Episode 6 of our brand new podcast, Take Flight, is out! In this episode, Chaz and Motso chat to the team at Spitfire about life as a working parent. Sasha, Mojalefa and LJ share their embarrassing moments with their kiddies and give all the parents some helpful advice on how to juggle work and parenting, especially while working from home.
Sasha-Lia Coimbra is our Senior Inbound Implementer. She has been in the marketing industry for around 10 years. She is a mother of 3 beautiful children and has recently given birth to a gorgeous baby boy.
The highlight of Spitfire’s online year end function was when Sasha’s 2-year-old baby's butt flew across our screen because she was potty training at the time. The great thing about Spitfire is that the culture wholeheartedly supports parents and we know the ups and downs of working from home with kids around, so we all had a good laugh!
Sasha’s main piece of advice to working parents is to find a daily routine and be strategic in planning activities to entertain the kids.
"Find a daily routine. I know that it is very hard to stick to one because kids are so unpredictable. But I'd find that daily routine.”
“So, you need to be strategic about this and think nicely, how am I going to entertain these children so I can work and do what I need to do?”
“Think of ways in which you can entertain your kiddies so that you do get that time to sit and work.”
Mojalefa Mothudi is a dad to a lovely 5 year old, and his best advice is to set clear boundaries, not only with your child, but your colleagues as well.
“And the second thing is setting boundaries for your child. It goes back to what we're talking about, they know that this is your parents' workspace. And with that, I actually found that rewarding them helps.”
“And then another part of that setting boundaries, I think, is setting boundaries with your colleagues, or the people you work with letting them know. And it sounds like you're being a bit confrontational, but when you just let someone know that, “Listen, this is something that's really important to me.”
LJ Geekie is a mum to two little guys aged 5 and 9. Her little one is quite the adventurous type as he was spotted by a client, during an online meeting, trying to escape through the burglar bars. LJ advises that some arts and crafts might do the trick to keep the little ones entertained.
“And what I like to do with the boys is we do it as a family. So we'll all sit together and try to do the same drawing and then personalize a little bit. And I've got them stuck up on my walls here around me. So if you're ever having a down day or the boys aren't around, I look at those and they just lift my spirits.”
These parents, along with all the other working parents, are superhumans and we take our hats off to them for being able to juggle work, kids, and household responsibilities all at the same time.
Listen to Episode 6 in full here:
Here is a copy of the transcript.
What did you think of Episode 6? Do you have any comments or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us here.
Do better, be better! Welcome to the Spitfire Podcast Take Flight. We are your hosts Motso and Chaz, Inbound Marketing specialists at Spitfire Inbound.
We're starting to wind down for the festive season. I'm sure we can all agree that this time of the year comes with a different kind of stress, finishing up tasks, sending reports to clients and prepping for the New Year. Now imagine adding little human being’s end of year to that! Finishing up school, collecting reports and needing to be entertained for the holidays.
Part of the Spitfire Culture is acknowledging that being a parent is, in itself, a full-time job, which is only highlighted during the holidays. So we thought that we'd end the year with some stories and tips and tricks from our working parents.
Today, we'll be talking to our Paid Media specialist, Mojalefa Mothudi, our Senior Inbound Implementer, Sasha-Lia Coimbra, who's literally just come back from maternity leave and LJ Geekie, our Inbound Success Manager. We'll chat about the challenges they face being working parents, but also how Spitfire’s culture helps them be the best marketers and parents they can be. So welcome everybody!
Thank you so much for joining us today, parentals of Spitfire. Yes. Woohoo! Yay! So we're going to start off first by asking how long you've been a working parent and then you can even throw in how many children you have and how old are they? Who wants to start?
I want to start because I feel like I'm the only one who has one child. I've got a little girl. She's five years old. Her name is Kamano. She's going to grade zero next year actually.
Oh, is that grade R?
Nice! Big school.
Yes, it's pretty much the introduction to big school.
That's so exciting. and then Sasha, how many babies do you have?
So I have three, two girls and one boy. My eldest is 10 years old. My middle child is two and the youngest, a boy, who is four months.
