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HubSpot Onboarding: Should you onboard through HubSpot or a partner?

While onboarding is required for new customers, It doesn’t always have to be performed by HubSpot. Instead, customers can be onboarded in one of two ways...

During my time at HubSpot there was a popular saying - “HubSpot is like a gym membership...you only see the benefits if you use it”. This saying was used to reinforce the idea that purchasing the HubSpot software does not magically produce results. Instead, results are seen when you utilize the software regularly and correctly

While the regular use of HubSpot can be achieved with a little effort and time management, using the software correctly requires coaching from an expert. For HubSpot, this coaching comes in the form of their onboarding service. In fact, HubSpot makes it obligatory for new customers to purchase the onboarding service for any of their professional or enterprise products. If you’ve ever looked at the HubSpot pricing page, you’ll notice a disclaimer underneath the product cost indicating that onboarding is required:

While onboarding is required for new customers, It doesn’t always have to be performed by HubSpot. Instead, customers can be onboarded in one of two ways:

  • HubSpot onboarding - onboarding performed by a HubSpot Implementation specialist (IS)
  • Onboarding by a HubSpot partner agency - onboarding performed by an agency within the HubSpot partner program

Each one of these options has their own pros and cons which I’ve broken down below the pros and cons that I believe are the most relevant when choosing which option to take:

Onboarding via HubSpot:

Pro:

  • HubSpot Implementation Specialists run the onboarding, resulting in a more consistent onboarding experience. You might not get the best onboarding possible, but it’s rare you’ll find an Implementation Specialist who doesn’t have the basic knowledge required to onboarding you since HubSpot offers intensive employee training. 
  • HubSpot implementation specialists have access to other HubSpot departments. This means that any issues they run into can be escalated to higher level support representatives or even the HubSpot development team if needed. 

Cons:

  • Implementation Specialists are selected at random. This means there’s a chance you can be onboarded by an IS who’s new to the position and does not have much experience. 
  • HubSpot onboarding follows a step by step playbook. While this playbook has proven results, its lack of flexibility means that onboarding will not be tailored to your level of experience or your company's unique situation. 
  • HubSpot Implementation Specialists are there to teach and advise. They will never perform tasks within the portal e.g.) importing database, setting up DNS settings, creating landing pages. 
  • All onboarding is done remotely from the HubSpot offices. This means that there is no option for in person meetings. 
  • Implementation Specialists are measured on HubSpot-specific metrics (portal usage and customer retention). This means that your IS will be hyper focused on you using the Hubspot tool above all else. This can become an issue if your goals aren’t only focused in HubSpot. 
  • Implementation Specialists are focused on the HubSpot tool alone. In most cases, your IS will not be able to assist you with issues outside of HubSpot. e.g.) problems with your HubSpot portal integrating to Salesforce. 

Onboarding via a partner agency:

Pro:

  • The customer has the ability to choose which agency to work with. This allows the customer to have more options in regard to:
      • Experience - how many years of experience does the agency's employees have?
      • Expertise - does the agency have other clients in the same industry as you?
      • Location - is the agency located in your country/city?
      • Chemistry - do you like the culture of the agency?
  • Agencies can actually perform work within your HubSpot portal. Unlike HubSpot onboarding, many agency onboardings take a more proactive approach. This usually means the agency onboarding contact will help with setting up your portal instead of just advising. 
  • Agencies are not restricted to just assisting with HubSpot. For example, an agency can include additional components to your onboarding like setting up integrations with other softwares in your tech stack. 

Cons:

  • Bad partner agencies exist. To become a HubSpot partner you only need to sign up for the program - the bar is very low. This has led to an influx of new partners (now over 4,000). This has also led to many unsatisfactory partners offering onboarding services. Unlike HubSpot onboarding which offers a consistent experience, onboarding via a partner agency does not always mean you’re working with people who know what they’re doing. To mitigate the chances of choosing a less than ideal partner you can perform some research through the HubSpot partner directory. This directory allows you to filter partners by their client reviews and tier (the higher the tear the more HubSpot clients they have). 

Ultimately the right choice on which onboarding path to take is completely dependent on your unique circumstances. My hope however, is that this blog can give you a bit more information before you make your decision!

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Kevin van Beers

Technical HubSpot Consultant