When was the last time you received an email and after just looking at it realized that it was a sales pitch and deleted it?
One-size-fits-all email blasting ain’t working anymore. Especially for users of your product who may benefit from a sales assist motion (but don’t know yet).
When selling into existing users of your product, reps need to be smarter and more thoughtful in their reach out. Therefore, the relevancy of a sales email has never been more important.
The good news is that reps at product-led companies in fact have an unfair advantage.
Relationships, grit and negotiation skills used to be what set reps apart. Until product data became a conversation starter.
Using product data can skyrocket reps’ reply rates but even better, uncover unknown revenue. By making their engagement with users hyper-personalized and contextual, reps can move from promotional selling to assisting users to achieve more value from their product.
Simply adding multiple personalization fields to an email can improve reply rates by as much as 142%! Imagine when those personal touches in an email are not just their first name or company name but instead their recent activity with your product.
Let’s jump into how reps can leverage product data to get more replies from outbound to top users. 👇
1. Using a specific feature
When it comes to reaching out to qualified users of your product, it’s all about helping users be more successful. For example, seeing them use a specific functionality over and over is a great opportunity to mention other adjacent features perhaps underutilized or even overlooked.
According to Steven Boone, former RVP of Sales at Twillio, this technique comes down to reps understanding how specific features being used (or lack thereof) represents a potential for your customer or leaves value on the table. And additionally how products or features coupled together can have a notable impact on customer efficiency or even cost.
“What becomes really important, across thousands or millions of users, is being able to develop opinions about how a user should be using your product, where common pitfalls are and when a rep really needs to get engaged, and then how to deliver that message in a valuable way. ”
His take on the email:
2. Implementing “sticky” features like integrations
Connecting integrations into a product as a self-serve user can usually indicate solid buying intent, especially during a free trial period. Reps can use that signal to their advantage and ensure the user succeeds in their integration.
Here’s a real example from Everhour 👇
Sales should consider looking at selling value-based outcomes by first understanding your product's relationship between inputs and outputs. Output is typically a usage-based metric such as bandwidth for a hosting platform or messages/pings for an API-first platform. Inputs are typically the features or actions users take to extract value from your product. It's critical to understand the connection of which features lead to certain outcomes. Depending on your feature-gating pricing model, sales can usually lead with how continued or new feature adoption (on let's say on the Enterprise tier) will drive more value (output) for their end users.
Example: Usage starts to increase for teams who host multiple sites or properties on Netlify. This usage is either at, over, or close to the limit for a particular pricing plan. At a certain point, sales will then communicate the value of faster performance, less downtime, and premium support so that their sites can scale usage even further with essentially no limits.
3. Reaching usage milestone
Sometimes a simple “congrats” is all someone needs to build a rapport with your brand. Reps can leverage product milestones to encourage or support prospects along their product journey.
In some cases, a generic product milestone can be meaningless. The question is: which milestones indicate a fundamental change in how your customer will be using your product going forward?
Reps at Gated, for example, know that receiving your first donation is a meaningful step, and use the opportunity to start a conversation.
Steven gives an example with Salesforce:
You can add user licenses to your own Salesforce account–going from 1 user to 10, to 100, to 110 for example. There probably isn’t a big difference between having 100 licenses and 110 licenses. And having to call a CSM to add licenses every time would be a painful experience for a customer. But maybe there's something different about the 175th license. Not because we should renegotiate the contract or I can save you a few bucks. But maybe because it fundamentally changes as a business how you should use Salesforce. And it’s at that moment that sales or CS need to chime in.
4. Growth in users
Accounts with high user growth who fit your ICP are more often than not ripe for a sales conversation, especially on a free trial or lower-tiered plan. Reps can educate prospects on the benefits of collaboration features for growing teams.
Underneath user growth often hides consolidation plays. Multiple workspaces across a company, but all on different plans.
All a rep has to do is:
- Pull all users that share an email domain
- Check if they’re on different plans
- Find the decision maker
- Reach out with:
*Reps can be guided through this with playbooks.
