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Episode 44: HubSpot or Salesforce - How to Choose the Platform for You

by Hannah Rose | Jan 25, 2023 10:00:00 AM

It’s the first recorded podcast of 2023 and the first podcast with our new company name, Lift! New year, new name. This does not mean that we will be changing the name again next year, nor will we be changing our project management system any time soon.

Our topic today comes from something that has formed and has been seen on LinkedIn. It’s kind of like when Twilight came out and people chose either Team Jacob or Team Edward, except now it’s Team HubSpot or Team Salesforce. There’s also the question floating around on whether Salesforce is viable. Instead of picking a team, Doug and Jess are going to get into when you’d use one over the other.




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Show Notes:

Recently online you either bleed blue or you bleed orange. By now you should know that we here at Lift are on Team HubSpot. We’re kind of like a booster club because HubSpot doesn’t wake up every day and ask what they can do to make Lift more money. In the past 12 to 18 months, they’ve really come to understand and embrace the idea that there’s a value in partners outside of them bringing in new business. The Salesforce implementation partner ecosystem has always been much more on service delivery and management.

It favors us when people are favorable to HubSpot. We are positioned to HubSpot. That’s where our deep expertise is. It’s important that whether you lean one way or the other, that you understand the legitimacy of when either HubSpot or Salesforce would be the better option to use. 

There’s a really boring element of whether you’re on Team HubSpot or Team Salesforce. You have this massive back and forth and everything becomes completely reductive in a way. Doug thought it would be worthwhile to follow up the CRM implementation series to share our perspective on when HubSpot is the better choice and when Salesforce is the better choice. 

But before we get there, let’s take a step back. 

The first decision that you’re making is a platform decision whether you realize it or not. To find out which is your better option is not to look at the actual CRM nor the features/tools. You have to look at the platform. 

There are three platform options available to utilize: HubSpot, Salesforce, or no platform. The dominant platform right now is no platform especially in smaller businesses. 

In Doug’s opinion, what makes a platform a platform is that things work better because of the platform. For example, if your tech stack is disconnected you do not have a platform because every piece is individual and distinct. Fundamentally Salesforce is a build on platform so you’re going to use them as the foundation of whatever motion you’re going to run. HubSpot is a work in platform. 

What is your underlying function? 

In our Revenue Acceleration Manifesto we talk about some of this. 

Doug saw a tweet the other day that included a list of future sales essentials: 

  • Vidyard
  • SalesLoft
  • Reach HQ
  • Chili Piper
  • Salesforce
  • Panda Doc
  • Turtl
  • Leadfeeder
  • Drift

That’s a lot of applications. You can do the core of these tools with HubSpot. Does that mean you should do all of that with one application? Doug would say everything being equal, less is better, but not everything is equal. 

There’s an application called Gong which is best in class for what they do. Is HubSpot’s call recording conversational intelligence in the same league or class as Gong? No. One question Doug would ask is what difference does it make? Realize that when you’re using HubSpot’s you’re not paying for it, and it’s all in one place. With Salesforce, you’re building on the platform, so the level of customization and fit is a higher fidelity than anything else. You can run end to end business processes frontstage and backstage. The other thing to keep in mind too is when we’re talking about Salesforce or HubSpot, we have to emphasize that we’re talking about Salesforce CRM. We were on a call with someone and they asked the question about HubSpot on whether they could change the color of text in specific places or whether they could change the name on a tab. You can’t. In Salesforce you can because you’re building on it and taking a multi-application approach. It’s going to require a much higher level and a deeper level of support. Salesforce is IT centric and HubSpot is business line centric. Your cost is going to be higher on Salesforce.

Why would you use Salesforce? 

You’re looking at a system that’s going to be more about end to end. There are times where that makes sense, and there are a lot of times where that doesn’t make sense. You might look and say why would someone pay a lot of money for sales seats. If the plan is to go public and you’re trying to generate billions of dollars of enterprise value and you’re spending a few million dollars to get there, that isn’t a bad thing. If you have a good strategy and a good business process, you can make the instance act one way for one group and another way for another group. At that point the juice is worth the squeeze. 

When is Salesforce not the right one?

Typically if you’re trying to get acceleration, if you’re trying to drive adoption, if you’re trying to drive utilization and you’re looking at a one tool, the juice will not be worth the squeeze. It won’t generate the emphasis. If you don’t have a team large enough to support and you’re in early days of growth in your scale up, the iterations and time it will take to build are going to be a lot harder. 

The upside to HubSpot is that it’s a lighter and faster platform to implement and use. BUT, some of the easier to use is that it is not as flexible or extendable. The magic of HubSpot and what makes HubSpot so easy to use is it brings a very strong point-of-view. One of the reasons Doug thinks we’re having success where we’re having it is because we understand how to understand the company to take advantage of the point-of-view.

Doug is in the middle of a sales cycle right now with a large company that is seriously considering both HubSpot and Salesforce. He was talking to the HubSpot rep and they were wondering why someone would go to Salesforce. If they want to make the investment in three full-time Salesforce admins and if the company is large enough, they could make the economic justification for an allocation of resources to go with Salesforce. We have to acknowledge that Salesforce might be the right choice for them. By not jumping into “Salesforce is bad,” we’ve been able to lead them to a better place

Why go HubSpot? 

HubSpot provides a single location. You get a suite of tools. Your core needs are addressed in a much simpler fashion and now you can use applications that you really need for special capabilities. Most of them in their integrations are designed to bring their interface into HubSpot, so everyone is working with fewer tools. It’s no code with limited exceptions. 

It feels like Doug is making the Salesforce argument more today than the HubSpot argument and some of the reason for that is that he makes the HubSpot argument all the time. The only reason to use Salesforce over HubSpot with some exceptions is that you don’t want to invest the time in a strong business process. A bad HubSpot implementation will hurt you more than a bad Salesforce implementation.

What we all have to do is get past the “what color shirt do you wear,” and go into what’s the job that we’re trying to get done. What are the key contributors? What Jess is hearing is that when you’re looking at Salesforce versus HubSpot, the key things to look at are your size of team, what support you have on the platform, how many applications are running, and if you’re not clear on your business process it’s going to be really impactful.

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