Greg Karelitz, Global Head of WordPress Partnerships at HubSpot, explains why and when you need to use CRM, describes the first steps of email automation, and shares tips on planning your sales journey the right way.

Greg Karelitz is the Global Head of WordPress Partnerships at HubSpot. He started there in 2013 as a business development representative, and six years lafter, after filling different growth positions, he joined the HubSpot for Startups team as the first business development manager. Greg has a degree in Computer Science from Boston College and loves to coach wrestling and build websites in his free time.

Founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2006, HubSpot offers a full stack of software for marketing, sales, and customer service, with a completely free CRM at its core. 


Connecting to HubSpot

How does a small business or a WordPress-based business connect to HubSpot?

“I’ll first start off with a little bit of the journey around our own product. The way that our executives talk about HubSpot and clearly articulate it is we’ve started off as first just basically a single product that was our marketing product. That was like a suite of tools. We’ve now evolved into being a multi-suite of tools that is not only marketing but CRM sales and customer services tools. And now our latest journey in the evolution of HubSpot again is now we’ve become a platform where there are 300 plus other companies all integrating with on top of and pulling information from HubSpot where HubSpot becomes the center of gravity for knowing everything about your contacts and customers.

So if we were to think about what midsize agencies were doing with us a long time ago when we started the agency partner program, which has evolved into being very different today, it was helping agencies change their business models from being basically just like, ‘okay, we’re going to be project-based in charge of customer and help a customer for X amount of dollars for a given project to be more retainer based, which adds value to the customer over a much longer period of time’. That also gives the agency creative freedom to focus on multiple parts of the business all at once because today sales, marketing and services are all very intertwined.

So to say that you’re just a marketing agency today, I think can actually put you into a corner that you might also be able to satisfy sales and customer services ‘because the skill sets aren’t vastly different and that’s what the business needs. So today, we have multiple tracks from our agency partner program, from sales consultants, all the way through to really large marketing agencies that are helping with branding and messaging for big businesses. And also now what we’re coming out with and really starting to add value to around are the freelancers and small agencies as well to help them satisfy their customer in a new way that’s not just project-based but more ongoing where you can actually make a real big impact in the businesses that are your clients today.

So it’s evolved a lot over the last six years since I’ve seen it, and now what we’re trying to do is make sure we’re talking to the different types of freelancers and different types of agencies and solution partners, help them satisfy their customers, which should ultimately satisfy their business too.”


What Do You Need CRM For?

What is the tipping point for a person who decides, “Yes, I need a CRM, I need marketing automation?”

“It’s an awesome question. And I think those jack of all trade personas and those people that can do design, marketing, operations, those are the people that are making huge impacts because now inside of a business, whether they’re an employee of that business or if they’re their own freelance or helping businesses, they can touch multiple avenues inside of a company.

And those people today are also the ones that are seeing the disconnection between marketing, sales and services that I think leads them to their journey of not necessarily just wanting a CRM, but a record of truth that basically merges their marketing sales and customer services. And what I mean by that is they want to know what people are looking at on their website, not just going into Google Analytics and seeing that one page is getting a lot of traffic today.

They want to know what those people are actually looking at that leads to them to buy. Is this person looking at my pricing page and then can I see that my customers today, I’ve looked at that pricing page and if converted much higher than people that haven’t. And then they’re starting to use that in their sales process, in their operations and teaching their team about that.

And then they’re also taking it one step further and now saying, ‘Okay, I have these customers. Are they looking at a particular blog article or are they watching a video on our website that leads to them actually adopting our products, solution are good at a much higher rate? And are they happier customers for that?’

So what a CRM today is, is not just their container in a database for your contacts or in your customers, I truly believe that it’s the lifeblood to understanding how you can make more happy customers and keep them much longer. So these jack of all trades people today are the ones that are at actually the intersection of marketing, sales and services that can come in and add real efficiency like you mentioned into a business today by saying, ‘Hold on. Let’s take a big step back and let’s actually look at what we’re trying to do to help these people, and see if there’s any common threads that we can pull on,’ and try to implement that across all of our other customers or all of our other prospects to see if we can actually move them across the process in a way that they want to be be tailored to.”


The First Steps of Marketing Automation

Let’s take a user case of someone that builds websites for one year, for instance, and they want to start utilizing marketing automatization. What are the first steps for them?

“So the first step to actually getting your hands inside of marketing automation is not a scary one. It sounds like it might be, but it’s really not. The first step is understanding who your customers are and what they’re doing. So for us at HubSpot, especially with WordPress power businesses, we’ve created a plugin that you can search for and install for completely free. That’s our WordPress plugin the HubSpot WordPress plugin, that when it’s connected to your website, anytime anybody downloads any form on your website and it integrates with Elementor gravity forms and a whole another of them without having to actually integrate it all, it just sits right on top of them and listens.

Anytime anybody submits a form across your website, you now know inside of HubSpot who that person is based upon their email address and all the pages they’ve ever viewed. That’s step one is actually getting context on what your folks are doing across your website. Step two is taking it one step further now saying, ‘Okay, I know more about this person. Is there something that I can share with them, whether it be via email or even advertising today on Google or Facebook or LinkedIn?’

Is there something that I can give to them that’s going to make them come back and want more from us? So, for example, if somebody comes by and actually downloads Elementor free and starts using it, maybe there’s now an opportunity to see all the videos and pages they go to on your awesome blog or YouTube channel to start saying, “Oh, this person is looking for background images.” If you know they’re looking for background images because you have that context, you can then send them an email or just re-target them on an ad that gives them super relevant context to either background images or something in line with background images that gives them more, that makes them happier and better at using your product.

