The 5 things you need to identify and take action on PQLs
1. Track and score product engagement
You can’t qualify an account based on product usage if you aren’t tracking product usage. So, if you aren’t tracking the most important actions (i.e. events) in your product for all of your users, go get that done. You can’t move forward without doing this.
Product engagement data with this context is product engagement data your sales team can understand and take action on. Don’t dump a truckload of event data on your sales team and expect them to make sense of it. Won’t happen.
2. Track and score product engagement at the account-level
This one’s elementary, so much so that it’s very easily overlooked. As a SaaS business, you don’t sell software to individual users — you sell to teams, to organizations. To accounts. You need to be able to aggregate your product engagement data at the account-level. Without account-based scoring, your PQL process will become more frustrating than helpful and your sales team will likely abandon it.
3. Identify the most engaged users on each account
When working a sale, salespeople are always looking for the right “entry points” into an account. They look for people who are going to become their internal champions.
It’s why your sales team needs those insights into the engagement of each user on an account. The users most engaged with the product will become the “case studies” used to convince other decision makers within the business. This is key, key data for your sales team.
4. Track Activation Rates during the trial period
The goal of any trial process is to drive users and accounts toward “Activation.” Every product has a different definition of Activation, but it’s generally the three, four, five specific actions that allow a new account to experience “first value.”
A document sharing application might have an Activation checklist that looks something like:
A proper PQL process will include insights into the Activation progress for every trial account. Which accounts are fully Activated? Which ones are almost there? Which ones are way off? Your sales team needs the answers to these questions and your PQL process needs to be what answers them.
5. Easy access to all this essential data
Having product engagement data is one thing, but getting it in the hands of your sales team is another. If your sales team doesn’t have immediate access, they aren’t going to use it. That is why you need to have all this data packaged up in a way that it can be easily understood and easily shared with the tools your sales team is using regularly — this means your CRM or CRM-like tool (i.e. Intercom).
Egad! All this sounds like a lot of work. How will you figure out how to prioritize building this kind of system? Where will it integrate? Should you just build it in Salesforce? Can Segment do this? How will you fit this —
Just take a deep breath.
Sherlock is here to help you understand the engagement level of your users and accounts from first signup to conversion (and after). It does everything you need to shape your ideal PQL process.
Score and rank your users and accounts based on actual engagement with your product
Access insights into the engagement level of all users on each trial account
Track your trial users and accounts and their progress toward “first value” by defining “Activation” criteria
Connect these engagement scores and Activation rates to Salesforce, Intercom, Slack, and other platforms to give your sales team easy access to the data
For those looking for a step-by-step guide for setting up this process in Sherlock, here it is.
Step 1: Connect your product data with Sherlock
If you are using Segment.com for your product data, you can simply flip a switch and have your product data sent to Sherlock immediately. Alternatively, you can start using Sherlock by implementing our custom tracking script.
Step 2: Set up your first scoring profile
This is part of the basic setup for Sherlock. This is where you will score the engagement of your product events and create your first Sherlock scoring model. Once you do this, all your users and accounts will automatically be scored based on how they are engaging with your product.
Step 3: Define Activation criteria for trial accounts
By defining what it means for an account to be “Activated”, you can start tracking the Activation rate of all your trial accounts. Activation rates will be displayed as a percentage (between 1-100%) based on what percentage of the activation criteria a user/account has met at any given time.
Step 4: Connect Sherlock with your other tools
By connecting Sherlock with other tools like Intercom, Salesforce, Hubspot, and others, you can get these insights to your sales team where they can take action.
You will send Engagement scores and Activation rates for all your accounts and users to these other tools. Your users and accounts will also be tagged with any Sherlock segments into which they fall.
When your sales team is working a list of leads, they need to know when there’s an important status change in “real-time.” They need to be able to act quickly on any important activity — like a change in Activation status. Make sure you set up Sherlock Alerts so your team knows when an account reaches a certain level of Activation.
