This is part 2 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 simple 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 more than 7, read on!

Slack and Dropbox are great examples of simple products. With both, a single user (or small number of users on an account) can easily self-serve their way to initial value. Both also have freemium versions, which are more commonly seen with simpler products.

Next, how big is the opportunity?

Even with a simple product, there is some variance in how quickly you’ll want to get your Sales team involved. You need to also consider the size of a Sales opportunity. 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 simple product, you should generally wait for accounts to become (almost) fully Activated before getting manually involved. However, if a large deal starts using the product, you can might want to start the manual intervention phase earlier to increase the chances of a close. In this case, you’d have your Sales (or CS team) start engaging when the account is only 25-50% Activated.

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

As you go through the next section, keep in mind the goal of a Product Qualified Lead process for simple products is to drive as many paid conversions as possible with little to no manual intervention.

Product Qualified Lead process for the Small Opportunity

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

Simple products are designed so that the majority of accounts coming in are small accounts that can self-serve their way to value (and, most likely, even to a point of paid conversion). With a simple product, you can choose to not offer any manual intervention or you can choose to intervene when they approach the point of conversion.

While it’s easy to write off small accounts (you may not even have a dedicated salesperson for them), realize that there is gold in them there hills! Your Sales (and CS) teams should be monitoring this segment on a regular basis and looking for opportunities to take some of these accounts over the finish line.

Any small account that gets to 75% Activation is absolutely worth some light manual intervention.

How to engage these Product Qualified Leads

They don’t really need a value pitch but a slight nudge or reminder could be just the thing that gets them over the finish line.

Product Qualified Lead process for the Mid-Size Opportunity

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

You have a simple product and a mid-size opportunity. Great! The goal is still to have users self-serve their way to success — at least as much as you can.

With that being said, mid-size accounts are more likely to have multiple users (and multiple decision makers) so it’s likely that some manual intervention will be required. More users, more touch points, and more potential decision makers complicate the on-boarding, Activation, and conversion of these accounts.

You should consider these account product qualified and get someone on your team involved at about 60% – 80% Activation.

Product Qualified Lead process for the Large Opportunity

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

The whales! Go get ‘em!

But be careful. It’s typical for Sales teams to see a big, shiny logo and then drop everything to chase it down. Don’t do this! The user that signed up for your product is probably a lower-level employee who was doing some initial investigation. (This is why we call these types of trials “Heartbreakers”)

Don’t let your Product Qualified Lead process falter chasing a heartbreaker

Have some restraint and let these trials self-serve their way forward before reaching out. Your Sales team should allow this account to show sufficient interest before chasing them down. Of course, the size of the potential opportunity means you should product qualify this lead at an earlier stage of Activation (about 25-50%).