Product Qualified Lead Model - The Review

One of the big corporate strategy things I worked on was developing and putting into production a PQL model. It was essentially a propensity to buy model that analyzed usage patterns on the RapidMiner software platform and bucketed new downloaders into those that were likely to buy or not buy. It was incredibly successful and helped the sales team focus on thier leads better.

My former colleague Tom shares his thoughts on it since it’s been in production for over a year now. Here are my interesting tid bits.

  • The MQL forced the alignment CEOs were looking for, requiring sales and marketing to agree on the traits and actions that described a good lead.

  • The MQL and the associated sales and marketing processes around it simply didn’t reflect the modern reality of the empowered buyer. And because marketing teams were goaled on hitting an MQL target, we figured out how to game the system. Most lead scoring models overweight activity, so send enough nurturing emails or run enough webinars and you’ll MQL everyone.

  • We define a PQL as someone who becomes a user of our flagship RapidMiner Studio product by downloading, confirming their free account, and using it at least once.

  • The PQL shift at RapidMiner immediately aligned the entire company with product at the core. I get this sounds obvious, but for most companies the sales and marketing tail still wags the product dog

  • By focusing only on PQLs, the quality of our sales conversations improved. Our target buyer is most often a data scientist — not exactly the easiest persona to qualify. So we put our sales team through extensive product training, supplemented by sales engineers and other internal data science resources.

  • The key learning for us was that our inside sales team needed to be able to offer something of significant value the user couldn’t get elsewhere — help, with a personal touch.

  • Through a little bit of automation and and tools, we’ve been able to scale helpfulness to thousands of users with just a couple of dedicated resources (shoutout to RapidMiner Community leader Thomas Ott and Yasmine, our Northeastern co-op who runs Drift).

  • For example, instead of hiring a content marketer we reallocated budget to the product team to hire a documentation writer. Instead of creating lightweight infographics and eBooks, we create product tutorials and educational content.

  • Lastly, the key the success in a PQL model is that the user has to be able to clearly see the value in moving from free to paid versions. As anyone who works in open source will tell you, this is really hard to get right.

  • Twelve months into our PQL journey, we’ve seen some really great results. We doubled monthly active users even though we spend almost nothing on user acquisiton. We’ve lowered CAC, and increased LTV.

  • Build great products, help people use them.

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