On this episode of 'Inbound & Down,' co-hosts Jon Sasala and Danielle Esposito interview Kyle Jepson, Inbound Sales Professor at HubSpot Academy, regarding the practices and processes involved in crafting the Academy lessons and certifications.
Today's special guest is a very special one indeed. We interviewed Kyle Jepson of HubSpot Academy. I am an obsessive certification taker (as established in my excessive thorough certification path blog), and talking to Kyle made me feel like I was chatting with a celebrity—but a down-to-earth star like Tom Hanks, or the Obamas.
HubSpot Academy's History
Formally launched in 2012, HubSpot Academy is a source for free online knowledge about HubSpot products and methodologies, as well as the greater marketing, sales, and social media world.
"HubSpot Academy’s mission is to transform the way people and companies grow by offering free online trainings for the digital age. From quick, practical courses to comprehensive certifications, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cutting edge business topics." -HubSpot Academy
Kyle began his career with HubSpot back in 2015 as a Product Specialist. He was brought onto the Academy team due to his experience with the CRM and sales tools, and was tasked with crafting certifications centered around using the CRM and related products. By gathering ideas from tickets and time spent on the support team, he created v1 of the Inbound Sales Certification, currently in its third incarnation.
Since then, he's become the de-facto sales guy at HubSpot Academy, landing him the unique title of Inbound Sales Professor.
Last year, Kyle pioneered the Sales Enablement certification. He saw the need to create a connection between the marketing and sales education, and thus the cert was born. Not being an expert himself, he took a different approach by inviting successful industry individuals to speak on the topic.
After the launch, Kyle received feedback from an agency expressing that they felt the certification was lacking. Being the considerate educator he is, Kyle reached out, wanting to learn more and explore how to fix this issue. From there, Kyle went on to build a relationship, and even featured this individual in the sales management course (now a part of the Sales Management Certification which debuted earlier this month).
To me, this is HubSpot Academy in a nutshell. Their mission isn't to release any content, but to release high quality, excellent material that genuinely informs and educates the viewers.
Now, some behind-the scenes action.
How are the ideas for courses/certifications developed?
There are typically two ways: A HubSpot higher-up may see a strategic advantage to providing educational background on a particular topic and put in a request, or a team member who demonstrates passion about a subject is given the opportunity to champion it as a course or certification.
How is it decided what becomes a course and what becomes a certification?
There's no one-size answer for this, but with the examples of Inbound Sales and Sales Enablement, there was a vision of what they wanted them to be—complete educational packages, ending with a test. It's now easier to develop topics as stand-alone courses, because the foundations has been laid with the standard curriculums (think Inbound Marketing, Sales, Marketing Software, etc.). This makes it much easier to expand upon and create more specialized courses, with the intention of bundling them into certifications over time.
Who writes the course/certification dialogue?
In most cases, the person serving as the host writes the certification. If there are guests, the host will collaborate with them on the dialogue, serving as a semi-ghost writer and constructing the scripts based upon the guest's concepts.
How do you get such clean takes?!
While the team has a lot of experience presenting the certifications, there are plenty of bloopers and mistakes made while filming—not to mention the A+ editing team that pieces it all together. Fun fact a-la Kyle: statistically, if you can sight-read music, you're more likely to have an easy time reading a teleprompter. (Kyle's been playing the saxophone since the sixth grade, so consider that fact checked.)
How are all the videos kept up-to-date?
The team uses Airtable, a cloud-based spreadsheet app, where all videos are listed and tagged with the specific products featured. The product team will send a notice when anything is updated, and the Academy team takes it from there.
What is the selection process for HubSpot Academy instructors?
Any time there is an opening, HubSpot looks both internally and externally for candidates. A few members of the team have been external hires, but the typical pattern has been to tap a member of the HubSpot ecosystem who is particularly embedded in his/her role in order to ensure true experts are chosen.
There are many HubSpot Academy certifications and courses that are free to the world with just a HubSpot account, and others that are unlocked based on Hub levels. Regardless of where you are in your HubSpot journey, these videos are a great resource, and there's so much to be learned. Explore them all here.
This Week's One Thing
- Danielle is excited to see Blinded by the Light because she's a diehard Springsteen fan, having seen him roughly 30 times. Her favorite song is Loose End.
- Sage's thing(s) are her dogs, Mandy & Olive. ->
- Jon's one thing is Asana. We recently migrated from Basecamp to Asana, and Jon has been in heaven ever since. So many integrations, so many Zaps. (He didn't mention it in the episode, but shoutout to Flowsana as well.)
- Kyle's one thing is the app Marco Polo. It's an asynchronous video recording app where you can record a vid and send it to a person or a group. The recipients can watch and respond whenever they have a chance. He's now having really cool, meaningful conversations with his siblings, and getting midday pick-me-ups from his kids at home.
Here is where I would typically let y'all know what beer was imbibed during the episode. We happened to record this in the morning, so none was had. Out of the goodness of my heart though, I'll make a personal recommendation for you: Destination Unknown Brewing Company's and Secatogue Brewing Company's The Science of Selling Secs. I bought this beer because I initially thought the can said SEOs, not SECs which made me laugh. It's a hazy IPA brewed with Amarillo hops, Idaho 7 hops and papaya. The papaya really stands out and gives a great flavor. I rated it a 3.75/5 on Untappd.
- My Growth Story: Building HubSpot Academy by Mark Kilens
- HubSpot Academy
- Agency Unfiltered from Kevin Dunn at HubSpot Academy. Available in vlog or podcast form.
- Marco Polo
- Sales Enablement Certification
- Inbound Sales Certification
- Sales Management Certification
Is there a topic you'd like to see a certification cover? Comment below, or email us at email@example.com.
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