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How Organizations Can Focus Sales for Maximum Impact

The best PLG businesses have a dirty secret: They all have sales teams. In fact, they’re doubling down on these teams.

But that doesn’t mean their unit economics are going to get any less attractive, or that they’ll build their sales team at the same pace that their lead volume increases.

How are the best companies doing this? Focus. We used to want to build a big funnel to give our sales team plenty of leads—but many of the experts Sam Richard spoke with from InVision, Wistia, Hubspot and more told me that they’re “splitting the funnel,” or narrowing it, to keep their teams laser-focused on the leads that make sense for their business.

Sam just finished a project with an OpenView portfolio company that wanted help identifying ways to keep their sales team focused on the best accounts coming through their free tool. During the course of the work, Sam consulted with experts and pretended to be a lead in order to shape some findings that she would now like to share with the community.

We invite you to check out Sam's findings, best practices and suggestions to rethink how you’re applying sales resources at your own organization. We hope this helps provide some guidance, and we’d love to know how your organization does this or what companies you admire who do this well. Reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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How Organizations Can Focus Sales for Maximum Impact

  1. 1. May 2020 OpenView Growth Team HOW TO FOCUS SALES TOUCHPOINTS FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT
  2. 2. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 2 • Key questions we’ll answer: • What’s the best way to deploy a sales team in tandem with a self-service function? • How should organizations optimize sales resources to keep acquisition costs low? • Recommendations are backed by multiple data sources: • Conducted in-depth interviews with a cross-functional set of experts who manage the prospect journey for product led businesses with team adoption as a requirement. • Analyzed the onboarding flows of best-in-class product led businesses. • Supplemented with secondary research on best practices. WE INVESTIGATED HOW TO PAIR SALES AND SELF- SERVICE FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT Selection of interviewees
  3. 3. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 3 DATA SHOWS THAT SELF-SERVICE AND SALES ARE A POWERFUL COMBINATION • Conversion outcomes are the same for no outreach during a trial vs. CSX performing outreach during a trial • When sales performs outreach, conversion outcomes are 35% higher • But sales can’t perform outreach to leads where the ACV doesn’t make sense. • The most successful teams have tightly defined scoring systems throughout their funnel to ensure sales teams are touching the leads that make the most sense for the business. Conversion from free to paid by team providing outreach Source: OpenView 2020 SaaS Product Benchmarks 7% 10% 6.5% Median Success Sales No Touchpoints While sales outreach is expensive, it can be valuable in converting the highest potential ACV customers:
  4. 4. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 4 DATA FROM BENCHMARKS SHOWS COMPANIES AT SCALE DON’T TOUCH ALL LEADS 5% 48% 5% 42% No touchpoints 1-30% 31-70% 71%+ What percentage of free users are being touched? ($1-100m ARR) • OpenView surveyed 153 B2B product owners and founders to benchmark product metrics • We found that more touchpoints with sales correlate with a high free-to- paid conversion rate. • In order to achieve this, most companies focus their sales team on a small subset of highly qualified leads. Insights
  5. 5. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 5 WE DISTILLED LEARNINGS TO THREE RECOMMENDATIONS What we learned from our research Segment leads early. Every onboarding flow had clear segmentation questions, and different answers led to different cadences with the sales team. None of the companies we spoke with interacted with 100% of signups. Product usage, or lack of product usage, impacts outreach cadence and further informs whether sales spends time on each lead. On average, 40% of leads never took any action in the product, disqualifying them from outreach. Leverage best practice playbooks. Companies have different plays that they run with different sized accounts and levels of salespeople to focus their efforts. It doesn’t make sense for every lead to interact with sales, only MQLs. For any given company we spoke with, less than 30% of those leads interacted with sales. Leads were scored with ICP or potential ACV in mind. Set up PQL framework to ensure that sales isn’t wasting their time on leads that were never going to convert. Change prospect outreach cadences Once a lead is qualified to begin receiving sales outreach, tailor your sales response based on the potential value of the lead. 1 2 3
  6. 6. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 6 TOP OF FUNNEL BEST PRACTICE: USE LEAD SCORING FOR SEGMENTATION & NURTURING • Leads that will not meet ICP are put in nurture campaign, and not in any sales outreach workflow. • Enterprise-level leads who are VIP stakeholders in your tiger segments can be earmarked for outreach, as can leads that meet basic qualifications and raise their hand to request a demo • All other qualified leads must be given time to engage with the product and further qualify themselves.
  7. 7. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 7 COMPANIES FIND MANY WAYS TO SEGMENT USERS, BUT ALL OF THEM ASK UP FRONT When would you like to launch your store? The way this question was answered triggered sales activity when a new lead signed up for the product. 11+ teammates Number of teammates is asked in signup flow. This $300+ MRR sized account typically grows by 200% in 1 year, so they’ve deemed it worth their resources. MadKudu Score Leverages information like title, number of employees, pricing page views and fit to tier customers into 4 tiers. Sales only reaches out to top 2 tiers. Fit with Ideal Customer Profile New product signups are tiered from 1-6 based on fit. Sales is compensated on conversion based on that score. For small best fit customers, they’re assigned a CSX rep. Urgency ICP ScoreACV Potential A Growth Stage Company An Expansion Stage Company A Large Public CompanyA Large Public Company
  8. 8. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 8 Segmentation starts in chat Frictionless sign up and email verification HUBSPOT ONBOARDING Form seems simple to fill out, not a chore
