How Paperspace’s Product-Led Sales motion drove 65% of ARR

Learn how Paperspace uses Pocus to turn product users into predictable top-line revenue.

Benjamin Lamson
November 21, 2023

AI has overtaken software businesses. It’s easier to count the number of B2B SaaS apps that don’t offer some sort of AI capabilities compared to the number of apps that either have AI features or are entirely AI native (see generative AI). 

This was great news for Paperspace, a provider of high-performance GPUs. Paperspace began in 2014, focusing on making low-cost virtual machines accessible to developers. As AI entered the mainstream in the last few years, Paperspace leaned into its AI offerings, launching a suite of tools designed for developing, training, deploying, and hosting AI models in the cloud. 

Paperspace has been developers' favorite for many years, fueling their impressive user growth. Beginning in 2022, Paperspace wanted to harness the power of their growing, loyal user base by turning their focus to driving more predictable revenue through a Product-Led Sales motion. They succeeded in their mission, growing top-line revenue 2.5x YoY and landing an acquisition by DigitalOcean

We had a chance to catch up with one of the experts behind Paperspace’s go-to-market success story, Benjamin Lamson, formerly Head of Revenue for Paperspace and now leads the Paperspace Revenue team at DigitalOcean. Continue reading to learn how Paperspace turns product users into predictable top-line revenue. 

Topics covered:

  • Paperspace’s Product-Led Sales journey
  • Ben’s customer-success-first approach
  • How Pocus has helped Paperspace unlock revenue from their data. 

Why Product-Led Sales?

Like a lot product-led companies with a self-serve motion, when Paperspace first decided to focus more explicitly on revenue growth, they took a traditional sales approach. The result? Sales over indexed on acquisition via cold outbound rather than double down on customers hiding in their sea of self-serve users. Among the hobbyists was a goldmine of revenue opportunities. 

When Ben Lamson joined the company, one of the first questions he asked was, “we have all of these paying customers in self-serve who have never spoken to sales. Is anyone talking to these users?” 

“The answer was no one. I thought, well, that's ridiculous. There's a gold mine of users here.”

This was the catalyst for what came next. Ben realized a ton of untapped opportunities in the self-serve user base and spun up a quick list of every customer paying a certain amount. The goal was to go and understand what their happy, paying customers had in common to replicate the success – there, the Paperspace PLS motion was born. 

Learn more about Ben’s customer-first PLS approach here.

The Challenge

Ben’s goals with Product-Led Sales went beyond this first use case, as he said, “These customers had already taken the desired action by converting to a paid customer. It’s a lagging indicator, I wanted to understand the leading indicators.” 

Ben struggled to organize, prioritize, and operationalize product usage data without access to a tool. Every effort felt ad-hoc, like that initial analysis, and the motion had no repeatability. This ultimately made it challenging to scale this motion to the rest of the team. 

“We weren't looking at leading indicators like we are today by leveraging segment data, sending it to the data warehouse, and then identifying PQLS. It was all lagging indicators.”

Before bringing on Pocus, Ben tried a handful of other platforms in the space and purchased one. Ultimately, the team was still unsuccessful in getting the data in the right shape or having reps adopt the product.

Flexible go-to-market OS to fit Paperspace’s unique approach

Despite frustration with other solutions, Ben and the team were bullish on the revenue Product-Led Sales could drive for Paperspace. They brought in Pocus to help accelerate the motion. The team uses Pocus across the entire customer journey to drive acquisition, expansion, prevent churn, and monitor customer health and performance. Since implementing Pocus, Ben’s created more consistency in when, how, and why his team reaches out to customers, driven more revenue from self-serve sign-ups, and given leadership visibility into individual rep performance towards goals. 

Playbooks for the entire customer journey

Paperspace’s horizontal product meant that creating just a single PQL or playbook would be insufficient. Ben needed the flexibility to create multiple playbooks with varying goals across the entire customer journey, both sales and customer success goals.

“We have a very nonlinear journey, as a lot of PLG companies do, but ours is especially nonlinear because of the horizontal nature of our product. Paperspace customers could sign up for any number of things and take many different paths.”

He also needed an easy way to show how a single account could have multiple goals over its lifetime, with potentially different teams tackling those goals.

For example, here are all of the customer journey stages and teams an account might touch (Note these are all hypothetical examples and don’t reflect Paperspace’s exact product usage signals or Playbooks):

  • Low usage on an account: Account gets surfaced to the Customer Development Rep (CDR) who you can think of as pre-sales customer success reps. The goal is to increase their product engagement, not push for a sale. 
  • Increase in usage and new users added to the workspace: The same account has now seen a spike in usage, plus invites to the workspace have increased. This time, the account will get surfaced for the Account Management team to begin a likely expansion conversation. 
  • New free user joins workspace: A brand new user joined the workspace for the same account. This might get routed back to the CDR to assist this new user in getting up to speed and adopting the product. 
  • Reduced utilization and spending: Utilization begins to drop with a few key power users. Time for the Customer Success Manager (CSM) to jump in an diagnose what might be happening and proactively prevent churn.  

Through Pocus Playbooks, Ben could easily segment these disparate goals and easily operationalize them with the team. The flexibility of Playbooks allowed Ben to mirror the non-linear customer journey accurately and created an easy framework to experiment with multiple Playbooks at once. 

For the reps themselves, they were able to quickly focus on their highest priority opportunities rather than hunting for the data. Leaving more time for hyper-personalized outreach that converts. 

Operationalizing marketing intent

One of the playbooks that PaperSpace prioritized was the concept of anti-PQLs or abandoned shopping cart plays. By leveraging data from Clearbit and monitoring product utilization, they could identify users who showed initial interest but did not take further action. This allowed them to reach out to these users with personalized messages, offering assistance and incentives to come back and explore the product further.

With Pocus’ flexibility, creating these anti-PQLs was easy. With no new tools or engineering work, Ben and the team could just as quickly build these marketing data-driven Playbooks alongside their product-usage-fueled workflows.

Repeatability and consistency

One of the key outcomes for Ben was in the repeatability and consistency Pocus helped to drive with his team. Instead of hunting down data or interrogating reps on what they were working on, Ben could easily see how each Playbook was converting, which reps were successfully executing against their Playbooks, and how to coach reps who were not quite hitting the mark. 

“Having Playbooks and Pocus’ Coaching features makes it easier to drive consistency and only continue working on Playbooks we know convert. It also helps me coach reps who might be underperforming. We have daily stand-ups where I pull up Pocus to see progress on PQLs. I can see who has actioned their PQLs and jump in where necessary to provide coaching.”

Before Pocus, reps at Paperspace were flipping between Hubspot, dashboards, and their sales engagement tool to action product usage insights. Given the sheer volume of daily sign-ups, this was not a sustainable nor repeatable motion. There was a lack of consistency in how each rep found the insights and ran their Playbooks. 

“Having this easy consolidated workflow for the individual reps is worth the monthly subscription alone. Without Pocus, they would be wasting so much time.”
"They rave about how helpful it's been to their workflow. I think especially due to our sheer volume of users."

Having this consistency meant Ben and the team had access to better data to compare Playbook performance, unlocking faster experimentation so they could double down on Playbooks that drive revenue. 

The Results

PaperSpace's journey with Product-Led Sales and implementing Pocus has transformed their go-to-market strategy and driven revenue growth.  Pocus influenced 65% of annual revenue by operatonalizing the product-led customer success motion. Find out how Pocus can help you turn intent data into revenue. Book time with a PLS expert on our team.

About the author
Benjamin Lamson
Director of Paperspace Revenue

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