Why are Product Qualified Leads so Valuable to SaaS Success?

Written by Moritz Dausinger, CEO of Refiner

Let’s not beat around the bush, shall we? Attracting new leads isn’t that hard, actually. There are plenty of marketing strategies to help with that. 

The real challenge is figuring out which of those people you could convert into paying customers, isn’t it? 

I mean, how can you tell who, out of all the people who’ve signed up for your demo is going to use the product, and then, pull out their credit card to pay for using it more?

Well, enter Product Qualified Leads (PQL). 

PQL is a relatively new term in SaaS and business growth glossaries, although it becomes the talk of the day. SaaStock called it the no. 1 SaaS trend right now, for example, and many brands jump on the PQL wagon. 

So, if you wonder what Product Qualified Leads are and why are they so valuable for your SaaS success, keep on reading. 

From MQL and SQL to PQL: The Evolution of SaaS Lead Qualification

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) models can help your marketing and sales teams find out the best ways to sell more.

Unfortunately, they don’t help you understand the value of your product and how likely your leads are to become paying customers.

Product Qualified Leads (PQL), on the other hand, can reveal exactly just that. 

Luckily.

What is a PQL?

In the simplest terms, a product qualified lead is the lead that has experienced the value of your SaaS product usually through a free trial or freemium model. 

A PQL would have already tried your SaaS product in some way, knows what it does and how it can help them. As a result, they are more likely to pay for using it.
And it’s the product usage and the insights that serve as the indicators of the likelihood of conversion.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to drop MQLs and SQLs models if you’ve been using them in your SaaS sales. You can still combine MQL and PQL to improve your SaaS success.

How to identify Product Qualified Leads 

Since product qualified leads are people who have experienced your product’s value, then, identifying them should be a breeze, right? 

Well, sort of. 

If a lead tries out your product for a period of time and uses it extensively, then, you probably could consider them a PQL. 

Unfortunately, lead qualification isn’t always that easy. 

First of all, there’s no general consensus on the criteria to define a PQL.

For example, one SaaS business would see a user who sent 100 messages through the app as a PQL. Another would only consider users scheduling five social media posts a day meeting that criteria. It could be something else for a third one and so on.

It’s even worse for a startup because those companies lack data to put a real lead qualification process in place. 

However, such qualification is actually critical as it can help you spend more time on the prospects that have higher chances to convert. 

What to do? 

Well, you can go by gut feeling. Look at each lead in turn and determine whether they present a business opportunity. Or you could reach out to each lead one by one. 

Will it work? Maybe but there’s no guarantee. 

With a PQL model, however, you can be almost sure that you’re processing the right leads. 

There’s just one thing you need to for that to happen – Develop PQL metrics to guide your qualification.

Note: If you’re currently stuck at this stage, you can read more about the PQL model in The Ultimate Guide to PQLs and learn everything about PQL metrics.

Why are PQLs important for your SaaS business? 

Most SaaS customers, well, mayve excluding the enterprise ones, prefer trying a product before they commit to it fully. It’s the mentality of ‘trying before you buy’ that makes the PQL model so important.

The biggest benefit of identifying PQLs is the ability to identify prospect sales opportunities. Sales reps love the fact that they can focus on the biggest opportunities to reach them at the most appropriate time.

They don’t necessarily need to spend too much time on guiding the leads through the funnel since they have already somehow tried the product.

It makes their job easier and the teams happier.

This is also making the PQL model more scalable as it doesn’t always require too much of a ‘human touch’ to close a deal.

There are more benefits to consider when adding the PQL model to your strategy:

Increase free to paid conversion rates

A Product Qualified Lead is showing buying intent by being willing to try out your product. This means that there are more chances to improve your conversion rate.

The buying intent is usually based on the usage, the interest in the product and whether each lead fits in your set PQL criteria.

The best way to increase your free to paid conversion rates is to message the right people at the right time. 

That’s why sales reps love PQL as it’s easier for them to know when someone is ready to talk to them.

Make the sales faster and more cost-effective 

The good thing with PQLs is that the leads tend to come from free trials or freemium services. Thus, the sale can be faster while it doesn’t necessarily involve too much of a sales involvement.

For example, you can look at your product insights and your most-used product features to help your leads turn into customers without spending too much time on demos and a series of calls.

You can even use the product data to find the ideal engagement tactics that will make the conversion easier.

Think of the self-service users and how they can turn into customers in a cost-effective way. Ideally, you want to discover the right actions that will help you scale your sales.

Improve your product roadmap

A great thing about PQLs is that they can also help you improve your product experience. Product and sales teams can come together to help each other and improve future product experience.

You know that PQLs are already having some sort of interaction with your product, which helps you discover the features and actions that facilitate the conversion.

It was never easier to bring different departments together to align everyone’s goals.

Focus on real engagement

It’s not always easy to explain to other departments the success of increasing the number of MQLs. The number of whitepaper downloads is not always translating into business growth.

That’s a problem that the PQL model is not facing. The KPIs are clearer and the conversion easier. 

The objectives are focusing on engagement and product usage rather than views and downloads. Thus, even the most cautious stakeholders can understand the value of a free user turning into a paid customer.

Talking about product engagement can help everyone in your team support your product and get everyone to work together to meet your business objectives.

Conclusion

Product Qualified Leads can help you improve your conversion rate. Instead of chasing MQLs, look at your product data and explore the criteria that define your ideal PQL.

Find the leads that qualify as PQLs, make them into your priority in terms of engagement and add value to their initial experience.

After all, when someone is identified as a PQL, it means that there is enough interest to at least try the product. This is already one (big) step ahead of MQLs.

The happier you keep the PQLs, the bigger the chances of turning them into long-term customers.

And that’s a win-win situation for all the teams.