How Netlify uses Calixa to find Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)
"Calixa cuts down our time from insight to action. There is a huge efficiency and conversion gain in our engagement with PQAs that Calixa has identified."
Netlify is a cloud computing company that offers hosting and serverless backend services for web applications and static websites. They currently have millions of developers using their product and see tens of thousands of weekly signups.
I sat down with Devin Oliver, Director of Sales Development at Netlify. Devin's SDRs are tasked with delivering a healthy pipeline of Product Qualified Accounts for the enterprise team.
In addition to his responsibilities leading the Sales Development team, Devin also manages Sales Ops and has been instrumental in building out processes that have allowed Netlify to scale in true PLG fashion. These processes have enabled sales and account management to focus their time and energy on the right PQAs which has allowed for highly efficient company growth.
We are presented with a unique opportunity to engage with a ton of developers, but also layer on a fun, strategic sales motion that is both bottoms-up, engaging with developers who are actively using the tool, as well as top-down, focussing on large strategic logos that will have major long term impacts on the business.
Another key focus of Devin's is to develop and grow the SDRs into high-performing sales professionals. A big part of this is not just teaching them traditional sales fundamentals, but ensuring they stay up to speed on modern approaches like using product data to generate outsized results.
Mo' data mo' problems
Netlify was faced with a set of challenges likely familiar to many high-growth SaaS businesses. Devin needed to figure out how they should define and measure the ideal touch points in the user journey that would indicate a Product Qualified Account.
With tens of thousands of weekly signups, not all are raising their hand to talk to sales.
Luckily, Netlify was in a better position than most, in that they had a well resourced data team who was able to help by running some targeted experiments involving identifying key usage metrics, defining what a growing account looks like, testing hypotheses against real accounts, building out models, then rinsing and repeating.
However, despite having a helpful team, the back and forth required to support this laborious process quickly became painful.
The length of the process varied based on the data team's bandwidth, but was often a few weeks. Because they [the data team] are operating on a sprint cycle we would have to make a case then wait and see if our request was going to be included in the next sprint, before the work could even take place.
The process also grew in complexity as the company scaled.
It got to the point where you had to know SQL to surface usage metrics that we wanted to track.
In order to keep up with increasing pipeline demands, the SDR team needed to move faster.
Getting the data needed to prioritize PQAs wasn't the only challenge the SDR team faced when trying to prioritize PQAs. Their standard workflow involved a convoluted mess of tabs, apps and browsers all required to perform routine outreach.
- Viewing an account in their internal system and spoofing the customer required different browsers
- Product usage and CRM data had to be referenced in spreadsheets that were often populated with stale data
- Duplicate manual work was the norm, as info that had already been updated in a spreadsheet would also have to be copied to Salesforce
Setting Up Calixa
Generally new tools mean new integrations, and getting in a queue for engineering resources. Netlify's experience with Calixa proved quite different:
Calixa's Census integration allowed the data team to link our warehouse using their preferred tool. We also added Hubspot and Salesforce to bring in the necessary CRM properties. It was super easy. Not only was the Calixa team responsible for providing guidance on how the data should be sent, but they were also quick to provide solutions to asks that were specific to our business.
The PQA-ha Moment
In Devin's words, Calixa opened some big doors for the SDR team:
- We now have a unified view of the customer that includes product metrics, custom objects, CRM data, and other data from the warehouse.
- The team can easily surface PQAs by saving segments that are sorted by the metrics most indicative of buyer behavior.
- SDRs have full customer context which makes it easier to deliver more compelling 1:1 outreach or kick off specific playbooks.
- Interaction with the data team has been streamlined. Getting a new metric from our data warehouse requires a few clicks in Census rather than several weeks of queries and experimentation.
- Calixa's freeform tags make it easy for each of the SDRs to adapt the tool to their preferred workflow.
- We can spoof a customer account in a few clicks instead of many clicks and many different tools
The Impact of Calixa
In a high volume environment like Netlify's, saving time leads to more outreach which means more pipeline generated
Calixa cuts down our time from insight to action. There is a huge efficiency and conversion gain in our engagement with PQAs that Calixa has identified.
Reducing the risk of "double touching" or email fatigue also allows the SDR team to maximize their impact in a PLG friendly way.
When the core of PLG is let the product speak for itself, you want to make sure human touch-points are contextually relevant to their product experience. A generic marketing message is much more likely to hit the email archive folder.
Finally, Devin shared some advice for other folks who are facing similar challenges:
It's better to start sooner than later. The complexity of what you want to track increases over time. The later you start, the longer before you have the 'a-ha moment'. It's essential to surface as much information you can so that you can understand your whole customer lifecycle. Having a good idea of what your compelling metrics are will give your team a formula for targeting the right PQAs