What are the problems with HubSpot's reporting tools?
by Matt Nortje on 26 February 2020
HubSpot’s reporting tools really will make your CRM function more efficiently, saving you time, money and effort. But getting the hang of using them isn’t without its problems. Here, we share five common stumbling blocks we’ve come across, and the solutions to overcome them.
When you first start using HubSpot, you are automatically given a sales dashboard and a marketing dashboard. For sales, it’ll show you at a glance deals won, closed, and lost, progress on revenue targets and information on where you are at with all the prospects and deals in your pipeline. For marketing, the default dashboard offers a complete review of your CRM, including information on page visits, the numbers of MQLs and SQLs you have notched up, email performance and contact status. Some teams might find that the standard dashboards provided are more than sufficient for their needs, while others might need more specific and bespoke reports.
A well-managed onboarding process should ensure any such frustration is a non-issue: your customer success manager and Inbound marketing consultant should ensure that your dashboards are fully customised, delivering the essential information (specifics of which will vary from team member to team member), to all HubSpot users in your business. Thinking in advance about the reporting data each team member will need at their fingertips is a good first step to ensure you get what you need from your dashboards. Once set up, each team member will be able to create custom reports that they can add to their own personalised dashboard.
When you are learning how to use a new CRM, particularly without the support of a good onboarding partner, it can feel like you are learning a new language. This can interfere with your ability to manage the everyday demands of your job. At ESM Inbound, our approach to onboarding is designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible. The last thing we want is for our customers to feel as if they are being forced into a platform they don’t understand.
To minimise friction and frustration, we encourage customers to ask lots of questions during onboarding, and we like to work backwards. So instead of trying to guide them from step one to step 10, we’ll say, "What does step 10 look like? What is that final report supposed to show you?" And then we work backwards from there: "Okay, these are the properties you need, this is how we pull them in. This is the visualisation we pick. That is how we generate a report.” Most customers are already using graphs and charts to report to management with key data. It’s imperative they can access all this quickly and simply within HubSpot, and this should be ensured as part of the onboarding.
With HubSpot, the potential for customisation of access and permissions is there from the outset. So if a manager wants to see all their teams’ dashboards at a glance, that’s easy to do, or if a team wants to focus on the analytics that relate to a few specific campaigns, that is equally simple to set up. However, there are some issues that crop up in relation to this around reporting. Some of this is based on misunderstanding. I often get messages from onboarding clients saying ‘I can’t report on this…’
When we walk through it together, it is just a case of showing them how to select the right properties to generate the report they need. This is where the support of a dedicated onboarding expert is valuable. Once you get the hang of using HubSpot, you will see that it makes customising permissions simpler than most CRM or ERP systems out there. With some other platforms, the customisation involved in tailoring permissions to suit users’ needs can make the set-up process expensive and time-consuming.
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that I can guarantee you that once you get the hang of HubSpot’s reporting tools, reporting will get a whole lot easier. To benefit from this, though, the thorough and effective migration of data into HubSpot is essential. This is often a sticking point, as importing a database is easy to do but organisations need to be thorough in cleaning data before it gets imported.
The contact properties and data fields you are using need to match the ones that HubSpot uses.
It’s important not to underestimate the time involved in this part of the process. For this reason, we make sure we import data at the end of the process to give our clients the maximum time to prepare their data for importing. We can also provide you with downloadable templates of what the data should look like which will save you time.
Investing adequate time in this process means that once you’re up and running, report generation should be easy. With most other CRM systems, third party integration is required to report on data, particularly where there is a separate ERP system. For example, with Microsoft Dynamics, you are likely to need to plug into Click Dimensions or Power BI to report, or you may need to report from a separate accounting system such as Sage. With HubSpot, all your data is in one place, and there is no need for third party integration.
Most companies have felt instinctively hesitant about the idea of storing sensitive data in the cloud. On-premise software has been the preference for many because it gives more of an illusion of security, and people instinctively understand the idea of a physical server that is theirs. In companies where some members of the team are resistant, this can create problems where data sits in different places.
A good onboarding process, with a consultant who is sensitive to the varying IT literacy of team members, is key to the overall success of HubSpot. At ESM Inbound, we understand that onboarding to HubSpot requires a mindset shift for many. When clients express concern about this, I explain that the platform and all its data sits on Amazon servers. This makes it incredibly secure. What’s more, HubSpot polices the security of data on its platform continuously, as our fellow HubSpot partners over at Digital 22 explain in this blog. In addition to this, when it comes to being able to restrict access to data internally it is very easy to customise. The benefits to transitioning to cloud-based data storage are huge. You can access your data from anywhere in the world on any machine. This data is live so it’s always being updated.
When a team is used to a system, whatever its frustrations, there is an incentive to stick with what they know. Even if your team understands at a hypothetical level that a new CRM will make them more efficient, they may also feel a lack of enthusiasm about onboarding. They may also, subconsciously, worry about what the new CRM may cast light on, making failures visible.
Some of this resistance may manifest as frustration with the onboarding process, or exasperation with the new reporting tools. It isn’t always helpful to take these complaints at face value. An example springs to mind:
We on-boarded an organisation with a database of over 5,000 contacts. We onboarded them with HubSpot for their sales team, building their pipelines to give visibility for the full sales cycle. There were a number of deal stages to their process, and the new system meant they were able to get more visibility on these. Mapping where customers were dropping off in the pipeline provided insight, for the first time into lost deals. The biggest surprise was that they were losing many more deals further down the pipeline than they had realised. The onboarding journey helped them to systemise their process.
With the client I just referenced, by using an education-first approach to onboarding, we were able to focus on empowering even the reluctant members of the team to do their job better. They then saw HubSpot’s reporting tools could give them a greater sense of control and awareness. What initially felt like extra admin and surveillance got reframed as a platform that could save them time and focus their attention on roadblocks.