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Hubspot onboarding – Solutions Partner vs Direct Hubspot

The last decade has seen a drastic shift in marketing, with business owners constantly pushing to reinvent their strategies. This has led to a strong growth in the marketing automation and CRM segment, with a lot of martech tools and SaaS solutions competing to make marketing more automated and data driven, making it a $121.5 bn market worldwide. 

However, over 40-70% of all CRM implementation and digital transformation projects end up failing.


It is sometimes expected that the CRM system will act as a magic key and solve strategic problems for marketing, sales, and service. However, this CRM sword is only as good as the swordsman (the ninja?) who wields it.

Also, due to their growing popularity, “cool” CRMs and marketing automation tools can often inspire a fear of missing out, and every business wants to jump on the bandwagon, even when they might not have a clear roadmap on how to best utilize it.  

It’s not even their fault: Hubspot is a complex product that’s always evolving and growing, and with different Hubs for Marketing, Sales, Service and Ops, it’s impossible for one stakeholder to know all the best ways to deploy the tool.

This is where having a Hubspot specialist can help ensure a successful, ROI-positive deployment. Let’s understand a bit more:

What is Hubspot onboarding, and when is it compulsory? 

HubSpot onboarding is when a client works with Hubspot directly, or with a Solutions Partner, to learn how to make the most of their Hubspot license. This could vary depending on which Hubspot license you go with, but typically includes integrating Hubspot with your website, migrating customer data, leveraging best practices, and setting up pipelines, and training marketing, sales, and service teams on how to use the product correctly.

Hubspot is a complex product with multiple hubs and license levels, each with unique opportunities and challenges. You can obviously start setting up the tool on your own, and go through endless hours of Academy content, but it’s likely to take a lot of time and mental bandwidth. 

Don’t forget – that time has a big opportunity cost, and is better spent figuring out bigger business challenges. 

Hubspot knows this, which is why it has mandated onboarding for all Pro licenses and above. You have the choice to go directly with Hubspot or work with a Solutions Partner. 

Let’s look at the pros and cons of both these approaches in order to help you make the best choice! 

Onboarding: Working directly with Hubspot

HubSpot provides different levels of onboarding based on the plan you’ve purchased. That said, here are some basics that HubSpot definitely provides in order to help you quickly set up the tool: 

  • HubSpot Implementation Specialists are assigned to you for the first three months of your subscription plan. 
  • You’ll receive assistance and advice at every step of setting up your tool. 
  • The Implementation Specialists will guide you on integrating HubSpot with your existing tools. 
  • Ongoing support and guidance from the HubSpot customer success teams.

The good

  • The OG experts: You can’t go wrong with quality if you take this route for onboarding. You get to work with the globally acclaimed experts, directly from HubSpot. 
  • Robust onboarding strategy: Since the Implementation Specialists are literally specialists, the onboarding strategy that you get will be extremely robust and sure-shot. The workflows, pipelines, templates they help you create will be useful for different initiatives.

The bad

  • Pricey affair: Direct HubSpot onboarding is typically a more costly route than going with a solutions partner. If you have a tight budget, you might want to consider this point. 
  • Primarily theoretical knowledge transfer: The onboarding services you receive from HubSpot will be very limited in nature. The knowledge will mostly be theoretical and generic in nature, and not precisely cut out for your needs. 
  • More efforts needed: Since most knowledge transfer will be theoretical in nature, you’ll have to put in more effort to convert that knowledge into practical expertise. The Implementation Specialists will guide you through different practices, but you’ll need to take all the steps for creating various assets like workflows. If you’re a busy team, this might not be the best way for you.
  • Lack of customized training: HubSpot onboarding follows a structured approach that is generic in nature. It will help you get started with all the different features, but it’ll still not be customized to precisely your business needs. 
  • 3-month timeline: The Implementation Specialists will be there to help you only for the first 3 months after your purchase. So, if you want to take things at your pace, this might not work for you.

