You’ve spent a considerable amount of money (and time) on an amazing new tool - but your team isn’t using it. We’ve been there, we’ve witnessed this and we know that this is one of the most teeth-gnashing, hand-clenching, keyboard - smashing, frustrating experiences for excited businesses keen to introduce the wonders of HubSpot to their company.
The seemingly magical results are challenging and borderline impossible to achieve without buy in, support, and active use by key members of the business. But how do you get these key members to change their process and start using software they’re unfamiliar with?
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’? We’re not actually talking about puddings here; (although they could be used to help improve user adoption, as we explain below…) we’re talking about the results that people see once they’re using a tool that actually makes their life easier.
The proof of the HubSpot pudding? They want more!
In an ideal world, this is what happens when the people using a tool are fully bought in to using it. They get such a sense of satisfaction out of it that using the new tool is a ‘no-brainer’. The proof of the ‘pudding’ for software like HubSpot is when people use it and enjoy it so much they want more of it.
As Alison Leishman, Strategic Director and co-founder of Spitfire Inbound puts it, “You know adoption is a success when the user goes, ‘Ooh, I wonder if I could also do xyz' and not, ‘but it can’t do abc!”
They are wowed by the data, insights, and assistance the tool can give them and look for more detail and depth as they become familiar with it.
So what have we learned in our 16 years’ combined experience of working with clients using marketing, sales, and service software platforms? And how can you learn from our experience to make your team members want to get involved in adopting their software?
In our experience, these 7 tips make HubSpot adoption faster and more effective, and encourage your business to integrate HubSpot across marketing, sales, and services.
7 tips on encouraging user adoption of HubSpot
1. You have to know what you want, to get what you want (that is: strategy first)
Alison is the strategic lead at Spitfire and knows from years of experience with clients across various industries that there is no advantage to hacking through the long grass without a clear path. Strategy is the clear path that can lead a client to success, especially with a tool like HubSpot that requires as much of a mindset change as a tool change (for many clients, working with a holistic business mindset is a bit of a culture shock!) It’s no surprise that she says it’s important to have a strategy in mind before you roll out software. But why?
Strategy is the clear path that can lead a client to success
She says, “If you just start with no strategy in mind, it’s more difficult to measure your results and impact, and it’s not consistent. But if you set up HubSpot and adapt it based on the results you want to measure and the experience you want your customers to have, success is far more likely.”
She continues, “We’ve heard from people who’ve bought the software and then spent the first three months trying to figure out what they want to do with it. If you don’t have a strategic focus, it will be difficult to get the software up and running easily.”
The same goes for encouraging users to get stuck into the tool. Alison advises sharing it with the team once it’s set up - and that’s why pilots (or trial runs) are important. “A pilot builds anticipation – and it also builds trust, because you get it (close to) right the first time you introduce it to the team. Choose people to be part of the pilot for a good reason. These people work together as a unit and it gives them a boost, especially when they see the technology working and others wanting to become part of that club. It also helps iron out some of the challenges that you will face: because you’ll never get it right on the first go.”
2. Buying is great, but buy-in is more important
Some people love change and embrace new things with vigour and enthusiasm. Some dread change. Gina says, “My team once created an e-book about software adoption called, ‘Does Change Have to be Painful?’ that addressed the issue of fear, user adoption, and change head-on. It was great, but years later what still sticks with me is the concept of the ‘cheerleader’. This is someone who really gets excited about the change and has the drive and passion to encourage others to do the same.
The cheerleader or champion is someone who really gets excited about the change and has the drive and passion to encourage others to do the same.
”Otherwise known as a ‘champion’, Alison agrees that this person plays a key role: “We’ve found that HubSpot adoptions are only really successful when there’s an internal advocate for HubSpot who will ‘champion’ the software and own it.”
Giving them a platform to share their enthusiasm is great. If you do it as part of a fun activity with free food (people rarely turn down delicious treats), you’ll already have their happy, non-resentful attention.
Then, Alison explains, “You can also use the element of social proof. Once person X, our champion user, is able to show the results that they’re getting with the software, this encourages others to see if it could work for them, too. If it’s working well for someone else it convinces them that it’s worth a try.”
3. HubSpot is not just a one-person solution: it’s a team sport
The true power of HubSpot is realised through collaboration. Since HubSpot has a marketing, sales, and service element, if you want to get the most out of it, be sure you have all the different teams who will be using the software involved at all stages of the decision-making, adoption, and rollout process. Being handed a tool and told to “make this work” builds resentment, but including relevant teams from the get-go empowers them and ultimately leads to better results.
Alison says, “If you’re making the decision to use a new tool, the earlier you involve people, the better. They don’t need to be involved in everything, but getting them excited at the beginning is a valuable approach. It’s not about decision-making by committee, but rather about inviting engagement. Try putting it this way, say: ‘We’re going to sign up to this – have a look at its functionality – are there any questions we should be asking HubSpot or the agency?’ You may be surprised at the different questions each stakeholder will ask, and the value that it brings as you use the software down the line.”