We mentioned earlier that you've just come back from maternity leave.
In the background just know it's my little boy. Yeah.
He wants to be on the podcast too, Mom.
So I've got two little guys, so my eldest is nine, and my youngest is five, he's also going into grade R next year. So, exciting times, it's been lots of fun this week, getting reports and finding out if they're going into the next grade.
Oh my goodness. Is it the same as reporting to a client?
So stressful when the reports come home.
Isn't it expected though? I remember when I was in primary school I didn't have that anxiety, but I knew my parents probably did, but I don't know. Do your kids give you that confidence that "Mom, just calm down everything is alright?" Or are they also not sure as well?
So my eldest loves to antagonize. And he'll go, "No, Mom, I don't know how I did. I don't know if I'm going to the next grade." He's a little smarty and he definitely likes to keep Mom on edge and the little guy couldn't care; he has a blast at preschool and that's all that matters.
Mm-hmm cool. We've got the chat running on the side here, and Mo is like '”Remember the third one’s your bird”.
Yeah. Sorry about him. He wants to be on the podcast too.
I'll start with you Sash. How long have you been a working parent and obviously, you've already mentioned that you've got three kids. Since you've started working, how has it been? knowing that you're a parent and also having to work as well?
so I've been working since I was 18, so it's been 10 years . Wow, and I think before that, when I was in school, I used to do a lot of part-time jobs, such as working on weekends and stuff. So it feels like I've been working forever. So it has been 10 years since I've been working. I've mostly been in the marketing industry. So I think when I was younger, it was more retail. I can't imagine working retail hours and having three kiddies, so I'm very blessed to have a job where I can actually work remotely and, you know, still be a mom as well as working. So, I feel really blessed for that, you know, we have this opportunity to work remotely and still be parents.
It's super cool. I mean, retail. Yeah. That's insane. you know, working remotely, of course, you've got your children with you, but that, in itself, must come with mad challenges. Like just having to say to a client, "Sorry, I've got a baba here", or in LJ's case, sometimes a birdy, but LJ, I want to bring you in on this one. What is the funniest or wildest or most embarrassing 'parent while working' moment that you've encountered?
Thankfully I haven't had too many. You get the kid noises in the background and all the rest, but one day we were sitting in a morning meeting and I was very intent on this meeting, deeply involved in discussions. And someone turned around and said, "Um, LJ, something is trying to escape out your burglar bars!" And I had my little guy climbing the burglar bars of the window behind me, no shirts on! I really feel like mom of the year at that moment. But I'm very blessed with kids who respect the fact that we have the workspace and I don't know what it's like for Sash and Mo, but they tend to stay away from the office and know that Mom is working and being able to be at home and get them in that environment where there's certain places that you can't do specific things, has been a nice opportunity for me to kind of teach them the ways of the world, I suppose. Yeah. You know, there's certain times when you can't just say what you're thinking or run into a room shrieking. And I think that's a benefit that comes from working at home.
Oh, I love that! Mo, do you have any embarrassing or wild moments with your kiddy?
With me, I've learned the trick. I've learned the trick, every time when I go into a meeting or I get a work call. I always go, "This is my boss calling. This is my boss”. The funny part is every now and again, when I'm talking to one of my colleagues, she'd come in and be like, "Is that your boss? Is that your boss?"
According to my daughter, I'm like the most junior staff member, everyone is just my boss.
So that's the funniest thing. That's how I trained her. But every now and again, because we live in a flat, and the easiest, the most quiet place to work in, or the most convenient place to work in is actually her room. Because on a usual day, she's at school. And then for the majority of the day, that's just the easiest place. But when she comes back or now during school holidays, there will be times where she'll just burst through the door and she's like, "I need to get my shoes. I need to get my shoes right now!" And I'm like, “Whatever”. Yeah. So that is the dynamics of living and working from home.
She's going to be like, "Excuse me, you can step into my office!"
Exactly. Yeah. I also, every now and again, find myself just telling myself that, yeah, I need to respect her space also, as much as it is her room and I'm working in it. I need to also just think that it is her room. She will have to come in.
