Advice for Sales

4 ways to accelerate your PLS motion with free tools

How Clearbit's free tools provide value to thousands of companies and drive the right sales conversations.

Kevin Tate

November 22, 2022
·
 min read

It never quite hit me how nuanced Product-Led Growth (PLG) strategies were until I joined Clearbit nearly two years ago. Not only is the PLG motion a key part of Clearbit’s GTM strategy, but it’s integral to our customers’ as well—many of which have hundreds of thousands of people using their PLG offerings. 

While separating signals from noise looks different for every company and in every market, all of us in PLG share the same challenge: how to use free tools to accelerate and bring efficiency to your sales motion. Here are four strategies we use at Clearbit to speed up our Product-Led Sales cycles.

Making standalone value our PLG focal point 

Figuring out how much of your product to give away can feel like a risky roll of the dice. On one hand, you want folks to truly experience the value your product offers. On the other hand, you still want to entice them into paying for top-tier features or other paid offerings. What does striking the right balance of value look like? Equally important, how do you incorporate this into your overarching PLG strategy? 

At Clearbit, we approach this in two ways:

Put standalone value at the core of the PLG motion

First, we center our PLG motion around our free tools, such as our Total Addressable Market (TAM) Calculator and Weekly Visitor Report. While some tools are stickier than others, none of them are showcases—aka they’re not demos in disguise. Each one delivers standalone value. Case in point: thousands of companies use our Weekly Visitor Report to get visibility into de-anonymized website visitors, which is emailed as a dashboard and can be downloaded as a CSV for free. 

Build an experience that drives the right sales conversation

Second, we build our PLG experiences around where we want sales conversations to start. Here, we don’t want to simply give away free data, which is the lowest common denominator experience we could offer. We want folks to experience the value of using their data to truly inform and impact their go-to-market, as well as give them a taste of everything else we can do for them. For example, in addition to helping customers better use their data, we also demonstrate how Clearbit can activate data across their funnel. Doing this puts our sales team in a better spot when it comes to chatting with people interested in those next steps.

Casting Sales in the role of a solutions consultant

In PLS motions, I generally see Sales best-cast in that of a solutions consultant role. The relationship factor is still important, of course, but the very nature of PLG emphasizes product and technical aptitude. By definition, PLS salespeople are talking to buyers who’ve self-selected the product based on the ability to download and play around with it themselves. When these folks put 30 minutes on the calendar to talk with an actual human, they expect the person on the other side to show up with real technical knowledge, context about their company, and actual solutions to their problems. 

When sales folks have usage insights before going into these conversations, it also opens up much richer conversations. For example, not only does a customer using our Weekly Visitor Report already have a solid idea of the insights we can offer them, but our sales team can see exactly how they’re using the tool and the features they use the most. This intel positions Sales to expertly guide the conversation, recommending best practices and different features to help them unlock even more value from the product. 

Going beyond basic ICP filters with tech tags

It can be tempting to generalize the concept of the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) into “any target customer”. But your ICP gives you an incredibly valuable lens, especially once you’ve tested hypotheses to hone it into a fine grained understanding of your buyer. One mistake folks often make is not going beyond basic ICP filters, such as number of employees, industry, location, department, and so forth. In my experience, a lot of less-obvious indicators have ended up being far more useful in application. 

For example, we see a lot of value in leveraging intelligence about which technologies a customer is using today. Sure, nearly every company has Salesforce, but knowing something more nuances - such as, they use Stripe for payment processing or Figma for design collaboration is where this information becomes much more valuable. Knowing if someone uses, say, Snowflake, may be incredibly relevant to your Snowflake-related offering, giving you an opportunity to personalize your message or create a specific call to action. 

You can also pick up other contextual learnings, such as signals about their company stage and budget size. How much funding have they taken in? How much has their employee count grown in the last year? These kinds of company momentum indicators can open up some really interesting sales conversations. 

Right company, right time—and with the right message

When it comes to data, mindset matters more than anything. We’ve found the most success by using intent signals to know who to talk to, how to talk to them, and when to talk to them. These are the three areas where data can revolutionize your funnel. When you look at it through this lens, you start to see all the amazing things data can help you do. Not to mention, every decision gets better when you refine your ICP, enhance personalization, or improve timing based on data and intent. 

At some level, B2B marketing effectiveness has always been about leveraging a combination of “right company” & “right time” - and having the insight you need to deliver a message that’s relevant to their business. But what’s changing – thanks in large part to real-time intelligence and integrated martech systems – is the ability to put that combination to work at a very large scale.

And that’s the opportunity ahead for PLG (and PLS) go-to-market strategies. Teams that can use data and systems to power personalized go-to-market motions for tens of thousands of prospects per day – based on precise company fit, buyer intent signal and tailored messaging – are going to have a very real advantage in their market.

