User Onboarding

How to use customer intent to build product onboarding that scales

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First interactions with customers are critical and making customer intent the central element of those first moments is essential, if you want to achieve break-out improvements to activation, adoption and growth. If you want to activate more ICPs or make your product ideal for more customer profiles, gathering and using your customers' intent can be the path to unlocking growth that scales.

In this talk, you'll learn:

Why it is so important to tailor onboarding for different user intent
How to collect customer intent before, during and after onboarding
How to design onboarding that fulfills customer intent

Wes Bush:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the ProductLed Summit. I am so excited to have you with David Rostan, who is the head of revenue at Stonly. David has a really interesting background and career. Previously before Stonly, he was heading up sales and marketing at Calendly. And before that, I know Dashlane, I use Dashlane, and he was heading up the organic and product marketing at Dashlane as well. At each of these companies, the common trend I see is they're all very fascinating product-led companies, and they've really had to figure out and understand their customers at scale to really effectively help them in their onboarding experiences. So that's really the topic we're going to dive into today, which is, how do you use customer intents to build product onboarding that scales? Before we get into all of your awesome insights around this David, why don't you just take a couple minutes to just go through your background. How did you wind up doing all the things that you're doing and becoming so fascinated with this whole concept of customer intents and product onboarding that scales?

David Rostan:
Sure. Sure. Thank you for the introduction. I'm super happy to be here, and also really passionate about both onboarding and also putting customer intent into your onboarding. Way back when I started my career, I was in corporate and I knew I was missing out where I'd be really happy, moved over into startups. Then once in start-ups, my first one that I was actually in that was pretty legit was, in fact Dashlane. Dashlane is a great case study, it's got B2B, it's got B2C. It's got people who want to make their lives more easy, it's got people who want to make their lives more secure. That was it. That was my first trial by fire. Every angle of trying to discover what it is each individual customer or customer segment wanted and how do we deliver it to particularly something that can get a bit complex, like a password manager.

David Rostan:
Then moving over to Calendly was an eye opening experience for two reasons. One, when it comes to product-led, it's platinum level. It just grows like crazy because of its product showing itself off to people. So how do you take those people and then explain the brand, make them fall in love with it, make them see themselves as a user, not just a recipient of that link. And also since I was over sales there, and that was my first time over sales, boy, do you learn a lot about customer intent by selling a thing to people. Now that I'm over at Stonly, we do the same thing. We're going through it at a smaller stage, but part of our product deals with and offers product onboarding and adoption tools. Now I get to really have my eyes opened by all of the customers I talk to every day. And just again, it's been really eye opening learning how many unique onboarding and product-led stories there are out there from all these other companies that we talk to.

Wes Bush:
I know that's super fascinating. Because initially it's like you're working on a lot of these product-led companies, scaling them to massive scales, like Calendly, for instance. And Dashlane is also really massive too, really widely used. And so it's cool that you're now coming back full circle, creating the tool for product-led companies to really succeed. I'm super curious to hear just your thoughts around, why do you believe as a product-led business, why is it so important that you need to tailor your onboarding for different user intent?

David Rostan:
Yeah. I think that you hit it. I've been at companies that were really, really scaling and then now I'm at one that's starting up and trying to find how we will scale. And that's why I'm a believer in customer intent, because I think it enables both ends of the spectrum. So at your Dashlanes, you think about finding the ideal customer profile and then finding the way to make sure that you capitalize on each one of them you're able to attract, and you get better and better at that. But eventually you start to saturate that ideal customer profile and you need to look for more. So as you scale, how are you going to do that? And if you can scale in an ICP, just law of large numbers, they're going to get more and more and more different. So your ICP turns out to not be so ideal anymore. It's just a customer profile with different flavors. So you need to take into account their own need so that you can onboard them and achieve that scale, or else you'll just run out or you'll start to confuse every segment as the same.

David Rostan:
Then I guess over at the Stonly side, as we're starting out, we add new product lines and we chase big new segments, completely different segments. We target product teams and we target support teams. So, we need to figure out how to take two paths at once. And it can be hard because we're a small growing team. So we've got to find ways to do that fast. And the fastest way to do it is just to listen to and figure out as quickly as possible, what it is that they want? What drives them? What makes them buy? What makes them happy? What their pains are.

