This is part 3 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 intermediately 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 between 4 and 7, read on!

With intermediately complex products, about 50% of new users can self-serve their way to value without manual intervention. Unlike their simple counterparts, these products typically have a free trial, but do not have a freemium version. Think Adobe.

Sometimes intermediately complex products are simple to set up, but hard to get to initial value. Other times, they are harder to get set up, but deliver easy value beyond that.

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

Next, how big is the opportunity?

Now that you’ve decided you have an intermediately 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 an intermediately complex product, how soon you get involved will be very much based on the deal size. You can wait for smaller accounts to become (almost) fully Activated before getting manually involved. But if a large deal starts using the product, you’ll want to get your Sales and CS team involved to increase the chances of a close.

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

As you go through the next section, keep in mind the goal of a Product Qualified Lead process for intermediately 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

Intermediate products require an — intermediate level of manual support for success, but it’s hard to justify that support for these small opportunities.

On the flip side, any small opportunity that shows enough interest in this type of product to self-serve their way to success is an opportunity that is highly likely to convert.

Enter the PQL process. You can justify some manual intervention for some of these accounts, but you have to be selective about it. Your sales team should get involved, but only when these smaller opportunities reach at least 75% Activation.

How to engage these Product Qualified Leads

Sales should take a Customer Success approach with these accounts. Congratulate, encourage, and support. It’s about extending account engagement and Activation, not getting a demo.

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

It’s likely that you’re going to need some manual intervention in order to convert these opportunities at a high enough rate.

These accounts are more likely to have multiple users — and multiple decision makers. This means you will need more than one person to fall in love with the product in order to get a conversion.

And that means this account will require more and earlier attention from your team. Qualify these leads once they get to 50-75% Activation and get someone on your team involved if you want them to convert!

How to engage these Product Qualified Leads

Have a Customer Success rep engage with these accounts before your Sales team does. We know, we know — this violates every B2B playbook ever created.

But for mid-size opportunities trialing an intermediately complex product, having someone who can help users navigate to a higher level of Activation will be more valuable than any kind of sales “pitch” you can offer. (And, don’t even think about just adjusting your sales pitch.)

A CS-followed-by-Sales combo outreach delivers the right kind of support at the right time for these accounts and helps drive conversion rates.

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

This is just the kind of lead your Sales team has been waiting for! You should drop everything and go after them with everything you’ve got, right? Wrong.

Your intermediately complex product doesn’t need immediate intervention so you should allow every trial (no matter how big) some space to prove their interest in your product before a full onslaught. (It’s hard, we know.)

But why? With bigger companies, it is often a lower-level employee who signs up for a free trial. They might not have any organizational support, which is fine — but is the very reason why a signup alone is not enough to justify Sales effort.

With all that said, this is still a big account, so you should consider them product qualified earlier than if they were smaller. Wait for them to be 25-50% Activated and then go get ‘em!