AiThority Interview with Julie Lock, Senior Manager, UK&I Marketing at HubSpot
Hi Julie, please tell us about your current role at HubSpot and how you arrived here.
I joined HubSpot earlier this year to lead our regional marketing team in the UK and Ireland and to support our UK growth strategy. Prior to that I worked at Microsoft and Vodafone in marketing leadership positions. What attracted me to HubSpot is the opportunity in the UK and how the customer is at the heart of everything we do. We are customer obsessed – focusing on solving problems for our current and future customers.
From a personal perspective the culture at HubSpot was a real draw and we’ve just had our global week of rest – a week that is dedicated to time off work. This is an amazing initiative that means you truly get to recharge without coming back to hundreds of Slack messages or emails and is one of many initiatives that HubSpot has put in place for employees.
What has been the most promising part about working at Hubspot? How is it different from other CRM makers?
I’m so impressed by the knowledge, expertise, and dedication from every department within the company, working daily with passionate and driven people who solve for the customer in everything they do.
The most promising part of HubSpot is our inbound methodology and flywheel approach. Inbound is a method for growing by building meaningful, lasting relationships with people where they feel valued and empowered to reach their goals at every stage in their journey with us.
It is about attracting the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish us as a trusted advisor who they want to engage with. We provide people with insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals, so they are more likely to buy. Then it’s about providing help and support to empower our customers to find success with their purchase. When customers find success and share that success with others, it attracts new prospects to HubSpot. And when customers become promoters, this creates a virtuous loop. That is why the inbound methodology is well-suited to serve as the foundation for our flywheel approach. This is how we build momentum. Put simply – when our customers succeed, we succeed.
I’m amazed about the thoughtful and intentional way that our platform has developed. Other CRMs can be cobbled together through product acquisition, but the HubSpot platform has been built in-house in a customer focused and considered way. It proves that it really is in our DNA to solve for the customer.
CRM continues to evolve as a technology. Could you please let us know about the key challenges you solve for CRM users?
Different departments encounter different challenges, so a CRM helps them to overcome them in different ways:
- As a sales team, an effective CRM gives you enhanced visibility, helps you engage leads at the moments that matter, understand your pipeline better and deepen relationships with your contacts.
- From a marketing perspective, a CRM enables you to effectively attract attention, convert leads with personalization, and make data-driven decisions based on a multitude of data points.
- For customer service, having a full view of your customer can help you quickly problem-solve, track conversations across channels, and report on the metrics that matter most to your customer.
Your take on the role of CRMs sidestepping to accommodate AI and predictive intelligence platforms in Martech stacks. We are specifically interested in learning how CRMs compete against the likes of modern CDPs , customer experience management (CXMs), and social media listening/ intelligence tools.
I don’t think it can be an either-or situation when it comes to CRMs vs AI.
AI is infused in many software solutions today including CRM offerings. The examples I can draw upon with our HubSpot CRM solution is AI capability in helping marketing, sales and service teams keep their data clean through automated email data capture and live chat name recognition. As well as making it easy to optimize content at scale to increase conversations and create more relevant customer experiences through adaptive testing and generating SEO suggestions with the help of AI, the tool scans your website automatically and brainstorms a set of topics for you to write about.
CDPs and CRMs in my mind do not compete, CDPs can make your CRM stronger. In a world of a million customer touchpoints and interactions, robust data is a necessity. CDPs deliver a unique, unified view into your customers’ minds and needs whilst CRMs manage customer relationships.
These technologies can be mistaken for one another as they focus on collecting, managing and using customer data to improve operations, marketing and sales. There are, however, subtle differences; CDPs manage a customer’s data whilst CRMs manage customer relationships. CRMs also collect customer data and are the go-to tool for customer facing operations. Whereas a CPD is the data foundation for all of your technologies, processes and tasks it aggregates internal and external data, including your CRM data, into a standardized format that can be shared across applications. Your CRM can then be enriched with whatever data sources you choose to connect into the CDP creating opportunities to better understand your customer journey. Ultimately it comes down to improved visibility and alignment across teams.
With these insights, every single team can make better decisions that are informed by data. It’s not an either/or for me – it’s a yes please to both, given the benefits for the customer experience.
CXMs, meanwhile, define what a company looks like to a customer and measures their sentiment about their experiences with a company.