Wes Bush:
Definitely. And for each stage that you've been at, like Stonly, a little bit more early stage, and then you're also thinking like, Calendly, just that massive scale, same thing with Dashlane, how do you think about customer intent differently at each of those stages? Because there's some people in the audience they're early stage, and then there's other people are mid stage and then enterprise. So I'm curious to hear like, if there is a big difference you see as it relates to customer intent, and how you might think about that internally.

David Rostan:
Yeah. I think that when you're small and you start to think about customer intent, you can do a couple of different things. You want to figure it out for the first time, and it's different than figuring out the nuance of it. So you're trying to figure out our general customer sets. What do they want? What works with them? For example, at Stonly, when we start to think about customer intent, we're grouping you into which solution are you interested in? When you say that solution, what specifically are you trying to achieve within it? We need to learn these things, not just to onboard you as a customer, but to turn around and have the right marketing materials, the right sales conversations, and build the right brand to have the right look and feel to target people who want those outcomes. So we're really thinking about it to build our own understanding of it, not just for the customer, but for our company.

David Rostan:
At scale, when you're thinking about customer intent, you start to think about differences in data, and you start to think about making small incremental improvements with customers who have certain groups of intent, and maybe adding new groups of intent to take big swings. It's one of the last things you can do at a company at scale, to take another big swing at, for example, your activation rate. Like if you can imagine, if you can take everybody for whom onboarding is working, find their grouping and segment them, and then try something different for everyone else, that's a way to take a pretty big swing at improvement rather than just incremental improvement of what you're already doing. I think that's the way to think about it at scale, customer intent.

Wes Bush:
Okay. I know we've been talking about customer intent for a bit now, but why don't you just take a step back for everyone and just explain, what is your specific definition of customer intent? Because I know across many different businesses, if you ask like five people, you might get five different responses, for what do you believe customer intent is? Because it's so multifaceted. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

David Rostan:
Sure. I think everybody's own definition is probably right, first of all. If you're working it out and take this information and add to it, don't replace it, for sure. But when I think about it, I think that it contains a few important things. First is, what are the unique goals and the outcomes that they desire? I came here to do X. The other is the strength and the urgency of their need. I'm interested in doing X if it's easy, or I will fight through any barrier to do X. And then probably one of the last ones is, their level of knowledge and understanding about where they're starting. And I think that something important to remember about customer intent is it's not fixed, it changes as they develop knowledge and as they mature and just as their needs and goals change. But it's also our job as product-led companies to change and accelerate it. I know that Tope, the CEO of Calendly, talked a ton about being a catalyst in our sales and our onboarding process. And I think about that a lot, I think about being a catalyst for their intent comes from understanding it really, really well.

Wes Bush:
Awesome, man. Can you give us some examples of how you've been able to use this customer intent to really just tailor that onboarding?

David Rostan:
Sure. I think that a way that you see commonly, is when people set up an intent guide in their onboarding. So why are you here? A lot of times you see that circling around roles and use cases like that. So I'm here as a marketer, I'm here as a salesperson, I'm here as a support team, and then you configure based on that. At Stonly, we configure based on that, based on your kind of solution. Hey, I'm interested in product adoption. And then it affects everything we do from there on out. It affects where we land you in the dashboard. It affects what features we ask you to set up first versus which ones we push off for setting up later. It affects which emails you get. So I think that just paying attention to that intent is treating you like that's what you want to accomplish while still being open to learning more about you. So it's not fixed. One day, you add this other layer of nuance to you, I want to be able to respond to that nuance and give you your particular version of our product or our solution.

Wes Bush:
Okay. What are some of the most common ways you've seen people collect customer intent in meaningful ways? Because you're always going to be collecting tons and tons of data on your customers and your users, but at the end of the day there can be a ton of noise in that. So I'm curious to find, let's say, okay, here's an example, when you went from Calendly to Stonly, what were the first few things where you started looking at and saying like, I really have to understand the customer intent? Where did you go first to seek that information, and what did you look for?

David Rostan:
Yeah. Your phrasing of the question of what I learned by going from Calendly to Stonly is a perfect one. Because it was really freeing to invent it, because then you can see what you'll do now without any infrastructure in place, but without any preconceived notions. So the first thing I did here, is start to think about asking, and being okay getting it wrong. A lot of people do, they want to turn right to the data and say, what can we infer? What can we automate? But here we said, you know what, what can we ask? So that's really the first place we started, is what can we ask about these people? And people don't mind, right? People don't mind telling you what they're after. "Hey, I am here to get better at self-serve support at my company." "Oh, really? What do you mean by self-serve support?" "I mean, I want a knowledge base that helps some self-serve." "Okay, cool. Thanks for telling me that," I don't have to infer it from you. So that's one of the first things, is we just started being much more okay with asking, and asking in the middle of our onboarding and our experiences.