Partnering with an expert agency!

HubSpot Solutions Partners put a fresh spin to their onboarding process. The entire process is customizable and tailored to fit your business and the industry you operate in. 

The good

  • More wallet friendly: HubSpot solutions partners are generally more affordable than going the HubSpot route. You also get the benefit of comparing the prices of different agencies and finalizing the one that fits your budget. 
  • Prioritized for unique pain points: Partner agencies don’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach. The onboarding plan you get will be tailored to tackling your specific pain points. 
  • More hands-on training: Solutions partners try to make HubSpot ready-to-use for their clients. As a result of that, they configure the tool while providing you all the hands-on training you need so that you don’t have to put extra effort. This is particularly helpful if you have a busy team and it’s not possible to dedicate hours for the onboarding process. 

The bad

  • Might be inexperienced: There’s a chance that the partner agency you opt for may lack the required expertise. In this scenario, you won’t be able to get the most out of your HubSpot installation. 
  • Unpredictability in pricing: While agency partners generally charge lower for onboarding, it’s still an unpredictable element. With so many agencies and partners, you can never predict the pricing. However, you benefit from comparing different agencies and selecting the one within your budget. 

Some points to ponder before deciding:

With all the goods and the bads settled, let’s look at some questions you can ask yourself before deciding on the approach you’d like to take for HubSpot onboarding. 

Do you need more than pure consultation? 

The key difference between onboarding provided by HubSpot and that by partner agencies is in terms of who is doing the hands-on work. With HubSpot, you get all the consultation and guidance you need, but you’ll need to spend time and effort to do the work. With agencies on the other hand, you’ll get consultation as well as hands-on guidance to help you get things up and running quickly. 

For example, Hubspot might teach you what workflows are and how to set them up, but a great agency partner will work with you to set up 2-3 relevant workflows with your team on a working session, so by the end of it, everyone’s confident about setting up workflows on their own.

What is your timeline and team’s bandwidth

It’s important to consider your onboarding timeline and also your team’s availability. 

If you take the HubSpot route, you’ll need your team to have enough bandwidth to take the training sessions and then have the time to tinker around on their own for more practical knowledge. 

On the other hand, when you work with a Solutions Partner, you get more hands-on experience with live working sessions so that there’s less homework to take back. 

Also, when it comes to timelines, Hubspot onboardings are typically evenly spaced out over a period of three months. However, if the Solutions Partner is flexible, you can modify the timeline to pack more knowledge in certain weeks so you can hit the ground running faster.

Would you benefit from working with experts who have onboarded other companies from your industry? 

If you work in an industry that’s very specific in its operations, you might want experts who have already onboarded other companies from your industry. The chances of things going wrong will drastically decrease if your onboarding partner has an idea about your industry. This is something that is possible for you if you take the solutions partner route as you get to assess the partners and select the ones that have your industry experience. 

Do you need a flexible onboarding process? 

Do you have specific pain points that need to be addressed quickly, before you move on to standard onboarding? For example, you might have a big campaign coming up for which you need to set up landing pages and workflows, and then you can figure out the chatbot. 

In such a case where you don’t want to follow a 3-month cookie-cutter process and want a more customized experience designed to tackle your unique challenges, going with a Solutions Partner might make more sense. 

Check out – HubSpot Marketing Agency

Let’s get you onboarded!

At ContetNinja, we’ve helped various clients, from different domains, get, set, and go with HubSpot. We’re a Platinum partner with a rich experience of running successful campaigns using HubSpot. We’re a team of HubSpot certified professionals who run on empathy – so the onboarding plan we create for you will be just for you!  

Author avatar
Shriya Garg
Shriya is the co-founder and CEO at ContentNinja. She started her first blog when she was 12 years old, and coded her first website by the time she was 14. An avid reader and writer, she published her first book when she was 16 years old and has sold over 10,000 copies since. When she's not fielding client calls, Shriya can be found cleaning cat hair from her clothes.