At HubSpot, you’ll find some customer experience features within our offerings. It makes sense to us to give businesses an easy way to obtain this information and store it so they can use it to make decisions on their customer experience. Similarly, with social media listening, our approach has been to integrate this functionality into our solution so you can manage your entire social strategy – from planning and sharing to analyzing, all from one central location. By viewing social media and CRM together, companies gain a more powerful overview of what people are posting about on social media, as well as a clearer understanding of brand sentiment.
This is all part and parcel of why I work at HubSpot. That is why, I’ve praised how we integrate customer experience management and social media marketing into our products and encourage integration with CDPs.
The more data and insights you have on your customers and prospective customers the better it is for your marketing, sales and service teams. With the rise of sophisticated CRMs and core tech tools, sales, service and marketing teams can get away with using fewer tools than before.
From the CRM innovation and adoption point of views, how is the UK / APAC market different from the North American markets? How has the pandemic influenced CRM growth in these regional markets, and globally? (I can only talk about the UK and North America)
There are many similarities in the UK and North American CRM markets; AI, customer experience, social media monitoring and dedicated mobile CRM apps are all key CRM innovations UK and American CRM buyers are looking for.
Lead generation and customer retention is the largest use case for CRM. 50% of sales managers say CRM is difficult to implement, full scale adoption of CRM is below 40%, manual data entry is the biggest challenge and professional services is the largest vertical for CRM. The differences in the UK market are that the CRM market is smaller in total size however, similar growth rates are being experienced in both markets.
In North America 91% of companies with 10 or more employees use CRM; this is much higher than the equivalent small business segment in the UK even with the pandemic effect.
We’ve seen that the pandemic has brought a period of significant digital transformation for many businesses in the UK and across the globe which resulted in a similar surge of CRM adoption in both the UK and North American markets.
How to build a powerful relationship between Martech and IT/Digital experience teams – how do you achieve this sync at HubSpot?
I believe building powerful relationships across all teams in a business always starts with having a strong culture, a clear mission, metrics and aligning behind a common purpose.
At HubSpot we achieve this through our culture code: our culture is driven by a shared passion for our mission and metrics. It is a culture of amazing, growth-minded people whose values include prioritizing using good judgement to solve problems for customers. We work to be remarkably transparent and favor autonomy and accountability.
We believe our best perk is our amazing peers and we lean towards long term impact.
The code creates an environment where teams can build those powerful relationships – such as between the Martech and IT/Digital experience teams. This is complimented by our flywheel approach which means all the teams at HubSpot are designed around one purpose: delivering a remarkable customer experience.
Culture sorted – and a clear purpose.
What else is needed?
How businesses react to this pressure of substantial growth and how they manage to meet the demands of customers with innovative CRM systems?
With a period of substantial business growth there will be more and more customers to serve and an increasing number of interactions with those customers and prospects – and therefore potentially an increasing number of individuals in your sales, marketing and service teams engaged with them. These customers will have high expectations and expect an excellent experience from personalization to seamless connected interactions with your teams. They’ll want you to treat them as a human, remember previous conversations, understand their needs and expectations, and adjust your communication accordingly. If your tech has been cobbled together it can create siloed teams making it harder to align and to adopt.
Innovative CRMs enable companies to manage and meet the demands of customers by creating simple, efficient and measurable customer journeys, from the very first engagement at the top of the funnel all the way through to the sale and post-purchase care. At each stage, aggregated and high-quality customer data can inform business decisions that increase conversion, margin, experience and loyalty. Where appropriate, lower-value interaction from staff can be automated, freeing up higher-touch human service at more valuable points in the customer journey.
How businesses can sustain this growth under the current business landscape and the challenges faced in relation to these important decisions
I am sure UK businesses were as encouraged as I was to see the Office for National Statistics stating that in May the UK economy grew by 0.5% after a period of decline in April and March. However, businesses are reporting higher running costs as a result of record-high fuel and energy costs which are leading to price rises for customers. Will this continue? We need to be prepared. The CBI is stating in their ‘Plan for Growth’ that now is the time to focus on how the UK economy can and must grow to avoid a deep and prolonged recession. Sustaining growth in this current economic environment can be tricky.
There is a belief that to grow you must be ruthless. You may be thinking you need to trade trust for a pay out and solve for your bottom line, even if it puts your customers at risk. This can lead to making short-term decisions that sacrifice long-term relationships – compromising your values. I strongly believe this is flawed logic. We know there is a better way to grow sustainably.