I love the trajectory that's coming through here, though, if that's the right word. But, from what LJ and Mo said, you know, it's almost working or having your children at home while you're working from home, you get to teach them more than what's obvious. I mean, they are around you more, but you are teaching them boundaries and they're teaching you boundaries as well, because you need to separate the life and workspace. Kind of normal remote working issues that people have, right? Like getting out of your PJs, I guess, in the morning. But when you wake up, instead of just sitting (like I do, I still need to learn that), but it's really cool because you can have them around and you can teach them those boundaries and space and time. And there's a time and a place for everything.
The funny part is she seems to understand those boundaries more when I'm working in her room, than when I'm in the toilet, using the bathroom.
But that's work and play Mo!.
She wants to have a full on conversation while I'm in the bathroom. So I need to teach her those boundaries.
That's amazing. And you Sash? Do you have any, especially with your 10 year old and working from the beginning, do you have any wild moments that have happened while you were working from home?
With me at least my 10 year old is at school. So, I actually wait for her to get home so she can kind of help me with the two smaller ones. But with the smaller ones, I mean, one is two and the other one is four months, so they don't know boundaries. They don't know, you know, Mommy's in a meeting now I have to keep quiet. So it's a bit harder for me. Like with my two year old, if I'm like, "Ssshh I'm in meeting," she'll come to the laptop and be like, "Hello, hello. I want to say hello." You know? So she wants to kinda join the meeting and talk with mommy. But one funny moment that happened, I was in a zoom call and I had to keep my camera on. Of course, you know, I'm potty training, the two old, so I had taken off her nappy obviously to potty train her. I moved her from the one end of the bed to the other side, and you know, her whole butt passed the screen and I thought no one had seen, but Mo actually was like, "Hey, Sasha, was that a butt that just passed us?"
Yeah, it's a bit more challenging, but like you say, we need to just, you know, before you begin your meetings or anything, just let your client know or, you know, internally they would already understand because they know how many kids you have, et cetera, but for your clients, I think just let them know, "Listen, you know, if you do hear funny noises of crying, you know, I apologize in advance because the kiddies are around at home."
Yeah. If you see any bare bums, I'm sorry, we're potty training!
So I guess that's basically some of the challenges, but I'm sure there are other challenges that you have that you guys have faced when working from home and having to be with the kids at home. So I just want to find out, specifically from you LJ, like, what are other challenges that you face? I know you are working from home and kids, obviously you have to take them to school, they have to get back to school. So what are some of the daily challenges that you face and how do you tackle those daily challenges that you face when it comes to making sure that your day and their day goes according to plan?
According to plan? That's not a thing after you have kids. No more plans. Those go out the window. I'm super lucky in that I've got my Mum living with us. So she steps in and helps a lot during the day, but there are days when the kids have had a rough time at school or there's something special that they want to do and they want Mom's attention. And I think it's almost harder working from home in those situations, because they can see me, but know that they have to be away from me for a certain amount of time. So every day, I try and make sure that there's that line that I draw and I say, “Right, Mom's closing the laptop now. Even if there's something to do, I'll do it after I've spent some time with you” and we'll go and hang out.
And it's not always something big and special that you have to do. Just a walk in the garden or watching a 15 minute cartoon together, that closeness. But yeah, it is difficult when you can see them and can't just walk away from a client meeting, go and give them a hug when they need it. But I'm super blessed to have my mummy around, to step in and help with collection from school, if there's a meeting at that time. And yes, my husband also works from home. So we get to shuffle the responsibilities a little bit and just make it work. Initially, it was a difficult transition to make from being in an office all day to being at home all day. There are days when I want to rip my hair out. Two boys, they can fight, but it's an opportunity. Like we said, it's a teaching thing. And as much as we can teach them stuff, we can also see them more and learn from them. It's just watching them sometimes that you learn to appreciate the little things and that five minute walk in the garden changes your whole mindset of a day.
100%. So that's interesting if you, and I know this is a loaded question and specifically when it comes to parenting, would you choose now knowing how remote working is and seeing how that works versus over an office? And only specific to parenting, because maybe being in an office is more productive for some than remote (that's a whole other story), but what would you choose with seeing how it's been?
