How Grain went from pre-revenue to a high-growth product-led sales motion
In this customer spotlight, we interview Max Alway-Townsend, GTM Leader at Grain, to learn about the steps that Grain took to grow from a pre-revenue beta to a high-growth product-led sales engine.
Grain is a prime example of PLG. They offer an accessible product that helps record, transcribe, and share highlights of Zoom video calls. They are competing with other vendors and the native functionality of Zoom, so it has to be dead simple to use with clear value.
Luckily for Grain (and for us!), they nailed this part of the equation. In fact, I recorded this interview with Max Alway-Townsend, the GTM leader at Grain, on Grain. We use Grain at Endgame on a daily basis to keep track of and share learnings from our Zoom universe as a remote-first company, and we couldn’t be happier.
"I joined Grain pre-revenue and pre-product. Right now my focus is on figuring out what sales looks like at Grain and building the product-led sales playbooks to help drive revenue"
How Grain got started
Grain was product-led from the start, investing heavily in product and offering a free beta for the first year. They achieved product-market fit and developed a sizable bottom-up funnel. For Max and the sales team, monetization started by converting beta users. In May of last year, Grain introduced self-serve and paid options to give users easy ways to buy. Now, Grain is facing the next phase of growth with a single priority for 2022: scaling revenue.
The tipping point for product-led sales
Grain’s growth strategy is built around three sales motions: self-serve, sales-assist, and high-touch sales.
They saw incredible growth in their self-serve motion, but when it came to winning their largest and best customers, sales and sales assist became essential.
With an enormous user base, Max and his team faced a huge challenge:
Who should sales talk to first?
Grain has 10s of thousands of self-serve users, and it’s a huge feat to manually qualify each one. Max responded with a manually intensive, data-driven approach to identify which users to focus on.
“I was creating manual dashboards in Mode, writing SQL, and spending hours running reports everyday to get the info I needed. But that only worked for me.”
How Grain approached product-led sales
Product-led sales started for Grain by looking at their customer base through the lens of user type, product usage and company fit. They used a PQL (product qualified lead) methodology, putting higher priority on users with strong usage signals combined with the right titles, revenue, and company size. Because Grain is a horizontal product, they broke out PQLs by user persona; with product managers, UX researchers, and sales leaders becoming the bread and butter.
Each persona has different usage and buying patterns. Sales has lower usage during evaluation, but quickly scales up and invites new users when ready to buy. Alternatively, Product and UX are heavy users during evaluation and prefer to self-serve. For Grain, there wasn’t a single path to revenue so they built their playbooks to fit customer preferences.
Grain also tracks product usage data that provides insight into perceived value, account health, adoption, and proliferation. To do that, their GTM team looks at the following:
Total # of recordings
WoW usage changes
# of highlights
# of invited and adopting users
Total # of recordings is the primary metric for customer value. WoW (week over week) usage changes indicate account health and when Grain is top of mind. The total # of highlights is a double-click feature that requires a user to interact with the UI. And total # of invited and adopting users shows account penetration and can help identify the champion. Each of these product signals is used to inform messaging and timing of outreach to the customer.
“What I love about Endgame is that it has become exponentially more valuable each month. As we invest more time into the tool, incorporate more data, and fine tune the signals, Endgame pays for itself.”
How Endgame fits in
Endgame is the operating system for Grain’s product-led sales motion. It’s where their GTM team configures product signals and where sales tracks the progress of users through product milestones and identifies sales-ready accounts.
Because Endgame is highly customizable, the Grain team can test hypotheses and deploy new sales motions. Grain has operationalized their product-led sales playbook on Endgame, leveraging Segments, Signals, and Milestones to provide fine-tuned views for their sales reps, making every moment of their day more effective.
“Now everyone has access and we can easily onboard new reps in Endgame, tweak their signals, and get them up to speed quickly.”
The next phase of product-led sales at Grain is all about sales effectiveness. This means benchmarking the performance, revenue, and perceived value of customers who were touched by sales vs the general cohort. Additionally, Grain is looking at improving MoM metrics like number of meetings, opportunities, revenue, and activations in product.
So far Grain has seen a strong delta in conversion, revenue and perceived value between accounts where sales has played a role vs ones that have bought on their own, proving that product-led sales is a valuable piece of their growth strategy.
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