OnShape's Joss Poulton Builds Better Call Lists
Joss Poulton, Manager of Business Operations at OnShape, talks about his organization’s segmentation efforts in the latest in our occasional series of Strategic BizOps Profiles.
Greg Keshian: OnShape is the first and only company to offer a cloud-based 3D CAD solution. In your efforts to build call lists for your sales reps, you’re using a mix of data gathered through inbound marketing and third-party sources. How are you using data to support segmentation?
Joss Poulton: We’re trying to find pockets of people who look, behave, or buy differently. The product design industry as a whole has been very slow to adopt cloud technologies and we’re asking them to change the platform that they’re designing products on, so it’s a big ask. As we’re refining our product market fit, we’re experimenting with lots of different ways to approach the sale. Segmentation is a great way for us to test different messages among different groups.
GK: Where are you getting your data from?
JP: We have hundreds of thousands of leads gathered from product signups and content offers across 15 reps. We also have a combination of profile data, third-party data, and usage data from our app. For example, we can look at cues from the product, like if a user is importing or exporting files to or from another high-end professional CAD system. We then overlay data from LinkedIn Sales Navigator to tell us where they work, and then add industry and revenue data from Data.com that tells us more about the company.
GK: How does segmentation drive your sales and marketing activity?
JP: As a result of all of the data integration work, we’re able to identify the richest segments to build lists around for use by both sales and marketing. What’s great is that these lists help our team understand each buyer’s needs. For example, if we build a list of users of a competitive product, the rep knows to tune their message to that situation and the advantages we offer over that product.
GK: How does account-based selling and marketing change your segmentation effort in terms of tools, tracking or reporting?
JP: We use both an individual and an account-based approach. For example, a sales rep may look at all individual leads that are currently conducting trials of our solution. But, we also roll up data from the contacts on the account in Salesforce, so a rep can start working in their trial list then switch over to their account list and surface companies assigned to them that have multiple users who’ve logged in over the past month. This is a sign that they’re using Onshape collaboratively, so the rep can talk to them about how we can revolutionize their workflow.
GK: Once you’ve completed a segmentation analysis, how do you then manage the roll out of new lists to the sales team?
JP: We’ve definitely learned a lot about the good ways and bad ways to roll out lists! Buy-in among the reps is crucial for anyone in a business operations role. We’re careful to do a soft launch of new lists first. I’ll create a list and put it in hidden mode in Salesforce. I then meet with a few of the sales leaders and show them their version of the list and have them call against it for a few days. Then we’ll regroup so I can get feedback to assess if my approach makes sense. That way, when the sales managers roll out the list to their reps, they can say ‘Hey, I’ve used this list myself and I’ve provided input on the process, and it’s ready for you to use it.’ At that point, the sales managers can hold themselves and their teams accountable for trying that new segment and seeing if it generates the anticipated results.
GK: Onshape does some pretty sophisticated lead scoring. Once you figure out your segmentation model, how do you incorporate that information into your scoring, and are there things to look out for when you’re moving that model forward?
JP: Scoring has been very interesting for us. Our product only came out of beta a couple of years ago. Very soon after our product launched, one of our executives created this incredible statistical model where we looked at all the people we previously signed up as customers to identify which accounts and leads in the funnel look like the ones we had signed up before. It was all very logical and got lots of initial buy-ins. The problem was that although they closely matched the data of those users who bought, there was too much variety for reasons why they bought. Predictive platforms are helpful when you’ve found your product market fit and the right customers, and it was just too early for us. Today what we have is a score that relies more on heuristics and human inferred data, which has much more value to our teams. We learned that scoring is more of a human problem to solve than a statistical exercise.
GK: What business leaders are involved in segmentation and planning at Onshape?
JP: I do a lot of the segmentation work and partner with our director of demand gen and our marketing manager. I report to our CFO, who also operates like a COO. He has a wide view of the business and I love bouncing ideas off him, too. In addition, our VP of Finance is very interested in funnel metrics and he is involved in the effort as well, so it’s a combination of these people.
GK: What’s the most challenging aspect of the segmentation effort for you and why?
JP: For us, it’s just as much about defining who IS a prospect as who’s not. It’s easy to get distracted by big attractive marquee company names that we would love to list as customers on our website, but focusing solely on those big names can be an inefficient use of our reps’ time. That’s due to both the functionality we currently offer and how long the sales process can be for those deals. That said, there are times when going beyond the parameters of our segmentation effort really works, and that’s usually a bottoms-up sale. For example, a major consumer apparel brand’s wearables division became an inbound lead because one of their design team members was using our product at home for hobby projects. At work, he’s part of a distributed team with half of the designers in the US and the other half in Europe. While he was using the trial version as an individual, he realized that Onshape’s built-in collaboration capabilities could save them a ton of time and improve their workflow. We knew where he worked thanks to LinkedIn Sales Navigator and we were able to surface the fact that there was some collaboration happening there using contact-to-rollup fields. In many ways, segmentation is not only about staying focused on what works based on the data, but also arming our reps with as much context as possible so they can independently assess a lead’s potential for interest and closure.
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Steph served as Rekener’s Community Manager and CMO. A Rekener co-founder, she was previously Senior Director of Marketing at CCC, a $300M+ recurring revenue business, and served in marketing leadership roles at Vertical, @stake, Informio, DotContent and Meridian. Her first recurring revenue role was as an inside sales rep selling real-time stock pricing subscriptions.
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