In your web travels through the B2B inbound marketing space, there's no doubt you've come across agencies touting the fact that they are "HubSpot Partners" or "HubSpot [insert tier level] Partners." Heck, we do it all the time. I'm Jen from Digital Reach, by the way. Did I mention we're HubSpot Platinum Partners?
We're proud of our Platinum Partner status because it means that our HubSpot clients tend to like us and want to stick around and grow with us. That's cool, but let's be honest. when someone is shopping for a HubSpot agency and vetting partners in the various partner tiers, the main thing they want to know is what the heck an agency's tier status means for their business, their inbound strategy, and their bottom line.
So while tiers are important to us on the agency side because it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, here are two things that tiers should mean to YOU as you're shopping HubSpot agencies & consultants.
1. The higher the tier, the more experience (and wins...and inbound knowledge...and happy clients) the agency has under its belt.
I don't love to generalize, but when it comes to HubSpot Partner tiers, the above is pretty spot on. Now, note that I'm not saying "the higher the tier, the better the agency" - that's a generalization that is definitely not true. But the formula HubSpot uses to advance partners up the chain from New Partner > Silver > Gold > Platinum > Diamond is one that rewards time in the game. Here's the formula:
MRR [monthly recurring revenue] + Retention
Essentially, where an agency falls in the tiering system depends on how much an agency’s clients are spending on HubSpot per month plus how much of that revenue an agency is keeping around month after month. The higher an agency's numbers, the higher they move up the partner ranks.
With this in mind, you can start to see why higher-tiered agencies will pretty much always have more experience than the lower-tiered agencies. An agency joining the HubSpot Partner Program at the lowest level likely isn't joining with a massive list of HubSpot clients already under management. It might be a phenomenal agency with exceptional staff, but at the end of the day, everyone has to build up their book. And that takes time.
You can bet that any agency that has grown (and manages to retain) a certain number of HubSpot clients has learned a thing or two about inbound marketing along the way. I can't speak for other partners, but the Digital Reach HubSpot team has years of HubSpot big wins and SNAFUs under our belts. Trying and failing is how we've learned what works and what doesn't, and all of the best practices we have picked up are what has allowed us to keep building our book of HubSpot clients.
But here's the thing - there's no reason to think that a new partner or a Silver or Gold-tiered partner can't get your job done. They are a partner, after all. And there's a fair amount of work and expense for agencies to even get in with the Partner Program, in the first place, so you're not going to find wholly inadequate agencies in the mix. They just might lack the results and case studies to prove their methods.
For you, this might mean it might take a few fits and starts to reach your goals.
Or it might take longer than expected to feel fully onboarded.
Or that your agency goes through a trial and error process on the way to figuring out how to report on the metrics you really care about.
These things may or may not be deal-breakers for you, and it's OK either way. And truly, we are so thankful that these things were not deal breakers for our early HubSpot clients back when we started up the partner chain!
The thing to know is that agencies with more experience will generally bring a more targeted approach to your inbound strategy. They know what works, what doesn't, and how to move the needle for your team. They can help you forecast and set expectations because they've been at it for years and probably have served other clients in your industry.
But of course, all of that comes with a cost...
2. The higher the tier, the more it will cost you to work with that agency. Generally.
This won't come as a shock, but generally you can expect to pay more with agencies that have ascended the HubSpot Partner ranks. In a general sense, agencies at the Diamond and Platinum ranks are probably all operating with some sort of roadmap to inbound success in individual industries. They have put the time into developing their staff, their processes, and their performance standards, and they have the results, references, and case studies to prove it. Naturally, their price will reflect that.
Of course, there are a lot of factors in play here. And every HubSpot Partner knows partners below them in the tier system that actually charge more for the same product. That's just the way it goes; generally you can expect to pay for expertise, but there are always outliers and partners whose pricing doesn't quite fit their status (for good or bad).
Here's the bottom line:
Working with a partner is without a doubt the best way to get the most use out of HubSpot. That's why HubSpot has invested in the HubSpot Partner Program - they know that companies that work with a partner can truly optimize their use of the system and maximize the value they gain from the platform.
But here's the thing - if you're shopping agencies in the HubSpot Partner Program, consider the partner tier as just one of many data points you should consider. No matter the tier, there are pros and cons to working with an agency in the Partner Program. So don't let an agency’s HubSpot Partner tier be the determining factor when you're choosing whether or not to work with them.
While tiers do have significance and tell you a two big things about an agency from the get-go, there's so much more you need to know before you make a decision. Your best bet will always be to talk to a few different agencies and be up-front about what you’re looking for. There are great HubSpot Partners out there at every tier level - most have free consults (like us! Click here to talk to Brian!), so commit to talking to a few of them and you're well on your way.