Wes Bush:
Okay. Was there any other places you would ask people? Like I've seen the folks at Wistia, as soon as someone would sign up for their product, they would ask them right after that. But any other places where you found that, that was really effective? You just ask people like, "Hey, what are you hoping to accomplish in this product?"

David Rostan:
Yeah. Not just what are you hoping to accomplish in this product, but where are you starting out? So if you tell me, for example inside Stonly that you want to start out by making an onboarding tour or a product tour, then I'm going to say, "Well, where are you in this?" Right? "Do you have this guide already in your head, and now you just need to know how to launch it inside of your app? Or are you at scratch? Or are you at less than scratch, when I need to tell you about what great onboarding principles are?" Inside of our how to, we don't just meet you at your use case, we meet you at your level. And I think that that's really important to do. I think it's also important to know that I don't advocate just asking everywhere. I think actually the best thing to do is collect this information from a lot of different places. Combine asking with your user and usage data. Combine that with your acquisition data. You came from page search and your term was knowledge base, maybe I skipped the part where we ask you why you're here, because we should know that, right? So I think that, that's the real power, is when you start to put the data and the asking and the customer preferences and choices all together at once.

Wes Bush:
So you made me think about this fun concept too. I've been noodling on it for like a year now, which is, onboarding is like an onion, and there's the product onboarding, which I think that might be the first layer that people see. But then what you touch on there is really just like maybe the second layer, knowledge onboarding, and really understanding where's the gaps? Not just within the products, but also within their own knowledge around, what is their knowledge base? Do they have any clue what that is? Or are they just like, this is the fifth installation they're doing, they know what it is, they're a consultant, they just do this for other companies, and they're really great at this stuff. It's like, there's a different layer for every single one. So I'm happy you touched on that. But I'm curious to hear what other layers do you feel like there is, to really tailor your onboarding experience? Because there's product, there's definitely the knowledge component of where people are coming for. But is there anything else that you see that really gets in the way of people getting into your product and adopting it and seeing great results?

David Rostan:
Yeah. I'm really glad that you talked about the knowledge layer. We apply our content at this first. Like, our content manager just sent me a great end to end how to on creating self-serve help. Well, it hardly is around Stonly. It's just people who use Stonly, they want a program, they want the whole thing, they want to understand it. So we do add that in there. But other places we see it in feature adoption, depth and breadth and timing. All those things are moving pieces, but we need to figure out if you're here to use 10 of our features, or if you're here to use one of our features. Nobody's ever become an expert in that feature. Right? That's one thing, we try to take you deeper into features if we think that, that's it, you're feature deep. Dashlane did a good job of that. Are you here to store 250 passwords? Or are you here to autofill some stuff, share some passwords, keep your credit card safe, some secure notes. So we think about that.

David Rostan:
And when it's time throughout the customer journey to introduce those things. Then you're thinking about not just asking them their intent, but you're probably doing things like hotspotting. Oh, hey, you know what? You've been here six months. You've never shared a password, maybe it's because you can't discover it. So it's time to discover it. And then just like you make it helpful, make it dismissible. If their answer is no, sometimes you got to be okay with a no, because that's not their purpose. Then the good thing is you get another opportunity, they log in tomorrow and you can say, "Not password sharing, but how about putting a payment method in there so you can check out quickly." So those sorts of things you just discover over time and introduce new features and you learn by doing. One of the things that I find that really great product teams like to do that. So it's not just making a product that accomplishes a need, sometimes you can make great, wonderful experiences, just design to learn what that need is. Does that make sense?

Wes Bush:
Yeah, definitely. I want to take a step back to where we were talking about earlier around the steps you took from Calendly to Stonly and really understanding that user intent. Because I'm trying to think of it in terms of different levels where people are at. Maybe at the first step, you mentioned is, start with just asking folks about the product understanding, okay, what do they want to get out of it? What are they hoping? What are their expectations? What are that perceived value? I'm getting really clear on that. But then after that, what do you do if you want to really level up and start understanding more about your user intent?

