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The Problem with HubSpot Consulting in the Inbound World (and How Businesses Can Fix It)

The Problem with HubSpot Consulting in the Inbound World (and How Businesses Can Fix It) Blog Feature

Carina Duffy

HubSpot Trainer, Co-Host of the Hubcast, INBOUND Speaker, Certified HubSpot Trainer, Retains 10 HubSpot Certifications

August 5th, 2019 min read

With a partner network now in the thousands, HubSpot has no shortage of agencies willing to help their clients utilize the platform. Many of these agencies offer some form of “HubSpot consulting” service, and so do we!

However, in late 2017, we realized there was something fundamentally broken about how we were doing HubSpot consulting and, since then, we’ve completely changed our service offerings and philosophy around how we deliver them.

Before we get into that, let’s start with the background: what’s broken about how agencies traditionally do HubSpot consulting?

The Problem: The traditional way to do HubSpot consulting

Note: This is a generalization of how we’ve seen many agencies operate, including IMPACT.

In order to paint the picture, let’s take a trip back in time to IMPACT two years ago. We were a rapidly growing HubSpot partner agency (HubSpot’s Partner of the Year that year, in fact!), and the vast majority of our clients were HubSpot customers as well.

Here’s what a typical engagement would look like:

  1. First, get to know the client, build out a marketing “roadmap” for what needs to be done in the next 90 days, including strategy and execution.
  2. Next, IMPACT executes on everything in that roadmap, including:
    • Documented marketing strategies (think: lead nurturing, lead scoring, campaign strategies, etc.)
    • Implementing those strategies in HubSpot (think: creating emails, workflows, landing pages, forms — the whole nine yards)
  3. Then, IMPACT is held responsible for the success or failure of those strategies and campaigns.
  4. If we are successful, we continue on for another 90-day cycle, if not, well, you know what happens.

This way of operating generated a lot of revenue for the agency because clients would effectively outsource all of their marketing efforts to us. Not only that, but most prospects seeking HubSpot agencies are typically looking for someone to execute the work for them, so there were always lots of new opportunities coming into our pipeline.

At this point you’re probably thinking, wow, sounds like you were doing pretty well! And while that was true from a revenue perspective, it wasn’t true when we took a step back and looked at the value we were providing our clients.

Remember the old adage “give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”?

You see, the way most agencies operate is by fishing for you. We give you the fish, so you always have to come back to us when you’re hungry.

When you’re reliant on an agency to be able to execute marketing campaigns in HubSpot, you’ll continue to spend dollars over and over again, even if it’s not driving the results you’d hoped for. You may even end up hopping from agency to agency because none of them are truly able to deliver. 

We saw too many clients leave us — not because we didn’t deliver exactly what we said we would (delivering strategies and executing work), but because we weren’t delivering the results that they were looking for (that is, the clear financial return on their investment).

Was it because we weren’t a good marketing agency? That our employees weren’t working tirelessly to create and execute thoughtful and innovative marketing strategies for our clients? No, that wasn’t the case. So what gives?

What gives is that an account manager at a marketing agency will never have the industry knowledge and experience that someone working for a single company has. They don’t know your buyers like your sales team does. They don’t know your business like you do.

The more we realized this, the more we started to see that companies need to learn to fish for themselves when it comes to their marketing, and especially when it comes to their HubSpot usage. 

When we realized this as an agency, we decided to make a change, and it’s shifted the whole trajectory of our business model. 

The Change: Teach a man to fish

At IMPACT, moved from the “Do It For You” model to the “Teach It To You” model.

Now, let’s be clear, there are certain specialized, technical pieces of HubSpot that require experienced developers, and we still offer those “Do It For You”-style services. These include services like HubSpot CMS website development, custom coded modules, pricing calculators, and custom coded quizzes.

However, we recognize that many activities we used to do for clients in HubSpot did not require any specialized skills or experience, but simply knowledge and training on how to use the tools, (and maybe some as-needed guidance). This includes things like:

  • Drafting and scheduling blog posts, social posts and emails
  • Creating lead nurturing workflows
  • Setting up lead scoring
  • Using and setting lifecycle stages

With this shift, we gave the client back ownership of their success with the tools. We give them all of the technical and strategic knowledge we possibly can so they can do their day-to-day independent from us, only pulling us in to help troubleshoot, answer questions, or give feedback.

Not only does it give back ownership to the client, it also allows us to spend more of our time staying on the cutting edge of the inbound sales and marketing industry so we can bring our clients the latest ideas, strategies, and successes.

Okay, you say, this all sounds peachy, but does it actually work? I’m so glad you asked...

The Result: Success like we’ve never seen

Before we jump into the successes we’ve seen from this model, it’s worth noting that HubSpot consulting at IMPACT rarely happens in a vacuum. It happens alongside a slew of other “teach you how to fish” services around content and inbound marketing and sales, video sales and marketing, and paid advertising.

Why does this matter? Because being really good at using HubSpot isn’t what will ultimately make you successful — it is simply a toolset you can use to drive success. If you’re at the cutting edge of all of the latest content, video, and paid strategies, you’re going to have everything you need to execute effectively in HubSpot. 

That being said, here are some of the real-world results we’ve seen from clients who worked with us solely for our “teach you how to fish” services:

AIS increased its organic website traffic from 494 visits per month to over 5,000 visits per month, increased new contacts by 350%, and can attribute $500K in sales to the changes its made and things it learned with IMPACT. (Don’t believe me? Watch the video here!)

Mazzella Companies went from 5,500 visits per month to 20,000, from 50 leads per month to 240, and increased sales revenue almost $20M since implementing our training. (Still don’t believe me? Watch the video here!)

Aquila Commercial’s organic traffic went from 2,000 visits per month to 23,000, and the company now receives an average of 200 quality leads generated per month from its inbound efforts. (STILL don’t believe me?! Watch the video here!)

And these are just some of our favorites

How Agencies Can Adjust

From our experience, agencies will only be able to fix this consulting problem with a fundamental shift in mindset. We have to change our thinking from “how do I get the most money out of this client for the longest amount of time” to “how can we help this client achieve real-world success in a way that is lasting for them?”

We have to let go of thinking that we can’t give away our “secret sauce.” This way of thinking puts the agency above the client, and the more this happens the uglier it gets. You start making decisions based on making clients reliant upon your services, rather than based on what will help them drive results.

And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from our shift in HubSpot consulting, it’s that real-world results are really what’s good for business. For agencies and for clients.

If you’re reading this article and currently looking for a HubSpot agency to partner with, I highly suggest vetting them to make sure they’ll be educating you as you work with them, and not just implementing things based on a “secret sauce” they have!

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