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HubSpot for Agencies: Top Limitations & Alternative (2024)

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Updated on:
February 2, 2024
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The results of a crm-market" id="">recent survey by Grand View Research showed that 91% of organizations with more than 10 employees use a CRM.

This is a big money business.

With such widespread usage, it's clear how important CRM is to agencies. And it should be no surprise that effective CRM can drastically improve an agency’s relationships with its clients.

When looking for a CRM provider, many turn to HubSpot, but it’s well worth taking the time to consider the alternative options available for agencies looking for CRM.

What Is HubSpot?

HubSpot is a large US-based tech company focused on developing and marketing Customer Relationship Management products (CRM). This software aims to align sales and marketing teams with a view to increasing sales through a more effective targeted marketing strategy.

In business, where revenue is one of the strongest key performance indicators, any product which can drive sales is an important bit of kit.

It’s estimated that over $14 billion was spent on CRM by American companies in the last financial year. That’s a significant sum, and HubSpot currently has a market share of around 37%.

Why Do Agencies Choose HubSpot?

Of all the tech companies offering CRM software, HubSpot is probably the best-known name. They have been around since 2006, long before most other packages came onto the market. Their early success has set the company in good stead, with many original clients choosing to stick with the company.

HubSpot has some great things going for it, with all the basic features agencies want from their CRM provider. Better still, it’s easy to set up and the core software is free. This means a lot of agencies still entrust HubSpot with their business.

But with the tech industry growing year-on-year, there are more options for agencies looking for CRM software. Other providers, such as Bonsai, have developed their technology with HubSpot’s limitations in mind to provide a better all-round experience for agencies.

The Top Five Limitations of HubSpot for Agencies

Despite being well-established, HubSpot lacks several key features and is far from the most user-friendly CRM system. Here are the top five biggest disadvantages for HubSpot users:

  • Complexity and initial learning curve – HubSpot may have some relatively simple to use features, but learning how to use them well is challenging. Training staff on any technology is a time-consuming and costly process. Agencies could save time and money by using a system with a simpler initial set up.
  • Cost – with long-term clients and a well-known brand, HubSpot’s prices are anything but competitive. Whilst the initial cost may look appealing, the add-ons soon send the monthly subscription fees spiraling. Other software providers offer agencies more for less with their CRM packages.
  • Customization limits – HubSpot offers a set product with high costs to add custom features. Many other tech companies work with agencies to tailor their CRM services to the agency’s individual needs. Every business is different, but every HubSpot subscription is the same.
  • White labelling—HubSpot’s white labelling option is only available with their most expensive packages. Even then, they don’t offer a full white labelling option, with their brand name ever-present. This can portray a negative image for an agency as it makes it look as if they rely on third parties for their CRM service. It can also detract from the value of marketing communications, as clients are left with two brand names to remember.
  • Limited suite— HubSpot’s suite is limited for agencies. Invoicing and payments can’t be handled, meaning separate software is required. Likewise, there’s no scope to issue and sign contracts or proposals through HubSpot. Other CRM providers such as Bonsai have dedicated invoice and payment portals Bonsai also provides the option to e-sign documents.

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Bonsai’s CRM software offers an all in one platform, with more services for agencies than HubSpot (https://www.hellobonsai.com/invoicing)

Bonsai: The Best Alternative to HubSpot for Agencies

When agencies are looking for alternatives to HubSpot for their CRM needs, one of the easiest tools in assisting this decision is customer ratings. The higher the ratings, the higher the level of client satisfaction amongst agencies who already use the software.

Bonsai’s ratings set them above HubSpot in almost every survey undertaken. Forbes and Software Advice, for example, score Bonsai higher overall than HubSpot.

Founded in 2015, Bonsai has almost 10 years of experience in providing CRM software for agencies. Despite this experience, they’re still young and innovative in their approach. As such, Bonsai works with agencies to tailor and develop their services.

Bonsai has higher levels of customer satisfaction, easy-to-use software, and a far broader, more cost-effective product. Simply put, they are a game changer in the CRM world.

Bonsai’s Services Are Tailored for Agencies

Bonsai’s CRM packages are designed to meet their clients’ needs. Bespoke packages for agencies as well as separate packages for freelancers and small businesses are available. As a result, every client is given the package that best suits them. Bonsai understands that agency needs differ greatly for small businesses, so the software, package and support offered differs from client to client.

Furthermore, they understand that no two agencies are the same. For that reason, Bonsai’s packages are tailor-made. This enables them to offer different CRM software packages to different industries. Whether an agency focusses on business, professional services, creative or digital marketing, or a different field altogether, Bonsai has got them covered.

Bonsai’s unique feature request does exactly what you’d expect: It allows users to request new features to form a part of their CRM software. Note that all feature requests are visible to other users. The chances are that multiple agencies feel the same feature would benefit them. In this case, a user can vote for the feature requested. Bonsai will then get to work on making the features with the most votes a reality as quickly as possible.