David Rostan:
One of the things, and I don't know if this aims at scale, is selling, taking calls. We redesigned our entire website based on having hundreds and hundreds of customer calls, prospect calls. I can't suggest that enough for product people, for marketing people for everybody. I think taking calls is important to designing experiences. As far as going to the next layer of learning, once you know what somebody's intent is, then the next thing you've got to understand is, well, how do we fulfill that intent best? So then it's just, you've got to try it. And in my experience, being able to launch customer experiences to try to fulfill that intent really easily is the most important thing. So if at first you start by collecting the right data, then you've got to listen to it by applying experiences that you think fulfill that data.

David Rostan:
That would be something like, okay, based on the fact that you told me these things, I think your style is just an onboarding guide to read. Or no, that didn't work, it's a sequence, we need to hold your hand all the way around the product. And then, wait, that sequence didn't work, but after talking to you about it, it wasn't that, that's the wrong format, it's not that we did the wrong thing, it's that we did the thing wrong. So I improve it. So it's really, really important to start adding experiences that fulfill on the intent.

David Rostan:
Then I find that the third stage is applying on your data layer. And then saying, turns out people who choose this, do that, do that, become successful. And then you start to learn your sticky features. So it's in that order. It's do the asking, do the learning, do the personal interaction, then launch as many good hypotheses of experiences as you can, and you learn how to do the thing right. And then you learn how to optimize the things.

Wes Bush:
Awesome. Yeah. It definitely sounds like a repeating circle of activities.

David Rostan:
Yeah, for sure.

Wes Bush:
It's not a set it and forget it kind of deal.

David Rostan:
For sure.

Wes Bush:
I appreciate you taking the time to go back to that because I was just writing it down, I'm like, okay, how can I simplify this, of like, okay, there's a few steps along this process. The first one, and it says, if we summed it up is just ask them, okay, what is it that they're trying to accomplish? Or what you mentioned, what are their specific goals and other pieces around this? Step two is really just see what sticks. You mentioned, hop on those sales calls, see what resonates. Maybe it gets to the point where it's, updating the website and really as at a larger scale. Like, okay, is this resonating? Are our conversion rates going up? What is happening on that end? And as you start learning and getting some of those wins under your belt or also getting some of those losses, it's really about going back to that data and having that story being told through the data and trying to find, what is that pattern?

Wes Bush:
And so I think the third step, and maybe the fourth is really just identify the pattern and then stick with it long enough to see if it keeps continuing to play out again and again. And I guess the overall piece is just keep repeating that as many times as possible, if you really do want to tailor your onboarding experience. And I guess, is there anything else you'd add to your structure that you've broken it down for user intent and how to identify it?

David Rostan:
No. I think that really nails it. When you talk about the patterns, that's something that we were really big on at Calendly. It's, people are being insanely successful with this product, let's figure out what makes the successful people successful and how can we replicate that? And then what you learn is your attempts to replicate it fall into just a few categories. One, you can replicate it. People who should have been like those successful people, but weren't for some reason, and you unlock it. The other are people that you can replicate the look of success, but they're not finding success. Because somebody you've made to take success actions is just different than somebody who chose to take them on their own. Right? So you've really invented a new class of people, which is somebody you are able to get to take those things, but they're still different people. How do you make successful? Then you're left with a remainder, people you can't even get to mimic those success steps. And you think about what do I do with those people? And you've got an opportunity to either, find their unique intent and fulfill on it or leave them and say, "They'll never be a customer of ours"

Wes Bush:
Yeah. As you're going through that too, one of the things you made me think about is, it's like building a recipe. We're really going to simplify it, like your stage two or level two is, see what sticks. That's like finding the ingredients. You're never going to get a great new recipe unless you test out new things, what does that mix? And then step three is really just like, okay, identify that recipe that really has something amazing at the end of it. It's a great combo and it gets people excited. Since you've been extremely successful at really identifying users' intents and using it for the business to grow overall revenue, it's not just about having a cool side project, this has serious business results. I want to hear like, okay, you have successfully identified the user intent, you are confident you have the right pattern, what do you do now, David? What do you do best at this point to really scale this business past what it is now?