Stop reading and start building — your PQLs are waiting
At this point, you should have everything you need to build a PQL process that will help your sales team find and convert the best leads. You have all the essential data points on account and user engagement, Activation, and adoption. And you have ways to give your sales team easy access to this data.
Now all you have to do is build the internal process around this data. It’s an obvious fact: this will vary based on your existing team and process, but one thing is sure – you can’t wait any longer on this. If, at this point, you don’t have a PQL process in place – or you have a very poor one – you’re already losing the game of SaaS. Your competitors are already implementing PQL processes and making their sales teams more efficient. Join them, won’t you?
We’re excited to release some really important additions to the Sherlock account and user detail pages as well as — drumroll, please — a shiny new Sherlock widget in the Intercom Inbox.
Sherlock and Intercom Inbox
Easier than ever to operationalize your Product Engagement data
When Intercom recently opened up the ability for apps to be integrated into their Inbox product (their main customer chat product), we knew that this was the perfect place for Sherlock.
It’s our overarching goal to help every SaaS business operationalize their Product Engagement data. This means having essential Sherlock data available “at the fingertips” of the teams that need it — when they need it. The Intercom Inbox fits this description to a tee. This is where SaaS companies that use Intercom hang out. This is where CS (and sales) teams spend their days interfacing with their customers. This is why it’s the perfect place to have Sherlock data readily available.
Install the Sherlock widget in your Intercom Inbox and you’ll get access to every user’s key Sherlock metrics. That’s Engagement Score, Adoption rate, Activation rate, Frequency, and the Segments in which he or she falls.
You can also expand on this user data to see the Account data associated with that user.
Sherlock data in Intercom Inbox will give your customer-facing teams all the essential information they need when interacting with your users.
Setting up Sherlock in the Intercom Inbox is simple – see this post for more info.
Track the Frequency of user and account engagement
With this release, we’ve also added a new metric for every user and account — Frequency.
Frequency adds another dimension to your engagement insights by answering the question How often does a user/account use my product?
We define frequency as the number of days a user or account has triggered any of your scored events during your “engagement period” (the period defined when you create your engagement score).
For example, if you have a 7-day engagement score and a user has triggered a scored event on five of the last seven days, that user would have a Frequency of five.
The same applies to your accounts, except with accounts, we look to see the number of days that any user from that account has triggered any of your scored events.
You can find Frequency on the user and account detail pages, where you can track it over time to see if it’s getting better or worse. You’ll also see it delivered to your Connections (including the Intercom Inbox!) — and stay tuned to see this metric appear in filters.
Enhanced User and Account Detail pages
Notice that we’ve also enriched your user and account detail pages with more metrics and more over time views.
We’ve added new tabs on each detail page that allows you to see key Sherlock metrics over time:
For users, we have added Adoption and Frequency over time. For accounts we have added those, plus Active Users.
At Sherlock, we have never believed in static metrics. Sure, static metrics tell a story, but it’s not a whole story. Without understanding the “change” in a metric, you can’t understand if things are getting better or worse. You can’t get an entire picture. You can’t take appropriate action.
Days Active breakdown
Finally, on your Account Detail pages, you will see a new option for Days Active below the main charts:
This tab offers you the ability to drill down on specific days to see how many — and which users — were active on specific dates. A brilliant way to quickly understand when certain users use your product.
We hope you enjoy these latest additions to Sherlock!
When we set out to build Sherlock, our goal was to help SaaS businesses of all sizes operationalize their product engagement data. After running many SaaS businesses ourselves, we knew how essential this data was to all our customer-facing teams — yet how hard it was to for them to access and use it. We knew that, at the very least:
Sales needs to know which trials are actually using the product and when users become activated;
Customer success needs to know when key accounts are in danger — or ready to expand;
Product needs to know if key features are being adopted;
Marketing needs to know which customers were most successful so they can go get more
We created Sherlock to help package this data in a way that all of these teams could easily benefit.
But we also realized that to make this data truly actionable, teams needed to have it in the places they lived on a regular basis. This is why we opened up connections to bring this data to Segment, Intercom, Salesforce, and more.