And that’s where email marketing tied into HubSpot or you can even integrate it with MailChimp or other email tools for completely free. It comes really nicely and handy because you can now start talking to people in multiple channels and that’s the whole goal of marketing automation is add value wherever these people are living today, and that’s not just on your website.”


What a Sales Journey Looks Like

Many people who build websites and have problems setting the right resources to do a proper sales process, thinking about using CRM. Can its tools help this sales cycle?

“I get this question a lot and I think sales for a lot of freelancers, small agencies or even these jack of all trades people can sometimes be a little bit of a black box. But if we take a giant step back and we actually think about what sales is, it’s a pretty defined process in which your customers want to engage with you on. 

So the first step in a sales journey if you’re selling to more complicated business, not ecommerce, is to evaluate and explore with your customer. And typically the four things that I like to challenge businesses on and give as a great stepping stone for folks today to really take into their own playbook is what we call GPCT — Goals, plans, challenges, and timeline. So on that first call you might have with somebody, that’s your explore call.

We’re talking to that dog grooming business. We want to understand what their goals are. Maybe they’re hitting their goals. In that case you probably can’t really help them. Or maybe their goals aren’t set correctly. But if their goal is to walk a hundred dogs and they’re only at 20, the next step is to understand their plans for doing so.

So how do they plan to get from 20 dogs to a hundred dogs? And this is where you really start to learn around what that individual or what that business is thinking about their game plan actually being. So to dig deeply into those goals and our understand why those goals are what they are, then you move on to challenges. So how are you going to achieve hitting and getting to a hundred dogs to walk?

Most cases, and this is where you can really start to add value is when people come up with things that might be ludicrous. Example is to get to a hundred dogs or what they might say is, ‘You know, Ben. I actually don’t know how to get from 20 to 100 which is why I’m talking to you.’ This is the moment in the sales process when you’re actually not a salesperson. I’d push back. You can’t sell anything today. What you can do is help people buy things. So this is where you have to bring your expertise into the process and say, “Hey look, we’ve actually worked with dozens of other dog walkers before and they’ve had the same exact problems where they’re not getting found online or the people that they’re actually working with might have friends that have dogs also. Have you talked to them before?”

And you start to give them different ways to think about their business. And then when you’re back into the goals, the plans, the challenges, and then you actually ask them when would they like to hit a hundred dogs by or walk a hundred dogs by, maybe if they say in a couple months, now you start to go back into the planning.

How are you going to get to a hundred by then? And this is where you start to figure out in your sales journey the same way along the map will have to go up these stairs. They have to take a left, they have to take a right. They have to walk straight through this other exhibit is the same exact process that businesses have to do today in their sales journey and make it all about their customer and what that customer’s trying to achieve.

So put a map to your process. Typically, it goes explore call and then an adding value conversation. I like to break those up into different meetings and maybe then call that a demo of some capacity or a strategy call. And then it’s into negotiations and agreement. Typically, there’s a price point that you have to charge people or that you’re asking for.

If that fits into the person’s goals and plans or maybe if they can make allocated budget to it, then you’re in a really good spot to add value to them, help them achieve their goals, and also make a good customer for your end and keep them happy and with you for a really long time. So I hope that simplifies a little bit around how to demystify sales and put a map to your process that leads the customer and helps guide the customer to their end results.”


Better Products, Better Integrations

As the person in charge of WordPress partnerships at Hubspot, we wanted to hear from  Greg what changes he has witnessed in the WordPress ecosystem, and how sees the transition from small businesses and blogs to sophisticated marketing tools.

“Yeah. I think that there’s two answers. The first one is I think to your point earlier of building beautiful websites today isn’t the challenge but actually making them work harder for your business is, is I think people are starting to realize that. The challenge is today is if you go and you search plugins inside of WordPress and you search forms tool or if you search live chat or if you search how to speed up my website with like a speed enhancement plugin, there are so many out there.

Right? So where do you even begin? And I think this is where we’re starting to see a little bit of a consolidated effort into these businesses that are already at the top to make their products better, stronger and faster and also more integrated. And what I mean by that, and this is how I believe the future of WordPress will look like from a balance of small businesses and blogs to more so real freelance agencies of all different sizes, and for businesses that are doing it in house as well is the integration of your forms tool with your website, with your CRM, with your email marketing tool, with the analytics that you have, all have to be combined and make it very easy.

And that’s what we’re setting out to try to accomplish. And it’s a pretty lofty goal, but what we want to do is we’re building integrations or asking businesses to also build integrations with us so that our joint customer is more happy. So for example, Gravity Forms is one of the premier, if not the premier forms plugin and WordPress. They have millions of websites using their forms tool and they become the best at it. Arguably, one of the best. And we’ve been speaking with Gravity Forms and saying, ‘What do your customers need after a form is completed?’ And now they’re starting to really look at that.

They have MailChimp as an integration. They just built in or featuring the HubSpot add-on. Because now the goal is we want to encourage our HubSpot customers that are also using Gravity Forms or exploring a forms tool that may be outside of HubSpot’s forms tool to feel comfort in going to Gravity Forms to integrate their marketing suite all together. The same thing with Elementor. If you’re using Elementor forms, Elementor forms automatically integrate with HubSpot for completely free so that if people are building a beautiful website with beautiful forms on it, those businesses can now make them actionable.

The same thing with the reporting. The same thing with email marketing. Today, if you have 10 different plugins that do 10 different things, I think in a year from now you might have three plugins that do 15 different things. I think as things progress in these big businesses in the space or biggest plugins get better and better and better, they’re going to easily add more value to their customer and the next level of integration makes it so that their customers and the other businesses’ customers can now work together and become that same customer and get even more value just by using two tools rather than 20.”