
Communications & Marketing specialist. She’s passionate about digital marketing, communications, technology, SaaS, eCommerce, and the use of Artificial Intelligence in streamlining marketing & sales.