COVID-19 has disrupted “business as usual” for companies of all sizes and shapes. As the initial shock and awe start to subside, business decision-makers must figure out how they need to adjust customer, partner and employee engagement strategies amidst ongoing uncertainty.
With that in mind, I was interested in talking with Kipp Bodnar, Chief Marketing Officer at HubSpot, about how the company, a leader in providing marketing, sales and customer service solutions to customers, is responding to provide all of its constituents with a more relevant experience during this tough time.
Providing More Value to Customers
Online business solutions are playing a vital role in helping SMBs weather the COVID-19 storm. In SMB Group’s Impact of Covid-19 on SMB Study, 77% of respondents rated online business applications as being extremely valuable in sustaining their businesses during this crisis.
HubSpot is making it easier for both its existing and new customers to steer through this difficult situation by providing more functionality, reduced pricing and guidance to help customers sustain their businesses.
The vendor has offered free versions of its CRM since 2014, and of its marketing solution since 2016, and these solutions are still available. But HubSpot is now also offering formerly paid Meetings functionality, Quotes, E-Sign, and 1:1 Video tools available for free for 90 days from activation to help businesses move more of their operations online.
HubSpot has also slashed the price of its Starter Growth Suite by more than 50%, from $112.50 USD/month to $50 USD/month. HubSpot will provide this reduced pricing to both existing and new Starter Growth Suite customers for 12 months from the time of purchase. In addition, HubSpot decided to hold off on a planned price increase for new Sales Hub Professional seats.
To help businesses stay in touch with their customers and communities, HubSpot also suspended email marketing send limits for Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise customers, and raised calling limits to 2,000 minutes/month for Starter and Professional customers of Sales Hub and Service Hub for 90 days.
Because no one really knows what “good” will look like as we come out of this situation, HubSpot is also offering a free benchmarking tool to help SMBs figure this out. Using aggregated, anonymize data from 70,000+ HubSpot customer, the tool provides SMBs with data points based on industry, company size and other parameters.
HubSpot is also adjusting the marketing for its new Enterprise CMS product. Slated to launch with full fanfare—ad buys, social marketing, etc.—HubSpot shifted to more of a rolling launch. While the new solution is available for sale and onboarding now, it intends to stagger the marketing campaign in the coming weeks.
Supporting Partners with Commission Advances and Virtual Events
Many of HubSpot’s partners are SMBs themselves. To help them deal with cash flow concerns and avoid layoffs, HubSpot is offering a six-month advance on commissions from HubSpot to all Platinum, Diamond, and Elite Solutions Partners, and speeding up Q1 commissions for all of its solutions partners.
The vendor has also reimagined all of its physical world partner events for the virtual world. For instance, HubSpot has in-person partner events around the world each spring to provide partners. These events not only provide partners with deep product training, but also help build relationships and community between HubSpot and its partners. Since people’s attention spans are more limited online, HubSpot cut out content and accommodated more Q&A, using pre-submitted questions, hand raising and chat.
Transitioning to a Fully Virtual Workforce
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, about 10% of HubSpot’s 3,400 employees regularly worked from home. Since early March, HubSpot has required all of its employees to work from home. HubSpot employees were already using several online, internal communications tools prior to the pandemic, including the HubSpot Wiki, Zoom, Slack, Loom, and email. This made the transition easier, and has enabled HubSpot to continue to deliver 24/7 support to customers.
Serendipitously, the company had hired its first remote work and inclusion program manager at the beginning of 2019, and she has implemented several programs to support remote workers. For example, HubSpot has moved all of its HubTalks to the virtual world. The company is using HubTalks to spin up things such as virtual music classes, parent workshops, substance abuse support and other topics that provide employees with community and support. In addition, the company runs a remote water cooler, and has dedicated remote Slack channels.
HubSpot has also created a fully virtual recruitment process in the wake of the virus. All candidate interviews are conducted via phone or Zoom. The company has also established a fully virtual onboarding process to get new hires set up, trained and introduced to company culture online.
I don’t think any of us can fully predict all the ways in which businesses will be reshaped by this virus. And the rule book for how to steer a business through something like this has yet to be written.
But all companies can start to anticipate how things will be different, and adjust their business practices and models to steer through the crisis.
HubSpot’s approach demonstrates both empathy and action. The company has pivoted to provide its customers with more value, more quickly, ease partners’ cash flow concerns, and empower employees and new hires with tools and community to support them in a virtual world. It will be interesting to see what HubSpot—and other companies—learn what they can do a little differently, what they can do a little better, and what sticks as the crisis begins to subside.
© SMB Group 2020