  9. 9. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 9 Form segments visitors conversationally SHOPIFY ONBOARDING High ROI for answering questions in form, changes onboarding
  10. 10. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 10 MID FUNNEL BEST PRACTICE: PQLS TRIGGER SALES OUTREACH PLAYBOOKS • Once a lead becomes a PQL, they receive immediate outreach and then are assigned two different outreach playbooks based on the expected ACV. • Leads that do not engage with sales are added to a marketing cadence after their sales outreach cadence is complete. Some best-in-class companies tagged these leads for the support team to send back to sales if they raised their hand for help.
  11. 11. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 11 PQLS Creating PQLs What is a PQL? A PQL is a product-qualified-lead, meaning that actions taken in the product by a free user help to qualify that user for outreach by the sales team. For Sales: PQLs are valuable because they focus the sales team and help them prioritize the most valuable leads. For the Growth Team: Identifying which behaviors and metrics generate a PQL help give the Growth team KPIs to better understand if their experiments are successful with a leading indicator (ex: percent of cohort that gets to an activation point), rather than a lagging one (ex: conversion rate).Image Source: Hubspot
  12. 12. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 12 55% 43% 70% 65% 70% 50% Retention: >1 visit Retention: 1 week Company A Company B Company C PRODUCT USAGE IS OFTEN A KEY INDICATOR OF HOW READY THE LEAD IS TO BUY Percentage of trailers who return to the product • One of the biggest challenges of companies that we interviewed was getting leads back into the product after signup. • Based on benchmarks from companies surveyed, expect to see ~50% of leads return. • This means sales shouldn’t be engaging any of those leads who never return. Insights
  13. 13. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 13 PRODUCT USAGE EXAMPLES PQL Lead’s first session is longer than 30 minutes, and they return to the product within 24 hours. Evidence of finding product value This team automatically puts signups into an outreach flow after they’ve met a threshold of rows of data added into the tool. PQL Triggers Hubspot creates PQLs based on 3 criteria: • Hand raisers (ask for help from sales) • Usage PQLs that trip a usage limit in the product • Feature PQLs that use a high-value feature like an integration Health Scores Trial Score We track simple behavior like visits and session length, then assign a score from 1-5. 5s have an 80% chance of converting on their own, so sales reaches out to 3s and 4s. Value-Driven Product BehaviorSession Data A Growth Stage Company A Growth Stage Company An Expansion Stage Company A Large Public Company
  14. 14. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 14 WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO ENGAGE WITH A PQL? Best Practices for Enterprise Best Practices for Middle Market Recommended additions Put leads into call queue as they become a PQL. Zendesk has found that that if they call leads within 24 hours of the “aha moment”, the win rate is 83% Day 1 BDR call to set demo Day 3 Morning email for demo, voicemail Day 5 Afternoon email Day 7 Reply to last email Day 10 Morning email for demo, voicemail Day 14 Morning call, afternoon call voicemail Day 17 Email and call in morning Day 20 Breakup email, voicemail Day 1 BDR call to set demo Day 3 Morning email for demo, voicemail Day 5 Afternoon email Day 7 Email and call in morning Day 10 Breakup email, voicemail
  15. 15. 15Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved RECOMMENDATIONS
  16. 16. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 16 WE DISTILLED LEARNINGS TO THREE RECOMMENDATIONS What we learned from our research Segment leads early. Every onboarding flow had clear segmentation questions, and different answers led to different cadences with the sales team. None of the companies we spoke with interacted with 100% of signups. Product usage, or lack of product usage, impacts outreach cadence and further informs whether sales spends time on each lead. On average, 40% of leads never took any action in the product, disqualifying them from outreach. Leverage best practice playbooks. Companies have different plays that they run with different sized accounts and levels of salespeople to focus their efforts. It doesn’t make sense for every lead to interact with sales, only MQLs. For any given company we spoke with, less than 30% of those leads interacted with sales. Leads were scored with ICP or potential ACV in mind. Set up PQL framework to ensure that sales isn’t wasting their time on leads that were never going to convert. Change prospect outreach cadences Once a lead is qualified to begin receiving sales outreach, tailor your sales response based on the potential value of the lead. 1 2 3
  17. 17. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 17 FULL FUNNEL WORKFLOW
  18. 18. Proprietary and Confidential ©2020 OpenView Advisors, LLC. All Rights Reserved 18 Your Product Sells Itself, Now Hire Sales by Kyle Poyar, OpenView Selling in a PLG Company by Leadra Fishman, Twilio 6 Steps to building out a PQL Model by Ashley Murphy, OpenView ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
  19. 19. Sam Richard Sam@ov.vc THANK YOU

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The best PLG businesses have a dirty secret: They all have sales teams. In fact, they’re doubling down on these teams. But that doesn’t mean their unit economics are going to get any less attractive, or that they’ll build their sales team at the same pace that their lead volume increases. How are the best companies doing this? Focus. We used to want to build a big funnel to give our sales team plenty of leads—but many of the experts Sam Richard spoke with from InVision, Wistia, Hubspot and more told me that they’re “splitting the funnel,” or narrowing it, to keep their teams laser-focused on the leads that make sense for their business. Sam just finished a project with an OpenView portfolio company that wanted help identifying ways to keep their sales team focused on the best accounts coming through their free tool. During the course of the work, Sam consulted with experts and pretended to be a lead in order to shape some findings that she would now like to share with the community. We invite you to check out Sam's findings, best practices and suggestions to rethink how you’re applying sales resources at your own organization. We hope this helps provide some guidance, and we’d love to know how your organization does this or what companies you admire who do this well. Reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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