PQEs: How to leverage your product to hire amazing employees

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The intrepid Checkly team at a recent company retreat.

You’ve heard about Product Qualified Leads (PQLs), but have you heard about PQEs (Product Qualified Employees)?

As a SaaS company on a product-led growth (PLG) path, we talk about product qualified leads (PQLs) all the time. Before diving into PQEs, let’s first make sure everyone know exactly what PQLs are:

A product qualified lead (PQL) is an individual and business who has experienced value from using a product as a result of a free trial, use of a limited feature model, or other types of experience with the product. The use of the product takes it a step further than a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
A PQL is more likely to purchase a product than other leads as a result of having already receiving value from an understanding of the product. These individuals have bought into the product beyond other leads who have only performed research, received promotions, or have been referred to an organization.

(source)

As we were figuring out our PQL strategy, we also started noticing something different that felt very similar. Semi-jokingly, this phenomenon was named product qualified employees or PQEs.

A product qualified employee is a team member who has experienced value from using the product before they joined the team. A PQE is more likely to accept the job offer because they know and love the product so much already. On top of that, it’s easier and faster to onboard a PQE from a product perspective as well as from a mission perspective. The PQE is already bought in to and convinced of our mission and what we’re building.

I am also a strong believer that that’s exactly where engagement starts: the mission and the product. This is the core of the business and culture where you build your team around. If your team does not believe in what you’re building, you can give it your all to build an amazing culture and opportunities for engagement, but it’s just going to fall flat in the long term.

Here are some of our PQE stories:

  • Alex, our Customer Solutions Engineer, was looking for a API monitoring solution at his previous company. After some other solutions turned out to not be a fit, he evaluated Checkly. In Alex’ own words: “I've found myself being very enthusiastic toward your product while 'selling' the application and its benefits internally.” After that, he decided he wanted to join us. We weren’t looking for a Solutions Engineer at the time, but after reading more about our values and how we work in our Hiring Playbook, Alex messaged our CEO on LinkedIn. From that LinkedIn message, it was clear we needed to talk to him. Alex has been with us for over 3 months now and has exceeded all of our expectations so far already!
  • Cinthia, our CMO, worked at Humio, a CrowdStrike company, before she joined us. Humio is a Checkly customer and the Checkly users at Humio told Cinthia they love Checkly. That combined with the great leadership skills of our CEO made Cinthia’s decision to join our company an easy one.
  • Darko, our Senior Product Manager, didn’t know about Checkly before he applied for a job with us. However, he started using Checkly as part of the hiring process and then also introduced it at his previous team to monitor changes to their APIs. That team is still using Checkly for this “quite extensively”. If this wasn’t a great sign for us by itself, Darko also sent us a long feedback about his experience with Checkly as a user, also including some light Product Manager comments.
  • Jan, our Team Lead Engineering, jokes about being a BQE or blog qualified employee. “I stumbled upon Tim’s [Checkly’s CTO] blog when looking for people with similar software problems (running users code in a safe manner), and then I bookmarked the blog and company website. From time to time I was reading the blog. Some time about 2,5 years ago I've noticed the "hiring" badge, and the rest is history.”

Obviously, people loving your product isn’t the only factor that will convince people to join your company. You also have to make sure you give them a great interview experience, followed up by a great onboarding and work experience. You can read more about how we do that in our remote-first setup in our blog “How to build a leading remote-first company while exceeding company goals? Do this…

Were you a PQE for a past or current role? We’d love to hear about it!

Did you like what you read and want to join us? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here. We’d love for you to become a PQE yourself!

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