But still, that wasn’t enough. Not only do these teams need the data and need it in their tools of choice – they need it fast. This is the job of our latest release, Sherlock Alerts. With Alerts, teams can ship their essential product engagement data from to Sherlock when they need it, where they want it — in Slack.
With this release, Sherlock has taken another big step in helping SaaS teams operationalize product engagement.
What Are Sherlock Alerts?
Quite simply, they are the easiest way to keep your team updated on how your users and accounts are engaging with your product. With Alerts, you can design notifications for any engagement situation. If there’s something you want to know about how your users are engaging (or not engaging) — there’s an Alert for that.
So What Can I Be Alerted About?
Good question! Here’s just a few things:
There’s been a change in a user or account’s Engagement Score
There’s nothing more fundamental to Sherlock than the Product Engagement Score. It’s a one-number overview of how engaged your accounts are with your product. And now you can get alerted whenever there’s an increase or decrease in an account’s score. Stay abreast of churn threats or — even better — expansion opportunities!
Anew account is created or new user is added to an existing account
Ahhh…is there anything more exciting than seeing new users being added to your product. One of the purest shots of dopamine.
But even more important than the self-satisfaction these alerts bring, is how they can keep your sales and CS team on top of these new entrants. Knowing when new accounts are created can help your sales team get a jump on the competition. Knowing when new users are added to existing accounts can insure that your CS team is delivering a spectacular initial experience to these important users.
A trial lead has become activated – PQL alerts
Ok, let’s get real. The vast majority of today’s SaaS offerings have some kind of free trial or freemium offering. It very difficult to compete without it. Try-before-you-buy has become the norm in today’s software universe. This means your sales team is constantly selling to prospects who have already started to use your product.
This means your salespeople need to know how far an account has progressed during a trial period. They need know the activation rates for every trial account. And they need to know once an account passes a certain threshold of Activation because this is an essential signal for conversion.
This alert is foundational for any effective PQL process. A bit of a game changer here.
Someone’s entered a segment
User and Account segmentation is one of the most important features in Sherlock because they allow you to organize and track the important slices of your customer base. In many cases, knowing when any user or account enters any of these segments is important. With Sherlock Alerts, you can.
Bonus! Create Your Own Alert
At the end of the day, your product is unique. Instead of relying on a “one-size-fits-all” approach to alerts, we wanted to ensure maximum flexibility in this feature. We wanted our users to be able to create Alerts based on any engagement scenario – and that’s what we’ve done with our custom alerts.
Don’t just measure Product Engagement — operationalize it
Our goal at Sherlock is to help every SaaS business (that’s you!) improve how they execute and compete. Knowing how users and accounts are using your product is essential information for high-performing sales, CS, and product teams. Many of their day-to-day decisions are based on this information. If they are spending their time fishing for it, that is time they are not selling, supporting, or building.
Getting this data into the hands of your people in a way they can use it, in the place they want it, at the time they need it is what Sherlock is all about. This latest release is a huge step in this direction.
If your SaaS product is like many with a free trial offering, then odds are, your customer journey probably looks something like this:
Arguably the most important phase in this journey (and the one that causes us all the most agita) is the “Activation” phase. You know this phase. It’s the one that keeps you up a night. It’s the one that carries both euphoric satisfaction (Yes…a new customer!) and crushing disappointment (Why aren’t they using the product? Why don’t they love us?!) During this phase, your goal is to ensure that the accounts testing your product get to a point of “first value.” The fact is, without getting to this point, there is no way for them to assess whether or not your product will be valuable to their business.
If there is no “first value”, there is no value, period. There is no way to convert a trial user to a paid user unless they first become “activated” within your product. This is why to the ability to track this phase of your customer journey is oh-so important—it’s essential for your entire operation to be able to tell both how many and which accounts reach this point.