5. Predicting roadblocks
This brilliant technique is used by sales teams to find valuable customers who might not know that they need help. It consists of using product insights to find similarities between new customers and old customers who ran into roadblocks.
Let’s say your product is a sales automation tool. If you see that a given customer has a high bounce rate on their email, it’s smart to reach out to and educate them about the dangers of domain blacklists. You can then recommend a feature of yours that verifies emails!
Here’s a real example from Unstack 👇
6. A decision maker signed up
There are products where decision-makers are unlikely to be users, even though they’re the ones who buy. If you’re lucky enough to have decision-makers who both buy and use your product, make sure to capitalize.
They might have different expectations when signing up, and will likely not use the same features as their colleagues. Reps can book a meeting by providing a VIP welcome to the product and showcasing case studies relevant to their use case.
Going a bit deeper, Steven flags the importance of combining decision-makers with specific trends in the product. Otherwise, reach outs can feel salesy.
7. Close to paywalls
As you’ve probably experienced yourself, prospects who are close to paywalls are often in the process of considering whether or not your paid offering is for them. Savvy reps recognize that opportunity and don’t let prospects think negatively about an upgrade!
The key with both #7 and #8 is to know when to be reactive vs proactive.
Reactive: The paywall has been hit but nothing is “blocking” them from being successful (i.e: Reaching user limits in Hubspot).
Proactive: The paywall is close to being hit and reaching it would mean harm to the customer (i.e: being close to your Dropbox or Snowflake storage).
OpinionX’s team (example below) knew very well that answers were being blurred out after 50 participants and that could annoy users, so they proactively reached out.
8. Rapid surge in usage
Prospects might not be close to paywalls or have shown specific buying intentions in their product usage, but a spike in usage volume may indicate opportunities.
Expert reps look at trends to predict surges and help customers proactively. Also, knowing when not to engage during a surge.
Steven gives Black Friday as an example.
As a rep, you don’t want to reach out to an eCommerce customer about a surge on Black Friday, since it’s a normal occurrence and you’ll come across as opportunistic if you do. However, reaching out 3 weeks prior to Black Friday to a customer to help them prepare for a surge and avoid pitfalls can lead to valuable conversations both for the rep and the customer.
🔑 Takeaway: Know your customer, and their industry. Look at past product actions to combine both into useful insights that lead to upsell opportunities.
9. (Bonus) Contextual reach outs
This technique isn’t directly applicable to booking meetings, but will drastically improve your chances of doing so after the fact. People are tired of automated messages, bots, AI replacing their work, etc. Using product data to connect with prospects will heavily increase your reply rates going forward.
Here’s a solid example from Hugo that got my attention:
How reps can access product data easily
The simplest and most effective way to get product data in the hands of reps is by using a Product-Led Sales platform like Calixa.
First, sales teams need access to self-serve product insights, and the ability to set criteria for product thresholds mentioned above.
Second, SDRs need to be able to seamlessly visualize which, out of thousands of users or accounts, are qualified for sales engagements.
Third, reps need to be able to understand product usage to efficiently personalize their message using playbooks.
Do you automate emails or send them manually?
Let's turn to Steven Boone again for this:
“What are humans really necessary for regardless of whether or not it's always a perfectly better experience for your customers”
His view is that PLG should be about either (or ideally both):
- Making GTM more efficient
- Improving the customer experience
Regarding automated or personal emails, ask yourself: Would the customer really appreciate a person reaching out at that time? Would it help them? Otherwise, automate it.
Caveat: Avoid spending time on bad leads
Although unrelated to using product data to engage leads, it’s crucial to mention that not all leads are created equal. A common mistake made by reps prospecting into pools of self-serve users is to reach out to anyone with the product behaviours mentioned above.
Layering ICP data on top of product signals is a key part of prioritizing PQLs. Check out our guide on setting up a PQL engine to learn how to implement ICP data filtering, or sign up to Calixa to track PQLs with no coding efforts.
🐅 Happy hunting!