INBOUND 2020 Review - They Did More Than Inspire, They Delivered!

INBOUND is one of the world's most premier conferences held annually in Boston and powered by the brilliant minds of HubSpot. It's traditionally a three-day in-person conference that brings experts, practitioners, and thought-leaders together to share with other professionals from across the globe on different industry trends, techniques, best practices, etc.

This year's INBOUND conference was originally carded for August and many were looking forward to visiting the beautiful city of Massachusetts in the summer, meeting some of our colleagues from last year and also learning as much as we can about what's new in our respective industries. Not to mention, both HubSpot partners and day-to-day users would be looking forward to all the new and exciting feature updates with the HubSpot platform.

However, like everything else around the world, the plans for this year's in-person event was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many of us that lived in a space of uncertainty, one of the things that stood out with the team at INBOUND was their transparency and their ability to openly communicate their own vulnerabilities with not always knowing exactly what's next and the uncertainty of having this event.

At no time did the team pretend to know everything nor were they irresponsible in their optimism of what might happen. Their approach to communication stood out as a true form of leadership which allowed speakers and attendees to have some semblance of hope and that INBOUND will figure something out, and figure it out they did.

"While INBOUND 2020 will be a different experience than in years past, it will maintain its core values: to inspire, educate, and connect." - INBOUND Team

Within a few weeks, the theme of the event was officially announced with a new date of September 22nd & 23rd, moving it from the traditional three-day format to a two-day event. The biggest part of the announcement was that it will have an agenda that promises to keep everyone organised, engaged, entertained, educated, inspired, etc.

Their level of empathy stood out as they made sure to not just cater to paying attendees but also took the opportunity to cater to those that were interested but unable to afford by allowing them to have a limited INBOUND experience for free.

A Different Experience - Simple, Friendly & Fun

For those of us familiar with products coming from HubSpot, know that one of their signatures is having a user interface that is simple and friendly. The same thought process was applied to the INBOUND interface as users/attendees were introduced to something that was simple, user-friendly and fun to use. The platform took on a cool, slightly animated look and feel from initial log in, to the creation of their avatars and the planning and preparation of their calendars.

At Bat - "Change in the New Normal"

The conference's opening batsmen were HubSpot's Co-Founders Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah and HubSpot's Chief Product Officer Christopher O'Donnell. The discussion pushed one main point which was "Things are not going back to 2019 but pushing towards 2022" - Brian Halligan. Brian expressed that the way we looked at working in the future is how we are going to be working now.

To be successful with this shift he indicated that greater leadership needs to be a big part in the discussion. Managers now need to figure out how to get their teams to work better together remotely and still be productive in these times. The adoption of new tools and technology would also be a key component of supporting leaders with the change from working onsite to now either being fully remote or having a blended approach.

Their expectations are changing about how they work and what they expect from the company they work for. - Brian Halligan

They also expressed that while change is happening from an operational standpoint, a large part of that change is also happening with our employees. Dharmesh made the point that for companies to be successful they need to start being forward-thinking and also lean into it that change more. "Some companies are NOT making a full commitment," he said. Noticing that they are only making small incremental adjustments hoping that things normalise, this would be a recipe for disaster for the future.

Watch the Full Video Here: How Companies Can Thrive in the New Normal

One of the biggest points shared in this discussion was the point on organisational culture and it being a key component to success moving forward. They expressed the need for companies to look at their culture from both the employee and customer standpoint as that's a big part of the new normal. Listening to these gentlemen gave clarity as to why HubSpot was voted Best Place To Work for 2020 by Glassdoor.

Read: The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love

As this conversation wrapped up, we felt it delivered on its promise to educate attendees on what's happening now and encourage them to make the necessary changes. It also set the tone for what came next which was the ability to attend the different speaker segments to gain new knowledge and insight.

The Middle Order

Bro, thank you so much for getting me to INBOUND this year. - Friend

Since my return from INBOUND 2019, I've been advocating to my colleagues that this event is a must-attend because the information, insights and content shared fuels you and your business all the way to the next event.

This year was no different as each speaker (based on the attendees choice) delivered at such a high level they would have either validated your assumptions, given you new ammunition to Go-to-Market or just blown your mind altogether.

Here are a few segments and speakers that really stood out to us that we felt needed to be recognized.


This debate between George B. Thomas and Doug Dividoff was great as it touched on the question that so many sales and marketing professionals seem to be battling with. which is - "Is Inbound better for my business or is Outbound?"

Both speakers raised some really great points about the strengths of each methodology but delivered the ultimate conclusion that a company that tries to incorporate both will be a stronger entity.

How to Turn Your Podcast Into A Lead Gen. Machine

There are many different ways to generate or attract the right leads and Account-Based Prospecting (ABP) is one of them. This segment delivered by Bernie Borges really broke down the value of podcasting and how it can be used strategically in your sales process. Bernie shared some very good tips that companies (and by extension marketers) can use or help their customers use to generate good qualified leads and also nurture undecided customers in the sales process.

The Definitive Guide To Content That Sells

This segment was possibly the one that literally blew the minds of many. Marcus Sheridan made the process of creating content that sells so simple and actionable that some people could not believe it.

Content Key #1: Make Content A "Sales First" Initiative.

He outlined his 7 Essential Steps of Content Success which factors into a companies sales process. Another point he wanted to drive home was this approach has to be driven from the leadership level.

Book Recommendation: They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

Yes, but Our Business is Different! B2B Insights for Traditional Thinkers

With the tone that Brian and Dharmesh set on change, this segment from Ryan Burkett at Stratagon really helped bring the point across that companies even the ones that may be "doing reasonably well", should think about their approach to sales and marketing differently.

Ryan challenged the traditional thinking of executives that may feel they do not need to implement anything new or that the strategies being suggested would not work within their industry or environment.

Understanding Value Leads To Better Engagement

Ok, so this is a bit of a shameless plug, this segment was delivered by our very own Lyndon Brathwaite. He discussed the area we believe most companies fall short which is at the engagement phase of the sales process.

Why is this happening? Because sales professionals are having challenges with properly communicating value well enough to increase the level of engagement to move the opportunity forward.

These were just a few segments that really stood out to us but INBOUND provided so many great speakers that added to much volume to the event. That's what makes this event one of the premium events to attend for persons looking at really getting actionable and relevant information about the growth of their business.

Finger on the Pulse of Social Issues

We can't close this article without recognizing HubSpot's commitment to diversity and social equality. One of the mini-events that many looked forward to was Black@INBOUND which is actually backed and fully supported by HubSpot.

Black@INBOUND brings the black and brown community together not just from a networking standpoint but to also raise the awareness of the injustices that currently happening in these communities.

This really sets INBOUND and HubSpot apart as other conferences will not/have not touched issues like these or seen room to have it included in their event.

Delivered On Their Promise

INBOUND totally delivered on their promise to Inspire What's Next and what really stood out to us was their ability to pivot in a time of uncertainty and deliver at such a high level.

With so many other conferences that struggled to figure out what's next and some even deciding to cancel their event with the hope that 2021 will be back to normal, the team at INBOUND showed us that in business and in life, we need to be prepared for challenges, work as a team on a solution, communicate with your authenticity and deliver.

Your customers will love you for it and you will grow as well.