The future is a flywheel
#INBOUND18 showed us a new direction for the HubSpot platform as the company soars right into the enterprise CRM platform competition with their new flywheel framework — and makes us ask what a CRM really is.
When father of the term ‘inbound marketing’ and CEO of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, says there is too much content in the world and no one really trusts sales or marketing anymore (only 5% based on HubSpot’s study), you have to listen. Creating the best content and optimising buying processes is not enough when people want to make trusted decisions. Sourcing recommendations from own networks is a key step in decision making today. Word-of-mouth has become the new black.
When a lead or customer has questions, you have to answer in seconds or minutes — and be able to help. Make buying as easy as possible and make sure your customers are happy. So how to achieve a position where you grow using word-of-mouth and ease of buying as a competitive advantage?
Brian’s and HubSpot’s answer is the flywheel: A framework which aligns Attract, Engage, Delight phases with your leads and customers into a flowing wheel — flywheel, instead of a funnel which starts and ends. Brian Halligan and co-founder Dharmesh Shah highlighted removing all friction from flywheel as the most important key to success.
To remove friction, concentrate on these two things:
- How to use the flywheel as a Growth Tool? How and who spins the flywheel and makes conversations and customer experience as light as possible
- How tools and systems can support spinning your flywheel aka grow your business
A CRM can make your flywheel spin off the charts
We’re not in the 90s, but technology-wise HubSpot is doing a major push for CRM. After HubSpot made their landmark in marketing and sales with inbound methodology as a key to modern marketing and sales teams, logistically they are concentrating on customers success and conversations next. For HubSpot ‘Customer Success’ means their aligning the Sales tool, introduced already in 2016, and the new Service tool which enables all customer actions to be collected and used easily in the same easy-to-use platform. HubSpot also challenges more marketers and sales experts to participate in service conversations because these are the moments for retention and growing customer lifetime value.
In every one of the growth stack tools HubSpot has launched, the key component is user-centric experience always aiming to help the marketer, seller or service desk agent to do their main job better — which is to grow the business by helping. With HubSpot Marketing, great user experience has already proved its worth as many companies have lately succeeded to take ownership of their marketing from technology vendors. Same is with Sales and Service tools, everything else than actual sales operations or customer help is fluff you don’t want to be paying for. Of course this approach based use case works better in smaller businesses and teams where everyone is closely connected to users. For example, HubSpot first brought features like email templates and email integrations into the Sales tool, and then email tracking features from tools like Sidekick. The new Service tool’s user experience has many similarities with the global success product Zendesk and main its features are highly integrated with chat and chatbots where modern dialogue now lives.
What actually is a CRM today — and what is it not?
For these questions the answers have been too indefinite. Is CRM a tool for people (marketers, sellers, and agents) to help customers buy? Or a place to collect all the data and then feed that into various tools and services?
Because in the enterprise level CRM world, where HubSpot clearly wants to go, a CRM is more than just a sales and conversation tool. It is precisely modelled to store all the customer data and is integrated to ERP processes. An enterprise CRM, as in Salesforce’s case, has solutions for things like field service and communities, and companies are able model their entire business processes on cloud services. And Salesforce is doing a great job with bringing all services into one cloud — But does this “one ecosystem” kind of thinking actually make sense always?
So finally, companies have a few questions to ask from themselves: What are our sales processes and conversation methods with our leads and customers? How highly are those integrated with the actual delivery processes? Is it necessary for the integration to be in same system or does the CRM manage just its main target users’ (marketer, seller, service agent etc.) needs? Where and how does your company conduct Attract, Engage, Delight phases? Is there friction and how do we make our flywheel spin faster? Is CRM also for data storage or is there a CDP (Customer Data Platform) in place to collect data to data operations, integrations and visualisations? Are communities for customers and partners part of the CRM ecosystem or are those microservices developed only from customer needs? How is the actual delivery of ERP processes aligned to Sales and Service operations?
In INBOUND18 HubSpot answered to those questions above more concretely than many others in the past. As HubSpot sees it, tools and platforms are there to help and automate processes so that marketers, sellers and service agents can really focus on helping customers and enabling growth. With this new flywheel framework HubSpot enables companies to manage the CRM puzzle better, without forcing companies to adapt a one ecosystem solution. Grow Better, like HubSpot says.
The more concrete answers companies can give, the better decisions and investments they are able to make. And as customers of those companies, we get lighter and better experiences. Our individual flywheels spin faster.
Happy customers grow your business faster than sales and marketing. It’s as simple as that.