The 5 stages of a successful HubSpot CRM Implementation

In our comprehensive guide, we provide all the detail you need on the 5 stages of implementing HubSpot CRM.

Picture of Andrew Shaw Andrew Shaw

Published: 29 Apr 2021

20 minutes read

The 5 stages of a successful HubSpot CRM Implementation


- Terms we'll use explained
Stage 1: Mobilisation
- 1.1 Setting up the project management structure
- 1.2 Objectives

Stage 2: HUBSPOT CRM IMPLEMENTATION Strategy & Roadmap
- 2.1 Introduction - Initial questions and business analysis
- 2.2 Understanding your ‘as is’ situation’
- 2.3 Defining a vision
- 2.4 Set priorities and define the roadmap

- 3.1 Creating the ‘to be’ design
Stage 4: Implementation
- 4.1 Introduction
- 4.2 Delivering multi-dimensional change
Stage 5: Continuous Improvements
- 5.1 Introduction
- 5.2 Revenue operations


Why Most HubSpot Implementations Fail?

While HubSpot CRM is undoubtedly one of the best platforms available, simply choosing it isn't enough to guarantee success. Many executives, excited by the potential, fail to consider the full project scope, leading to underwhelming results.

Luckily, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that a staggering 70% of CRMs are not implemented correctly. This should be no surprise - HubSpot found that 22% of salespeople still don’t know what a CRM is and 40% are still using informal methods, such as spreadsheets and email programs, to store customer data.

These CRM failures often stem from insufficient understanding and management of change, both for end customers and internally for people and processes. Technology alone cannot solve the problem.

To ensure a smooth transition, I've drawn on my 30 years of experience to create this simple guide. It provides a clear overview of everything you need to consider for a successful HubSpot CRM implementation.

This in-depth guide equips you with the tools to develop a robust strategy, helping you:


Manage a complex transformation

A CRM won’t just affect how your sales or service agents work, but requires a complete overhaul of your current processes, technology, and people. 


Shift the running of your day-to-day businesses

The world won’t stop turning while you figure out how to best implement your CRM system. You need to find a way to ensure your usual business isn’t affected by on-going changes.


Change your company culture

The implementation of a new CRM system is often an opportunity to change the company culture to become more customer focused. You’ll need to set clear goals, be clear about how you expect people to behave and change attitudes accordingly. 


Take a data-driven approach

A CRM will enable your business to make data-driven decisions, using customer-related data to predict customer behaviour, identify and prioritise new opportunities and avoid pitfalls such as defecting customers. However, the quality of those decisions is dependent on good value customer data and data being brought together from several integrated systems.  With encouragement, properly utilising a CRM will help your teams to work smarter - not harder. 


Better understand the buyer’s journey

Whether you like it or not, you have competition and your competitors could be delivering a better experience than you. With the right tools, you can identify and address flaws in your processes that diminish the customer experience.

Although HubSpot free software is easy to implement and is a highly adaptable application for many businesses, the tools available with the paid membership offer the most flexibility for you and your business.

While a HubSpot CRM isn’t a magic wand that will instantly solve your issues, it’s simple, easy to use software means you’ll have more time to focus on providing the best process possible.

In order to successfully implement a HubSpot CRM I have broken the process into 5 stages:

Stage 1: Mobilisation

Stage 2: strategy & roadmap

Stage 3: Design & Prototyping

Stage 4: Implementation

Stage 5: Continuous improvement


Woman by whiteboard



The short answer - No

But, if you want to achieve the best results, you’ll need to put the effort in.

Whatever the size of your business, implementing a CRM should not be taken lightly. You need to ensure you have the right funds, support, and team to see your company succeed.

While it may be easier to follow some of these steps rather than perform a complete overhaul, it’s unlikely that you will receive the results you’re looking for if you to take short cuts.

CIO found that 1 in 3 CRM implementations fail. And, even worse, Gartner discovered that 55% of all CRM projects don’t produce results. And what’s the point in wasting all that time, money, and hard work if your CRM is destined to fail from the very beginning?

CRM’s aren’t just for big businesses either, with studies indicating that  91% of businesses with 10 or more employees now use CRM software to help manage the day-to-day running of their company. Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from a good CRM, with 87% of businesses seeing a stark improvement in sales after using a CRM.

So, whether you’re an executive at a large corporation or operating a small start-up, my in-depth approach will help you achieve a successful CRM.



While HubSpot Onboarding and our CRM implementation process both use HubSpot, these are not the same processes.

HubSpot Onboarding will provide you guidance and some support to enable you to setup a base simple, base CRM solution.  It will help new users to get acquainted with the system, but can only provide a certain amount of benefit.  Think of it as getting to basecamp before climbing the mountain. A full CRM implementation, on the other hand, focuses not only on your customer journey but also how to create the best internal process and better use technology for your team.  The benefits of a full implementation are far greater: integration with other systems improves the richness of data to enable better decision making;  users will take advantage of more sophisticated functionality; processes will be automated to strip out inefficiency; bottlenecks and leakages in the sales pipeline will be addresses; and the full potential of existing customers will be realised.  

