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Traditional CRMs are broken

Traditional CRMs were built for the old world of pre-sales where prospects first talk to Sales, participate in elaborate demos, and finally sign contracts, all before setting foot in the product.

In this world of selling Top Down, Sales engages with buyers from the C-suite down to understand their needs and their intent to purchase. Reps grind their way to the right contact and establish rapport over a slog of emails, calls, and meetings. CRMs were built to track these sales conversations and deal stages throughout a sales cycle that could take months or longer.

From Top Down to Bottoms Up

While this top down selling will still be relevant for certain industries and customer types, the proliferation of modern SaaS products significantly changes the rules of engagement. Prospects no longer have to get permission from Sales to try the product. They can sign up for a free or trial account and use the product immediately. If they can't then they'll move on to the next competing product that does.

Users that dive into the product straight away will reach the pivotal "aha" moment–the moment they first experience value in the product. It could be the first time you quickly record and send a video (Loom) or you make your phone ring with a few lines of code (Twilio) or you collaborate in real time with a colleague (Miro). The moment is unique to each product.

The real magic happens after experiencing the aha moment. Users feel the value of your product and start making it a part of their life. They introduce their colleagues to it. The number of people using the product from the company rapidly scales up. What was once a small self-serve account has now expanded into a large managed account (read: from $ to $$$$). Selling bottoms up is a strategy that compounds over time.

PLG: Flipping the GTM motion on its head

This frictionless approach to customer acquisition, dubbed Product-Led Growth (PLG), is fundamental to the rapid growth of companies like Slack, Figma, Twilio, and Calendly.

PLG flips the sales process on its head. SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads), where a human talks to and manually qualifies the purchase interest of each lead, have evolved into PQLs (Product Qualified Leads), where the qualification process is simply a function of how they're using the product. In some sense customers self-qualify based on the actions they take. A trial account might invite users or take other actions that mark them as a warm lead.

What would a CRM purpose-built for PLG look like?

A traditional CRM is not built to handle product usage data. This forces PLG customer teams to either operate in darkness, or piece together their own solutions. Product-led companies need a CRM that answers questions like:

  • Who's using the product?
  • What are they doing in the product?
  • How are they progressing towards activation–i.e. the “aha moment”?
  • Are they ready to expand on their own, or do they need a hand?
  • What actions can I take to push the customer along?

Instead of hacking it together or choosing to fly blind, customer teams need a solution that lets them easily find their top sign-ups and take action on them in one product: a PLG CRM.

Introducing Calixa: A CRM for Product-Led Companies

The old guard of CRM tools were built with inflexible data models to service every business from manufacturing to healthcare to financial services. They're on-purpose unopinionated. And even if they wanted to change, it would take a massive effort to reengineer them for this way of selling.

So we set out to build a CRM from scratch that is purpose-built for modern GTM motions. Our CRM is best friends with data of all types whether it's product usage data, data from your warehouse, or even data from 3rd party tools like Zendesk, Stripe, Intercom, Salesforce. We pull it all together effortlessly and let you make sense of what's going on.

With Calixa, you can:

  • Easily identify top sign-ups. Find, activate, and grow your highest potential customers in a sea of self-serve signups. Which trials are signing up and inviting other users? Which accounts performed key actions in the product? Which of these need a nudge to reach that "aha moment"? Leveraging product and customer data, customer-facing teams can prioritize outreach efforts on sign-ups most likely to convert.
  • See the complete customer journey. Bring together all the fragments of customer data into one cohesive view–product usage, emails, support tickets, payments, errors, and more. Armed with a complete picture, teams can spot patterns and know when a human touch has the most impact.
  • Go straight from insight to action. Streamline your workflow by taking action in Calixa. Find a high value customer and perform any action without losing context: kick-off a sequence, create an opportunity, extend a trial, and more. Plus a no-code builder allows teams to create custom actions that tie back into their own system. All from one place.
  • Get alerted to expansion opportunities and more. Create automated alerts that push to email, Slack, or via webhooks based on key customer signals and trends. Alerts can catch openings for upgrade conversations like account usage spikes, or team invites. And flag issues before they snowball like failed charges from VIPs, or multiple errors logged from a new enterprise account.
  • Connect customer data across apps and data warehouses. In a few clicks, unlock all your user and account data that once was siloed to databases and third-party tools. Calixa pulls together data from Stripe, Segment, Zendesk, Salesforce, Hubspot, Sentry, Snowflake, BigQuery, etc. Customer-facing teams can finally work with a fully baked understanding of their customers without engineering help.

Join us in our journey and try Calixa for free, no sales calls required (as you might’ve already guessed). Otherwise we hope you found this guide helpful as you navigate the new world of product-led growth and PLG CRMs.