Complete Guide to Product Qualified Leads

How SaaS startups turn product usage into qualified leads.

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Free trial signups ≠ sales, so how do you build pipeline from trial users? The answer: product qualified leads. The open guide, insights and playbooks from DigitalOcean, Typeform, Moz, Mention, and more how they use product usage to drive sales.

Reviews

  • Jakob MarovtGrowth & Product
    Pros: 

    Comprehensive, all-in-one overview over the topic

    Cons: 

    Focus even more on actionable steps people can implement right now.

    I loved the guide. While quite long, it's fast to read and you can dive deep into chapters that interest you most at a particular moment. Looking forward to more guides from this team!

    Jakob Marovt has used this product for one week.
  • Stefanie GrieserMarketer, Unbounce
    Pros: 

    It's fresh & unique. And it hits a very real pain point for saas businesses! Great authors (who really know their stuff).

    Cons: 

    The chapters are on the page (series of landing pages). But I have to put in my email to get them sent to me? (also they weren't send to me)

    The "get it sent to you" form field, but then scroll down to read the first chapter is a bit confusing. Perhaps just get people to read the first chapter with you CTA above the fold saying, "Read the first chapter now" and then have the form field for an email at the very bottom.

    And it'd be nice to tell me when (and what frequency the chapters) get sent to me. So I know what's coming.

    The headline says: "PQLs" >> I wouldn't have known what that meant necessarily (and I'm a saas marketer). I would avoid acronyms in your main headline.

    Stefanie Grieser has used this product for one day.

Discussion

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Ed FryMaker@edfryed · Growth @ Hull.io, prev @ inbound.org
Thanks for hunting us Matt! Working at Hull and Love Your Customers, we noticed a common pattern amongst our SaaS clients - a firehose of free trial signups, but this doesn't convert through to sale pipeline. Most advice around improving trial conversion rates focuses on the tactical - "improve your user onboarding", "make your signup frictionless", or "use email nurturing". But, we didn't feel this was prescriptive or useful. After interviews with a range of SaaS startups at all different stages, like DigitalOcean, Typeform, Appcues, AdEspresso, Contentful, Moz, Mention, and more, we put together this complete guide to product qualified leads. We wanted to pull together the insights and methods into one definitive playbook. It's free and open to read - the first seven chapters are live and ready to read. You can subscribe for more (we're publishing a few chapters each week) Product qualified leads are *very* specific to your company and your market, so if you've got any questions on how to implement PQLs at your company, we'll be around all day today/tomorrow to answer your questions - We are Ed Fry and @clairesuellen - Ask Us Anything!
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
@clairesuellen @edfryed excited to dive into this. Curious to hear what surprised you the most (if anything) from the interviews?
Ed FryMaker@edfryed · Growth @ Hull.io, prev @ inbound.org
@clairesuellen @jonnym1ller Thanks for the questions - Most surprising for me certainly was around the lengths people went to for organizing their data. Once they'd found something in a model, everyone struggled with getting that data into the tools that their sales teams used. No one wants sales reps in databases and analytics tools - least of all sales reps themselves! Chapter 4 digs into this a little more. One favourite (we weren't allowed to name) was dumping it all into a data warehouse, then resyncing that to their CRM - a process which took EIGHT HOURS. They'd start this overnight so their Bay Area office would have the "right" data the following data. But, European sales were screwed over by two sets of data that was updating throughout their working day. Lesson learnt: PQLs need to be synced and acted on in as close to real-time as possible :) @clairesuellen what was your most surprising moment?
Claire SuellentropMaker@clairesuellen · ForgetTheFunnel.com // Userlist.io
@edfryed @jonnym1ller Great question, Jonny. To hone in on a specific anecdote, what I found most surprising was DigitalOcean’s experience with testing sales outreach to PQLs — in a space that’s notoriously sales- and marketing-averse. Essentially, once DigitalOcean identified which user actions indicated a higher spend, they set up an A/B test: the control group received no sales outreach after completing trigger actions, and the experimental group received outreach. Marketing and sales teams conduct tests like this all the time, but what I found surprising was the *result* they saw from their outreach experiment. While the outreach recipients who DID reply to sales communications proved to be the highest-value, even the group that received outreach but DIDN’T reply *still* performed 50% better than the group that received no outreach (!) Really interesting to hear about this account of outreach to PQLs and how much of an impact it made, even on the group of users who chose not to reply to said outreach at all.
Stefanie Grieser@smgrieser · Marketer, Unbounce
Nicely done @clairesuellen @edfryed 🙌 . Reading over the comments here. Lessons learned through the interviews. Biggest surprises. Would be good to turn this into a webinar / video format so people can watch. I know you are both excellent presenters / great at articulating your points :)
Tom Benattar@tombenattar · Co-founder @PixelMe
Sounds awesome! Really good job @edfryed & @clairesuellen 🙌
Jice Lavocat@jice_lavocat · Founder at Elokenz
@edfryed @clairesuellen @tombenattar I started reading it too. Great resource and huge work. 💪
Claire SuellentropMaker@clairesuellen · ForgetTheFunnel.com // Userlist.io
@edfryed @tombenattar @jice_lavocat Thanks so much, Jice! Would be interested to hear whether you've encountered similar challenges when working on growth strategy for clients?
Metehan Yesilyurt@metehan777 · Search Experience Optimizer @onediocom
I know @edfryed for a while. He's an amazing guy. They made an magnificent work with @clairesuellen If you would like to improve your skills and growth strategy, this is a "must" guide. Congrats mates!
Ed FryMaker@edfryed · Growth @ Hull.io, prev @ inbound.org
@clairesuellen @metehan777 Appreciate the kind comments Metehan!
Claire SuellentropMaker@clairesuellen · ForgetTheFunnel.com // Userlist.io
@edfryed @metehan777 Thanks so much, Metehan!
fred @Lengow@monsieurfred · CMO @Lengow
Well done! Can't wait for chapters 8 and beyond :)
Ed FryMaker@edfryed · Growth @ Hull.io, prev @ inbound.org
@monsieurfred Thanks Fred!
Claire SuellentropMaker@clairesuellen · ForgetTheFunnel.com // Userlist.io
@monsieurfred Much appreciated, Fred!
Ty MagninHiring@tymagnin · Dir of Marketing at Appcues
Excited about the guide! What do you see happening in the SaaS space that made you want to focus on PQLs?
Ed FryMaker@edfryed · Growth @ Hull.io, prev @ inbound.org
@tymagnin Hey Ty - What we see happening is a try-before-you-buy software world powering SaaS startups everywhere. But, for companies with pricing models that support a sales team, those sales teams have to make sense of a firehose of trial signups. Who should they talk to? What should they say? That data exists! It's just in a backend database, or analytics tool... something a rep isn't in, and doesn't want to go in. How can you take those streams of data and package them up in a CRM-friendly, rep-friendly insight that clues them in with WHO to talk to and WHAT to say. It's sales enablement meets SaaS enablement. And not enough people are talking about it. @clairesuellen had this problem first hand at Calendly, so together we went about creating the ultimate playbook.
Claire SuellentropMaker@clairesuellen · ForgetTheFunnel.com // Userlist.io
@tymagnin @edfryed We also noticed that the challenge doesn’t seem to be a lack of awareness on the marketing/sales teams’ part. Rather, the challenge for many folks we spoke with was knowing that communications with PQLs could (and should) improve…but lack of process, or even a sense of where to start, = roadblock.