If you’re looking to create long-term, effective growth for your company that goes beyond surface-level solutions - keep reading.


Terms we’ll use explained

Implementing a CRM is tricky enough without being bombarded with technical jargon. We don’t want to add to your confusion! So, before you get stuck into our 5 step implementation approach, here’s an explanation of some of the key terms we’ll use throughout this guide:



Stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM software (we’ll be focusing on HubSpot CRM) stores information about relationships with customers to optimise and automate marketing, improve sales performance, and improve customer experience.



This is the process of getting your CRM up and running, from start to finish. 


Buyer persona

A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, informed by data.


Buyer’s journey

This is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider, purchase and experience your product or service.



This is the broad steps needed to make your vision a reality, typically a multi-phase approach in which you define at a high level what will be done in each phase. 


Business analysis

This is a process of identifying business needs and finding solutions to business problems by evaluating data.


The “As Is - To Be” model

Put simply, when you want to improve a process, you have to understand the current state (As Is), and envision the future state (To Be). This model helps to discuss who, and what processes, will be impacted by the changes, so that you can define the steps needed to implement the change.


Software architecture

This is a map of the functions to be performed by your CRM software and how it relates to other systems needed to run your business. Characteristics of the software, such as flexibility, scalability, feasibility, reusability, and security are often also considered, as well as the data flows needed between the various systems.


Executive sponsor

This will typically be the senior member of a project team, usually a senior executive in the business, who is overall responsible for the success of the implementation.


Steering group

The purpose of a steering group in a CRM project is to provide oversight and governance for the project. In simple terms, they help make the tough decisions and keep the project on track.


Waterfall methodology

This is a linear and sequential approach to software development, where each phase must be fully completed before the next phase can begin.


Agile methodology

This is an iterative approach to software development where key phases are delivered in smaller increments, or ‘sprints’. Feedback from previous phases informs the next phase, so changes can be made - instead of trying to deliver the whole project at the end.


Communication plan

This is a formal plan used to update leadership on the status of your CRM project, as well as deal with essential change management issues.


Software integration

This is the process of bringing together various types of software to create a unified single system. 


Application Programming Interface (API) 

Simply put, an API is the link between two applications, that essentially allows them to ‘talk’ to each other, or work together seamlessly.  APIs keep data in sync between systems and also automate processes.

discussing notes on a whiteboard


Stage 1: Mobilisation

1.1 - Setting up the project management structure

You will need to make sure you have the right resources in place to manage such a project. People can’t be expected to fulfil their full-time role and manage a CRM project at the same time. It’s not possible - one or the other will suffer. Therefore, it’s likely that more people will needed in your team.

At this stage, you should set up the project governance: a project manager, project team, steering group, executive sponsor, project controls and risk management. A robust project management team will comprise:


A day-to-day project manager

A day-to-day manager to ensure there is a clear channel of communication between all department heads and the project team, manage and track the project plan, make sure that the right things are done at the right time by the right person.


An executive sponsor

A senior-level (Exec team or Board-level) sponsor will be needed to ensure the project gets the right support. Without sufficient financial, strategic and project support from all major partners within your company, your project will face unnecessary hurdles.


A project team

A project team, typically made of department heads (eg. IT, Data, Sales, Marketing, Service, HR). These roles will give clear guidance to sub-teams throughout on how to progress.


A steering group

A steering group, including key figures from all departments, define the journeys each sub-teams need to make to change the user experience.


Stakeholder communications plan

One of the first priorities for your project team and steering group, beyond setting project objectives (see below), will be to understand the stakeholders that are impacted by the project and to build a communication plan to engage them. This communication plan needs to define what messages need to be send to specific stakeholder groups, and when, in order to ensure that all those impacted by the change are properly informed throughout.

Priorities chart

You will also need to establish a rhythm of project meetings and reviews amongst the project team and steering group to ensure proper communication within the team. Schedule regular meetings at least once a month to assess how your project is going.

When discussing your strategy, it’s key to meet their needs, so engage with their specialist area to increase their interest in your project. Involve them in your process by giving them a say in how they think you should implement your CRM strategy in low-risk areas.


1.2 SETTING Objectives

You need to agree what you are trying to achieve and hence to agree clear objectives for the project.  The benefits of your CRM implementation should be focused on tangible business performance improvement, such as profit & loss account benefits (ie increased revenue and/or reduced costs) and the benefits should clearly outweigh all costs associated with the project (one-off and on-going). This means that you should be able to point to specific revenue growth and/or cost reduction as a direct result of the implementation. Don't just think about the "what" (eg. increase sales), but also the "how" (eg, increasing lead conversion by 10% and average order values by 5%).

Cost reduction benefits may come in the form of reducing IT expenditure, by simplifying technology (HubSpot can be a great help here!), or improving efficiency to reduce headcount. If you expect your CRM implementation to deliver efficiency improvements, you need to think how will you "bank" those: are you going to reduce headcount costs as a result or are you expecting the efficiency to free-up resource that will deliver more sales? 

