Pluralsight Continues Its Incredible Growth Trajectory by Using Gainsight to Boost SaaS Renewals and Account Growth
Pluralsight’s vision is to close the global skills gap by democratizing technology. It disrupts traditional in-person, instructor-led training models with an enterprise SaaS learning platform for technology professionals, featuring high-quality learning experiences delivered by subject matter experts. Since its founding in 2004, it has grown to become the world’s largest online library of tech and creative training, comprising over 6,850 courses supported by a network of 1,500+ experts.
The rapid adoption of the subscription-based Pluralsight platform is a testament to its effectiveness. The company reaches over 1,000,000 learners and 9,500 companies in more than 150 countries, including over 65% of the Fortune 500. Learners on the platform can quickly acquire today’s most valuable technology skills on any device at any time. In turn, their employers have the skilled workforce they need to adapt and thrive in the midst of technological change and digital transformation.
Challenge: Struggling to Manage a Growing Customer Base
Starting in 2010, Pluralsight experienced six consecutive years of triple-digit growth. However, as the company expanded, it ran into issues that threatened to stymie that growth.
Calling upon Salesforce as their system of record, account executives (AEs) couldn’t track and manage purchases and the number of licenses within an account. They also struggled to figure out when accounts were up for renewal. Yet this understanding is essential since Pluralsight’s success hinges on driving renewals and account expansion.
In addition, it was impossible for AEs to determine whether they were speaking with the right people within an account. What Pluralsight did know was that renewals dropped 10-15% when AEs weren’t connected with the entire sphere of influence in an account.
With visions of continuing their exponential growth, the Pluralsight executive team knew a change was needed. The goal was to find a solution that enabled the company to proactively manage customers at scale, particularly in the enterprise and commercial sectors.
Solution: Equipping Cross-Functional Teams with a Full Customer Lifecycle View
Pluralsight first deployed Gainsight to guide its AE team as it pursued and tracked progress against a uniform goal using the built-in dashboards and metrics. The company rounded this out by equipping cross-functional teams with the Gainsight platform, which collects and displays information about Pluralsight’s customers.
Pluralsight’s Operations team did up-front work to ensure Gainsight would enable operational efficiency for years to come. Based on data from systems that Pluralsight uses regularly – including Salesforce, Marketo, Desk.com, and Qualtrics – Gainsight shows implementation progress, product engagement via active usage, license redemption, and value metrics for the customer purchase, to name a few. Through Gainsight Sponsor Tracking enabled by integration with LinkedIn, AEs can also see whether they are connected with account contacts across three key categories defined by Pluralsight.
Combined, these data points roll up into a customer health score aligned with relevant playbooks and calls to action (CTAs) within Gainsight. Calling upon these, cross-functional teams can better take actions that help enhance each customer relationship and each customer’s use of the Pluralsight platform.
“Gainsight empowers our teams to focus on specific, relevant points in the customer journey in a time-bound manner. The CTAs ensure we are engaging customers at the right time to expand our reach within an account and encourage renewals.”
Andy Rahden, VP of Customer Success for Pluralsight
Impact: Pluralsight’s Retention Jumps an Impressive 14 Points
Prior to using Gainsight, Pluralsight was only effectively reaching out to 5-10% of its customer base. With Gainsight, it is hitting 100% of its customer base, helping it achieve a 127% net retention in Q3 2018. “Without Gainsight, we would have missed about 60% of business opportunities,” says Rahden.
At the same time, Pluralsight sales reps now proactively engage a Customer Success Manager (CSM) when they see a poor health score or low monthly usage. In turn, the CSM team can proactively make key customer stakeholders aware of new and valuable product features. In other words, Gainsight helps drive new levels of organizational efficiency while directing Pluralsight’s teams to focus on the right data points and tactics.
Consider this example. Previously, Pluralsight often didn’t notice renewal risks until two weeks before a renewal date. A full customer view via Gainsight enables the company to understand risks and priorities far in advance. In fact, through Gainsight, it can spot renewal risk trends. For instance, while Pluralsight knew customers on the platform for more than three years were at risk of non-renewal, it hadn’t figured out why. Through Gainsight, it zeroed in on the root cause, which was the loss of a key contact combined with limited sphere of influence. In turn, Pluralsight’s CSMs were triggered to engage these customers to ensure they were realizing the full value of Pluralsight.
This realization alone helped Pluralsight improve gross retention by nearly 5 points. Overall, the visibility and actions enabled by Gainsight have helped Pluralsight increase gross retention by 14 points.
Going forward, Pluralsight intends to use Gainsight to strategically align its retention efforts according to customer segments. It also plans to leverage it to scale actions through automation so a lean Pluralsight team can support thousands of customers.
Though it’s a challenging goal to achieve, Rahden would like to see Pluralsight reach 90-95% gross retention. For now, he’s thrilled with the business impact of Gainsight.
“The Gainsight tool is an essential part of our business. It allows me to have a bigger impact on customer retention as a results-driven leader, and enables our teams to effectively focus their efforts on driving more renewals and account expansion,”
Andy Rahden, VP of Customer Success for Pluralsight