HubSpot Partner Program Review

A short and practical inside look from Honest Fox Digital, a Platinum HubSpot Partner.

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The HubSpot Partner Program was recently rebranded to the HubSpot "Solutions" Partner Program, in order to differentiate agency partners from other partnership types promoted by HubSpot.

Broadly speaking, there are a few different partnerships according to HubSpot:

  • Solutions Partner Program - easily the largest program of agencies and service providers who specialise in HubSpot as a growth tool for businesses
  • App Partner Program - largely made up of companies who have built native integrations with HubSpot
  • Startups Partner Program - not the easiest to qualify, but certainly worth the application for startups who pass the bar
  • Education Partner Program - aimed at educators at colleges and universities looking to leverage HubSpot material in their courses
  • Affiliate Partner Program - primarily for bloggers and content hustlers looking to monetize their content
  • Not-for-profit Partner Program - a bit of a special classification of the Solutions Partner Program but specifically for NFPs onboarding NFPs to HubSpot

Right, now that we have a lay of the land of the various HubSpot Partner Programs, let's delve into where we have some actual experience, the HubSpot Solutions Partner Program.

The HubSpot Solutions Partner Program

The largest of HubSpot's partner programs, this is where we fit in and leverage HubSpot to help our clients grow!

Why did we join the HubSpot Solutions Partner Program?

We originally joined the HubSpot Solutions Partner Program for three key reasons:

  1. We were beginning to work with clients who used HubSpot quite heavily to grow their business
  2. HubSpot solves more problems than it introduces
  3. We needed a CRM solution to grow Honest Fox

Let's unpack these a bit. First, when the same software comes up time and again in conversations with current and future clients, you can read the writing on the wall and realise the opportunity of deepening your own knowledge. When we started to do our research, we discovered number two and number three from above. Choosing technology is hard..really hard. We have a few tools and tricks for helping decide, but one of our favourite tests is the simple question, "Does it solve more problems than it creates?". At the end of the day, choosing the right technologies for any business is complicated, so sometimes the simple question is the best one.

Lastly, yes, the HubSpot sales pitch worked on us! Not only was this a great tool for our clients, but also happened to be a great tool for us to grow Honest Fox Digital. We primarily use HubSpot CMS, HubSpot Marketing and HubSpot Sales as our growth tech stack.

What are the benefits of becoming a HubSpot Solutions Partner?

The core benefit we have already covered, we now use, everyday, an awesome solution that helps us and our clients grow. Check. 

Additional benefits include early access to new product releases, the HubSpot Academy (highly recommend) and our channel account manager (CAM) and channel consultant - basically our HubSpot guardian angels who assist us with anything HubSpot related during discovery, sales, implementation or support of a HubSpot account. HubSpot is a pretty incredible company that builds pretty impressive operators, and, as a "non-sales person" who needs to sell on a daily basis, these resources are a great sounding board for pitches and projects.

The last benefit worth mentioning is commissions, we never signed on because of the commissions, but it only feels right to mention it.  Yes, we receive commission on any sold or assisted sale, it's roughly 20% revenue share of the lifetime of licenses with some caveats (full details here: https://www.hubspot.com/partners/faqs). HubSpot is my first experience being part of a "commission" program and it has somewhat changed my opinion of partner structures that include commission. Deserving of a complete article, but here's the short version (this will hopefully help you change your opinion, if like me, you also felt these types of arrangements may sway professional advice):

  1. We still work with incredible HubSpot clients where we never sold the original licenses
  2. We still recommend the right tool for the job, commission or not. I often use the toolbox metaphor when looking at software solutions and this is no different. If someone needs a screwdriver and you hand them a hammer, guess what, I'm assume that hammer is coming your way soon.

Joining the HubSpot Solutions Partner Program

Admittedly, it's been about 4 years since we joined, so a few things may have changed in regards to the detailed process. But from our experience the process is fairly straightforward:

Alignment - Ensure HubSpot is aligned with the solutions you currently provide or aspire to provide
Payment - Be willing to pay for and use the software as an integrated part of your business
Commitment - Don't join the program with a short-term view or just because one client has mentioned HubSpot - you will need to up skill yourself and the team on the software in order to become certified

Going back to picking the right tool for the job, joining the partner program does not mean that you need to recommend or use HubSpot with every client. There are some partners who are "HubSpot Only", but in our case HubSpot is one tool in our toolbox that we recommend when we think it's the right fit OR when a client has already qualified HubSpot and is their preferred solution. In our experience, it's great to have a few preferred tools, but to remain agnostic and open-minded.

In many ways, HubSpot has enabled our team to become better consultants on other software solutions thanks to the HubSpot Academy and community. When we are tackling problems on Salesforce or Dynamics365, the problems and solutions are extremely similar, but the implementation detail is adjusted to the tool. 

You can start the process by signing-up here: https://www.hubspot.com/partners/solutions 

Finding the right HubSpot Solutions Partner

The HubSpot Solutions Directory is a great resource to start, this should contain every certified partner. HubSpot sales reps are also a wealth of information and often know the right partners to refer based on your specific requirements. Finding the right partner for your business is definitely worthy of an entire article, but here's some pointers to get started.

  1. Specialist or Generalist - Depending on whether you want a team that is hyper specialised in one area, like SEO, or a team that is able to operate across a number of tactics, strategies and tools.
  2. Project or Partnership - Agencies operate on all sorts of different models, some are setup perfectly for a brief > execute > finish model where they do not need to own strategic initiatives or goals of your business as much. Others, like us, are setup for building long-term partnerships with our clients and forming an extension of their own team.
  3. Size and Shape - Understanding the size and shape of your partner is really helpful in making a decision. When you put your teams together do you have a complete picture or are there any gaps? 
  4. Referrals - Seriously underrated and often overlooked. Reviews are great, but asking for and talking to a few referrals is a great way to validate your selection.

Wrapping up

Four years on, I can say with confidence that becoming a HubSpot Solutions Partner was a great choice for us.

Our first CAM Kieran O'Connor, who helped us with starting our HubSpot journey was an absolute legend.

"I'm thrilled to be working with Honest Fox as a HubSpot Partner. Their savvy, sophisticated and innovative approach to inbound makes them a company that businesses everywhere can learn from. Watching them transform their Agency and their clients with Inbound has been a rewarding experience." - Kieran O'Connor

We've helped a number of clients grow their business both on and off HubSpot. If you're considering joining the partner program or looking for a partner, feel free to get in touch.