Tangible revenue growth benefits often fall into one or more of three categories: 

1. Growing revenue by acquiring more new customers
2. Growing revenue by increasing share of wallet amongst existing customers
3. Growing revenue by reducing customer churn (improving customer loyalty)


All of these examples have a direct measure on your business performance.

“Your objective should be to make a measurable impact on your
business’ financial (P&L) performance.”

— Andrew Shaw, Axon Garside


During this stage there may be other business objectives you set, such as improving customer experience, developing a single view of customer, improving management visibility, reporting & control, and saving time. While these are noble goals to attain, they don't’ have clear financial objectives as they are inputs rather than outputs.

Any business objectives you set out to achieve should, of course, be SMART, or:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic
  • Timed


Stage 1: Checklist

The output of this stage should be a project charter that should include the following things:

  • Project objectives and financial targets.
  • Executive sponsor
  • Steering group members.
  • Project team members and organisation chart.
  • Intended timelines (milestones).
  • Budget (cost for the program).
  • Benefits case
  • Scope - what’s in scope and what’s out of scope?
  • Risks - what could go wrong and how to mitigate against those risks.

Additionally, at this point you should also define your first cut communications plan.

Woman using laptop

Stage 2: HubSpot Implementation Strategy and Roadmap


2.1 - Initial questions and business analysis

The purpose of this stage of the project is to understand your current situation (the ‘As Is’), define objectives for improvement and to develop a view of what changes need to be made to achieve those objectives (the strategy for change). As the foundation of any good project, understanding your current situation is vital to helping you figure out what you need to change. This should be done by performing a business analysis.

In your analysis, you should evaluate your current performance, processes, systems and data in order to thoroughly understand your ‘as is’ situation. While going through your data, consider how to:

  • Increase the number of customers (eg manage leads better, improve the sales process)
  • Decrease customer churn rates and improve the customer experience 
  • Increase your opportunity to upsell 
  • Reduce costs and "friction"
  • Differentiate data between different customers segments.


While objectives such as “create a single view of the customer” are noble and unarguable, you need to understand what the real financial impact of the project will be. 

Understanding your ‘As Is’ will become your key driver in understanding what’s working and what’s not. This analysis will help you understand what might be impacting business results and where the opportunities for improvement lie - be that substantial lead generation or customer retention or whatever else you are evaluating.

To help you develop a  long-term growth strategy using your HubSpot CRM, start by asking yourself:

How well are your customer-facing teams performing?

  • How many new customers have you acquired? 
  • How long does it take from first touch to close?
  • What are your lead conversion rates, proposal rates, close rates, win rates, average deal sizes.
  • Where are the bottlenecks in the sales process?


How much is it costing?

  • How much do you spend per lead to convert into a deal?
  • How much do you spend per order? 
  • What is the cost of your operations as a percentage of revenue? This covers your CRM sales and operations costs and a proportion of the revenue being delivered.


What is the quality of your customer base?

  • How many customers do you have? 
  • What are the churn rates? 
  • Share of wallet? 
  • Is there a growth in existing customer revenue? 
  • What is your customer satisfaction? 
  • Are there any other measures of customer health (e.g. service levels, complaints)? 


Your analysis will help indicate any problems your potential customers are currently facing, such as a laborious process to access basic information on your website, or a CRM that isn’t telling them the right information. Treat this as a way to learn from your ‘as is’ situation, and see how your current strategy is (or isn’t) working for your businesses.

It’s important to be honest with your ‘as is’ assessment. Whether this is with your internal team or external implementation partner, ensure your future will be more successful by giving accurate results from your audit.

Man using laptop in office

2.2 - Understanding the ‘as is’ situation

Many businesses stop  using a CRM because they get overwhelmed. It’s understandable but avoidable - if you create a CRM strategy upfront.

— Aja Frost, HubSpot



Once you’ve analysed your current results, you need to examine the buyer’s current experience.  This is usually a good time to conduct market and customer research or to draw on past customer satisfaction surveys in order to understand the customer pain points and issues that can be addressed through the CRM programme.

Take some time to go through the customer's current buying process.

  • Are there any instructions or areas where the next step is not clear?
  • Understand how they find the journey and, ultimately, where there might be "leakage" in the process (eg. customer's dropping out the buying process). 
  • Are there points where they are forced to take routes that they might not like, which overcomplicate their buying journey?  Do they have the opportunity to use the right channel?

Ask your clients questions to gather key information such as:

How they find the renewal process.

  • Is it easy?
  • Are there any barriers in their way?


How they interact with the sales team. 

  • Are they overbearing? 
  • Are they adding value?
  • Or is their approach too hands-off?


If the journey from prospect to lead was easy, or if there were any possible roadblocks in their way. 

  • Do you need to take any content down? 
  • Would they have preferred any more blogs or content on certain topics?


How they interact with the account management & service teams. 

  • Are they getting the response they need? 
  • How satisfied are they with the service?
  • How strong is the relationship?


Consider the different types of customers you have and the processes for dealing with them. Create a range of unique, individual buyer personas and the journeys they will follow in order to get the result they need from your company.