I love working remotely. I think a hard one for me when I was purely office based was if they were sick, it is heart wrenching to tear yourself away from a sick child. Being at home, I don't have to be with them the whole day, but I can go and pop through to give them a kiss when I'm making a cup of coffee. I appreciate it so much. I wouldn't go back to working in an office full time, given the choice.
Well, that was the story with you Mo with your baby girl, and she hurt her head or something. And she was in a neck brace?
Oh yes. Oh, she was doing cartwheels. So it turns out it wasn't her head. She strained her upper shoulder and lower neck. So yeah, she was doing cartwheels on this deep embankment or something.
Was she around you when she was doing that? Was that at school?
No, this is while we're in the line for voting.
Yeah. And like, imagine, that was one of the things… I've always worked in the office and I can't say that I've ever really known who the parents are around me. I mean, you'll figure out that maybe this person has, whatever, but I've just seen how you've been able to, at Spitfire specifically as parents, that if you need to jump that there are no questions asked and, you know, your girl is in a neck brace! And LJ was saying how, when you have a sick child, it's difficult to stay away. I mean, I can't imagine how stressful that would be if now you have to go into the office or you're not allowed to be a parent. Yeah.
I mean, just sharing my own personal story. I really appreciate it, I don't think it's just only about remote working. I think it's also about the culture of the organization. I've been in positions where my superior would be asking, “How come you're not putting in the same amount of hours as you used to? You used to be so dedicated and stuff like that”. And it was when I first started to live with my, well at that time when I was just a partner, but my wife, it was when my wife and my daughter moved in and I had to spend more family time. I couldn't leave the office at half seven and come in at half past six. I had more responsibilities at home. So it's not only just about when they're sick or when things are not going well, but just generally speaking, you just want to spend quality time with your child and your partner, and then just be around, just be a present parent, not just be heard of.
So with me, I think we need to also just look at it from that perspective. A lot of organizations will tell you that we welcome people with parents. I mean, we welcome parents with kids, but when you really look at it, you'll notice that, say your child is sickly, then your manager would start asking, not even asking, but making those comments like, 'Your child is quite sick, hey?' So that is a very loaded statement. When somebody says your child is quite sick a lot, these days, you end up feeling like, “What do I even say to that?” So I think a lot of organizations need to think about the demands that go with being a parent. I mean, just over the last year, COVID has also changed the environment for a lot of people.
For instance, besides the working from home thing, any slight cough, they will call you at school and say, “Your child is not feeling well, please come and pick them up”. And if you are not working remotely, that means leave days. That means that means you are being away. Oh, and remember, even if you are working remotely, sometimes they'll call you if your child is not feeling well. And you have to go pick up at that time you had a meeting that you had to attend. So I think personally, I think more organizations need to be more flexible, but employees also, we need to strike a balance to say 'Yes, I understand, I wasn't available. I was totally offline between eight and 11. So how do I catch up?' So I also find myself catching up a lot of time because of the distractions that come with having a child.
That's so interesting that you mentioned specifically that companies will say, you know, we welcome working parents. And then you get there... I mean, me working at Spitfire versus other jobs that I had, not having a child (just me in general), and I've mentioned this to a few teammates before, because I was a bit sick a month ago and I mean, people would make you feel bad for it, you know, at other organizations. Or you feel like you can't take a day off because you know, there's anxiety or stress that's implied, whereas “Hello, we're human”. And with having parents and knowing that people are parents, then that's an empathetic outlook, right? Like obviously we know you need to do this as long as you catch up on your working hours. And we believe that you will do that. And that's a culture that we instill. LJ, Sasha, have you had any, not horror stories, but have you ever as a parent felt that you can't do your job at a different organization? Or is that just a Mo thing?
