How Linear is moving upmarket with signal-based playbooks

Learn how Linear is using signals to move upmarket, increasing their average deal size by 30%.

Meredith McManus
April 29, 2024
How Linear is moving upmarket with signal-based playbooks

Since launching in 2019 with a freemium pricing model, Linear has seen massive growth. They have amassed millions of raving fans in their user base, with thousands of new accounts created each week. In fact, Linear has been profitable for more than 2 years.

As loyal Linear customers, we can tell you why! Project planning and issue tracking are core workflows for developer teams and developers are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest tooling. Enter Linear, a platform designed with the developer in mind. Devs love Linear's thoughtfully designed UI and attention to key details that make it a joy to use. 

With incredible product-market fit and growing momentum in the developer community, Linear moved from Product-Led Growth (PLG) to a Product-Led Sales (PLS) motion. They added a sales team to help them move upmarket and provide more guidance during the buying process, taking advantage of the footholds they already had with product champions.

We recently caught up with Casey Bertenthal, Head of Sales at Linear, to learn more about this shift into PLS. Casey joined Linear in January 2022 and has been leading the focus on identifying high-potential accounts and running an incredibly effective free-to-paid playbook.

The Challenge

With rapid adoption and a growing customer base, the biggest challenge for Linear was identifying the right time and person to reach out to in order to maximize engagement without annoying customers.

Linear’s freemium pricing plan drew in thousands of new users per week, so Casey’s team had no problem generating top-of-funnel. But with such a beloved product used primarily by developers (who hate being sold to) outreach needed to be extremely targeted, relevant, and valuable to create enterprise pipeline. A traditional, generic mass outbound strategy would risk annoying happy users and tarnishing Linear’s reputation.

“We needed to maximize engagement with customers, but to do it in a way that stays true to our brand — we avoid pestering customers with any kind of marketing emails. It was important for us to be able to identify who in an account to reach out to, and when along their customer journey we should reach out.”

Casey views the role of Linear’s sales reps as true customer consultants. Indiscriminate outbound would not fit the user experience he was working to build. 

With untapped expansion revenue available, Casey and his team needed a tool that could solve their two biggest pain points:

1/ Customer 360 view: Act as a single source of truth for all user signals and product usage data, helping the team know who to target and when with less time and effort. 

2/ Repeatable playbooks: Provide a framework for experimenting and building repeatable playbooks easily without the support of their busy engineering team.

Faster, More Accurate Prospecting

Traditional sales prospecting requires hours of deep focus and concentration. It can be hard to carve out time for this practice — especially for busy reps who are constantly context-switching between accounts and tasks. Casey knew this was a sticking point for his team.

“Typically prospecting takes deep concentration. It's the part of the day where as a rep, you put your headphones on and you kind of go into a zone, and all you're doing is prospecting.”

For Casey and his team, the fastest way to success was efficiency. They needed access to all data in one place and a way to prospect faster. Specifically, the team needed the ability to quickly identify and action strategic target accounts that would end up buried in the high volume of sign-ups.

Enter Pocus, the platform that brings together product usage and other intent signals (customer, community, marketing data) to surface top leads so reps can act fast.

Consolidated View of Signals

The first step to getting the whole team on the same page was using one tool to act as a single source of truth. Cutting down on the time reps spend searching through dozens of tabs and different data tools would help free up bandwidth so they could focus their time and effort on selling.

“Understanding our signals was an iterative process. We were constantly identifying new signals or metrics that would help drive customer engagement. Pocus put the power of this discovery process in the hands of the sales reps, who could easily make their own tweaks based on their intuition or observations. Early on, this helped the best ideas rise to the top.”

Previously, Casey’s team was using a database that was “super tedious, very manual, and not sustainable.” It also took up a lot of bandwidth. As Casey noted, “In the early days, I was spending most of the day trying to identify a couple of accounts to reach out to.” With Pocus acting as their pipeline mission control, Casey could feel confident that everyone had access to the same data, without having to dig or guess. All the relevant information a rep needs is surfaced directly to them via one easy-to-navigate inbox. 

Unified Goals, Repeatable Playbooks

The second key to success was Casey’s ability to create repeatable playbooks that laddered up to team-wide goals. The most critical playbook Casey’s team was focused on was a conversion play, engaging with teams who were actively using Linear’s free plan, moving them into a trial of the paid plan, and then acting as consultants to help them evaluate the tool and move towards purchase. 

Using Pocus, Casey and his team were both able to achieve playbook wins:

1/ Reps got faster insights and didn’t have to think about prioritization; they could just take action.

2/ Casey can build repeatable, scalable playbooks easily, without needing to pull in technical resources.

“By using Pocus, it really helped us identify who the right person was and then ultimately when is the right time in their customer journey to actually reach out. To this day, I think we have a good formula that's driven through Pocus.”

With features like Pocus Playbook Reporting Casey has direct visibility into how playbooks are performing and can refine or double down on those that are working or sunset those that aren’t. Plus, with Pocus Predicts AI, Casey and his team get new playbooks automatically recommended without engineering or data analyst support.

The Results: A 30% Increase in Average Deal Size

After implementing Pocus as mission control for Linear’s pipeline, Casey saw immediate results. With well-timed insights accessible at their fingertips, his team has been able to achieve an incredible 50% response rate to their outreach, all while spending less time than ever before. Pocus automates and streamlines so much of the prospecting process that reps are saving “an insane number of hours per day” — nearly 20 hours a week! 

“Pocus prioritizes the highest value accounts for our reps. By shifting our time from prospecting to building relationships with the right accounts, we’ve increased our average deal size by 30%.”

For Casey, as a sales leader, the ability for reps to drive success on their own without needing a lot of direct management is a win. Linear’s playbooks have been proven effective; reps can work through their inbox independently without needing constant leadership input on their strategy. Casey is also able to quickly access reporting which makes sharing his team’s wins with leadership easy.

“Being able to see the volume of outbound and have a quick pulse check in terms of what we're saturating at any given time is incredibly valuable in terms of me being able to report up the chain.”

After seeing so much success with their free-to-paid playbook in Pocus, Casey’s team is testing new revenue opportunities using expansion and upgrade playbooks, as well as exploring how Pocus can help CS and Sales work more closely together. Curious about how Pocus can help you turn a variety of signals into revenue? Book time with a Signal-Based Selling expert on our team.

Adding Pocus as Pipeline Mission Control

  • Signal Identification: Linear’s whole sales team has direct access to the same data without having to manage multiple tools.
  • More Responses in Less Time: Linear sales reps achieve a 50% response rate while also saving hours per day each by using their Pocus Inbox to streamline prospecting efforts.
  • Scaled Playbooks: Leaders can create and distribute playbooks for their teams without having to rely on outside resources.
Meredith McManus
Content + Product Marketing at Pocus
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