While this list of questions is not exhaustive, it will begin to help you identify the challenges you’re facing and where the ‘low hanging fruit’ is.


People & Process

A fragmented or messy import can lead to a disorganized CRM where it’s hard for people to source the information they need.

— Jason Underhill, Raka


In order to build the right experience for your customers, you need to think about the processes that people are following internally, and the impact this has on the customer journey. 

Engage with your HR team and department heads to find out the capacity of your sales-teams, and see if there are any pain points, friction or weaknesses in your current process. You can achieve this by taking what you’ve learnt from your customers directly and finding out how that impacts your team. 

Combined with the information gathered from your clients and employees, you may need to design a new structure for your team. You will need to ensure you have the right people in the right roles doing the right things: they may be expected to do more, use services differently, or interact with your clients in currently unconventional ways. Prepare them now for the possible acquisition of new team members or the eventual retraining of current employees.

Next, you’ll need to look at how people work. Gather your team, and ask:

  • Have there been too many gaps in the sales process or deals lost due to the current CRM system?
  • Is there a lack of resources internally to manage the pipeline effectively?
  • Is there a lack of visibility over the pipeline - has no one managed to decipher the metrics that your current stack creates?
  • Are there any bottlenecks in your current pipeline? And do these cause inefficiencies in your system that creates a backlog for the wider team?
  • Are sales spending too long on admin activities? If so, is that because your current integrations don’t work?
  • Are you using disparate tools? Are they working for your team?
  • Do your sales teams have all the tools, information and collateral they need to sell?


Your goal should be to understand who is currently involved in managing customer process (ie in scope vs out of scope), what their role is, and how the CRM system can help them achieve targets.

Team discussing project in cafe

Technology & data

The key to successful sales and marketing alignment is a centralised source of truth on customer data stored in a user-friendly CRM.

— Lou Orfanos, HubSpot


Before you make any changes, it’s important to understand how technology is (or isn't!) support the customer journey . Look at the current customer management software architecture and find out what technology your company is currently using in order to support the end-to-end customer journey, asking:  

  • What value do they add to the customer journey?
  • How important is the data stored?
  • Is this application is crucial to your business?
  • What is the cost (and if you’re spending more than you have to)?


In its current state, your data is likely not the cleanest. It wouldn't be unusual if you have a pool of unqualified or orphan leads, duplicates, data gaps, fake names, or clients you haven't spoken to in years. 

If you’re putting garbage in your new system, you’re going to get garbage out, so take this opportunity to plan the work required to clean your data to ensure that the information HubSpot collects will be clear, succinct, and accurate. 

Consider using HubSpot’s data cleansing tool or other third-party data management tools to conduct a health check, analyse data quality and build a plan to fix it.

You should conduct an analysis of the data you currently use to support the end-to-end customer relationship, in order to assess what work will be required to address:

Duplicate contacts

Are there multiple Sarah Browns in your system with the same email address? Keep one, but figure out where the rest are coming from - is this an internal or external, website issue?


Old leads

Ensure you aren’t unintentionally focusing on customers that are no longer interested, and you are complying with GDPR regulations.


Data gaps

Are there any missing properties and data fields that are stopping you from maintaining quality leads?


Customers that have not engaged

Looking at when they have last opened an email, or their conversion date are good indicators for how engaged contacts are with your company. 


Data errors

Are there any missing properties and data fields that are stopping you from maintaining quality leads?


GDPR compliance risks

Are there any missing properties and data fields that are stopping you from maintaining quality leads? Need help with your GDPR compliance issues? Check out HubSpot's helpful GDPR compliance page here.


During this time, it’s crucial that you engage with both IT and Finance. While IT will look for opportunities to improve your technology for the user journey, Finance will be able to give you a baseline for your current performance, and track your results - as well as the financial implications of these changes.

Team looking at laptop

2.3 - Defining a vision

While you’re working on the present, your focus should start to shift to the future.

In order to define where you want your company to be, figure out how to organise yourself differently, see what process changes you need to make, and decide who you’re going to use HubSpot or any other technology differently in order to achieve your objectives.  Its as this stage that you are likely to have the "Ah-Ha" moment where we discover how HubSpot CRM can really make a difference to your business.



Creating and mapping a sales process will help your sales team close more deals and convert more leads.

— Cambria Davies, HubSpot

Having understood the pain points, what do we want our customer’s journey to be? Now’s the time to define, at a broad level, what you want the customer journey to look like. You’ll have to consider different scenarios though …  use customer segment mapping to understand which products can (or should) be sold through which sales channel and (if possible) the revenue for each.

Here’s an example of a customer segment map:

Screenshot 2021-04-27 15.34.08

Different types of customers buy different types of products in different ways.  You need to understand the different types of customer you serve, what they want to buy and then how they expect to interact with you to buy it. If you were selling a t-shirt, the process is likely to be a low value, simple output. But if you are selling a bespoke technology solution, the complexity of your sales process and post-sales service is likely to be highly customised.

