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PLG CRM

PLG CRM
By Arpit Choudhury • Issue #9 • View online
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The previous issue had covered some use cases of activating data in sales, marketing, advertising, and support tools.
In this issue, I’m writing about an emerging category called PLG CRM – a reimagination of the traditional CRM for B2B SaaS companies adopting a Product-led Growth motion.
And continuing on the theme of Data Activation, this issue briefly covers how PLG CRM products enable data activation. 
Disclaimer: Data-led Academy is vendor-neutral and the tools mentioned here are not necessarily the best tools in the categories they operate in, nor are they the only ones.

What does a PLG CRM do and who’s building it?
It makes data available in a manner that makes it possible to visualize how prospects and customers move through the different stages of the funnel as well as act upon that data by triggering workflows in external tools. 
Companies in this space I’m familiar with are Calixa, Correlated, HeadsUp, Workbase, Houseware, and Variance while I’ve heard mentions of Endgame and Pocus.
While all of the above are quite new, Sherlock has been trying to solve this problem for a while and deserves a mention here.
What need does a PLG CRM fulfil and for whom? 
A PLG CRM is purpose-built for growth, sales, and customer success teams at B2B SaaS companies to view all the interactions of prospects and customers across various channels – both at the user level and the account level. 
Teams can build segments of users and accounts based on product data, transactional data, as well as data from support and engagement tools, and then sync the segments to third-party tools to trigger workflows. 
How data moves through a PLG CRM
How data moves through a PLG CRM
Teams can also define custom metrics such as activation to easily see a list of users that have performed key events in the app and are considered as activated. 
It is particularly relevant for SaaS companies to see what’s going on at the account level and not just at the user level since it’s not uncommon for one user to belong to multiple accounts. 
None of this is possible in traditional CRMs that are not built for companies that have trial users or those on a free plan who are, by definition, neither leads nor customers
What does a PLG CRM not do?
It’s important to note and rather interesting that PLG CRMs are not trying to replace traditional CRMs and in fact, all PLG CRMs integrate with Salesforce and HubSpot.
Therefore, it is evident that a PLG CRM is meant to augment a traditional CRM by solving specific problems that traditional CRMs are not meant to solve. 
It is safe to say that PLG CRM vendors won’t build core CRM features such as creating deals and logging information from meetings or even moving deals down a pipeline. 
What are some use cases of a PLG CRM?
Here’s how different teams leverage a PLG CRM: 
  • Growth teams set up a workflow to get notified on Slack when users perform the activation event in the app to stay on top of activated accounts
  • Sales teams create a segment of free accounts with 2 users or more to prioritize those accounts in their outreach efforts
  • Customer Success teams segment paid accounts based on user activity to make sure they proactively reach out to the accounts that are least active
How does a PLG CRM enable data activation?
In the previous issue, I had shared the following definition for data activation:
Data Activation is the process of personalizing the customer experience using accurate data in the tools used to acquire, engage, and support customers.
PLG CRMs integrate with CDI tools like Segment Connections as well as data warehouses so if the available data is accurate, it can be acted upon or activated in a PLG CRM by triggering workflows in downstream SaaS tools. 
It’s worth noting that there is an overlap between some of the capabilities of a PLG CRM and those of a Reverse ETL tool – one that primarily syncs data from a warehouse to downstream tools but also has the ability to trigger workflows. 
Summary and What’s Next
PLG CRM is a hot new category and I’m excited to see how these companies carve out their space in the modern data stack. I also expect to see more overlap between them and Reverse ETL tools like Census, Grouparoo, Hightouch, Omnata, and Weld.
In the next issue, I’ll share a piece I’m working on titled “What is a Modern Data Stack for Growth” and also share something new I’m soon launching for data companies to educate people about their products and engage with them in an unbiased, authentic manner. And no, it’s not another Slack community. 👎
And if we aren’t connected on Twitter and LinkedIn, let’s change that already! 🤝
Thanks for reading! 🙏
I tried a new format in this issue to make the content more digestible and would really appreciate your feedback on how easy it was to understand the topic?
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Arpit Choudhury

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