Defining activated accounts
Simply put, an “activated account” is an account that has performed a series of actions which get them to the point of first value. This is different for every product. For a project management application, the point of first value might be:
• Account created • Invited 2+ team members • Created project • Uploaded 2+ files • Created 3+ calendar events • Created 1+ tasks • Completed 1+ tasks
For this product, accounts that do all of these things would be considered activated during their trial. It is clear that these accounts have used the product’s core functionality and should, at this point, be able to properly assess its value.
The specific events that determine an account’s activation are unique to every product. Activation for your product is going to be very different than activation for another product, even if they are very similar in nature.
As you can see, defining and tracking account activation is all about product engagement. Activation is defined by specific actions and engagement with your product. Given that Sherlock is all about product engagement, this is right in our wheelhouse.
Tracking activation in Sherlock
With Sherlock you can now very easily track the activation progress for your users and accounts. By setting up Activation tracking in Sherlock, you will be able to identify those accounts which have met your criteria and acheived “Activation”, those which haven’t, and every account in-between.
Setting up your Sherlock account to track engagement is actually very easy. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Define Activation with activation criteria
Simply click on the “Account activation” link on your Account overview page and you can set the criteria for your activation. You can define this activation using specific events that an account should take, a series of account traits, or a combination of both.
Step 2: …….
Oh, right. There is no step 2. You’re done.
At this point, Sherlock will take your activation criteria and immediately calculate the Activation Rate for all your accounts. What is an Activation Rate, you ask? It’s elementary:
Once you set up your Sherlock account to track activation, you will see a new metric everywhere you navigate in Sherlock as well as in your various Destinations. We call it Activation Rate.
The Activation Rate describes an account’s progress toward Activation. It is always displayed as a percentage. For example, if your activation criteria has 4 steps and an account has met 3 of them, then its Activation Rate will be 75%. An account with an Activation Rate of 100% is considered “Activated”.
This is a metric with which you will become very familiar once you set it up in Sherlock. It will help define many of your internal processes – from sales to CS to product development.
Where to find Activation Rate in Sherlock (and beyond)
Activation Rate is a key metric that you can find in various places in Sherlock.
First of all, you will find it on every account detail page:
As well as on the Account overview page:
You will also have default segments for Activated accounts that will allow you to see those accounts with Activation rates = 100%. At the same time, you will have the ability to create your own segments based on Activation Rate.
Finally, you will also be able to access Activation Rates in any of the tools to which you are sending Sherlock data. Here are three important places that you can connect to from Segment:
SLACK By connecting Sherlock to your team’s Slack account, you will receive a daily update letting you know if any new accounts have entered any segments you’ve created, including your new Activated Accounts segment. This will alert your team to any newly-activated accounts.
INTERCOM If you do most of your account management work in Intercom, then syncing your Sherlock account with Intercom is a great way to manage this activation phase. With this integration, you will see Sherlock account segments populate to Companies in Intercom.
Having this data readily available in Intercom will enable your CS team to always know which accounts are activated (and which aren’t) while performing their day-to-day work. You can also use this attribute to trigger messaging from Intercom, as shown below.
SALESFORCE If you have a sales team working your trial accounts, then knowing when a trial becomes activated is essential for them. They need to be able to prioritize their leads on a daily basis. Knowing whether or not an account is activated helps inform when and how to engage with that account in a sales situation. It’s essential knowledge for a scaling sales team.
By connecting Sherlock to Salesforce, you will be able to import your account segments into Salesforce account records. From there, your sales team can create reports to show which accounts are actually activated and ready for that all-important follow-up call
Tracking trial account activation is essential for all SaaS products
Thought I’d end by stating the obvious.
The reality is, accounts that are trialing your product are at the most fragile, most vulnerable point in their lifecycle. At this stage, they are like newborn infants. The world (that is, the world of your product) is huge, unknown…scary, even. They need support, they need nurturing, and they need attention. How you monitor and act during this period will determine whether your new account becomes a strong, happy, successful adult, or…well, not. By tracking the health of your accounts closely with Sherlock, you will put yourself in a much better position to see to their proper development. Happy parenting, SaaStrs!