So you need to segment your customers, categorise, your products and then define the "buying scenarios you need to consider. This will help you to decide how to organise and prioritise your CRM implementation. Mapping the importance of your CRM tasks customer value and service complexity using the grid above will help you to efficiently structure your tasks and teams.



With different buying scenarios in mind, now is the time to map your customer journeys in detail. Customer journey mapping is a technique for thinking about the end-to-end customer management process, but from the customer's perspective.

Here is an example of a customer journey map:

customer journey map


With information from discovery workshops and based off the prioritised and first phased implementation scenarios, go through each customers’: 

  1. Persona. Who is your customer?
  2. Scenario. What is the buying scenario you  care considering?
  3. Goals & expectations. What is the customer’s goal & desired outcome?
  4. Actions. What action does the customer take throughout each phase?
  5. Emotions & thoughts. What is the customer thinking or feeling at each step?
  6. Opportunities. What opportunities for improvement are there?
  7. Ownership. Who owns the experience at that point in the journey?

Customer journey maps provide you with an "outside-in" view that will help you to look for objectively at the way you are managing customers from the point that they first visit your website right through to experiencing your service. 


People & Process

Next, you need to define, at a high level, what changes you need to make to your organisation and how you expect people to work to deliver the desired customer experience through the customer journey. What are the changes that will make the difference to meet the objectives of the project, deliver the desired customer experience, overcome the bottlenecks and deliver business benefits.  

Often this is a simple statement that defines the changes needed (the ‘how’) to deliver the project objectives (the ‘what’).

For example, if one of your project objectives is to drive the amount of sales, look at your current
‘as is’ process and see what changes can be made to automate the lower value products so your
teams can dedicate more time to your higher value services.


Technology & Data 

At this stage, you need to define your solutions architecture, or a map of how technology will support your business needs. This requires you to define the ‘To Be’ solutions needed to address the needs or goals within your company.  It will show what are the systems needed, the role that HubSpot will play and how it will link with other systems. It should highlight what integration will be needed and how those interfaces will be developed.

This is where you should define the integration strategy between HubSpot and various other software in the solution architecture. There are three different approaches to consider:


- Built by HubSpot

Pre-built interfaces between HubSpot and well-known software such as Salesforce, Microsoft Office, SurveyMonkey etc.

- Third-party integrations

Integrations developed by third parties between HubSpot and their software services.

- Bespoke integration

Bi-directional integrations developed uniquely between your systems and HubSpot, often using Application Programming Interface (API) development tools or middleware packages. 


You will also need to bring together your analysis of data to develop the plan for data cleanup and migration.  You’ll need a clear view of what data you are likely to need, where it will come from and how you will prepare it for the new system. 


Woman  and man smiling

2.4 - Set priorities and define the Roadmap

Finally, in this stage, you need to define your priorities and how you are going to navigate through the change. 


Waterfall or agile development approach?

Before you begin implementing new software or creating changes within your organization, it’s key to decide how to approach the CRM project by choosing a development methodology. Simply, this is how your tasks will be organised and delivered.

There are two main development methodologies we will focus on: waterfall and agile.

Waterfall vs agile comparison

51% of organisations use a Waterfall approach
-  Project Management Institute report



Waterfall breaks the process down from an idea to a product into six stages - conception, analysis, design, construction, testing, and implementation. With a clear framework, the next step is not started until the previous one is completed. The aim is to try and define in advance what needs to be done in order to reach your end result. However, this disciplined approach can sometimes be difficult (people don’t always know what they want!).



Agile is centred around two core elements: teamwork and time. Usually delivered through a kanban board or a scrum, an agile methodology breaks all tasks into individual, deliverable pieces. Once completed, the feedback from the last phase then influences the next. This team-oriented methodology looks at working sustainably to achieve results, not faster, and often involves the client or customer. These intense commitment bursts, however, require a high level of collaboration and communication within your team. 

While neither of these two are the ‘correct’ implementation methods, you may want to consider hybrid deployment approaches. 


Roll out approaches

In addition, you will need to consider your deployment approach - that is, how you will roll out change across the organisation. There are typically three approaches to consider:


1. A ‘big bang’

  • This involves implementing the CRM in one go across all areas simultaneously.
  • It follows a waterfall approach as you define, document, and delegate your requirements upfront to launch the new CRM process in one go.
  • It achieves the biggest transformation compared to other approaches, and helps you quickly achieve a minimum viable product (MVP) to replace your existing system
  • It is the highest risk, as you have to fully articulate your requirements upfront. There’s no opportunity for flexibility or change, but it’s sometimes necessary. Often, the risks of a big bang are mitigated by piloting the solution in one area first.

It’s not a matter of deciding which development methodology is “the best”, but which is most suitable for your product’s development.

Tim Parsons, Macadamian

2. Process areas (customer journey)

  • This approach is based on your internal pain points. You can either roll this out through marketing, then sales, and then service if you’re experiencing difficulties in the early stages of your buyer journey; or backwards through service, sales, and then marketing if it is in the latter stages of the user journey.
  • By focusing on the issues within your customer journey, you’ll be able to have a high impact with potential clients, maximising the benefit for the customers.
  • While it is an effective approach, you are also dependent on other parts of your system or the customer journey that you will need to address at the same time, so implementation can be slower.


