Startup Blitz Part 2: Selling and The CRM

As a Startup; sales are the lifeblood of your organization

We dug through the weeds for years before we settled on what we think is the perfect startup CRM.


Every startup knows that sales are the lifeblood of most organizations.  Driving sales forward is what propels the company forward and keeps the lights on.  And finding a way to organize opportunities, contacts and potential sales is utterly critical to move your startup forward.  Today; we’re tackling the bear of a choice for CRM.

We here at Symposium have been on a constant hunt for the best CRM and project management tools for the job.  As a startup, we've gone through a number of different services that all proclaim to tackle the job in the way that we need.  If you remember our post on Surfing The Data Wake you’ll remember that each time you leave a service there’s a chance of some data getting left behind and perhaps lost in the details.  This makes switching between CRMs difficult at times and makes the decision to find the right one even more critical.  

For us, and indeed most startups; the criteria for a good CRM seemed pretty straight forward:


The CRM has to at least partially integrate with a few of the other services that we leverage.

Ease of Use

This is a very critical point to a CRM.  Since managing potential clients can be an exercise in keeping track of tasks, an easy to use CRM could be the make or break difference in whether or not your organization keeps itself on track.

Monitoring and Goals

This partially ties back into the requirement for Connectivity, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.  Being able to monitor activity and set goals for individuals and for the company as a whole is critical for forecasting.


It should probably go without saying that not every process or stage of a sale is right for every organization.  A good CRM should allow you to adapt your own workflow to it rather than trying to squeeze into what it has defined as a sales process for you.

Cost Effective

If you find a CRM that works well for you but is prohibitively expensive, then it doesn’t work for you.  The cost of a CRM should not have to be an expense that comes out of your sales budget to any significant degree.

In the interest of keeping this article focused, allow us to skip to the meat of the argument and tell you that a well known company has a little known CRM that met all of our requirements above in spades; Hubspot.  This CRM has proven itself to be invaluable to the operations of our organization.  Allow me to refer to the points above to help explain:


The Hubspot CRM has out of the box connectivity in spades.  First and foremost; it allows you to only log in using your Google Apps account.  For those of you who read The Startup Blitz Part One: The Brains, you’ll know that connecting a CRM to Google Apps was already a critical point for us, but Hubspot takes it just a few steps further.

There’s an email monitoring tool for Gmail and an extension for Chrome.  The email monitoring tool allows you to access a sidebar that shows any interactions you may have had with a particular contact whenever you open an email from them in your inbox.  If they haven’t been interacted with in any trackable way yet, you can add them to the CRM and fill out their information on top of what Hubspot already deems relevant information based on the domain that they’re coming from.

There’s also the ability to record and place calls directly from the CRM and add contacts to a call queue.  The process to set up calling took less than a minute, and after you make your first call they show you a little more love; the calls are recorded and can easily be played back for reference.  On top of that; just a quick setup option and the calls are being routed from your own phone number, so your line is never obscured.  This makes following up and keeping track of records critical.

So far, so good.

Ease of Use

Hubspot is also intuitive to use.  The sales process is made simple and robust enough that nearly anyone can use it with little onboarding effort.  Just add them to your team, have them log in with their account, and spend about 15-20 minutes with them to show them the ropes, and you’re off and running.  Some process heavy CRMs like Salesforce require extensive training and a time heavy setup period to get everything where it needs to be, and even then it doesn’t have the ease of use that the Hubspot CRMs interface has.

The CRM eliminates the guesswork.

Monitoring and Goals

Hubspot allows you to set quotas for the team as a whole or individual sales associates.  Since everything is theoretically tracked (Documents, calls, and emails), it becomes significantly easier to understand what’s going on in your organization from a wider perspective.


Editing deal stages and adjusting workflows is critical to allow the CRM to match up with your organization’s goals.  Thankfully, Hubspot has you covered.

The ability to not only edit deal stages, but every conceivable field for a contact, a company, lead source and deal.  When the pre-built fields are exhausted you can also create your own fields for any entry and filter by these results.  Want to figure out what lead source has produced the most revenue over the past year?  No problem, just construct a search and save it with that criteria.  Your reports are now customized and at your fingertips.

Customizable? You bet.

Cost Effective

There are two main products at work here; the Hubspot CRM, and Hubspot Sidekick.  The CRM is free for any organization without limits to its use or number of users.  Sidekick is used for reports on email performance, email tracking and expanded template performance inside the CRM.  The cost associated varies based on the account (individual or business), but pricing can be found here.

Signing up for the free CRM will get you to 80% of your needs without Sidekick.  However, Sidekick provides that boost that really brings the CRM to the next level.

Have a CRM solution that you prefer? Let us hear about it!

Feel free to follow us @studiosymposium on Twitter and join Symposium for our next installment of The Startup Blitz where we take a look at Team Management Solutions.  And as always, if you have an idea that you want to get made; Contact Us to get started.
Have a great week everybody, thanks for reading!


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