How Primary Colors Help HubSpot Build a CRM That Customers Love

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Christopher O'Donnell
Christopher O'Donnell


At HubSpot, customer experience comes first. Always.

Primary color swatches help HubSpotters building a CRM product on their computers.

Whether our marketing team is selecting a time at which to send an email or our web team team is choosing the size and location of a button on our homepage, the question we always go back to is: “Will this be a good experience for our customers?”

As HubSpot's Chief Product Officer, this customer-first principle is my guiding light when it comes to product development. And it's the reason why we don't buy technology when we want to deliver a new product to our customers. We build it.

This build-first approach is becoming increasingly rare in our industry. Traditional SaaS companies tend to acquire other companies when they want to significantly expand their product offerings or quickly increase their customer base. This can sometimes lead to a quick uptick in revenue — after all, when a company buys another, it acquires all of its customers — but it's often a very negative experience for the customer.

When two completely different systems are cobbled together after an acquisition, the burden of making them work together is foisted onto the customer. Each company probably took a completely different approach to product development, resulting in different underlying technology, different processes, and different user interfaces.

Reconciling these differences without causing friction for customers is an almost impossible task. And when SaaS companies apply this approach over time, the friction accrues, technical debt goes through the roof, and the customer experience steadily degrades as a result.

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This approach solves for the company implementing it, not the customers it's supposed to serve. That's why we do things differently at HubSpot. After all, it isn't like us to follow the crowd.

When most companies were doubling down on the old outbound playbook, we championed inbound approaches instead. When most businesses were wondering whether remote work could ever work, we saw the percentage of HubSpotters working from home hit double digits long before 2020 forced everyone's hand. And while our industry was still furiously focused on funnels, we embraced the flywheel.

We're different. It's in HubSpot's DNA. It's even reflected in our company mission: we help organizations grow better. Not grow according to the status quo. Not grow by adhering to age-old playbooks. Grow better.

Just as we believe there's a better way to grow, we also believe there's a better way to build. That's where the Primary Colors come in.

Meet the Primary Colors

Our approach to product development is simple, and it allows us to create multiplicative benefits for customers that no other CRM platform offers. We focus on five foundational elements that span all of our products, and we work at improving each one of them, all of the time. Those elements are: Automation, Content, Data, Messaging, and Reporting. We call them “Primary Colors.”

Every one of our Hubs – Content Hub, Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub – comprises a different blend of the five Primary Colors, meaning that every product on our platform is built on the same underlying foundation.

So when the product team shows up to work every day, the question we ask ourselves isn't “Which Hub or feature will we work on today?” It's: “Which Primary Color will we enhance?”

How Primary Colors Help HubSpot Build a CRM That Customers Love

As a result, when we add value to one area of HubSpot, value is automatically added across the entire CRM platform. And that allows us to deliver a steady stream of delight to all of our customers on an ongoing basis.

Here are three ways in which this approach allows us to offer unique value to our customers in the crowded CRM market:

1. Continuous improvement across the platform.

“HubSpot is the perfect, always-improving marketing software” – review on G2

The same five Primary Colors go into building each HubSpot product, so when we improve one Primary Color, we improve every Hub. And every customer of every HubSpot product sees an immediate benefit, whatever part of the platform they use.

For instance, when we invest in making Reporting in Sales Hub more robust, this robustness ripples out to every Reporting tool across the HubSpot CRM platform. So Marketing Hub customers who use our Reporting tools benefit, Service Hub customers who use our Reporting tools benefit, as do Content Hub customers — all because we invested in improving just one Primary Color.

2. Easy adoption of new products.

“We quickly adopted the Sales Hub Pro and Marketing Enterprise for our growing needs. It has been one of the best decisions we have made” – review on G2

Since all of our Hubs are built on the same Primary Color foundation, our customers can expect a familiar, fast, and friendly user experience every time they add a new feature or product to their tech stack. This means customers can enjoy the benefits of each new addition right away, with no time lost to training, integration, or new-system frustration.

As HubSpot's co-founder, Dharmesh Shah, puts it: "Our customers' time-to-joy is reduced."

Once a customer learns how to use Automation in, say, Marketing Hub, they instantly know how Automation works in all of HubSpot's products across the CRM platform. So as their company scales and adds new products, features, and integrations to their tech stack, they can expect consistency, not complexity.

They don't have to relearn how Messaging works or how Data is stored every time they add a new Hub — something they would likely have to do if they were working with a system that had been cobbled together through acquisitions or if they use different tools for different customer-facing teams.

3. The ability to run an entire business on a single platform.

“I can manage the website, CRM, email marketing and all other efforts in one single place. This allows me to have a single location for all my data Reporting and have a single source of truth” – review on G2

With HubSpot, fast-growing companies can run their whole business on a single system, because HubSpot offers the same insights and power to marketers, salespeople, and service professionals alike.

And when all teams at a company are working out of the same familiar system, silos crumble, data is centralized, and information flows freely. The whole team has access to the same valuable insights, allowing them to understand their customers better and deliver a seamless experience across every touchpoint.

For example, when a company's marketing team uses Marketing Hub and its sales team uses Sales Hub, both teams gain access to the same customer data in a centralized CRM. And because both Hubs offer identical functionality for recording and storing Data, it becomes equally easy for each team to access not only the data they generate, but also Data the other team generates.

This gives marketers and salespeople a holistic view of the customer, enabling each of them to tailor their tactics and personalize their outreach. If a prospect is showing particular interest in marketing content about a certain feature, the sales team can see this information in the shared CRM and will know to focus on that feature on their next call with the prospect.

They don't need to wait on a marketing report or rely on an impersonal script – they can personalize their outreach and hone in on a prospect's specific areas of interest, all as a result of both Hubs being built on the same foundation.

Building Differently, Growing Better

The challenges that companies face in 2021 are new, so our approach to building our products needs to be new as well. With the rise of the hybrid workplace, we're all finding our work lives intersecting our home and family lives, too. That raises the bar on what we expect from business software.

People use HubSpot to power their businesses, to provide for their families, to help their communities thrive, and in many cases, to make the world a better place.

It's now more important than ever that our CRM platform experience feels like something you'd use on the weekends, not just Monday morning.

That's why we're fiercely committed to building software that has enterprise-grade power combined with consumer-grade intuitiveness and an experience as delightful as that offered by the apps we all use in our personal lives.

At HubSpot, our bar is set by what our customers need, not what our competitors have done in past decades. With the five Primary Colors powering our platform and our unwavering commitment to never compromise on customer experience, we are excited to continue to help our customers grow better in 2021 and beyond.

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