David Rostan:
I think of a few things. I think that once you really understand your intent of your customer segments, you need to make it accessible, right? You need to actually deploy it in all the touch points that you possibly can. With tools like Segment and Zapier, there's really no reason that your in-app experience, your website experience, your email, all your touch points, your sales, shouldn't pay attention to that intent. So I think that, that's probably the first one. So a lot of people gather data, gather intent, but they don't use it, and they don't use it smartly at every touch point for a consistent experience. Examples that I've seen of that are Dashlane, as you move through your journey, if you signed up mobile, we emailed you as mobile, as you added desktop and mobile experience, we didn't email you as mobile and desktop, we emailed you as both. It's really important, that's a different type of person.

David Rostan:
So, it's just taking that understanding and treating you that way along the way. I think that's it. Then I think again, just to circle back, there's always going to be this remainder of people, the people for whom you can't satisfy their intent. Then you need to decide, is there something else about that intent? Like you've got a whole segment of people you're still not successful with, do you go after them? And for Calendly, that was, what the casual person who just signs up because they saw this neat tool as they were scheduling a meeting with you, do you go after them or do you say that's not our ideal customer yet? So making those decisions and figuring out the value of activating these whole new classes of people. I think that's another area you could take a really big leap in, as well. Again, it goes back to just repeating it, you're never done understanding customer intent. There are always new customers with new intents.

Wes Bush:
Yeah. For a high achiever like myself, sometimes that's hard because you're like, I don't want to cross this thing off the list.

David Rostan:
Yeah.

Wes Bush:
But honestly, you nailed it. It is this ongoing process you need to do on a consistent basis to see those great results. And I'm just thinking of some of my favorite examples of like, time user intents, it's onboarding and how we can really make an incredible experience. One of the favorite ones I always mention is Canva. I think they've done a fantastic job of tying the search all the way into their onboarding experience. Like you type in, how to make a poster into Google, the landing page that pops up is great. It's about how to make a poster, what you'd expect. But what a lot of people don't realize that's going on in the backend is, that call to action takes you directly into that part of the product. You don't even see all the other cool things you could do with Canvas, it's just like, that's the poster part. And you just select your template, edit a couple of things and you're good to go. It's really just like making sure that, that very first touch point, that very first intent can be tied all the way back into the onboarding experience. So I'm curious to hear, even outside of where you've worked, where are your favorite examples of companies using user intent to really just tale that onboarding experience at scale?

David Rostan:
Yeah. I think that another couple that are in line with the one you just mentioned, companies like Typeform and Airtable, same. You come with a pretty granular purpose, right? And you say, I want to accomplish this thing. I want a lightweight, flexible CRM that I can really mess around with the user database side of thing. And then Airtable is like, I got you. And it's like, next thing you know, you've got this thing already, and it's exactly that. It's a lightweight CRM, like in a database looking thing. Same for Typeform. If you want employee feedback survey, you're not onboarding where they're teaching you, "Hey, I'm going to show you how to use a surveying tool or a form building tool." They're saying, "I'm going to show you how to make a terrific employee survey."

David Rostan:
I think that anytime you can do template-based, that you're really nailing it. I think a company like Wix does great onboarding. They can take you into that granular, I know how I acquired you and I'm going to really tailor it, but their handholding is stellar. Same for a company like Miro. When you go into the Miro product experience, their handholding is really good. You go into Lucid Chart and is similar. You want a chart for that thing, they got you into a chart for that thing just as fast as possible. So I think those types of businesses that give you ways to start accomplishing your real objective, and they use that as the hook, and then from there, then they introduce the world of their product to you. Next thing you know, you're doing all sorts of surveys, drawing all sorts of diagrams. I think those are really powerful.

Wes Bush:
Yeah. I guess there's a lot of customer intents that's not really ... I don't know how you would identify. I'll give you an example too, and hear your thoughts on just how you could approach this. Let's say someone signs up for your product. They come back second time, they've used it, they've experienced the first part of the value of the product, how you decide when they're showing intents to go further down the product and explore more parts of the product, and really go from that beginner user to someone advanced, and understanding when just staying at the beginner level might be good enough for them? But when is it time for them to really advance and really experience more value from the product? Because some folks do just based off time, like, okay, everyone goes through the same process. I'm not saying that's the right or wrong way to start at least. But I'm curious, what are those intent signals that you're looking for to really ensure that, okay, these customers they're going to become better at what they're doing, we're going to make them that superhero using our products and become really successful?