3. Organisational unit

  • This approach is based on deploying one area at a time, depending on how you are organised (eg. by department, product area, site, country etc).
  • It may involve developing a template that can be refined to meet the precise needs of each business area 
  • This is a commonly adopted approach, but can take time and you have to bear in mind that, during the implementation, some parts of your business will be following “old processes” while others are following the “new process”


Depending on the size of your organisation, it’s important to think about which of the above approaches will be best suited to your situation. 

How are you going to ensure the delivery of this CRM will be as smooth for your close team as it is for your other employees? 

In order to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, define your rollout plan and ensure the relevant stakeholders are in agreement. With a clearly agreed approach, the whole team will
be able to keep track of how well implementation
is going.


Eager to progress to the next stage?

While you might be keen to get moving with your project, don’t rush into the design phase.

To ensure you will be improving on your current CRM, you need to have:

  • Created a baseline of current performance (the average level of performance that you are currently at, that you will compare future performance levels)
  • Documented your ‘As Is’ state, clearly outlining any pain points (internally as well as those faced by clients & prospects)
  • Defined objectives & targets for your business.
  • Defined your strategy - how the objectives will be achieved (in business terms - what changes are you expecting to make and what impact do you expect them to have?).
  • Defined a high level ‘To Be’ view of the changes you are planning to make 
  • Developed a first cut roadmap - what’s the high-level plan - who needs to do what, by when? 
  • Clarified Next steps: Approvals, Communications plan, Project structure, Mobilisation, Quick Hits?


2 men using laptops in office

Stage 3: Design and Prototyping


3.1 - Designing the ‘to be’

73% believe that customer experience is an important factor when purchasing.

Having defined the Strategy & Roadmap for your implementation, you can now turn your attention to the detailed design of your solution. This is often done in iteration with implementation, but for the purpose of this guide, we’re treating the Design as a standalone exercise.

Having defined the Strategy & Roadmap for your implementation, you can now turn your attention to the detailed design of your solution. This is often done in iteration with implementation, but for the purpose of this guide, we’re treating the Design as a standalone exercise. 


People & process

Next, you need the right people in the right place, with the right skills to deliver the desired customer experience. 

To get to grips with what you need from your team, consider the three R’s:

  • Roles: What roles are needed to deliver the customer experience?
  • Responsibilities: What should their responsibilities be? Do people understand what those responsibilities are, and do they have the skills needed to be successful?
  • Recruitment: Do we have enough capacity in our team to meet our goals? If we need to onboard more members of staff, do we have the budget to fill the positions?


It is vital to engage with your HR team so they understand what planning is needed from them. This ensures your potential role reshuffle is successful.



Once you’ve established what the customer’s journey looks like with help from workshops, you need to work out how to deliver the customer experience.

In order to achieve this, build ‘swimlanes’ for your team through your customer journey.

When considering the customer journey, think about how each department needs to interact with the customer in order to achieve their goals. Is there any overlap?

Customer journey map

Consider the internal processes you need to follow and who is responsible for each segment of this journey. Ultimately, these swimlanes define who does what within each department, ensuring that the right roles are in place to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

This will then enable you to define processes in detail all the way through the customer journey, including lead management processes (including qualification and routing), sales processes, order closure, customer on-boarding, customer services and management processes. 


Technology & data

The primary task here is to define in detail the changes that you will need to make to HubSpot to set it up properly for the various people that will use it. This will include a specification of changes needed to:

  • Setting up the data model to meet your requirements.
  • Deal and ticket pipeline stages.
  • Role definition, user setup and team profiles.
  • Automation and workflow.
  • Custom objects.
  • Reports and dashboards.

You will also need to define in detail what interfaces need to be built between HubSpot and other systems you’re planning to use when creating your CRM. For example, if your business requires an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool, you need to consider whether your current system will integrate easily and effectively. This will enable you to create that cohesive journey across all your teams - sales, customer success, finance etc.

It’s key here to ask what your stakeholders would like a report on. Find out how they personally measure ‘success’ and how they prefer to track these goals, giving you the ability to tailor your reports to them during your regularly scheduled meetings.

Learn more about Custom Objects and HubSpot’s latest update here.


Stage 3 checklist:

Before you move on to stage 4, make sure you:

  • Have defined your ‘To Be’ for your customers, people, processes, and technology.
  • Can see any areas where your team needs any support, or where roles may be better used elsewhere.
  • Have developed a ‘swimlane’ for customer processes and how each team works with one another.
  • Are aware of what changes need to be made between HubSpot and any systems you’re currently using.
  • Know how your stakeholders measure success, and add those elements on your personalised Hubspot dashboard.


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People in meeting room


Stage 4: Implementation, Testing & Training


4.1 - Introduction


Before you make any changes you need to decide what approach your company will adopt in stage 2. Click here to review stage 2.

This is where the rubber hits the road.