Winter is coming, so the Sherlock team is generating its own heat by pushing features at a blistering rate! We continue to inch toward our goal of making Sherlock an absolutely indispensable part of every SaaS stack.
To that end, we have a few nice releases this week:
Intercom company integration
This was one of our most requested features and we’re excited to be able to release it. Thanks to our users for continuing to push us on this. Also, a special thanks to the Intercom team for working with us on this one. This wasn’t as straightforward as we expected it to be and we appreciate their team being flexible.
You can add these segments and scores to your Intercom ‘Company’ views by selecting them in the attribution selection box:
That will allow you to always see these scores and segments in your Company views:
Not only will this allow your team to get amazing context on each one of your accounts while working in Intercom, but will also allow you to use Sherlock scores and segments to target users in your messaging. For example:
Email users who belong to an account with an engagement score above 50
Email all users on an account who are in the “New trial, not activated” segment
Email congratulations email to all users on a newly “Paid account” segment
Show pop-up to all users on an account that hasn’t entered “Used feature X” segment
You can learn more about using the Intercom integration here.
Additional account segment filters – number of users
We also had many requests for the ability to segment accounts based on the number of totalor active users on the account. So, we added that to our filter options:
With this, you can create segments of accounts that have a lot of users, or very few users. Target accounts with only one user with a message to add more. Or create a segment of accounts with more than one user – but only one active user – as a precaution. Those are risky accounts!
See all-time activity for users and accounts
Sometimes, it’s very important to see a user or account’s activity over their entire lifetime – but very often hard to find. Sherlock has now made that very easy.
On any user or account detail page, you can now toggle the date of the Activity Breakdown to ‘Ever’ – allowing you to see what events have been triggered by that user/account over all-time (at least since you have been using Sherlock). No longer do you have to wonder – “Did this account ever do XYZ?” Just toggle and discover!
Creating your engagement score is the first step in your Sherlock journey because everything in Sherlock is dependent on the creation of a scoring model.
The beauty of Sherlock is you’re in control (it’s your product after all – you know it best!), but what is the best way to go about creating this model in order to ensure the best results?
This article will outline a few tips and best practices based on some frequently asked questions.
How many events should I have in my engagement scoring model?
You are likely tracking dozens of events in your product, but generally speaking, there are probably only 10-20 that really matter to assessing engagement. We have seen successful scoring models with as little as 5-7 events and some with as many as 20+. That said, 10-20 is a good rule of thumb.
Do be aware that too few events is problematic for creating a good scoring model. If you only use 1, 2, or 3 events, there will likely not be enough diversity in the usage to create a wide enough range to create a meaningful ranking of users/accounts.
How should I weigh each event?
A properly configured engagement score should expose and elevate your “power users.” This means your “power user” features should be given the highest weight (7-10) in your model. These are the features that are not very frequently used, but used by your most advanced and experienced users.
Your most common events – those triggered by every (or the majority) of your users – such as login – should be given the lowest weight (1-3) – or not weighted at all.
Features that fit in the middle – what you might consider your “core” features – should be given medium weights (4-6).
Is there any way I can tell if there I’ve missed any important events that should be added to my scoring model?
One of the most unique features of Sherlock’s Activity tab is the ability to identify the events that are driving the most engagement. A few days after creating your first score, you should check this tab – toggle to the “unscored events” and look for engaging events that you might want to add to your scoring profile.
How rigid is this score? Do I only have one shot to make it correctly or can I edit it later without affecting the results?
It is very easy to update and iterate on your Sherlock score. In fact, during your first few days with Sherlock, you will likely be iterating on your score quite a bit. When you change or update your scores in Sherlock, Sherlock quickly refreshes the calculations that drive all your reporting data. You don’t have to worry about your changes destroying your data in any way.
You shouldn’t worry too much about creating multiple scoring profiles in your first few days with Sherlock, but it is something to keep in mind. Multiple scoring profiles come in very handy when you have different groups of users that use your product differently.
Remember, no one knows your product as well as you do. Because of this, creating your scoring model should be very intuitive. In general, you should trust your instincts here.
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