Pricing StrategyMay 17, 2023

m3ter for the PLG flywheel

In her final blog post of the series, "Usage-based Pricing Doesn't Have to Be That Scary," Kristina highlights the benefits of integrating m3ter data into CRM for sales and marketing teams. It unlocks the PLG flywheel, driving growth through actionable insights and data-driven decision-making.

Kristina Frost
Kristina FrostStrategy & Technology Leader and Advisor
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I’ve already written about the benefits of using m3ter to experiment with prices, but I want to also mention the benefits that can carry into an organization’s actual business — benefits for sales and marketing teams as they look to create the acceleration effect that comes with the PLG flywheel when m3ter data hits your CRM.

Metering to Improve SaaS Conversion

Most companies in the PLG space offer some kind of trial or freemium experience. Usually, these are bound either in time or expense. The primary business objective is therefore to convert these early-stage users into real customers, which means one of the biggest focuses for PLG product leaders and growth marketers alike is: how can we move the needle on conversion rate? 

The answer is usually to experiment within cohorts and then assess the impacts on conversion rates. m3ter makes this easier than ever — simply create differences in commitments or balances when you want to evaluate trial levers. 

For example, you could offer one cohort a 14-day trial, and another cohort a 30-day trial. These are configurable elements in m3ter’s platform, and only need to be assigned to the m3ter accounts representing your trial users to create those separate groups. For usage-based organizations, you can also apply the same logic to vary the number of trial credits offered — again, this simply comes down to configuring commitments. 

Right away, two of the key levers of trial experience are immediately unlocked for you to test with your users. You can take it even further by trying different prices for your aggregations and then assessing conversion and retention rates once you’re satisfied with the length of time the cohort has been running and its population, statistically. 

Pair usage data with ABM for the Enterprise

This process can even extend a step further: many companies in the SaaS space will have an SMB-style lane for organic, pay-as-you-go signups — customers who come to the website, try out the product, convert and pay with a credit card. Then they also have an enterprise space where they’re working on securing longer commitments with marquee logos. Usually, those companies need more time to assess software. They may want to run a proof-of-concept or need an extension on their trial. 

m3ter can accelerate this process: you can create balances that run for 45, 60, or 90 days, or plans that are priced at zero to let the customer still see their usage to help estimate their eventual bills. 

With modern ABM tools, pair this process with unique signup pages per prospect that automatically assign the right plan, and you’ve scalably created an experience that seems bespoke but is supported by your own internal tools. Basically, invitations as a service for your sales and marketing teams. 

Segment Trials and Customers for Growth Marketing

Because of m3ter’s integrations with Salesforce, usage data and bill estimates are available in Salesforce within a matter of hours. This is great news for growth and customer marketers! Many of us ingest CRM data about our leads and contacts into our marketing stack, and now that can be enriched with real intelligence about their usage. 

With m3ter data, it’s easy to segment your trial users into those who are on-track (demonstrating usage that tends to indicate they understand your product and will stay) and those who aren’t, allowing you to adapt your nurture flows in a way that is responsive to what your trial users are actually doing. Since trials are time limited, this is a huge benefit — your next message to the user can get them on to that next feature, or it can offer better help and guidance to someone who seems to have stalled. Since you are in control of what the usage elements are, you can see the aggregated results of what your prospects are doing — and what they aren’t. 

Customer data operates on the same principles over a longer time horizon. You can monitor the m3ter data inside of Salesforce to look for swings in usage patterns, something that might indicate churn or growth, and adjust someone’s marketing track accordingly. Furthermore, let’s say you’re a company like Salesforce, where you have a core offering (in this case, Sales Cloud) and a variety of add-ons that you’d like your customers to explore. It becomes infinitely easier to suggest that next cross-sell opportunity when you automatically have a sense of what your customers are doing in your CRM. 

This brings me to the last, and (in my opinion) one of the most powerful benefits: 

Align your GTM initiatives around one picture of your customer

As companies grow, so too does the complexity and distribution of their teams. Even the most well-intended and thoughtful organizations can’t help but introduce silos as they scale. By the time companies get to mid-market size, there’s a traditional SaaS sales model that shows up in the field organization which looks something like this:

  1. xDR organization doing lead qualification and/ or outbounding 
  2. Sellers 
  3. Solutions architect responsible for securing the technical win 
  4. Customer success 
  5. Professional services / implementation partners

This creates a lot of handoffs for your customers as they move through your funnel, and it is notoriously difficult to get everyone on the same page — each team has variances in objectives, coverage models, hiring speed and ongoing territory changes that make customer coverage a constantly evolving target. This is, by the way, just for sales! Add in marketing, support, and product, and the problem multiplies exponentially. 

Most organizations go about solving this in one of two ways:

  1. Install customer success tooling, like Gainsight, to try to create a central picture of customers and automated ways to manage them; 
  2. Create a customer 360 in their data warehouse.

Invariably neither one of these initiatives goes quite as far as anyone dreams of: most companies don’t offer customer success licenses to everyone who might need to interact with a customer, and most companies also overestimate the ability of their individual contributors to reliably interpret a complex analytic in the same way their data scientists or revenue operations teams can. 

Starting simply by having the information available right in Salesforce is a major step forward. A support agent responding to a case can immediately see a customer’s last bill and their current usage estimates — they might go the extra mile for a customer if they can see that last month they spent only $45 and this month they’re already on track to spend over $500. You can use m3ter’s usage data to segment your leads and contacts, easily defining what leads are product leads and staying in the pay-as-you-go cycle, what leads are ready for marketing to try to push into the funnel, and what leads are showing the right propensity for sales to reach out. Combining the raw data into Salesforce flows to generate alerts and notifications, or into embedded dashboards that are right there on a lightning page, puts a customer’s product usage front and center for any customer-facing role. 

Product is everyone’s business

These benefits represent leap steps forward in a company’s base capability to bring a product to market and then align a team around that product. Democratizing this data immediately changes the kind of questions that get asked and the kinds of projects that get executed at a company, moving from: 

“If only we understood what our trial users were doing” to “because we understand what our trial users are doing, we can give them a best-in-class, personalized experience.” 

or from “I wish I had more data on what my customer was doing before I took this meeting” to “looking at the usage data tells me exactly where our whitespace is and what opportunities we have to grow.” 

As a strategy and technology leader, I’m always looking for ways to extract the most value possible out of my tooling, and this is what made me so excited to use m3ter for the first time: yes, it’s a pricing operations platform, but it also shares and integrates that data in ways that unlock capabilities in the field that would otherwise take months and years of effort. 

As a buyer, I’ve purchased dozens of technologies — in one particular year, over thirty different contracts — which means that I made 100s of new friends as I encountered the sellers I described above. Usually, those handoffs left something to be desired as a customer. But imagining a world where sales, customer success, and marketing were already on the same page, and responsive, about my experience using their technology? As a technologist and buyer — that’s a truly thrilling possibility.

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