Software integrations are everywhere and for good reason - when implemented properly, synchronizing data between systems can provide a seamless front end experience to your prospects and customers while streamlining data flow and daily sales activity on the back end. We've completed and optimized several HubSpot-Salesforce integrations to date, but tackled a new marketing automation/CRM connection to wrap up 2016.
I recently had an opportunity to chat with the rad folks over at Bedrock Data about the bi-directional integration we implemented between NetSuite CRM and HubSpot during 4Q16 using one of their connectors. Ahead of the implementation, we considered a couple alternatives including a custom-built integration and Zapier. The conversation below explains why we ultimately chose the pre-built connector and the results we saw in doing so. You can read the original post on their site here.
Zak: You recently had a customer move to NetSuite for CRM. Can you share the background around that?
Amanda: Absolutely – our customer is Contractor Management Services, who provides a software solution for companies to work seamlessly with independent contractors. When we found out they needed a HubSpot-NetSuite integration, we researched HubSpot integrations and found that Bedrock Data had a pre-built connector for HubSpot and NetSuite.
Zak: What options did you consider at that point and how did you weigh them?
Amanda: The first option we considered was Zapier, but we quickly realized it wasn’t going to meet the requirements of a marketing automation-CRM integration, which needs a continuous bidirectional back-and-forth with frequent updates to existing data records.
Zapier works well when you only need to push data from one system to another. The HubSpot-NetSuite integration requires scenarios like a lead is pushed from HubSpot to NetSuite, and then is frequently updated by both systems – as a prospect interacts more with your website, with your content, attends webinars, etc. – and also managing updates from the sales team.
There are also scenarios like salespeople adding leads and needing to ensure that this does not result in duplicates. And there’s also the need to track leads through to opportunity conversion and then feeding that opportunity data back to HubSpot, connected to the original lead record.
So for these reasons, Zapier wasn’t a good fit.
Zak: OK that all makes sense and we hear that from customers a lot. What other options did you consider?
Amanda: We also considered doing our own custom development with the APIs of the two systems. At the end we decided an integration product would be the better option because it gave us more flexibility in the long term and gave us quicker on-boarding to get the project done. We did the calculations and we saw the cost-benefit of an integration product paying off in just a few months vs. applying development resources, while giving us more ongoing flexibility.
Zak: Can you describe what you mean by ‘ongoing flexibility’?
Amanda: It’s important for us as agency, and our customers as marketers, to be able to make changes in real time without having to get into a development queue.
As there are changes to contact properties or field mappings, or the need to add new ones, it’s a big time saver for us to do that via a product interface than have to wait on development resources re-programming an API.
With Bedrock Data, we can make changes ourselves, instantly. Had we been reliant on development resources, we’d be looking at submitting a request to that team, and waiting a few days or weeks until it’s up on the queue.
And when we’re working with clients, they want things done ASAP! And they don’t have development resources either when it comes to managing the integration.
Zak: Can you describe the project and what you did to configure your HubSpot and NetSuite integration using Bedrock Data?
Amanda: NetSuite is a very complex system; Bedrock Data demystifies that complexity by giving we marketers the power to do what we’re looking to do in HubSpot. It’s a quite a feat to have a process whereby we can do all of our marketing in HubSpot, and have the HubSpot-NetSuite integration just work for us behind the scenes.
The integration project entailed looking at the various types of data – leads, contacts, accounts, opportunities – and determining which data we want to flow in which direction, and how the data should be triggered between systems.
We had to answer questions like – ‘when should leads flow from HubSpot to NetSuite?’ ‘Under what circumstances do we want leads that sales enters into NetSuite to flow back into HubSpot?’ ‘Under what circumstances do we want to trigger nurture campaigns on behalf of sales?’ ‘Do we want to flow opportunity data from NetSuite back to HubSpot for full funnel analytics?’
Zak: What did you end up determining for when leads should flow from HubSpot to NetSuite?
Amanda: To start, we are doing it based on explicit request from a prospect. We have a hidden field on key forms such as contact sales and demo forms, and that field is what triggers a lead to sync from HubSpot to NetSuite.
Bedrock Data ensures when we do that sync, it will not create a duplicate in NetSuite – if there is an existing lead record in NetSuite, it will update it. Back to the question on Zapier, that’s an example of something that Zapier cannot do.
In the future, we will likely expand this definition to also include lead score triggers.
Zak: As your expertise is sales enablement, how does the Bedrock Data integration help enable the sales team on NetSuite?
Amanda: Bedrock Data helps give the sales team in NetSuite visibility to key prospect data. We’ve mapped fields such as lead source and conversion events so sales can see key milestones of the prospect in the buyer journey, and more detail is available via the HubSpot public contact link.
What this means is that the sales team can tailor their conversation more specifically to that prospect. By knowing what the prospect is interested in – and what content they’ve consumed – the salesperson can have a more relevant, and hopefully therefore a more effective, conversation.
And after the salesperson has spoken to a prospect, if they aren’t ready to move forward, they can determine the right nurturing path to remain top of mind with that prospect, based on what specifically they learned about that prospect and what types of issues they may be facing over time.
Zak: You’re now up and running with the HubSpot-NetSuite integration – can you talk about that process and also what benefits you are seeing, and how they compare to your expectations at the onset of the project?
Amanda: We were up and running in about a month, which is a strong accomplishment considering we are working with a fairly complex system in NetSuite. The Bedrock Data customer success team was key in making that happen, bringing us integration best practices along with system expertise in both HubSpot and NetSuite.
The integration between HubSpot and NetSuite is very empowering both for us as the agency and for our client – as we can do our marketing in HubSpot and know that we are working in lockstep with the sales team in NetSuite. And it eliminates any hassles such as spreadsheet entry between systems, or the risk of creating duplicates between the two systems.
Lastly Bedrock Data has given us the flexibility we were hoping for to manage the integration on an ongoing basis. If we have changes to lead routing or data workflow requirements, we can make those changes ourselves without having to engage an IT resource. The platform connector is setup to scale with the needs of the customer; as there is the need to do more things, we will be able to do that.