David Rostan:
Yeah. That is the question. That was the question at Calendly, when do you need to add a second event type, a third event type? When do you need to deploy the reminders feature? It was the question at Dashlane, when do you need to add more and more and more passwords? Or when are your first 10 Okay? And plenty of people come and they say, "I got 10 passwords. I want to put them somewhere, somewhere really secure. And I'm done, that's good enough for me." And if you keep pestering them, it's not going to be good enough. Because now, good enough comes with pestering. So I think probably the first way to do it, is to be gentle, right? You could be proud of your product, right? Your whole team works on this product. You could be proud of introducing the ability to add 10 more passwords easily, to add event reminders, or whatever else. Right?

David Rostan:
So, you can do that in a way that's an offer both you and your customer can be proud of and can appreciate without the pop-up, have you heard for the 11th time, right? Recently, Google rolled out a change to their drive, and boy, did they tell you about it, over and over and over and over and over again. That's probably not what you do. I think probably just gentle and then come back to it. I think about it in terms of time, but also signals. So we try to collect early signals in your usage to see, and we break it up into variants of activation. Did you make any move or did you just straight up abandon? If you straight up abandoned, we have some leeway to hang on to you for later, much later probably. But if you took a step and then left, now it's time for me to be helpful. If you did three things, now it's time for me to introduce more advanced. We do it based on both timing and your adoption pace. That to me is art and science. It's just a lot of work and paying attention, yeah. I wish I had the magic bullet answer for that one.

Wes Bush:
I think it gains back to that first part, where as you're going through those levels, it's a process, like trial and error.

David Rostan:
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Wes Bush:
See what sticks and what resonates with folks. Now I'm curious to hear like, okay, out of all of these experiments you've been doing around user intents, really scale onboarding, what are some of the results you may notice across Dashlane, Calendly and then at Stonly?

David Rostan:
Yeah. At Dashlane, one of the most amazing onboarding experience test that I've ever seen done, and been a part of was when we discovered the desktop ... well, it was not news, desktop users were more engaged users than mobile users. So we said, well, wonder if we can make mobile users into desktop users. So we had this whole onboarding experience on mobile that was basically, put down your phone and go to your desktop. No kidding, that's how valuable the desktop people were. But we couldn't convert them. So then we designed a hybrid, and we designed an experience, not for you being desktop, not even for you being desktop coming from mobile, but as this you're still mobile, but you're going to use desktop as a tool to get you set up. And that was huge. There was this whole new class of people that finally we could make successful that before then we couldn't make successful at scale. That was amazing.

David Rostan:
The product team redid onboarding at Calendly and basically went into more detail about how to set up your event type. And what it did, is it just simply taught you about what event type-wise, and it addressed the hesitation. This kind of, wait a minute, I'm going to give somebody access to my calendar? So onboarding was all about, we're going to set up your event type, and as you do, you're going to understand that this gives you complete control over your calendar. It was a hesitation eliminating onboarding, which is cool. And that was totally different than what Dashlane's onboarding was.

David Rostan:
And then at Stonly, we have a customer profile adding onboarding philosophy, right? That's where we are right now. So we're not trying to remove hesitations, we're not trying to get the nuance of what device you're on. We're trying to say, we got really good at onboarding product to people. Then we got really good at onboarding self-serve content makers. Next we're going to get really good at onboarding who? Right? So that's what we're adding new segments with our onboarding.

Wes Bush:
Awesome. And one of the things I can really see here that I'm loving is just your background in sales is coming out and being applied in a much different area and arena than most people would see. Because you're looking at this through the perspective of, what are the people's hesitations? In Dashlane you're mentioning, hey, people just don't have a use for the desktop app. Fine. Okay, let's help them see that in a different light. Same thing with Calendly, you're looking at it through the lens of, hey, I have this privacy concern around sharing my calendar. People are going to know I'm not working because everything's open or something, but who knows what the objection is. But at each of those, you're finding the objection in the ordinary experience and really crushing it before people can let that objection gain more steam.

Wes Bush:
So I really do feel like in product-led companies, this is extremely important because you're not going to be able to realistically talk with everyone, but you do have to understand them to a really great degree to be able to help them see this as part of the solution that they need to get to where they want to go. I know it's a different avenue, but I am fascinated with how you have really approached it. And I feel like we could do a whole other talk on just how you really approach sales and everything else at some of these companies too. Because the link between sales and product-led companies is a hot topic. And it's super interesting because so many companies approach it so differently. But this has been a fascinating talk. And is there anything else you feel like we might have missed around just how people can use customer intents to really scale and deliver incredible onboarding expenses?