With Bonsai’s CRM for agencies, it’s possible to select the services you need without paying for those you don’t. The more money spent building sales, therefore, and less money spent on software that simply isn’t relevant.

Bonsai’s CRM Software Is Easy to Use

With time being precious for agencies and their staff, no one wants to be wasting it setting up new software. Bonsai’s software allows for a super-fast set up, meaning their CRM software is up and running, ready to start working for agencies, in seconds. In fact, it takes less than thirty seconds to sign up for Bonsai’s CRM service on their user-friendly website.

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Signing up to Bonsai for a seven day free-trail takes just 30 seconds (https://www.hellobonsai.com/crm)

Once an agency has signed up, they can start exploring the software and tailor it to their needs right away.

Every new user is then given a seven-day free trial. This means that agencies can sample Bonsai’s program and get to grips with their software completely free-of-charge.

All agencies that register with Bonsai have access to hundreds of ready-made templates at the click of a button. This reduces wasted time creating master documents, allowing agencies to spend more time building the CRM package for them.

The user-friendly templates range from client contracts to non-disclosure agreements. They cover proposals, invoicing, quotes, briefs, forms, scopes of work, and much more. And if Bonsai don’t already have the template an agency needs, they can easily create it.

Even better, new clients can be added to the CRM system with a simple one-click process. Client data can easily be uploaded and stored to create unique client profiles.

This streamlines client interaction and allows clients to view their own profiles. This means agencies can send contracts, invoices, and communications directly to the client, all on one platform.

Bonsai’s CRM packages facilitate easy collaboration between co-workers within agencies, and even sub-contractors. Users can simply add the details of the person or party they wish to share with, and it’s instantly visible to them.

Bonsai’s website also features an easy-to-use, interactive help center. This handy tool provides answers to almost every question a user might have. If not, it’s easy to reach out to their customer service team for an immediate resolution.

Their user portal offers a 24/7 live-chat facility, plus the ability to speak to a real life Bonsai representative at any time.

With such an easy-to-use software package, Bonsai is an excellent alternative to HubSpot for agencies looking for a new CRM enabler.

Bonsai’s Offers Cost-effective CRM for Agencies

Not only do Bonsai offer a seven-day free trial to every new user, but their pricing packages are also transparent and cost-effective.

The offer three base packages: Starter, Professional, and Business.

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Bonsai’s three base packages, with prices based on an annual contract (https://www.hellobonsai.com/pricing)

Even their most basic package, Starter, includes many more features compared to HubSpot. Agencies who sign up for this service will receive client CRM, plus a whole range of other products and services. All of Bonsai’s pre-made templates are included, along with the possibility to add unlimited clients and projects.

Basic also enables agencies to manage invoice and payments, proposals, and contracts. Scheduling software is included too, as well as the ability to track time and task progress. Expense tracking is also offered with this package.

Bonsai’s Professional and Business packages offer everything included with the Basic package, with added benefits.

Professional enables agencies to remove Bonsai’s branding, providing a white labelling option, and allows for a branded client portal. It also includes integration with QuickBooks, streamlining accounting, further reducing manhours. Calendly and Zapier integration are also possible with Bonsai’s Professional package.

The Business package includes all of the above, plus the creation of templates for hiring arrangements. Subcontractor management software is also included, with the ability to add an infinite number of subcontractors, with onboarding available for all of them.

All of these packages represent excellent value for money, providing cost-effective CRM solutions for agencies.

Because each package is available on a rolling monthly contract and an annual subscription, agencies aren’t tied into long CRM contracts. It is quick and easy to change the plan via the settings area of the user account, meaning agencies can switch between the three plans to discover which works best for them. This is especially useful for smaller businesses or agencies who plan to grow in the future.

Their annual package offers an even more cost-effective solution, as clients receive two months free use per year.

In addition to these packages, agencies can opt to select two add-on features. Team Seat enables teammates to collaborate on projects. Bonsai Tax lets agencies track expenses and create accurate tax forecasts. Both features are competitively priced at $10 per month and can be added or removed at any time.

Bonsai’s CRM software offers an extremely cost-effective way for agencies to manage client relationships.

Bonsai Offers Several Additional CRM Services

In addition to the standard CRM services offered to agencies, Bonsai’s software provides an all-in-one platform. With the ability to integrate Bonsai’s CRM into online accounting software, such as QuickBooks, there are a plethora of opportunities. With so many more features, Bonsai really is the top alternative to HubSpot.

Even with the Basic package, agencies have access to so much more than just CRM. Some of the top features include access to templates, invoicing and payment management, and time tracking.

Invoicing and Payments

Bonsai’s financial management software provides fully automated invoicing. Initial creation and issue of invoices are all done for you, with automatic reminders sent out. It’s even possible to have Bonsai’s invoicing app automatically add late-fees to unpaid invoices should an agency wish to charge them.

Customers can pay their invoice securely through Bonsai’s payment software. This accepts credit cards, PayPal, and ACH payments. Recurring payments can be set up for longer term projects on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.

