If you're searching online for a HubSpot Agency Partner, it's important to create a vetting process and criteria for your "WIN" list, before you start reaching out and asking for proposals. If you take the time to do this, it can save you tons of heartache with moving forward and trusting the wrong partner (something I've fallen victim to as a founder). Full disclosure: we're a HubSpot Agency Partner ourselves at First Page — for inbound marketing. But, I'm going to share with you what I wish I would have known before we hired three different HubSpot Agency Partners (for development) to work with our clients that resulted in massively stalled projects, incorrect outputs, and two years of waiting for results.
From my experience, a lot of HubSpot Agency Partners will claim they know a lot about HubSpot and they know exactly what to do to fulfill your need. I've found, however, that many are fibbing a little bit (or a lot) in how much HubSpot knowledge they have. HubSpot is such a hot platform to sell and offer to clients, that I think many are jumping into the game before they truly know the power of the platform and how to truly use HubSpot's marketing, development, sales and support tools. Here's what I wish I would have done when vetting the HubSpot Agency Partners I hired to work with us:
1. Ask About a HubSpot Agency Partner's Clients & Request a Client Reference
It's important to dig into exactly the work that they've done for their current and past clients — and get specific results and project details. Here are some great questions to ask:
How long have they been working with HubSpot?
How long have they been working with the client?
What was their contract scope and what was/is the length of contract?
What outcomes did they deliver (you better get concrete answers as a response!)
How did they report on their results and at what cadence?
What would they do differently?
What was challenging about the partnership, and how did they resolve it?
How did they leverage HubSpot for growth success?
I would ask this for 2-3 different clients in their portfolio, and then ask to speak directly to a minimum of two clients. Why I would ask for more than just one client reference is because pretty much any agency can have one happy client or best friend who will do a favor reference call for them, but can they have two or more?
2. Ask About the Agency's Technology Stack and Project Management Process
I've worked with far too many HubSpot Partner Agencies who are unorganized, and I had to follow-up over and over to ask, "Where are we at with this?" or "What's the status update?" This is a quick way to drive me bonkers. I shouldn't be following up with you to get a status update on work you're supposed to be managing. If your HubSpot Partner Agency is juggling many clients they work for, you need to know how they are going to manage your tasks and get them done. Ask your potential HubSpot Agency Partner how they track projects and integrate working with your company. Some agencies have told me they only use their own software for project management (this is not ideal). Ideally, they would seamlessly weave into your process and have a project manager to track success. Ask them directly if they have project managers dedicated to each client they onboard. They are life saving. Don't trust any HubSpot Agency Partner that doesn't use project managers.
Also, I might be biased, but I think the best companies work with the best-in-class internal software to run a business. HubSpot is the best-in-class marketing automation platform, so the right company who knows their stuff with 'best software' are likely using some of the best technology to manage their company. Examples would be Asana, Trello etc for project management, Slack for chat communication, Google Drive for documents for version control, etc. The right company will have all of their processes streamlined using technology that saves time and keeps you in the loop as a client, without wasting your time.
3. Ask Who at the Agency is Going to Be Doing the Work
Too many agencies have an "account manager" structure. Will the marketing work at the HubSpot Agency Partner you choose be done by a 25-year-old account manager that has not actually worked in marketing? Or will experts be working on your account strategy and executing, evaluating what didn't work and what could be better? You need actual marketing people on your account every day, doing the hard work to push to growth. You don't need account managers.
4. Ask About Project Scope, Timeline and Deadlines
Too often I've worked with a HubSpot Agency Partner and a one-month project turned into four or six, with no end in site. Dig into exactly what they're promising will get done, and when. Ask what the milestones are for the project and the dates associated with these milestones. Ask them what they need to properly scope the project. I've found that many companies don't understand actually the timing and resources needed because they assume they can get in their quickly and get it done. Until they realize the complexity of the technology or product or team or business. Give your agency time to properly scope, so that the timeline they promise can stay on track (and a project manager will see to it). Make sure that you're not hiring someone who is overpromising (we'll get this done in one month!) and under delivering (it actually takes 12).
5. Ask About their Agency Resources, Specifically Design and Development
If you're hunting for a HubSpot Agency Partner to do your inbound marketing (SEO, content, social media, email marketing, etc.), it's important to understand all of the pieces of the pie that this agency can or cannot own, and where you'll need to find additional outsourced resources. For example, every marketing team needs design resources. Do you have an internal designer? If not, does your agency partner offer design resources? Every marketing program using the HubSpot platform still likely requires development: to code email HTML, or landing page design setup, or SEO on-site changes. Does your HubSpot Agency Partner offer development resources themselves, or will you need to outsource them? Also, if you're looking to leverage more than just Marketing Pro for HubSpot (like Sales Pro or Service Pro), can this agency help you with onboarding and working within the other arms of HubSpot? All of this is important to figure out.
I don't want to "toot our own horn" but okay, I will. I've built First Page to be the opposite of what I haven't liked when working with other HubSpot Agency Partners. So, if you're looking for a HubSpot Agency Partner to manage the inbound marketing for your technology company or startup, we'd love to be that agency. We can talk to you about specific growth results we've generated for clients, and share client references. We only use best-in-class technology platforms (Asana, Slack, Google Drive, Klipfolio, etc) and have a dedicated project manager and clean process for every client. Our team of marketing experts work on every client, and we don't have account managers. Only people with 15+ years of experience in their channel. We've also been using HubSpot for the entire time we've been alive as an agency (four years as of 2020). But many of our experts have used it for 8+ years in their career. We can clearly talk through what we'll do for your brand, how long it will take, and the results we hope to see. And there isn't any job that we can't get done. We have the team and network to pull in any number of talent or resource needed. Contact us today to schedule an Exploratory call with our founder.