However, Alison cautions: “Be certain that you can build that collaboration into your ongoing processes. If people are involved in decision-making they need to be properly consulted – not just asked and then have their opinions dismissed.” She also reminds us that because of the flywheel nature of HubSpot, and the fact that various different elements of the software are designed for different specialisms in the business, learning everything there is to learn about HubSpot takes a lot of time.
“It may suit your needs better to have a champion for each area of the business and pull them together to form a collaborative team,” she says, since each team will have a different perspective, area of interest, and specialist understanding. “Having three people managing to work together and support each other will give you a really valuable perspective,” she adds.
So if you’re using all of the hubs of HubSpot, make sure you have people from sales, services, and marketing involved in the decision-making process and the early adoption and piloting scheme so they can be bought in and become champions of the software once it’s live.
4. How you introduce it is how it will be used
Alison believes that how you introduce software tends to be how it continues to be used. “Setting up the software correctly is so important,” she says. “People will often dive into using a tool before they have a strategy about how it’s going to be used.”
You don’t have to know every single element of the software, (HubSpot has so many fabulous goodies available that it simply isn’t possible to know and understand them all before you begin) but it’s worth doing proper planning before you roll it out to the users – to cover a few of the basics, such as:
- What are your naming conventions?
- How’s it going to be used?
- What are you measuring?
- Why you’re using this tool (the advantages for your business)?
Alison continues, “It’s important to introduce it in the way you want to continue with it. If you introduce people to it in a positive way and explain that using it will make them more productive, give them better measurement, and help them see the impact of their marketing, sales, and services – the adoption is always a lot quicker than simply telling people it exists and saying, ‘you will use it’.”
5. Train people to use the software for the job they do
As we hinted above, people get really excited about HubSpot.So, as Gina says, “Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. People are likely to be a bit overwhelmed at first, so make sure they know what they need to know – and are comfortable using the tool to do the essentials that their job requires. Then give them the freedom and flexibility to try new things and help other people learn from their experiences.”
Alison notes, “HubSpot has a lot of complexity, but not everyone needs to do everything. There are a lot of things that other people will be managing, but it’s important to help each user understand which element is theirs. When a HubSpot rollout is handled properly – with the help of a good agency – part of the training is really hands-on. This is really important, because people who are using it need to know how, and part of this is learned by doing.”
“I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”
“You have to train people on how to use it to the degree to which they’re expected to use it,” says Alison, “but remember that it’s also possible to learn more – there’s a lot of free HubSpot training available.”
6. Keep reminding yourself (and your team) why you bought it
Once you’ve got HubSpot up and running it’s important to remember what drew you to it. What gave you that emotional, ‘Oh wow!’ connection that made you convinced it would help you?
Gina says, “I love going to HubSpot User Groups (there are HUGs all over the world) because they remind me of why I became a HubSpot fan in the first place: they’re always looking for new, interesting ways to help people serve their customers better (often for free) and do more cool stuff!”
You can keep that philosophy of sharing and discussions that take place at HUGs going in your business too. Alison explains why it’s always important to regularly remind yourself why your business is using HubSpot in the first place. “For example, if you’re doing reporting: from a marketing point of view people tend to get really excited about understanding individual user journeys. At Spitfire Inbound we always look at one or two individual users each month when we do reporting so that excitement is kept alive.”
For people who bought HubSpot and are introducing it to their team members: it’s important to understand what functionality excites that team member – and make sure you incorporate that in your regular reporting to maintain their excitement because, as Alison says, “It’s not about what excited you – share that by all means – but it’s about what excited them.”
7. Come stormy weather or sunny skies, you are all in this together
HubSpot is about alignment between sales, marketing, and services. Gina says, “When it all comes together something amazing happens: you get to know your prospects – and then customers, once they become customers – better than you could possibly imagine. But sometimes things go wrong. Just remember: you’re all in it together. There will be times when things go wrong and in some businesses when this happens people feel like they’re trapped in a submarine when someone farted: they all want to escape, but no-one can, so they blame each other until the atmosphere becomes even more foul.
Using HubSpot can actually be like being on a winning sports team. Those teams who win world cups pull together with a single, common purpose. When you’re using HubSpot it’s easy to work together to find solutions to problems, and move forward. The reporting is there, you just need to be comfortable enough and have a robust enough process to ask the questions to identify the root cause: and then fix that, together.”
In conclusion: you’re not alone
No matter what stage of the HubSpot journey you’re at: planning to buy it, doing a pilot programme, rolling it out, or actively using it – remember: you’re not alone! There are more than 56,500 customers using HubSpot around the world (and counting) and many of them are happy to help out other companies like them, so they can benefit from the lessons they’ve already learned. And if that wasn’t enough, there are 3,831 HubSpot partners out there who can also help. At Spitfire Inbound we’re just one of them, but we happen to be a multi-award winner – and a very helpful, friendly bunch of people.
Don’t battle with HubSpot on your own. We can help. Get in touch with us today!