With all users getting free access to ready-made invoice templates, agencies can start using Bonsai’s invoice system right away. The templates cover everything from commercial invoicing to retainer invoicing with a range of industry specific templates available. This stretches from basic coaching service invoices to detailed attorney invoices.

In addition to simple invoices, Bonsai’s software allows agencies to build and sell package products. The user can tailor packages, or for an even more hassle-free process, there are a selection of ready-to-use templates available.

With integration to accounting software, including QuickBooks, invoices, payments, forecasting, and reports can all be done in one place.

Bonsai’s comprehensive offering makes it an excellent alternative to HubSpot for agencies who want more than just CRM services.

Time Tracking

Bonsai’s time tracking facility makes it easy for agencies to keep track of how long staff are spending on projects. This feature not only provides an overall picture of time usage, but allows individual employees to track and manage their time.

This software makes it possible to get instant man hour reports. These can be integrated with Bonsai’s project management facility, giving agencies an error-free detailed overview of time allocation.

Moreover, Bonsai’s time tracker can integrate with their automated billing software, ensuring an accurate bill is generated without the need for manual time tracking.

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Bonsai’s time tracker instantly generates detailed reports and integrates with project management and billing software (https://www.hellobonsai.com/time-tracking).

Contracts, Proposals, and e-signatures

Bonsai’s Basic CRM package for agencies allows users to issue proposals and contracts to clients and in-house.

From the initial project proposal to the final contract and even legally binding NDAs, Bonsai’s software makes it easy for agencies to protect themselves.

Proposals and contracts can be sent directly, using fully automated software, to clients to read. Clients can easily add their signature to the contract using their client profile. The legally binding contract is automatically returned to the agency and stored on Bonsai. This eliminates the need to create individual contracts and proposals. At the same time, contracts can be signed and put into action far quicker and more simply.

With Bonsai’s hassle-free contract and e-signature service, there’s no risk of important contracts being delayed or being lost in the mail. There’s no need to store hefty paper documents or scan anything into the system, because it’s all automatically stored.

With Bonsai’s Business package, it’s possible to include hiring agreements for subcontractors too, adding yet another impressive element to their portfolio.

Scheduling Software

Another reason that Bonsai is a great alternative to HubSpot as a CRM provider for agencies is that it facilitates a fully integrated scheduling system.

Bonsai’s easy-to-use scheduler lets clients book an agency’s services. With a one fully integrated system, there’s no need to add or remove availability, as all projects are managed on one system.

Clients are billed and pay for their services upfront, making use of the invoicing and payments services offered as part of Bonsai’s CRM packages.

This means agencies don’t get bogged down managing their time, and can focus their efforts on increasing sales and bumping-up revenue. With scheduling, invoicing, and payments all in one place, there’s no need for several monthly subscriptions to different software providers.

As a direct result, agencies can reduce the cost of monthly subscriptions. Agencies also benefit from only needing to get to grips with one software package. Once staff are onboarded with Bonsai, they don’t need to learn anything else, reducing training time and increasing productivity.

Bonsai Offers a White Labelling Option

Bonsai offers all the benefits of a fully managed CRM system, with the ability to hide the fact that they exist.

In business, brand is key. Clients need to see the name of a business time-and-time again to make sure they remember them and keep coming back. With an effective CRM system delivering effective targeted marketing and communications, it seems almost pointless if the name clients see is Bonsai.

This is why their white labelling option makes Bonsai the top alternative to HubSpot.

With the Professional package, agencies can remove the Bonsai branding from their client portal and customer communications. The only name the client sees, therefore, will be that of the agency.

This is key to portraying a professional image and constantly reminding consumers of the brand name.

With HubSpot, agencies pay to have their clients hear the name of a different business – their CRM provider. With Bonsai, agencies pay a small fee to have their clients hear their name repeatedly.

Why Bonsai Are the Top Alternative to HubSpot for Agencies Seeking CRM

Bonsai’s CRM service for agencies is the top alternative to HubSpot. They offer a far more well-rounded package, with a whole range of options not included with HubSpot, for free.

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Verified reviews from Bonsai customers show how their services are valued by agencies who use their CRM facilities (https://www.hellobonsai.com/reviews)

Bonsai offer three packages to choose from to suit an agencies specific needs and budget. With the possibility to upgrade and downgrade, or cancel at any time, this flexibility is a real bonus. There’s no need to be tied into a lengthy contract, or to have to change providers when the needs of the agency changes.

Every one of these packages offers many additional services, including an invoicing and payment facility, live scheduling, and accountancy integration. Each of these added services eliminates the need for a separate monthly subscription.

Their excellent white labelling option means that clients only need to see the name of the agency their dealing with. This increases brand awareness and creates a professional image.

For that reason, Bonsai consistently receives higher customer satisfaction ratings than HubSpot from the agencies who have experienced them for themselves. With a free seven-day trial for all new users, signing up to Bonsai is the top alternative to signing up for HubSpot.

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