Dovetail kicked off 2022 with a $63 million bang — the product-led growth (PLG) SaaS company announced its successful Series A led by Accel in January. On the horizon: expanding in San Francisco and launching new products.
The Sydney-based company has operated as a lean machine since 2017, mastering self-service strategies that drive efficiency.
Dovetail’s customer research platform serves companies across a wide range of industries, ranging from SaaS unicorns like Shopify and Gitlab, to media establishments like Publicis and the New York Times, and global retail brands like Starbucks and Aesop.
The company delivers value through three purpose-built SaaS offerings. Markup helps customers analyze conversations, find patterns, and share insights with their team. Playback provides a single, searchable repository for reports, presentations, documents and interview recordings. Backstage helps research teams manage participants and connect faces to insights.
Dovetail’s secret to rapid and efficient growth? Its strong operational culture of transparency, documentation and self-service. To get an insider’s view into how this works, we spoke to Alex Younes, Dovetail’s Enterprise Business Lead, who shared the company’s unique approach to marketing and sales in the early stages of their PLG business.
Define (and solve for) your shortcomings
Before you can develop systems that will decrease inefficiencies, you first have to understand your company’s most significant hurdles. If you don’t know what problems need solving, you’re unlikely to make much of a dent in improvement efforts.
Dovetail knew that its location created significant challenges for customer service and sales efforts. With headquarters located in Sydney, Australia, leadership faced a timezone conundrum: 90% of Dovetail’s customers were based overseas, making communication challenging.
The customer should be able to trial the product, purchase the product and understand Help Center documentation without talking to anyone.Alex Younes, Enterprise Business Lead, Dovetail
The company adopted the strategy from the get-go and engrained a self-service mindset into every aspect of operations. Sales, marketing, customer support all built policies and practices around the idea that a Dovetail customer should have as many tools at their disposal as possible.
As the company grows, it continues to assess this unique geographical challenge. For example, some of Dovetail’s Series A funding will be used to build out a go-to-market (GTM) hub based in San Francisco.
Leverage high impact initiatives
Empowering customers to solve their own problems isn’t easy — it requires careful planning. Dovetail identified two main strategies to increase customer self service and minimize the need for one-on-one customer support.
Transparency: Answer questions upfront
Dovetail puts it all out there. And that’s part of the company’s philosophy. By giving as much information to prospective customers as possible, the company cuts back a lot of early communication efforts.
Customers have clear and easy access to Dovetail’s products with little to no roadblocks.
- Pricing: Dovetail publishes pricing on its website and makes the information easy to locate. All membership tier price points are shared, including enterprise-level subscriptions.
- Trial periods: The software’s free trial option does not require credit card information, often a request that gives potential users pause. Dovetail believes its premium product with elegant design is enough to convert temporary users into longtime customers.
- Platform capabilities: Potential customers can easily experience the product’s value through online demos readily available on the company website. Additionally, when users sign up for the free trial, they receive full access to the product’s capabilities.
Transparency takes a lot out of the early sales process. Potential customers can learn about the product through self-guided discovery rather than relying on scheduled one-on-one calls or product demos.
Even the simple act of publishing pricing drastically reduces calls to Dovetail’s sales team.
Documentation: Develop resources to help your users
Dovetail takes documentation seriously. CEO Benjamin Humphrey stressed the importance of capturing processes and standardizing practices in all aspects of the company.
The customer help center is a robust resource for users, providing not just information about technical support but also all of Dovetail’s business information. The help center covers a broad range of topics, including:
- How to pay by invoice
- Incident response
- Corporate security training and confidentiality agreements
- Configuring various user authentication options
- Branding your workspace
- Technical limitations
- Dovetail’s bank account details
If you can ask it, you’re likely to find it on Dovetail’s website.
Everything that we can publicly disclose from a security perspective is listed in our help center.Alex Younes, Enterprise Business Lead, Dovetail
Dovetail made the company-wide effort to document and publish its processes possible by giving all employees access to edit documents and information within the help center.
By making it easy for employees to build out help center resources, Dovetail continues to build a well-rounded and comprehensive customer resource that allows users to help themselves and cuts back on the need for one-on-one customer support.
Maximize your sales efforts
Dovetail doubles down on efficiencies by eliminating all outbound marketing techniques. The decision, made by the company’s CEO, has actually helped the slim sales team focus their efforts by operating within the predetermined constraints.
The bold decision is rooted in the understanding that Dovetail’s sleek and elegant design speaks for itself, relying on an inbound sales funnel built primarily via word of mouth.
The move means Alex and his team aren’t focused on demand gen advertising, saving the company time and money. Instead, they concentrate their efforts elsewhere: identifying the customers who need extra touchpoints and one-on-one support and proactively reaching out to convert the sale.
Prepare for the next stage
The self-service strategy has paid off for the SaaS startup. Last year Dovetail tripled its revenue and its headcount. In enterprise sales, the company grew at an even faster rate, 4xing its earnings.
The company hasn’t just grown in finances and size. Alex’s team has also increased profits by improving its sales conversion timeline, cutting the average close time from 104 days to 62 days in a single year.
Alex credits the growth to Dovetail’s self-service-driven mindset. But he’s also aware that resting on the company’s laurels is never an option. As the company expands, its efficiency strategies will need to shift and adjust to new demands. But with clear guiding principles, he believes his team is set up for success in Dovetail’s next stage of growth.