Growing better is remembering you’re helping unique people, not personas. It’s placing long-term relationships ahead of those short-term gains and making the right decisions – even when they’re not the easiest ones. The best businesses really do ‘’solve for the customer’’ and put their customer first. They will grow because of their customers’ trust and loyalty.
My advice for any important business decisions you are making in this current economic environment is: solve for your customer, put the customer at the heart of your decision making process and sustainable growth will follow.
Could you please throw some light on the potential consequences on customer relationships when using outdated CRM systems and how IT teams struggle to use them?
The pandemic saw more businesses rely on digital tools to operate. The number of cloud-based apps businesses are relying on is increasing year over year. The average company now uses 88 different apps, according to data from Okta. Large enterprises have even more, at an average of 175.
This complexity is so vast that IT leaders are struggling to navigate their sprawling systems, let alone business leaders. But more importantly, growing complexity is making internal operations difficult, and this is impacting customers and employees.
This is particularly true when it comes to CRM platforms which are playing a more integral role within businesses today – providing a crucial “source of truth” between sales, marketing, customer service and operations. From simple touch points like the website or chatbots, to bigger interactions like sales emails and calls, internal complexity will translate to the external experience. For employees it will mean data and insights are siloed, valuable time will be spent on manual workarounds building reports, cross checking data and the IT team will have to manage multiple systems all reducing the time employees could be spending on activities that deliver business impact. Simplifying the tech stack is critical for reducing the struggles IT teams are faced with and ensures the customer experience goes above and beyond.
How does a simplified tech stack and integrated CRM system allow customers to have an enjoyable experience and journey with your business?
There has been a misconception that a robust tech stack with different technologies will lead to a better customer experience. But a simplified tech stack and integrated CRM really places the customer at the heart of your business. From an external point of view, customers are getting the best possible experience. Internally, there are fewer points of friction, giving a complete view of the customer and unlocking sales opportunities.
Your predictions for the Martech industry and how CRM would be a key player in this industry:
I’ve seen an incredible explosion of all the different marketing and sales technologies over the years. However, for some time they’ve operated in silos. While we had a lot of capabilities in each, the integration challenge across them was something that a lot of marketing, sales and customer success teams struggled with. What we are seeing at HubSpot, and across the CRM space now, is the sophistication of the underlying CRM platform which is now able to meet 80% of a company’s use case needs across different functional areas whilst the other 20% of their needs is being achieved by opening the platform to let other products integrate with it.
Customer success teams will be able to use fewer tools than before with the rise of sophisticated CRMs infused with AI capabilities, integrated with CDPs, interwoven with IoT technologies, and filled with advanced automation features. They can expect better results from their MarTech stack if they create more integrations and two-way syncs with their CRM.
Businesses use technology to eradicate or automate what they don’t want to deal with so they can focus on the tasks that get them better results. I believe a strong CRM with automated workflows and a connected app stack where data moves freely between apps has never been more important for your Martech stack.
Thank you, Julie! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
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I am an experienced and highly successful Marketing Director/Head of Marketing and have worked in this capacity for a substantial number of years. I am fully able to drive business in any sector with strengths including building client and partner relationships and creating and leading a strategic vision to ensure commercial success.
I am an effective and adaptable senior professional, with extensive experience and a wealth of readily transferable business management and business improvement skills. I make use of my interpersonal, problem-solving and negotiation skills on a daily basis and extensive project management knowledge. I thrive within a high-pressure environment and am motivated by meeting targets and providing motivational, ‘hands-on’ management. I like to be a positive voice, offering support and help pro-actively, and I feel a real strength is my ability to manage and crucially to motivate. I am also adept at identifying operational problems/inefficiencies and implementing improvements.
HubSpot is a leading CRM platform that provides software and support to help businesses grow better. Our platform includes marketing, sales, service, and website management products that start free and scale to meet our customers’ needs at any stage of growth. Today, thousands of customers around the world use our powerful and easy-to-use tools and integrations to attract, engage, and delight customers. HubSpot was named Glassdoor’s #4 Best Place to Work in 2021, and our award-winning culture has been recognized by Great Place to Work, Comparably, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Inc., and more. We build connections, careers, and employee growth by creating a workplace that values flexibility, autonomy, and transparency. You can learn more about our commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace in the HubSpot Culture Code.