Bowery Capital’s Mike Brown Jr. interviewed Kristen Habacht, VP Sales at Trello, about their continued success in acquiring users and their transitioning sales processes within their freemium based model. The freemium model has existed since inception, and is part of the core values of the company. Trello, now reaching 13,000,000 users, with 100,000 new users signing up each week, is continuing a transition into monetizing their vast userbase by offering value added professional/business functionalities on top of its core, more consumer based offering. This transition requires a new way of interaction with users that Kristen is tasked with while lining up to the existing Trello company culture.
Of the topics covered, a number of themes emerged from the discussion about the Freemium model and good Saas sales practices in general. A few of the main takeaways include:
The importance of talking and listening to your users, and proper product communication
Understanding the users’ needs and taking the time to listen is paramount. This may sound to be common sense, however, most companies fail miserably at this. Listening to users is the first step, having them being heard internally is another obstacle. Close ties between marketing, sales, and product development is needed to work on client pain points.
As well, be sure to get product information in the hands of the users. In the case of Trello, Kristen pointed out that many users were not aware that there was a premium level available offering added functionality.
Match the sales team to the company culture
Trello is a product orientated company, continually trying to create the best experience using the product for its users. Trello is focussing on the experience and not selling features it does not have. This leads to a level of comfort and trust built between the user and the product. The upselling of premium features built upon the core product uses this trust based relationship and aides throughout the sales process. As Kristen explained, the understanding of the company culture was used in order to bring in the right type of people for sales.
Find ways to educate users, and provide opportunities so the user does not feel like being “sold to”
She explains that Trello has always been more passive in its user acquisition. Most of the time the user initiates contact when a question emerges about using a feature for example. These opportunities to educate the user are very important and open the door to aide the user in acquiring a better understanding of the application, getting to know more about the user’s needs, and hopefully leading to a conversion.
Experiment to find the “triggers” to enact follow-up or contact in a more automated workflow
When dealing with thousands of new accounts, weeding through them to find those that are most likely on a upgrade path is important, especially with a smaller sales team. The ability to segment the users and find out which ones to pursue as a viable lead is critical to a up-selling from the freemium base. When and how to contact users requires much experimentation.
Trello continues to grow its user base with the focus on “wanting the users to be happy” whether on a free or paid subscription. From the success it currently is achieving they seem to be on the right path.
Contact Kristen Habacht, VP Sales at Trello: Twitter