This stage involves the delivery of a new customer experience, organisational changes, and new processes, all supported by technology that fully meets your requirements and is fully tested. 

Getting things wrong at this stage will seriously damage the program, creating skepticism and cynicism. This is the stage where your team needs to highly effectively work together to turn your design into a reality.


4.2 - Delivering multi-dimensional change



Although you might be confident your buyer persona will prefer your new way of working, you’ll need to consider one vital question - how will your real-life customer react?

While all of these alterations are being done to benefit them, will the sudden change create a jarring experience for your pre-existing clients?

A new website that’s easier to navigate, for example, might not cause customers any issues, but other changes to the customer journey, such as the process when requesting a service, may.

An easy way to introduce this to your pre-existing customers is to treat them as a stakeholder in the communications plan. Whether it’s through a blog post, video, or email. Inform them what changes to the customer journey you are going to make and when they will be enforced.



As we’ve found in stage 3, a clear process is essential. Your staff need to be informed about the processes they will be expected to follow as the CRM implementation will be introducing new ways of working. 

System training will be needed, but you should also consider implementing new policies and guidelines to coincide with your new technology. These should be documented and you should update your operating procedures to reflect the changes. 

Even the smallest of companies should have written policies in place to protect and guide both their workers and clients. For example, people
need to be clear about what is mandatory and what is not.

In order to make sure your process works for your team, you will need to investigate every area of your business. This requires you to ask questions like:

  • What is lead management’s current process for creating a new lead?
  • What is the current sales process? Does it differ per deal or transaction?
  • Is the current process clearly defined by role?
  • What decision gates are there?
  • What approval processes need to be put in place?
  • How do you make sure that people sell within the rules?
  • What processes do you have in place for pricing/discounting?
  • What is your production handover and customer onboarding process?
  • Are your customer management processes working effectively?
  • How do you manage customer feedback handling? Is the current complaint handling process effective?
  • What is the current account planning or renewals process?
  • Are your management & reporting processes working for your team?

In order to look at every aspect of your process, go beyond this list and discover what areas you can improve for both your customer and your people. Create a process that works seamlessly for both parties.

Man working on laptop


Technology & data

It’s crucial to remember that technology drives your process change as much as your process drives technology.  Therefore, it’s important that  you configure HubSpot to work with you, for example by:

  • Setting up user profiles, teams and role definitions for your employees.
  • Setting up the HubSpot database eg with custom properties.
  • Creating user views.
  • Extending the HubSpot database with “custom objects” to match your CRM data to your business requirements.  Out of the box, HubSpot come with standard data objects, which will go a long way to helping you manage your customer relationships (eg Companies, Contacts, Deal, Tickets), but there may be additional data objects that you need - this is where you will implement those in the HubSpot system and set them up with the right properties.
  • Building automation tools with features such as sequences and workflows to ensure that the system is helping your customer-facing teams to work efficiently. (Once you’ve defined your process, you should also consider how each section can or should be automated.)
  • Integrate custom coding if required.
  • Ensuring the right content is available for users.
  • Setting up targets and SLAs (Service Level Agreements).
  • Tailoring your reports and dashboards so they prioritise the data you care about.


By helping you keep track of your data, HubSpot gives you a more accurate view of what’s working for your customer and what isn’t, allowing you to make changes to your website in the future.

So, before any new data goes into the new system, you will need to cleanse and enrich your data to focus around the clients and prospects that matter. Begin mapping potential clients and their journeys in the HubSpot database and, as you load the data into the CRM, double-check the information you do have is fit for purpose. 

With the solutions architecture you have defined during the design stage, you will have identified where you need to integrate HubSpot with other systems to support the customer journey, as well as the integration strategy needed in each instance.

During the implementation phase, you will need to develop, test, and deploy those interfaces, making sure that the data flows between the various systems correctly.

An operational CRM streamlines and simplifies an organisation’s main business processes.

— Jay Fuchs, HubSpot


With changes underway, it’s time to ensure that your staff, old or new, understand how to use your new platform by organising staff briefing and training sessions. 

Training can be delivered in one of two ways:



HubSpot Academy offers a wide range of training videos to help ensure your team is up to scratch, though this training will not account for any changes you have made to configure HubSpot to your own requirements.

55 hours and 16 minutes of video training, teaching you everything your team need to know about inbound marketing and sales, is available on HubSpot Academy.



Either with your internal HR teams or with an external company, such as the services we offer at Axon Garside, work together to train staff on your custom CRM with bespoke training.

Whether this is face-to-face or delivered through an online support package, the objective is to clearly instruct your team on how to use your new software to support the desired business process.


Stage 4 Checklist:

In order to make sure you're ready for the next stage in the CRM implementation process, you need you:

  • Have tested out your new process with your current clients.
  • Are training your staff to make sure they know how to use your new system and will use it effectively.
  • Have updated your policies as a result of your new CRM, and that both clients and employees are aware of these changes.
  • Configure HubSpot so it meets your requirements.
  • Make sure your data flows correctly through your new system.
  • That at the end of this stage your new CRM is live.


