Product-Led Sales AMA: Mathias Saint-Jean

Meet Mathias, Head of RevOps at Unito and PLG revenue operations expert.
Mathias Saint-Jean
July 26, 2022
Product-Led Sales AMA: Mathias Saint-Jean

Pocus hosts monthly Product-Led Sales (PLS) “Ask Me Anything” sessions with PLS experts to share best practices, frameworks, and insights on this emerging category. These AMAs are an opportunity to ask PLS leaders any question — ranging from hiring to sales compensation to tech stack — in a low-key, casual environment.

The PLS AMAs are for members of the Product-Led Sales community, the premier place to learn, discuss, and connect with go-to-market (GTM) leaders at product-led companies. The goal of the community is to bring together the most thoughtful and innovative GTM leaders to build the next generation of sales together.

Interested in joining? Request an invite here.

Meet Mathias, Head of Revenue Operations at Unito 👋

After getting his start as a digital marketer in the industrial B2B space, Mathias Saint-Jean made the switch to operations in 2015 when he helped build out the marketing operations department for a European software company. While there, he was on the bleeding edge of a trend we’re finally seeing more adoption around today —  marketers receiving compensation on sales-accepted leads. 

After leaving that org and working with a few startups, Mathias landed at Unito, where he’s running a RevOps function that successfully marries the product-led growth (PLG) motion with more traditional sales.

To learn more about that mission, keep reading this AMA recap to hear more of what Mathias had to say about:

  • The platforms, processes, and people behind RevOps
  • What CRM means for today’s PLG companies 
  • How to get buy-in for RevOps recommendations
  • The process behind defining the PQL and sales motion at Unito
  • Guiding principles to follow when experimenting with sales comp

What RevOps Means: Platform, Process, People

Knowing that a lot of folks in our space don’t understand the full breadth of what RevOps does, we asked Mathias how he thinks about it. 

He told us RevOps can be summarized in three concepts: 

  • Platform
  • Processes
  • People 

Platform

RevOps teams are typically responsible for a company’s tech stack. That means a key element of what they do is choosing best-of-breed tech that integrates with existing systems to hit all the goals of the company. 

Processes

In addition, RevOps thinks about the processes that revenue-generating departments, such as sales, use day-to-day. For example, RevOps might develop and monitor the process of defining product qualified leads (PQLs) to ensure that sales is always focusing on the right leads at the right moment. 

People

Finally, RevOps must focus on people because, of course, people within the company will need to be trained on any new platforms or processes that have been adopted. 

Mathias calls RevOps an “inbetween function.” He doesn’t belong to the sales team or the marketing team, so he enjoys the autonomy of getting to talk to everyone to do what he believes is the goal of RevOps: shake up the status quo.

“My end goal in RevOps is to challenge the status quo. Our hierarchy at Unito enables me to do so.”

Tasks to Tackle in Your First 30 Days in RevOps 🗓️

To further understand how RevOps underpins a successful sales organization, we chatted with Mathias about what he might do in his first month after joining a company that had adopted a PLG approach or a Product-Led Sales motion.

He told us about a few things he would recommend RevOps leaders do in the first few weeks on the job. 

Tech Audit

In this phase, it’s all about examining the tech stack and the data in the tech stack. What you want to make sure of here is that everything is implemented correctly, features are being used to their full potential, and the system is doing what it’s meant to do — serve the goals of the company.

This phase might include removing some things and adding other things. For example, he mentions implementing a naming convention if there isn’t already one, or enforcing it if there is.

Sales Motion Deep-Dive

Mathias of course also examines the sales motion early on. This is something he finds himself particularly interested in due to his market background. 

He says he looks for signs of a reactive sales motion — one that asks the user to come to the company when they experience an error, have a product question, or want to learn about pricing. 

When he sees this kind of model, he knows his next mission is to develop a more proactive approach. This is when the processes part of the RevOps job kicks in. Here, he would begin to work with sales to develop and practice new lead qualification rules, sales sequences, and language. The goal is to help sales create interactions with users who aren’t likely to start them on their own.

Communication Alignment 

Mathais finds that sales and marketing departments are often siloed when it comes to customer communications. So he recommends also taking a look at how they’re communicating and developing complimentary messaging along every phase of the customer journey. 

The Ideal CRM for PLG Companies — Not a Single Platform

For Mathias, the goal of a CRM is to provide a team-wide stream of information around product usage. He sees this as one of the most important data points a sales rep can have access to. However, that often poses a problem when working with traditional CRMs. 

Typically, a CRM takes 12 or even 24 hours to update usage information, which is a lifetime in the PLG world. For Unito in particular, using a standard CRM led to what he calls a “very dry and very boring” new user email campaign. You know the drill: first the welcome email, a week later the check-in email, and finally the your-trial-is-up email. 

However, knowing that about 90% of their users activated in the first hour, any check-in emails after that point were doomed to be unopened. They needed to find a smarter and faster way to communicate. 
This is why Mathias now leans into the “decentralized CRM” concept. In this wider definition of a CRM, multiple technologies are used together as a source of product usage data. And it may look different at different companies. Some may incorporate Slack or other comms software, a data warehouse, business intelligence, or even a PLS platform that takes the place of several of these tools. 

For Mathias, whatever tools you need to efficiently use product data are all your CRM. That’s a fresh take we can get behind. 

“My recommendation when it comes to data is to focus on the product data — and focus on getting it as quickly as you can. To me, the ‘when’ is much more important than the ‘what’ in this context.”