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Advice for Sales

4 ways to accelerate your PLS motion with free tools

Kevin Tate
|
Chief Marketing Officer
|
Clearbit

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November 22, 2022
ReadTime

It never quite hit me how nuanced Product-Led Growth (PLG) strategies were until I joined Clearbit nearly two years ago. Not only is the PLG motion a key part of Clearbit’s GTM strategy, but it’s integral to our customers’ as well—many of which have hundreds of thousands of people using their PLG offerings. 

While separating signals from noise looks different for every company and in every market, all of us in PLG share the same challenge: how to use free tools to accelerate and bring efficiency to your sales motion. Here are four strategies we use at Clearbit to speed up our Product-Led Sales cycles.

Making standalone value our PLG focal point 

Figuring out how much of your product to give away can feel like a risky roll of the dice. On one hand, you want folks to truly experience the value your product offers. On the other hand, you still want to entice them into paying for top-tier features or other paid offerings. What does striking the right balance of value look like? Equally important, how do you incorporate this into your overarching PLG strategy? 

At Clearbit, we approach this in two ways:

Put standalone value at the core of the PLG motion

First, we center our PLG motion around our free tools, such as our Total Addressable Market (TAM) Calculator and Weekly Visitor Report. While some tools are stickier than others, none of them are showcases—aka they’re not demos in disguise. Each one delivers standalone value. Case in point: thousands of companies use our Weekly Visitor Report to get visibility into de-anonymized website visitors, which is emailed as a dashboard and can be downloaded as a CSV for free. 

Build an experience that drives the right sales conversation

Second, we build our PLG experiences around where we want sales conversations to start. Here, we don’t want to simply give away free data, which is the lowest common denominator experience we could offer. We want folks to experience the value of using their data to truly inform and impact their go-to-market, as well as give them a taste of everything else we can do for them. For example, in addition to helping customers better use their data, we also demonstrate how Clearbit can activate data across their funnel. Doing this puts our sales team in a better spot when it comes to chatting with people interested in those next steps.

Casting Sales in the role of a solutions consultant

In PLS motions, I generally see Sales best-cast in that of a solutions consultant role. The relationship factor is still important, of course, but the very nature of PLG emphasizes product and technical aptitude. By definition, PLS salespeople are talking to buyers who’ve self-selected the product based on the ability to download and play around with it themselves. When these folks put 30 minutes on the calendar to talk with an actual human, they expect the person on the other side to show up with real technical knowledge, context about their company, and actual solutions to their problems. 

When sales folks have usage insights before going into these conversations, it also opens up much richer conversations. For example, not only does a customer using our Weekly Visitor Report already have a solid idea of the insights we can offer them, but our sales team can see exactly how they’re using the tool and the features they use the most. This intel positions Sales to expertly guide the conversation, recommending best practices and different features to help them unlock even more value from the product. 

Going beyond basic ICP filters with tech tags

It can be tempting to generalize the concept of the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) into “any target customer”. But your ICP gives you an incredibly valuable lens, especially once you’ve tested hypotheses to hone it into a fine grained understanding of your buyer. One mistake folks often make is not going beyond basic ICP filters, such as number of employees, industry, location, department, and so forth. In my experience, a lot of less-obvious indicators have ended up being far more useful in application. 

For example, we see a lot of value in leveraging intelligence about which technologies a customer is using today. Sure, nearly every company has Salesforce, but knowing something more nuances - such as, they use Stripe for payment processing or Figma for design collaboration is where this information becomes much more valuable. Knowing if someone uses, say, Snowflake, may be incredibly relevant to your Snowflake-related offering, giving you an opportunity to personalize your message or create a specific call to action. 

You can also pick up other contextual learnings, such as signals about their company stage and budget size. How much funding have they taken in? How much has their employee count grown in the last year? These kinds of company momentum indicators can open up some really interesting sales conversations. 

Right company, right time—and with the right message

When it comes to data, mindset matters more than anything. We’ve found the most success by using intent signals to know who to talk to, how to talk to them, and when to talk to them. These are the three areas where data can revolutionize your funnel. When you look at it through this lens, you start to see all the amazing things data can help you do. Not to mention, every decision gets better when you refine your ICP, enhance personalization, or improve timing based on data and intent. 

At some level, B2B marketing effectiveness has always been about leveraging a combination of “right company” & “right time” - and having the insight you need to deliver a message that’s relevant to their business. But what’s changing – thanks in large part to real-time intelligence and integrated martech systems – is the ability to put that combination to work at a very large scale.

And that’s the opportunity ahead for PLG (and PLS) go-to-market strategies. Teams that can use data and systems to power personalized go-to-market motions for tens of thousands of prospects per day – based on precise company fit, buyer intent signal and tailored messaging – are going to have a very real advantage in their market.