I want to say it's just a Mo thing, but I'm sure it's not. Again, I've been lucky in places that I've worked and have been accepting of me being a parent. Some of the big challenges for me though, I think came in from maternity leave. So it is a long period of time that you're away from the workplace and you need to adjust to it. With my second pregnancy, I did go back after, I think it was about two and a half to three months. So I went back a little bit earlier. And that was also a difficult one, but the business needed support. Thankfully they were kind of flexible and there were certain days where I had to go for clinic checkups or the likes and it was okay, but nothing like Spitfire. So I'm thrilled that Mo brought that up and mentioned the culture in the business is such that, you know, so what if one of my guys comes and sticks their head onto the camera during a team meeting, you're not judged for it. The team will wave and say hi and make the little ones feel special as well, like they're part of the team. Yeah.
I was actually going to ask if your children have any favourites of our colleagues? I can't say that I've met anyone properly, but are there any favourites? Shout out to whoever's listening to this.
So they've met Lauren Lokker and love Lauren Lokker. But they love when we sometimes have sessions where we play online games. They love coming and getting involved and seeing what crazy antics the team gets up to.
I remember for our end of year party, Shiran's son was in the background and we were playing that drawing game and he's like, 'What are you drawing?' It was so cute. And Sash, with LJ mentioning maternity leave. Did you, I don't actually know your working experience, but versus Spitfire, how was that for you? And again, welcome back.
Thanks. It's great to be back. Look, like I said, I've always basically worked in the marketing industry, so I have always kind of had that privilege to work from home. Well, luckily actually I've taken both maternity leave at Spitfire, so I've been there for four years and I've had both my smaller kids while working at Spitfire. So, yeah, I'm just really blessed to have had the opportunity to not only just come back after three months, but still stay at home and work remotely. So it's kind of like, you just carry on with your maternity, but you're working, you know, I didn't have to have that sad moment when you take your baby to crèche because you have to go back to the office. So, you know, it's been really great that I could continue to look after the smaller ones at home and not have to take them to crèche, but still be able to work.
And like LJ said, it's really nice that Spitfire is very understanding because if you know, you're in a client meeting or internal meeting and your child screams, “Mommy, I want food!” or something, you know, no one is judging you. They're like just, you know, take a five minute break and go and give your child something to eat. They're very, very understanding. And I think most companies should follow that culture because I mean, there's so many parents out there and it's really nice if your company understands that you are parents and that you have kids, small kids, big kids, you know, that you need to see to. So I guess it's just about balance, like knowing that you are at home, you need to balance your work life and, you know, looking after your kids. So finding a routine, you know, that you actually stick to, it's not easy when you have to stick to one routine every day, we wish…
But yeah, just finding that balance and making sure that if you don't do everything that you need during the day that you do it at night, when you have that extra time to yourself. So that's what I mainly do, maybe during the day, I'm not saying I don't work, I do work, but catching up on those hours at night, when you're sitting alone and you have that free time. So just balance for me, that's what, I would suggest to all the working moms and dads out there.
Cool. And I think that leads us into our next question. I'd like to ask you Sasha, in terms of like parents and obviously working parents, do you have any advice that you'll give working parents who are juggling the work that has to be done at home and also the work that you have to do at work? What advice would you give to a working parent?
Find a daily routine. I know that it is very hard to stick to one because kids are so unpredictable. But I'd find that daily routine. When kids are younger, we can actually get them into a routine, so sticking to it and being consistent so that, you know, I have a meeting at one and one o'clock is nap time. So you know that you are free during that time for an hour, an hour and a half. Write out your daily tasks. Being a parent also, and your kids are at home, you tend to forget things because they constantly distract you or they want your attention. And so I think writing your daily tasks down; whenever you get to sit down then looking at it and be like, oh yes, you know, not forgetting anything because your kid distracted you or because she or he wanted yogurt or something. And then just find ways to entertain your kiddies at home, especially during holiday seasons. We still work while they're on holiday and kids tend to get very bored.
So, you need to be strategic about this and think nicely, how am I going to entertain these children so I can work and do what I need to do? So, yeah, I just normally like to buy arts and crafts paint, like a big cardboard and let them just mess with the paint outside a little bit, or put on an interesting movie or something like that. So just yes. Think of ways in which you can entertain your kiddies so that you do get that time to sit and work.
