This is part 4 of a 4-part series on PQLs: What they are, how to find them and how to build a winning Product Qualified Lead process

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activation slack alerts for Product Qualified Lead process

In case you haven’t heard, PQLs are leads that are more likely to convert because they have found value in your product. If you’re a modern SaaS business, you want to find these leads. So the only question left — how? It’s elementary: you need a Product Qualified Lead process.

So you’re convinced: you want to find PQLs and make a Product Qualified Lead process for your business. But where to start?

To build a proper Product Qualified Lead process, you will need to:

  1. Properly define what the criteria by which your leads will become product qualified (otherwise known as an Activation checklist)
  2. Have a set of guidelines for turning these leads into paying customers.

Let’s get started!

defining a pql is important for a winning Product Qualified Lead process

First off, how complex is your product?

When our customers ask how they should be designing their Product Qualified Lead process, the first question we ask them is:

How complex is your product?

More simply, how hard is it for a new user (or small group of users) to self-serve their way to first value? Don’t forget: self-serve means without any manual support of intervention from your team.

The answer to this question is the starting point for your PQL definition. It’s answer tells you how Activated a new account should be before your team gets involved.

This post covers a Product Qualified Lead process for complex products. Not sure if that’s you?

Ask yourself how many of your last 10 signups self-served their way to first value. If the answer is less than 4, read on!

A new user is almost always going to require manual support to get to the promised land. Complex products often require technical implementation, access to data or tools from other departments, or some deeper domain knowledge for a user to get value.

A complex product might have a free trial period, but is more likely to only sell to customers who go through a sales demo with a more hands-on approach.

Think Salesforce.

Looking for a different product type? Download our e-book.

Next, how big is the opportunity?

Now that you’ve decided you have a complex product, you should think of the other main factor that will determine how quickly your Sales team gets involved. Namely, the size of a Sales opportunity. As with simple products, if a new trial holds the potential for more revenue, you’ll want to get your Sales team involved earlier.

At the very least, you should be able to categorize your new trial signups into Small, Mid-Size and Large revenue opportunities.

Oftentimes, companies will use the company size of a new trial as a proxy for opportunity size. This is certainly one way to go about it, but you define opportunity size based on whatever criteria makes sense for your business.

Putting it together with Activation Rate

The more complex a product, the earlier your Sales team should intervene. Similarly, the bigger the size of the opportunity, the sooner you want your Sales team on it. Sounds simple, right? (That’s good, because it is).

If you have a complex product, you’ll need to get involved sooner regardless of the deal size. That being said, you’ll probably still want to wait for accounts to hit a certain level of Activation and keep your Sales and CS team focused on bigger deals.

Here are good rule-of-thumb Activation rate guidelines for a complex product:

As you go through the next section, keep in mind the goal of a Product Qualified Lead process for complex products is to balance the time of your Sales team. That way, they are focusing on larger opportunities but aren’t abandoning smaller opportunities with a high likelihood to close.

Product Qualified Lead process for the Small Opportunity

Product Qualified Lead process for the small opportunity intermediately complex product
Product Qualified Lead process for small opportunities — Wait until they’re ready to convert

These pose quite the conundrum for Complex products. You know your product needs manual support for most users to get value, but how much time can you afford to give such a small opportunity?

In these cases, the complexity of your product may just work in your favor. Wait, what?!

That’s right. Small accounts that are really interested in your value proposition — in the promise of your product — will make the effort to get set up and experience some of the value.

When their Activation is high, you’ll know they’re committed and it’ll be worth it for your Sales team to give them some attention. How high is high enough? We recommend waiting till they’re at least 50% Activated.

How to engage these Product Qualified Leads

Because it is harder for users to recognize the eventual value of a Complex product on their own, trial leads on this product will likely need some kind of demo of the product from your Sales team. They will need to see the finished cake (complete with frosting) if they are going to move forward and convert.

In these cases, it’s important for your Sales team to engage these users and invite them for an in-person demo of the platform, perhaps with an email.

Want to know how to win over small deals? Download our e-book and get considerations and sample emails.

Product Qualified Lead process for the Mid-Size Opportunity

Product Qualified Lead process for the mid-size opportunity intermediately complex product
Product Qualified Lead process for mid-size opportunities — more users, lower Activation

These mid-sized opportunities are exactly what they sound like. Bigger accounts than a small opportunity, but smaller than a large one. The bigger the account, the more users involved, the more coordination necessary and the more complex the path to conversion.

So let’s be honest: Not many opportunities will self-serve their way to conversion with a Complex product, regardless of the size. But because these are bigger than small opportunities, you’ll want to get your Sales team involved soonish, probably at around a 25-50% Activation level.

How to engage these Product Qualified Leads

The challenge here is still the complexity of the product. It’s hard for users to identify the full value of the platform on their own.

Focus your manual intervention on booking a time to talk to your Sales team instead of pushing the account toward deeper Activation

Not sure what to say? Download our e-book and get sample emails to win these mid-size deals.

Product Qualified Lead process for the Large Opportunity

Product Qualified Lead process for the large opportunity intermediately complex product
Product Qualified Lead process for the large opportunities — It’s ok to jump in a bit earlier

When you get large opportunities to sign-up for you Complex product, you don’t need a great deal of product usage to justify, at least, an initial touch point from your team. In fact, you should feel comfortable reaching out to these accounts soon after they sign-up or when they reach just about 25% Activation.

From there, it’ll be somewhat similar to a traditional Sales process. Or at least as you’re going to get with a modern SaaS product. Start by identifying the key decision makers and make sure that they see the complete, fully-baked value of your product, which can be hard to do during a trial so get them on a demo ASAP.