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Hubspot free CRM functionality: what’s included and what’s not

Disclaimer: We are FANS of what Hubspot is doing for Small businesses just getting started with a CRM. We are also a registered Salesforce Partner. This article is our opinions only and not affiliated with any other software vendor or association.

Congratulations, you’re likely here because you’re undergoing a digital transformation in your business. There are important choices to be made!

In this article, we’re going to get into the specifics of selecting your software vendor, specifically the decision of choosing a platform like HubSpot vs Salesforce.

At Cypress, we work with teams to map business processes to technical solutions. Rather than just checking off a ‘features’ checklist, we strongly recommend reviewing how different features, systems, and tools will fit into your sales workflow and your team’s needs.

In the list below, we’re going to cover the features included with the free version of Hubspot CRM, as well as the limitations of these lite versions of the paid features in Hubspot’s products:

  • Contacts: A ‘Contact’ Database: First Name, Last Name, Job Title…etc, designed to work with other Hubspot features
  • Prospects: Simple data base for importing new leads
  • Companies: Store Company/Account Information
  • Deals: Track selling Opportunities through different sales stages to ‘closed won/closed lost’
  • Tasks & activities: Create tasks and activities
  • Team email: Universal inbox for collaborative communication(for example: [email protected], [email protected])
  • App Marketplace integrations
  • Tracking Code: Contact activity tracking on a website through a cookie (tracking only)
  • Additional Features:
    • Hubspot mobile app
    • Shared inbox
      • Limit: 1 inbox
    • Reporting dashboards
      • Limit: 3 dashboards, up to 10 reports per dashboard
    • Email tracking & notifications
      • Limit: 200 notifications per month
    • Email reply tracking
      • Limit: Using this data in reports and automation only available with Professional and Enterprise plans
    • Email health reporting
      • Limit: Does not include data-based recommendations
    • Email templates
      • Limit: 5 templates
    • Documents
      • Limit: 5 documents, with Hubspot branding
    • Facebook Messenger integration
      • Limit: Send and receive simple messages and quick replies
    • Custom properties
      • Limit: 10 custom properties

Hubspot CRM is designed with a ‘Marketing-first’ mentality, leaves Sales lacking

Hubspot has always been a marketing-focused tool. They pioneered the idea of inbound marketing, and their tools are well set up for that style of business. The Sales Management component of the Hubspot CRM is new and the platform feels as if they’re still working out some of the details of being a true ‘sales-ready’ CRM.

Major limitations for sales functionality in the free CRM include:

  • Only 15 minutes of calling per user, per month
  • No inbound calling (you can’t receive calls)
  • Hubspot branding on emails
  • Only 1 Sales Process
  • No email automation
  • 1 Shared Inbox

With only 1 shared inbox available, you’ll have to decide which team gets to use it. This Shared Inbox is designed for things like, ‘[email protected]’, or ‘[email protected]’ If you’re trying to handle sales requests, support, marketing etc from a single inbox, things get messy very quickly and become counter production.

For basic tools to boost your sales process, like email scheduling, rep productivity reports, automated sequences, and custom reporting, you’ll need to pay for the Professional plan of the Hubspot Sales Hub (starting at $500 per month for 5 users).

This is comparable to Salesforce Professional Edition, licenses. Which is what we would recommend. (Again, a disclaimer – we are a Registered Salesforce Partner)

Sales features

  • Calling
    • Limit: 15 minutes of calling per user, per month. Not supported in all countries. Can only make calls, not receive calls.
  • Quotes
    • Limit: Not tied to a product library. Does not include eSignature or Stripe/payment integration.
  • Meeting scheduling
    • Limit: 1 non-customizable personal meeting link with Hubspot branding
  • Deal pipeline
    • Limit: 1 pipeline per account
  • 1-to-1 email
    • Limit: Hubspot branded

What’s not included

  • No user permission levels
  • No conversation routing
  • No lead scoring
  • No SMS
  • No 1:1 support
  • No email sequences
  • No custom reporting
  • No forecasting

FREE Marketing Hub tools are very limited

In the beginning, HubSpot was a Marketing Automation Platform, the CRM is a more recent development. While the Hubspot Enterprise and paid Marketing Automation suites are considered industry leaders in the Marketing Space, the free version is very limited, in comparison to the paid version of Hubspot Marketing Hub.

Here’s what you’re really getting for marketing tools with the free Hubspot CRM:

  • Hubspot branding across all emails, landing pages, and chatbots
  • 2 social media accounts can be connected for ad management
  • 5 active email lists
  • 2,000 marketing email sends per month
  • Landing pages are limited to a few HubSpot branded simple templates

That said, to get access to the features that Hubspot is famous for and execute powerful marketing campaigns, users will need to upgrade from the free version and pay for the Marketing Hub, which is comparable in price to Pardot.

