Complete Guide to Product Qualified Leads

How SaaS startups turn product usage into qualified leads.

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.

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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!
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@clairesuellen @edfryed excited to dive into this. Curious to hear what surprised you the most (if anything) from the interviews?
@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?
@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.
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 :)
Sounds awesome! Really good job @edfryed & @clairesuellen 🙌
@edfryed @clairesuellen @tombenattar I started reading it too. Great resource and huge work. 💪
@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?
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!
@clairesuellen @metehan777 Appreciate the kind comments Metehan!
@edfryed @metehan777 Thanks so much, Metehan!

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!


Comprehensive, all-in-one overview over the topic


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

Thanks for sharing Jakob! More of the juicy actionable steps coming after the intro chapters. 4-9 go into detail with takeaways.
Well done! Can't wait for chapters 8 and beyond :)
@monsieurfred Much appreciated, Fred!