How Dooly executes a product-led sales framework with CEO Kris Hartvigsen

May 28, 2020
Author: Collin Stewart

There’s a magical moment with every product you start using when it becomes a must-have. A fixture. A staple. Life before it was just… more difficult.

That’s a great place to be as a salesperson – your prospects love offering, and are receiving great value from it. Now, the only thing left to do is get them to write a cheque for it and close that deal.

This is the scenario faced by sales teams executing product-led sales – a framework, typically, in which the end user is targeted with a free version of a product, and once they have made it part of their day-to-day and can’t live without it, a salesperson engages the team in a sales cycle in order to get them to start paying for the product. 

“The world has flipped a little bit. Today’s hottest stocks are product-led solutions like Slack or Zoom,” says Kris Hartvigsen, CEO and Founder of Dooly, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

Let’s take Zoom, for instance. If we were on a free version of Zoom, when it hits 40 mins, it shuts off. And if you’re a product led solution like Zoom – that is the moment where someone starts to pay. If I’m a user, that’s when I’m whipping out my credit card because I do not want to get cut off. When you pay, you get into the superpowers of that app.

Dooly’s product-led sales playbook

So… how does Dooly execute a product-led sales framework? 

According to Hartvigsen, it all starts with the user.

“We are a bit different than most companies – we go after the end user, want the end user to fall in love with our product. We want to fulfill the needs of sales or customer success and solve the immediate pain they have in the day,” says Hartvigsen.

“An important element of this kind of selling, and of our product, is that it gives them an endorphin rush that is hard to replace with an enterprise solution like Salesforce or SAP. It can’t be the big, huge CRM or ERP systems. That’s a key to product-led sales – it has to be dead simple and super easy to set up.”

The reason simplicity is key to product-led sales is because simplicity leads to adoption, and adoption is the key to closing deals in this world.

For example, Dooly sells to sales teams. Early on the company’s existence, says Hartvigsen, they realized a single user could find their product and fall in love with it. That’s, obviously, a great thing – finding users is always a positive sign.

But, if Dooly wants to sell their product, and get people away from the free version, their product has to spread throughout an organization. If a whole team or department is using Dooly, then making the case to the buyer – sales manager, VP of sales – becomes much more powerful.

“If it doesn’t proliferate into the organization, then they may not be inclined to pay for it, or their boss to pay for it. The more people that discover it, the better the chance you can close the deal,” says Hartvigsen.

If one person at Nike uses it, big deal. But, if the whole sales org does, then they are more inclined to write a cheque.

(Editor’s note: we have Phill Keene on the podcast a while back to discuss how he uses, and advances, Predictable Revenue methodologies to map complex organizations. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the whole in-depth interview here

Evolving traditional sales

Like sales has been since its inception, product-led sales needs a buyer, or someone to cut the cheque. Without that person, well, you’re probably not going to do much “selling” no matter what product you’re offering or sales framework you subscribe to.

But, product-led sales has, as mentioned above, ushered in the era of the end user. So, instead of having to get to a decision maker in your initial outreach, what you’re doing instead is reaching the end user – in Dooly’s case, a quota-carrying salesperson – first. Only after that, and the subsequent proliferation of their product through the sales team, does a Dooly salesperson then reach out to the decision maker to close a deal.

This is a significant change in sales: as mentioned up top it arms the salesperson with ammunition when meeting with a decision maker, but it also empowers the buyer because they know the power of the tool in question because it has already been adopted by their team.

For anyone that has ever bought a tool for their team, then you know just how powerful this element is because adoption of a new, unproven tool can be…tricky.

“The end user is the adopter of the tech. Rather than wait to see if they adopt after they paid, there is a preponderance of choice that will let you know if adoption is there before you pay. So, the end user has become extremely important,” says Hartvigsen.

“They are the proponent and discoverer of new solutions and they are tired of enterprise solutions.”

The role of customer success in product-led sales

Another core piece of the product-led sales framework is the role of customer success. Historically, customer success has been considered a different department – siloed from sales. But, in more recent times, customer success has become a more effective branch of sales, responsible for upselling (growing accounts) and converting users from a free product to a paid one.

According to Hartvigsen, the latter responsibility is critical in product-led sales.

“Customer success is now another way of saying sales, but in another discipline. Slack mastered getting customer success involved in mastering adoption – CS played a huge role in converting you free from free to paid. And the same goes in our world,” says Hartvigsen.

We very intentionally layered CS into the sales story. So, when we are in a sales cycle, we have those stories etc. easily accessible. And we have everyone at Dooly spend 5% of their time dealing with customers. Everyone has to have time with the customer, it helps you understand the product, its features, as well as with product development, sales – everything.

For more on Hartvigsen’s thoughts on product-led sales – including a discussion of how Dooly is navigating Covid-19 – check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.