Product-Led Sales: How to Use Your Product to Close More Deals
Being product-led doesn’t have to mean not closing deals.
On the contrary, it’s much easier to close deals when your growth is led by your product, and you can expect a higher retention rate than if you just relied on direct sales to cold prospects.
The key is to know which users to focus on, when to engage them and how to frame your intentions.
As Kate Taylor, Head of Customer Experience at Notion, points out:
“Self-serve isn’t about competing with sales, it’s about creating a healthier funnel. There are trade-offs and tensions along the way, but you need to stay the course. If you let the product lead and sales follow, this natural flywheel starts spinning and it starts to click for customers.”
- The top SaaS companies are using their product experience as the main driver of sales.
- Onboarding is a great source of data that can provide insights to sales.
- You need to give users opportunities to upgrade their account and buy upsells inside your product.
- Rather than target all existing users, define Product-Qualified Leads on the basis of users’ in-app behavior and their answers to qualifying questions and focus on those leads exclusively.
- Ensure there are enough team members for support before approaching that account for an upgrade.
- Userpilot is a powerful customer analytics tool that can provide the behavioral insights you need for a product-led sales strategy.
- If you need additional insights from other customer-facing tools, Bliinx is a great tool for pulling all those together.
Need a refresher on PLG?
Product-led growth (PLG) is an end user-focused growth model that relies on the product itself as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion.
What is product-led growth sales?
Product-led growth sales is when you use the product itself as the main source of new revenue acquisition. It includes lead generation, expansion and conversion to paying customers.
Now, let’s explain how you can use your product experience to close more deals with your prospective customers. 👇
Use your users’ onboarding data to personalize their experience
As a product-led business, you have an advantage over other businesses:
Your prospects tell you about themselves before you engage with them.
While you don’t make revenue upfront, you do know key information about your prospects before you engage with them.
If your onboarding is great, you will have access to valuable data about your prospects, such as:
- Their position/role
- What they’re interested in doing with your product
- The size of their business
- The technology that they use
With that information, you can:
1. Drive more conversions with tailored onboarding based on user persona
With Userpilot’s onboarding experiences, you can adjust the flow of the onboarding experience based on user persona to maximize engagement.
Segment new users based on persona and in-app behavior to provide the most relevant, bespoke product experience.
2. Know when/how to engage users.
Based on how your users are engaging with your product early on, you can craft personalized touch points with them that are either automated or manual.
Make sure to use what they provide in your onboarding flow to personalize your touch points.
This email from Unstack is a great example of using onboarding data to personalize user experience. They knew from onboarding questions that I’m a founder who’s also running marketing campaigns. They combined that knowledge with my increasing usage of the blog feature to send me some content on blog publishing.
The relevancy is awesome. Exactly what I need at that moment in time to retain me as a user.
Sales triggers inside your product experience
The more opportunities you give your free users to engage with you, the higher your chances are at converting them to a paid plan.
Great product-led companies give you plenty of opportunities to engage with their sales and CS teams, or alternatively convert to paid yourself while you’re using the product.
Here, Pitch is using a chatbot to communicate with their users and qualify them further. It’s also an opportunity to show off their amazing customer experience, which plays a huge role in retaining customers.
Adding opportunities for users to convert to paying customers greatly increases the conversion rate. Here, Pitch makes sure that you get the value from their product while allowing you to upgrade for more features.
How to do it for your business
Combining your product’s chatbot with Userpilot can be a great way to optimize your sales triggers.
In Userpilot, make sure to create pop-ups and tooltips with action items. Set them once your users have reached a certain part of your product experience, or a threshold at which point you think they’re most likely to convert. Then, prompt them with an option to upgrade!
Using PQLs to reach out to the right customers
PQL stands for Product-Qualified Lead. It’s a way for product-led companies to evaluate if users have received meaningful value in the product and if they are qualified for sales or expansion.
Since a PLG sales strategy is about focus, you can’t manually close deals with every user. You need to know which accounts to focus on manually and which accounts to send automated messages to. That’s why PQL is crucial.
How exactly you define a PQL will vary from product to product, but it usually involves a mix of in-app user actions and qualifying questions.
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
1. In-app user actions
The idea here is to work with your product team to understand which in-app actions result in high user retention.
Also, you need to know where users are hitting a ceiling in your free plan, and where they might want to unlock some additional features from your product.
Once those data points are defined, you’ll want to make sure to track them.
Tag customers who meet those criteria and reach out to them right away. That way, you’ll be top-of-mind when your users want to convert to paid customers.
- Make sure that your product’s onboarding gets users to the “Aha Moment” ASAP!
- Have whatever constitutes the Aha Moment clearly defined in your product analytics tool. (Userpilot)
- Connect your product analytics tools to Segment and attribute a custom variable to your users who meet this criteria.
- Send those users’ data to your Sales and Marketing tools (CRM, Mailchimp, Marketo, etc.)
