HubSpot’s INBOUND 2021 conference went virtual for the second year in a row, offering a plethora of workshops and spotlight sessions from many notable presenters, including the likes of Spike Lee and Oprah herself (sidenote: still fangirling over here — you know your industry is moving in the right direction when Oprah takes notice).
Of course, INBOUND wouldn’t be INBOUND without appearances from Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot co-founder and CTO, and Brian Halligan, HubSpot Co-founder and Executive Chairman. Yamini Rangan also made her debut as the newly appointed CEO.
The opening spotlight session brought all the feels as Brian shared about his recovery from a serious snowmobile accident and how it deepened his passion to make a difference in the world.
At its heart, that’s what Inbound is all about: making a real difference in the lives of real people by helping them achieve real success. The theme of INBOUND 2021 revolves around the premise that the customer’s needs truly come first; that it’s not just words we say but the actual actions we take. How can we as marketers and business leaders do it?
“Embrace the idea that we’re in the age of the customer. Embrace the idea that over time customers are going to have more and more power and they’re going to be equal partners in their relationship with us.” — Dharmesh Shah
1. Say Goodbye to Frankensystems
Dharmesh formally kicked off INBOUND 2021 in only the way he could with nods to South Park’s Underpants Gnomes, Harry Potter, and Ted Lasso. He tied them into his understated giddy excitement and goosebumps over the massive shift on the horizon, calling it Web 3.0.
Web 1.0 only allowed people to read information. Web 2.0 allowed people to read and interact. Web 3.0 is about decentralization and putting power into the hands of people, where they own and control access to their data. In other words...
Less customer relationship management. More customer relationship magic.
To achieve this magical wonderland, companies need to eliminate Frankensystems — CRM monstrosities that are a bolted-together, cobbled mess. Most systems are the result of multiple disjointed designs, business goals, mergers, and acquisitions with no consistency, cohesion, or control.
Working with Frankensystems causes us to spend too much time taming the monster instead of taking care of customers.
As business leaders, we need to leverage cohesive systems that serve the customer as much as they serve our teams. A CRM that’s the heart of an organization is customizable, connected, and customer-centric.
2. Use RevOps to Break Down Silos
Speaking of connected… RevOps (short for revenue operations) is the convergence of CRM technology and inbound process — think of it as an approach that puts someone in charge of your organization’s entire flywheel. HubSpot dedicated an entire track of sessions to RevOps, stressing the importance of aligning your Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Operations teams around shared goals and a tech stack that helps them achieve said goals. That means having a centralized, integrated system for all users to eliminate disconnected data.
To grow better, Marketing, Sales, Service, and Operations need a single source of truth.
Let’s face it, the Operations team is the glue that often holds a company together and is there to empower and equip others with the information and reporting they need to get things done. But when Operations uses disparate systems that don’t “talk” to the CRM used by the rest of the company, that glue doesn’t always stick. Solving for front office teams and making their lives easier will inevitably make things more efficient and effective for the entire organization — and your customers.
Clean, curated data in a single, centralized system will make for a more remarkable customer experience.
With a RevOps approach to business, an inclusive CRM serves as the umbrella, connecting Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Operations to further reduce friction — internally and externally — and grow your company.
3. Say Hello to New HubSpot Features
Of course, no INBOUND is complete without a few key HubSpot product update announcements. HubSpot has already made great strides in creating a cohesive, frictionless experience for customers and internal teams with their flywheel approach. But they’ve got their eye on taking it even further by eliminating funnel-vision and, instead, making customers and customer service the core of our efforts.
A CRM shouldn’t just connect teams and connect your company to the customer…
A CRM should help customers connect with each other and get the most from your company, not the other way around.
That’s why HubSpot is introducing several new features to put the “C” back in CRM.
New! Payment Features
Commerce and payments are a big part of the connected customer experience, and HubSpot is launching a long-awaited payments feature (currently in beta and only available in the U.S.). At this announcement, the INBOUND chat room practically blew up with elated participants expressing their delight. Like all its prominent features, this one is built natively within HubSpot and allows for embedded payment links in emails, quotes, websites, or live chats. The new payments feature will allow companies to sell seamlessly rather than routing customers through a maze of different systems.
New! Customer Portals
Customer portals are also in beta, giving customers the power to own their service experience by viewing and managing support tickets and exploring the knowledge base, along with new custom feedback surveys to help you continually improve their experience.
New! Operations Hub Enterprise
People are at the heart of inbound, and data helps tell their stories. Keeping that data clean and connected is a key to a friction-free customer experience. HubSpot announced their newest Hub in the CRM platform, Ops Hub, back in April 2021 with available Starter and Professional license options. Operations Hub Enterprise will include a business intelligence feature called datasets, allowing quicker and more consistent reporting and access to insights that help you make swift business decisions. In addition to more than 50 data sync integration tools and the beta version of custom behavioral events added in 2021, HubSpot will make Operations Hub Enterprise available for purchase beginning November 1, 2021.
New! Sandboxes for Enterprise
We all have great ideas, but we also know that what seems good in theory doesn’t always play out in practice… so why not have a practice run before launching that idea? That’s what HubSpot’s new Sandboxes feature allows. Sandboxes are portals that mimic your live site without impacting your audience’s experience. Try new ideas, explore features, change workflows, and test integrations in the background to make sure they’re delivering exactly what you need before you reveal them to your sales team and the world.
There were so many takeaways from INBOUND 2021, but the overarching theme of the event was certainly focused on making the customer experience a top priority. There’s a definite shift taking place where the focus of CRM needs to be about buyer empowerment, not sales enablement. For too long, marketers and sales teams have been seller-focused and not buyer-focused. It’s a refreshing and exciting sentiment to consider that customers aren’t outsiders — they’re an integral part of the team.
Looking for even more ideas to improve your inbound program? Take a deeper dive in our guide for B2B companies below, and reach out to our customer-centric team with questions.