Workers discussing project on screen


Stage 5: Continuous Improvements


5.1 - Introduction

CRM is a journey - you should see this as a living project that requires continuous improvement and development in order to hit trends, identify opportunities for improvement and help your business grow.

Hold meetings at least every month to discuss how your HubSpot CRM data is performing, and what you need to do to improve the user journey to convert people into leads.

Ultimately, the question you need to answer is are your customers, people, processes, technology getting the support they need to create leads?

With your  marketing, sales, and services divisions during monthly performance reviews find out if your CRM is working by asking:

  • How many leads are we generating?
  • Are the sales team then following up with potential clients? 
  • Are we generating enough new orders?
  • Are all members of staff using the tools properly?
  • Are we processing new orders efficiently and onboarding new customers?
  • What feedback are we getting from the customer?
  • Is our business growing?

While going through these questions, you should look at your tracking and optimisation. As your customer, people, process, and technology and data are not static, you need to adapt your tactics in order to ensure it is meeting your objectives.

A strong project manager does not resist new information or data that can change the course of the project for the better. Take the time to evaluate your successes and failures, and see what you can improve moving forward.

- Karla Cook, HubSpot

Use HubSpot’s tools to track user behaviour in order to understand where customers are clicking (and what they’re not so interested in). Ensure your client data is being handled and processed correctly through your CRM.

As you continue to use your CRM, updates and improvements will be required to keep your system optimal. Here, during the initial stages of your process, decide how you’re going to handle the subsequent releases to your CRM or system as a whole. Will you need to provide continual training for your members of staff? 

You may find it beneficial to perform quarterly or half-year improvements as you collect feedback on your CRM, and provide refresher training when appropriate for your employees.

5.2 - Revenue operations

Revenue operations (RevOps) is responsible for aligning the operations functions supporting the sales, marketing, and customer service organisations. RevOps helps to ensure accountability between the goals and activities of your organisation by providing synchronisation between sales, marketing, and customer service.

While the goals and tactics you use could depend based on the size of your organisation, some of the key drivers to measure a successful project are:

  • Annual Recurring Revenue
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Customer Turnover Rate
  • Sales Cycle Tie
  • Win Rate

Strong alignment between sales, marketing and services is especially important for B2B companies, as they try to deliver a single, unified journey.

95% of B2B firms agreed that the ability to provide a seamless, consistently positive experience for their customers throughout their lifecycle is key to increasing revenue. 

- LeanData

As reported in the LeanData State of Revenue Operations, 95% of B2B firms agreed that the ability to provide a seamless, consistently positive experience for their customers throughout their lifecycle is key to increasing revenue. As this is a key goal for all companies, sales, marketing and services need to work together to provide a singular, delightful experience.

Make sure your data is high quality, centralised, and accessible so every employee can see where they can help to improve their process. Ensure each part of your business puzzle fits correctly and is creating a smooth, continuous journey for your customers.


Find out how we helped Bright Direction Training streamline processes across the entire business in our case study:

Read the Full Case Study


Stage 5 checklist:

As you continue to update your CRM, in order to effectively move through the cycle you need to make sure that you:

  • Are setting up a minimum of one meeting every quarter to see how your CRM is working.
  • Continually train staff to make sure they’re using the CRM correctly.
  • Keep in touch with valued clients to see how your process can be improved.
  • Are making everyone aware of your RevOps and working to create a seamless, automated journey for your users.


2 women discussing project


Even if you follow these 4 stages, your HubSpot CRM implementation won’t deliver overnight results. Creating a good, well rounded CRM that resonates with your prospects and customers can take months or even years to develop as you cycle through the aforementioned stages.

The diagram below shows 4 critical success factors: 

  1. Business direction - Ensuring that there is a clear strategy that determines the processes  needed to deliver business benefit 
  2. Digitisation - Ensuring that the technology and data are properly implemented to support the process 
  3. User adoption - Getting the user to successfully and properly use the new system
  4. Process engineering - conditioning the organisation to properly adopt the new processes


4 critical success factors


In order to have a successful HubSpot CRM implementation, you need to continually build on the service you already provide. With trial and error, you and your team will figure out what appeals to your audience and - more importantly - what doesn’t.

This guide has hopefully provided you with an understanding of the things you must include in order to successfully implement HubSpot CRM. Although this guide is thorough, it is by no means comprehensive. Whatever the scale of your business, you would still need to adapt to ensure you’re not risking washing a lot of time (or money) in the future.

As you’ve probably guessed, implementing a CRM is a lot of work for you and your team. But in order to get more leads or better engagement, everything has to change.

At Axon Garside, we’ve seen the effects of partially or poorly implemented HubSpot CRMs. While you might think you’re cleverly cutting corners in order to avoid big overhead costs, you’re actually wasting more time, money, and chances to grow your business.

Ultimately, without following our 5 stages, you will be doing more harm than good for your company. If you can identify the ways in which your organisation is currently not working for your team or your clients, now is the time to implement these changes.

Implementing a new HubSpot CRM is not just about setting up new software, but a full shift in your team, process, and way you interact with clients.


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