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“Product-led” sales and growth, where vendors primarily use their product as a marketing vehicle, is a trend that is attracting rising attention. Customers increasingly want to try products before they buy — particularly as IT budgets climb in light of digital transformations during the pandemic. A recent 2018 Demand Gen survey showed that 65% of buyers rely more on peer recommendations and review sites to inform their decisions, an increase from just 20% in 2012.

Endgame is one of several companies offering software to support product-led initiatives, including by analyzing signals from data sources to prioritize users and accounts. Reflecting the industry’s expansion, it announced that it raised $30 million in series B funding led by EQT Ventures with participation from Lachy Groom, Menlo Ventures, Upfront Ventures, and Unusual Ventures, bringing the company’s total raised to $47.5 million.

Automating product-led sales

Product-led strategies involve letting customers use a product and experience a “meaningful outcome” while using the product, according to ProductLed’s Wes Bush. That’s in contrast to sales-led companies, where the goal is to move a buyer from point to point through a sales cycle. Companies like Slack or Dropbox are an example of product-led companies — they let customers use their products for free while gating certain features behind a paywall.

Endgame ostensibly assists by analyzing signals including product adoption, user behavior, transactional data, and sales activity to help determine whether products are “sales-ready.” The goal is to highlight prospects and opportunities with the strongest signals, according to CEO Alex Blimes, ideally increasing conversion by triggering engagement tools or nudging a sales rep to act.

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“As an example, if you want to see when a VP of engineering logs into your product, we can take the product events from Segment and enrich it with customer data from Salesforce to create an actionable signal for your sales rep,” Blimes explains in a blog post. “As Endgame learns more from your data, we start to identify which signals are highly correlated with conversion and what behaviors in the customer journey lead to the best long-term outcomes. This makes Endgame infinitely powerful — we can tell you who’s most likely to convert with a nudge from sales and who you should leave alone because they’ll do just fine on their own.”

Expanding platform

Product-led growth companies face a number of challenges, like juggling onboarding, customer acquisition, lifecycle messages, referrals, and churn. As Janet Choi writes for Clearbit, it’s easy for companies to get distracted by impacts throughout the customer journey, which leads to reactive — and disjointed — work as opposed to proactive work.

In a 2019 FullStory survey, product-led growth teams said that they require “cross-functional collaboration” to achieve customer success but that aligning across organizational efforts is a hurdle. As the same time, the pandemic has “amplified” the importance of digital product experiences, according to a 2019 report from Salesforce, which showed that 66% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience.

“The pandemic has dramatically accelerated customer and investor interest in Endgame. Since salespeople were unable to fly to meet with prospects and customers onsite, businesses have doubled down on their investment into the self-service business models that Endgame supports,” Bilmes told VentureBeat in a previous interview.

Since Endgame’s series A announcement in July 2021, the company says it’s added new customers including LaunchDarkly, Airbyte, and Shortcut. According to Blimes, the next phase will be building “differentiated capabilities” and tripling the size of the team across key functions in data science, product, and engineering while expanding Endgame’s go-to-market and business functions.

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