- Set automated in-app messages via Userpilot, Intercom, Drift, Crips or others.
- Trigger engagement sequences in your email marketing tools.
- Set some automation rules in your CRM to notify sales.
You can also request early access to Bliinx’s beta to receive actionable product revenue triggers in your workflow and act on them!
2. Qualifying questions
Somewhere in the user’s free trial or freemium experience, you’ll want to ask them some qualifying questions in order to understand if the customer fits the buying criteria for your product.
If your product’s onboarding flow doesn’t have a lot of friction, you may want to ask these qualification questions right away during sign-up.
If your product requires more involvement from the user before value is generated, you can also ask qualifying questions when the user uses the product for the second or third time, or with conversational bots and onboarding emails.
You can find a good list of qualifying questions to ask here.
Identify winning behaviors and uncover revenue opportunities with Userpilot
With Userpilot’s product analytics features, you can easily analyze qualitative user feedback and discover potential areas for revenue expansion.
By doing this, you will come to understand which additional features users are potentially willing to pay for.
You can also identify the habits of your most successful segments, and then drive more users to adopt such habits with timely in-product experiences.
Build for land-and-expand before you involve sales
You need to make sure that enough free users from a given company account have signed up for your product. If that’s not the case, no problem, but don’t involve sales yet. Simply let your users convert by themselves.
Increasing the number of users per account will make it more appealing for decision makers to buy a higher-tiered version of your solution.
For example, users might have reached the usage limit, they might need an admin panel, extra features, synchronization with other tools like CRM, etc.
With Userpilot, you can take advantage of upsell and expansion opportunities with contextual real-time product experiences.
Let’s see how this works in practice.
Select your target audience based on behavior that might indicate a need to invite colleagues:
Choose a goal for the experience:
Build your experience:
Here are a few examples from the team at Miro, who are experts at facilitating the land-and-expand loop:
1. Think of an invite as added value for the user
In any loop (growth, viral, land-and-expand), your user needs to get more value from your product when they take a loop action.
For example, they need to get value from inviting a colleague into your product. If they don’t, few users will invite their colleagues.
In Miro, you invite colleagues because you want to share something that you’ve done and get feedback, or you want them to contribute to a board, which adds value to your experience.
2. Add multiple ways for your users to invite colleagues
In every single screen you’re on in Miro, you have an opportunity to invite colleagues. Make sure that your product makes it easy for users to invite others.
3. Integrate with your users’ collaboration tools
Miro does this well. They know that the most popular collaboration tool is Slack, so they let you sign in with Slack and invite colleagues directly from Slack.
Leverage your users’ data to build your pitch
The last key point to master is leveraging free users’ data in order to close contracts.
Selling a deal is all about convincing the buyer of your paid solution’s value. What better way to do that than by showcasing what the buyer’s free users are already getting!
It’s the best way to introduce a new set of KPIs that could be unlocked with a paid plan.
Here’s an example from Phantombuster:
The main information shown on your dashboard is the time saved by using Phantombuster. It communicates to the user the ROI on the tool and can be an amazing segue into a paid contract conversation!
With Userpilot, you can grab sentiment data directly from your users in real time. Using this data will give you valuable insights that you can integrate into your sales pitch.
You should use this customer data in your pitch decks. In particular, show comparisons with data (anonymized) from other paid clients.
This way, your prospect will take you seriously, because you’re already adding value, and will trust that your paid offering can deliver on its promise.
The importance of customer touchpoints outside of your product
For PLG sales to work, you have to work alongside your users. Communicate to them that you truly understand their reality and that you’re here to help.
To do that, you can build a sales touch point strategy with hyper-personalization. The idea is NOT to focus on the volume of your touch points, but rather on quality.
By quality, we mean:
- Timing of your message
- Value added by your message
- Personalization & relatability of your message
The more quality engagements you have with your users, the more chances you have to engage them in sales conversations or to retain them as customers.
However, acting on those relationship signals and avoiding blindspots is really hard at scale. That’s why Bliinx was created.
Bliinx sits in your customer-facing tools like email, calendar, LinkedIn or your CRM, and helps you engage with the right leads at the right time.
That means you can turn more digital relationships into happy customers, without hours of manual work.
Sign up for Bliinx’s beta for free here.
Sending your PQLs relevant content from an actual human at the perfect time will greatly improve your close rate and retention.
To wrap up, here’s our recipe for closing more deals with your product experience:
- Create an amazing onboarding experience with Userpilot and use onboarding data to personalize engagement
- Build product experiences with Userpilot that add value to your users’ experience and contain sales conversion triggers
- Use PQL to focus your outreach efforts on the best users
- Focus on land-and-expand by targeting user segments with Userpilot before you pitch your paid plans
- Use insights & value data found in your product to craft your pitch
- Leverage engagements outside of your product with Bliinx to increase your close rate and retention
Written by Fred Melanson, founder & CEO of Bliinx.
Further contributed to by Team Userpilot.