David Rostan:
I think just one, really quickly responding to your observation about sales. Sales, support, your marketing research, if those teams can get meaningfully involved in your product onboarding experience, they can fuel it with so much customer intent information. So many hypotheses about what questions to ask to determine customer intent, because they do it all day, every day. So many hypotheses about what things to try to fulfill on that customer intent. Making it a whole company effort, making product-led growth the responsibility of sales, the responsibility of support, the responsibility of marketing, it's very powerful.

Wes Bush:
Yeah. And that's so interesting that you end on that too, because, after doing like hundreds of these interviews, one of the core patterns I'm seeing again, and again, is just, if you want to be successful at building a product-led business, you really do have to build that customer empathy muscle across every single team. And it's been interesting. I'll give you a couple of examples of teams, of how they've approached this, or maybe you have some of your own too, you can share after this too. But there's [Atras 00:39:50], [Tim Solo 00:39:50], their VP of marketing, he has everyone on the marketing team spends at least one day doing support. And I think that's like a really interesting, controversial way of spending marketing as time. But at the end of the day, it's just like understanding the pain points, understand the problems. And if you think about that, well, now you can write about that. And they're going to find you and find that customer intent. And they have that answer to the problems through that one activity.

Wes Bush:
There's other companies like RD Station and Buffer, and they really try and just get everyone involved with the user researcher and get on board all the key stakeholders, and really make sure that they're hearing the project and what some of the problems might be from the user's perspective. So that their own objections, like we have all our great ideas in our head that we think are brilliant, but hearing it from the customer's perspective of saying, it's maybe a silly idea or something like that, it can really help with getting everyone on board from the user's perspective. So, any other ways that you've experienced throughout all the companies you've worked at, to really build that customer empathy muscle?

David Rostan:
Yeah. I think that tickets in tandem is what we did at Calendly too. And it's huge. It takes time. It's an investment. It takes support time and it takes the time of the people who are doing tickets alongside them, but they did it with the product people. So product people had to do tickets in tandem with the support team. That was a big win there. Here at Stonly, Alex, my head of growth here at Stonly, he won't let go of being in the sales round robin. He don't have any to be doing sales, but he's so much better at growth because he's in the sales round robin. And we're looking for ways, how do we do that? How do we scale that? How do we have the whole marketing team, the whole product team get a taste of selling? We try to build that in and I think that longterm it's going to be worth our time, even when it draws us away from what we think of as our traditional roles and responsibilities in the company.

Wes Bush:
Awesome. This is a perfect note to end on. Get to know your users and customers better, because it won't just help your onboarding experience but it'll help you grow your revenue and everything else that goes along with your business metrics. David, this has been a fantastic discussion. I really feel like we covered a lot of great grounds. And one thing I will recap is just your process around how you can really understand customer intent, so that you can eventually tailor your onboarding experience at scale. So step one, for everyone here, that's listening, ask them the questions. Get to know them better, really understand what they want out of your product and how you can help them better. That's step one. Step two, really go in and start testing, see what sticks, run those experiments, run the numbers, and really understand what is actually resonating with people. And then when you start to see that take bigger swings.

Wes Bush:
As David was mentioning, he started with some of these experiments and then they started, okay, after those sales calls, let's actually update the homepage, and some of these bigger assets. So take bigger swings, see if it really resonates. But by the third step, what you're trying to identify is what is the pattern? And looking for that magical recipe of really finding out what resonates with these customers, so that you can eventually tailor their onboarding experience to help them get what they want to get as soon as possible within the product. Just had to recap that. There's a bunch of other golden nuggets, if you want to re-watch this episode. But, thanks again, David. And is there any other place that people can find out more about you and what you're up to at Stonly?

David Rostan:
Yeah. Well, if you want to get in touch, anybody can email me, david@stonly. I'm pretty easy to get in touch with. And then you can check out Stonly at stonly.com, and see if you're in the market for such tools, if we can help you out, I'd be happy to introduce it to you.

Wes Bush:
Awesome. Well, that sounds great, David, and thank you so much for your time.

David Rostan:
Thank you.

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Gretchen Duhaime
David Rostan
Co-Founder of Stonly
I've led teams to grow product led companies like Stonly (cofounder), Calendly (head of marketing & sales) & Dashlane (head of product marketing). As the head of revenue at Stonly, I help our customers drive product adoption and success using Stonly's platform and also drawing on my own experience testing and improving onboarding and growth at product led companies.