Executives to ICs: Getting Buy-In for RevOps Upgrades

How does RevOps get buy-in when it comes to all the changes we’re talking about making? 

According to Mathias, it’s not a battle you ever stop fighting. But for the most success, he says to start with the executive team. They are the most important group to convince that the processes you want to implement are the right ones. 

There are a few discussion points he recommends tailoring to your head of sales and/or other decision-makers every time you need to make the argument for a new platform or process:

  • A clear explanation of why this is the action you think is best 
  • What KPIs you’ll be tracking to show that this action is successful: number of deals, MRR, avg. revenue per user, etc. 
  • How this initiative will have a positive impact on the metrics they care about: customer acquisition cost, LTV, sales yield, etc. 

Most of the time, department heads want to see beyond their silos and align better with company-wide initiatives. So they aren’t too resistant once they understand that this is the ultimate goal of the new processes and platforms RevOps recommends. 

Once leadership is on board, next it’s time to set your sights on the individual contributors who will bring your new motion to life. 

At times when Mathias has implemented a proactive sales approach, he’s run into the problem of sales people who have never done outbound. They weren’t trained on making phone calls or enrolling contacts in a sequence. This is where the job gets hands-on.

If you find yourself in this situation, collaborate with sales to train them, develop the right messaging, create the best flows, do the experiments, measure the successes, and most of all — shift the mindset to a proactive one. 

“There’s no easy way to get buy-in. You always need to convince your hierarchy first, and then work very closely alongside the team to get it done.” 

How RevOps and Sales Define the PQL + Sales Motion at Unito 🧪

When defining a PQL, most companies come up with fit, usage, and intent benchmarks that users must hit to qualify. (For a refresher on PQLs, visit our definitive guide.)

Mathias says that marketing intent and demographic fit are pretty easy to uncover via data. What’s more involved is understanding what actually converts when it comes to product usage. 

At Unito, the team didn’t want activation alone to be the usage criteria. With their product, there are plenty of ways to get to activation. So when working out what a PQL looked like, they focused on people who used certain features during their trial, which they associated with a likelihood to sign up for a higher-tier plan.

In fact, it was the sales team that identified exactly which types of product usage meant better conversion rates. They saw specific patterns — using custom fields, a certain amount of synced changes, a specific number of active users, etc. — among users who worked for larger organizations that tended to be interested in more expensive packages.

Then, scoring based on fit, usage, and intent, the 1,000s of signups Unito received on a monthly basis were lumped into three buckets. This is where they also ran their experiments to see which sales actions worked best. 

Bucket 1: Act Now 

For leads in the “Act Now” bucket, sales had 10 minutes max to enroll them into the sequence. This is when the experimentation began. They tried different messaging as well as different channels — email, SMS, advertising banners, etc.

Bucket 2: Pay Attention 

In the “Pay Attention” bucket, a mix of one-on-one sales interaction and automation was unleashed upon leads. Messaging here was customized based on the lead the industry was in and what tools they wanted to integrate, since that’s usually why they were looking at Unito. 

Bucket 3: Ignore

In the self-explanatory “Ignore” bucket you had the tire-kicking leads who the Unito team felt they didn’t need to spend any time engaging with.  

“Developing a PQL is very theoretical. At Unito we isolated and created buckets, experimented to find the right communication, and adopted the right blend of automation versus customization. You will go through a lot of trials and errors, of course, but this is how we did it.”

Experimenting with Sales Compensation in This Brave New World

When it comes to what sales compensation looks like as companies adopt PLGs motions, Mathias believes it all starts with clarifying the difference between a sales-generated close and a sales-assisted close. (We also have a guide on this emerging role if you want to check it out!)

With a sales-generated close, the salesperson does a ton of work to bring business to the company. Here, the compensation model is already well understood. When it comes to the sales-assisted close, product and marketing bring users to the door and sales acts more like a final touch to close the deal. 

Like many other Product-Led Sales organizations, Unito finds itself working more in the sales-assisted space — and figuring out what this new approach means for sales compensation. 

And also like plenty of other PLS businesses, Mathias doesn’t have all the answers right now. But he does have a few guiding principles he follows as his team conducts regular experiments:

Connection is Everything

At Unito, what Mathias calls the “connect rate” is an important sales metric. They measure how successful sales is at eliciting a response when connecting with a lead. This may be a metric upon which compensation can be based. 

Stick to the Lead Qualification Matrix 

Mathias thinks sales qualification will always need to exist. So once you’ve developed a lead qualification system that works for you, don’t throw it out the door. Make sure your sales team continues to rely on that matrix, even as you go through experiments. 

Get Real About When Assistance is Required 

For sales people who are used to the traditional approach, at first they may inject themselves into the self-serve customer journey when they’re not actually needed. In order for a PLG motion to work, your sales team needs to be on the same page around what assistance actually looks like and at what point it qualifies for compensation. 

Always Follow the Metrics

In the midst of change and experimentation, it can be difficult to stay on track. For Mathias, it’s about remembering to focus on the metrics to make sure you’re moving in a direction that benefits your organization. 

How to Join Pocus’ Next PLS AMA 🔮

There’s always more to be heard when it comes to our convos with sales and marketing experts like Mathias. 

To get access to the full convo and even have your own questions answered in our next AMA, request to join Pocus’ PLS community and look for your invite to our next session! 

Product-Led Sales AMA: Mathias Saint-Jean
Mathias Saint-Jean
Head of RevOps, Unito
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