Marketing features

  • Marketing events object
  • Mobile optimization
  • Forms (including pop-up forms)
    • Limit: 10,000 collected forms
  • Email marketing
    • Limit: 2,000 email sends per calendar month, with Hubspot branding
  • Ad management
    • Limit: Only allows 2 connected accounts. Website audience creation only.
  • Landing pages
    • Limit: Up to 20 landing pages with HubSpot branding. Simple templates only. Does not include custom domains.
  • List segmentation
    • Limit: 5 active lists, 1,000 static lists. Segmentation criteria can only include form submission data, contact property information, and email activity.
  • Conversational chatbot
    • Limit: Only for ticket creation, lead qualification, and meeting booking; No custom branching logic
  • Live chat
    • Limit: Hubspot branded
  • Form follow-up emails
    • Limit: Only 1 automated email per form
  • Ad retargeting
    • Limit: $1,000 spend limit. Only functions on Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn.

Support features

  • Ticketing
  • Email scheduling
  • Custom support form fields
  • 1-to-1 email
    • Limit: Hubspot branded

Analytics and Custom Reporting Requires Paid upgrades or Add-ons

One of the primary drivers of using a CRM, and gathering data into a CRM platform, is reporting and analytics. In addition to the limitations on things like custom objects and robust reporting that Salesforce is famous for, Hubspot Free CRM is very limited on reporting.

If you upgrade to the Professional plan (starting at $500 per month), you’ll get 25 reporting dashboards and 100 custom reports. Limitations can be increased for an additional cost.

Low-quality customer support for Hubspot free CRM users

Another major limitation of the Hubspot free CRM is the lack of customer support. In fact, if you’re not on a paid plan, support is practically nonexistent.

Free users have access to:

  • Hubspot Academy
  • Hubspot Community
  • Knowledge Base

But no direct support with the company is available.

Scaling is NOT Free

One big perk that everyone points to is that the free Hubspot CRM offers 1,000,000 free contacts.

This sounds great in theory, but in practice can cost your businesses dearly in the future.

If your company is growing, you’ll eventually need to upgrade to the paid Marketing Hub. The catch is this: HubSpot’s paid plans have a much lower free contact limit.

As soon as you start paying for the Marketing Hub, all the contacts in your free CRM are automatically loaded into the paid system as well. And since the contact limits are much lower, you’ll likely have to upgrade to a higher pricing tier just to include the contacts you already have.

To have 1,000,000 contacts in Hubspot’s Marketing Hub, you’ll need to be on the Enterprise plan, which will cost you almost $10,000 per month.

Who should consider HubSpot’s free CRM system?

Not every business has the same needs or technical requirements. So, who can actually benefit from using HubSpot’s CRM?

Small companies with mainly self-service signups and a ‘hands-off’ sales approach: In a self-service situation where little to no 1:1 contact is required to convert new customers, HubSpot excels. Their free CRM is perfect for storing essential contact records and keeping things up-to-date.

Inbound-focused businesses: HubSpot was built around the idea of inbound marketing, and that’s where this tool truly shines. If you’re already using (or considering) HubSpot as an inbound marketing tool, the free CRM that comes along with it works well to keep track of bare-minimum sales data in real-time.

Small businesses without dedicated sales teams: If you’re a small business that only deals with a few potential and current customers at a time, the HubSpot free CRM can easily fit into your workflow and help you keep data more organized.

Freelancers and Consultants: Single-person businesses working to sell and provide services to clients with no plans to aggressively grow their business are an ideal fit for HubSpot’s free CRM.

Who should consider avoiding HubSpot’s free CRM system?

How do you know if you’re not a good fit for the free CRM from HubSpot? Here are some types of companies that may see better results by avoiding Hubspot’s free CRM:

Small businesses looking to build out a dedicated sales team: HubSpot simply isn’t friendly for the average sales rep. Also, with the limitations of the free system, a growing sales team will soon have to upgrade to a much more expensive plan.

Businesses that need sales automation: Automation saves your team time and allows them to run through repetitive tasks without wasting their time. The free version of HubSpot’s CRM includes no sales automation features, meaning teams that desperately need to save time will quickly be forced to upgrade to the Sales Hub.

Teams that need fast-responding support: HubSpot offers no 1:1 support for free users, so if your team is dealing with fast turnarounds and high stakes, this may not be the tool for you.

Sales teams that focus heavily on outbound sales methods: Since calling and emails are so limited in HubSpot’s free CRM, teams who plan to do a lot of outbound calling and cold emails to potential customers will quickly hit their limits.

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