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Fireside chat with Pete Nicholls, Founder&CEO of HubDo

Who is Pete Nicholls?

A marketing technologist who loves to help good businesses to do better so that the best companies sustain our future.

My love of technology for business started in the 1970s when I was asked at high school if I had a drugs problem because I looked so tired in class. They had no idea of the thrills I was getting by staying up all night, programming assembler code to solve gnarly computing problems on a home-modified computer.The systems that I wrote at the time for running hotel accommodation, plumbing companies and drycleaners carried on into the 90s.

I was lucky to be grounded in corporate excellence through 16 years in sales, engineering and business development with Cisco Systems.Cisco moved my family of five from Australia to the UK for ten years and then back again to Asia-Pacific. I loved it up until I felt the calling to leave and create HubDo.

What’s the story behind HubDo?

In 2011 I was representing Cisco at a conference in Singapore when I did some research after-hours that rocked my outlook for the future.Social media was spreading on smartphones, mobile apps were changing our lives, and computer networking was becoming software-defined networking (SDN).We were preparing “London 2012”, the first smartphone Olympics which would change the customer experience completely.That was the year Marc Andreeson famously wrote in the Wall Street Journal that software was truly “eating the world”. I agreed. Global business was entering a new phase and I wanted to be a part of it.

By 2015 I chose HubSpot as the software platform best placed to lead businesses through the transformation to an always-on, customer-powered software-defined world. So I founded HubDo to enable good businesses to “Do More” and “Be More”, with HubSpot.  Six years later as HubSpot has grown from marketing software to a full CRM suite, I still believe we made the right choice.

HubDo’s role as a HubSpot Partner is to support the ecosystem that surrounds HubSpot: the Business-Owner Customers, HubSpot Certified Partners, and hundreds of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that integrate and add value to the HubSpot platform.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

To begin with, most businesses had not heard of Inbound Marketing or HubSpot Software. If Henry Ford asked people what they wanted, at the time it was faster horses.Our vision was Inbound and HubSpot, but to survive we had to deliver what business owners asked for: “Can you build me a new website? Can you make me visible on Google? Can you manage my Google Ads?”. We delivered what they wanted at the time, and kept learning and teaching inbound marketing and HubSpot.

In 2016 I thought we might have to cancel our HubSpot contracts for a few years. But that would be giving up on the strategic direction and would have been a purely tactical existence. So instead we ran a tight ship, dug in, stayed profitable and began supporting other HubSpot Partners to help them grow and prosper.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

Sticking to our guns on supporting good business. A red flag for us is when a potential client says they just want to “sell sell sell” and then toss the project to somebody else to deliver.When a business is clearly in it for the money and does not care if they are delivering more value than they charge for, we always decline being involved.

We believe that the role of business is to create value. That is what sustains the business, its employees, its suppliers and the community it operates in.
Our role more recently has been to help businesses shift from cost-based pricing to value-based pricing. By becoming obsessed with delivering value, customers get as much as they hoped and more, while the business earns the right to capture part of that value. It’s a mindset shift for businesses that think in terms of billable hours, and it’s an engaging discussion every time.

What is your vision for the future of HubDo?

To be the preferred global HubSpot onboarding company, delivering maximum value for businesses that choose to do more and be more on HubSpot. By curating and project-managing the finest expert agencies, software vendors and business consultants, we continue to give good businesses maximum value and their very best chance to survive and prosper on HubSpot.

My current focus is building out the value-based pricing aspects of selling solutions, so to support this phase I am interviewing proposal exports on The Proposal.Works™ Podcast.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

COVID-19 has fast-tracked digital transformation, so those who believed there was plenty of time to transform are racing to adapt.
When adapting, we can become obsessed with digitising and automating what we deliver. But your value is not what you deliver, it is the value you create.

Most business owners I speak with can easily tell me what they do, yet stumble when I ask about value, as in: “What are the top seven things your customers want?”

Only your customers know the value you create for them. Discover, articulate, deliver, and then capture a portion of the value. I recommend that your north star is to adding value for your ideal client. Get obsessed, Add value.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

HubSpot CRM has been a robust platform for our business from the get-go. Learning to drive it and drive it well has kept us well connected with our ideal clients and agile enough to adapt to each business change.

We also wanted to create professional sales proposals that took far fewer hours to create and were faster to close. PandaDoc has enabled us to deliver professional proposals, integrated with HubSpot for closing business in less time and with greater insights. PandaDoc has become a valuable extension to the business, as we are now one of PandaDoc’s largest partners. We enable companies that use HubSpot, to create send and close better proposals using PandaDoc.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

My favourite foundation book is “Thinking Fast and Slow” a best-selling book published in 2011 by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman. Daniel’s development of Prospect Theory, now better known as Behavioural Economics, is a wealth of insight into how we function as people. We are strangely irrational creatures, yet predictably so. I highly recommend the audiobook for long walks, drives or flights – that is if you are lucky enough to fly these days.

The business book I keep reading and re-reading because it also is such a wealth of insight is “The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing” by Thomas T. Nagle and Georg MüllerNow in its sixth edition, this book is a must-read for any business owner who wants to charge based on the value they create instead of simply the cost of their time and materials.

And my favourite recent fictional reading experience is “Perfume” by Patrick Süskind. Whist I love holding a paperback, the audiobook narrated by Sean Barrett is a rich adventure.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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