Communities of Practice: How Pocus Grew Its Community 90x in One Year
Product-Led Sales is a new category, and Pocus is co-creating it with its community.
There’s a golden opportunity with freemium products — to turn your existing, free customer base to paid customers. This is Product-Led Sales, where companies analyze how these customers are using their product and use that data to convert them and prevent churn. Pocus, founded in 2021, aims to give B2B companies easy access to this wealth of data.
When co-founders Alexa Grabell and Isaac Pohl-Zaretsky were conducting discovery conversations with B2B Go-to-Market leaders, they found a pattern in experiences. Most of their chats saw people say the same thing: They were doing something different in combining self-serve channels with sales, and they felt lost. There were no best practices, no frameworks, and not many people to talk to.
Alexa and Isaac saw that there was an appetite for people to come together and share their stories, and learn how to convert user growth into revenue. In July 2021, Pocus launched a Slack community with 20 members. Sandy Mangat, Head of Marketing, shares how they grew the community from 20 to 1,800 in just over a year without compromising on member experience.
Quality over quantity is why our community succeeds
Sandy: The number one reason in my mind why our community has grown and why people love it so much is because we have been just so maniacally focused on adding value and quality as opposed to quantity. We haven’t set quantitative growth goals around the number of community members just yet. We've deliberately not done that, because we're focused on creating an active and engaged community with members who are getting a ton of value, as opposed to just trying to scale for the sake of scaling. When we think about metrics, we pay close attention to engagement and how to keep the needle moving forward. We keep our eyes open to what’s buzzing within our own community, but also through external channels and neighboring communities. That way we can spot trends and gaps and hopefully keep the discussions and initiatives valuable for members.
The reason why I think our engagement efforts have really worked is because we're co-creating this category with our community. Product-Led Sales is a new category, a new way of doing things. And we're not coming to the community with a fixed set of ideas around what it means to be a best-in-class Product-Led Sales organization. We’re really co-creating with them, learning with them, creating space for the open debate of ideas, and bringing together smart people that we know and making them available to the community. A lot of the feedback that we've gotten from our community members is that they like this community-driven, almost like grassroots movement, around Product-Led Sales that we're building, as opposed to dictating what Product-Led Sales is.
We still have a lot of personal touches in the community. So myself, Alexa, and others in our team are personally reaching out to folks in the community and building those one-to-one relationships. So it continues to feel intimate and small, as opposed to this sea of people. And we've recently launched an ambassador program to really elevate the folks in our community who have been exemplifying what we think is a model community member: someone who's always consistently adding value, who is a Go-to-Market expert, and who's always willing to help others. And so those community ambassadors have also been a key part of keeping the community feeling very active, engaged, and super helpful.
One community, many ways to get value
Sandy: For folks who are new to Product-Led Sales, it's education and really understanding foundational concepts around Product-Led Sales. For folks that are in the midst of executing on Product-Led Sales, it's in learning from their peers about what's working and what doesn't work. So we have a really active ‘Ask a Question’ channel where folks will ask questions like:
- I'm setting up Product Qualified Leads (PQL) for the first time. How should I go about socializing PQLs with my team? How do I go from experimentation to implementation?
- What types of sales profiles should I be hiring on my team? Should I hire an AE first, or should I hire a salesperson first?
It gets really into the tactical questions around how you go from needing a Product-Led Sales approach to actually implementing a Product-Led Sales approach.
And then for those that have reached a higher level of maturity — companies like Asana or Slack or Airtable — they're sharing their case studies on Product-Led Sales and what's been working for them and what hasn't been. They’re sharing their successes from a strategic point of view, offering a wider lens, so that other folks that are earlier on in their journey can learn from them. There’s a place for a PLG audience at any stage.
We host a few different programs. For those folks that are more mature and have reached some level of success with Product-Led Sales, we often have them on for Ask Me Anything sessions with our community. Those are usually attended by 40 to 60 folks live and then many more watch it after the fact. And it's all community driven. We set a topic and ask the first two questions, but then the rest of the time is really for the community to ask their questions of that person. And then we turn that into content for our blog, so that it's evergreen, and people can continuously go back and read those and learn. The AMAs have been a great way for us to get a pulse on what Product-Led Sales challenges folks are running into, and a place for our community to get answers that aren’t a Google search away.
We also do one-to-one community matching, it started as a Coffee Chat channel in Slack, but we recently upgraded by launching Meetsy, a platform that facilitates these connections based on interests, topics of discussions, and other preferences.Match programs are great for folks to build a network of peers who are doing similar things to them. And then we also have small group workshops or meetups. So if a conversation in our Ask a Question channel gets to a point where there's a lot of participation and lots of ideas floating around, we normally take that and turn it into a workshop or a meetup, either on Zoom — or now we're experimenting with doing those in person — so that folks can have a more robust conversation. And oftentimes, some people will do those monthly. They found so much value from connecting with people that they're just now hosting those on their own. It’s really exciting to see the community get to this stage, where members start coming up with their own initiatives, and it starts to become sort of self-sustainable. I think that’s one of the best indicators for community health.
Community growth isn’t the only way to measure or prove a community’s value
Sandy: Always go back to thinking about how community impacts the overall company's objectives. And if you can impact those high-level company objectives through the community, creating those tie-ins will help you justify what the right metrics to measure success of community should be, because they might not be around community member growth.
For us, category creation is a high-level company objective. And I can show the ways in which the community is driving that. It's definitely a lot more qualitative than it is quantitative. We have a job postings channel, and the first time someone posted a job for Head of Product-Led Sales was super cool, because I had never seen that job before. That probably happened about eight months in, and it's continued from there. This community has been instrumental in building up this category around Product-Led Sales, and the proof is in the fact that people are now hiring for this role. That's a great OKR if you're a Community of Practice, especially if it's a new practice. Make a title that people are hiring for one of your OKRs.
I do think, though, there are quantitative metrics that are important for you to track from a community perspective. One that I always go back to is active members versus inactive members, and how can you keep that consistent as you grow the number of members overall. As the number of members go up, there's downward pressure on active users and engagement. So try and explain to your [executives] why 100 super engaged fans are better than 2,000 sort of fans or not really fans.
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