I was just about to ask LJ. I know that she can be the arts and crafts queen. Are there any specific arts and crafts that you have planned for your kiddies during the holiday while you're still working?
Everything Christmas! we found a really cool YouTube channel that's drawing and it gives you step by step for all the different ages. And what I like to do with the boys is we do it as a family. So we'll all sit together and try to do the same drawing and then personalize a little bit. And I've got them stuck up on my walls here around me. So if you're ever having a down day or the boys aren't around, I look at those and they just lift my spirits, but also trying to keep them out of Mom's arts and crafts box.
She has her own box.
That’s mine, you know!
That's amazing. And what would you say that your best advice would be for parents juggling work and home?
I love Sasha's advice on a routine and something I don't do very well in my house. I kind of give the boys free reign and walk out into a mess at the end of every day. I think it's being kind to yourself is a big one, for me, remembering that you're human you're never going to get parenting perfected, in my opinion. Maybe I just tell myself that to sleep better at night. You're not going to get everything right. Do the best you can and give yourself credit for doing the best you can.
I love that. And Mo, advice to parents juggling work from home?
Yeah, 100% agree with the routines. Routines are like the best antidote for anything related to parenting. So yeah, even when she's struggling to sleep, just know that I haven't been following the routine quite well. Yeah. And the second thing is setting boundaries for your child. It goes back to what we're talking about, they know that this is your parents' workspace. You get what I'm saying? And with that, I actually found that rewarding them helps. So like when my daughter, usually around this time is when she'd start coming to the room. Today, she's not feeling well, so that's why she's not doing it. So that's when she'd start coming into the room and be like, "Hey, don't you want to come and watch this with me on TV?" Around four o'clock, I know it's like clockwork and then how I do it is exactly like how Sash and LJ do it.
I promised them that later, they would let me finish my work, then later that means I have more time to sit with her and then we can draw, or we can paint or something like that. So letting her know that if she's on her best behaviour, that frees me up later. And then another part of that setting boundaries, I think, is setting boundaries with your colleagues, or the people you work with letting them know. And it sounds like you're being a bit confrontational, but when you just let someone know that, “Listen, this is something that's really important to me. I need this and this and this’” An easy example is saying, “My daughter's not feeling well, I can't make it to that meeting”, or “I can't make it to that session, please find another time for us where I can join that meeting.” You're not saying to this person just a hard no, you're explaining the situation, and you're saying, “Please, can we find an alternate solution?” So I think that's an easy way to set boundaries. And that happens quite a lot in our company where we've got so many moms and dads.
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So not just, not just tips and tricks within yourself, but even putting that out there and just being transparent and saying, “Hey, kiddie alert; kiddie on the loose…needs to have some time for this”.
Yeah, totally. I mean, just yesterday one of my colleagues asked me, “Can you help me with training with this?' And we'd agreed that we'd meet up in the office and… because that type of training is just so much better when you're doing it face to face… But I just told them that, “Listen, the little one is not feeling well, I actually need to take her to the doctor. So can we just rather find another time?”
And they accepted and they were like, “Yes, let's do this! Cause if baby Mo's happy, then that means Mo will be happy too”. Exactly. Well, I just wanted to say thank you so much to all of you. You are all incredible to work with, but even more incredible parents. I don't know how you do it. I think it's very admirable…and when I do, I know exactly where to come to for all the tips and tricks. So yeah. Thank you so much for joining us today and I'm going to make it my mission to become all of your children's favourites. Favourite auntie from Spitfire!
Thank you guys for having us. It was great!
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We hope you enjoyed our last episode for 2021. We had so much fun hosting over the past three months, and we can't wait to come back with fresh new content relevant to the marketing industry and inbound and HubSpot junkies. Be sure to check out the blog post connected to this episode at Spitfireinbound.com and subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
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We have new Woman in Marketing episodes lined up along with what 2022 Inbound Marketing trends to look out for. Please let us know what you would like to hear from us in the New Year by leaving us a voice note on Anchor or a comment below. Remember all links are in the description below. Thanks again. See you soon. Bye!