Does Developer Activity Actually Mean Purchase Intent?

Presenting our 1st Developer GTM report with data led insights on what works in Developer led GTM. And here we ask ourselves - Does more developer activity actually mean more purchase intent?

Achintya Gupta
Prithviraj Ramu
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Developer Intent
min read


Developers are driving tech sales, with a staggering 66% of them influencing purchase decisions according to the 2023 StackOverflow Survey, echoing insights from the BCG report, that underscores the growing role of developers in shaping technology acquisition within companies.

But then does that mean that if you are seeing high developer activity from an organisation around your product, there is also a higher purchase intent within that organisation for your product.

There are two reasons why this question is important. First, because sales leaders often ignore developer activity signals for building sales pipeline. They suspect such developers are interested in only the free or open source offering and find it tough to build conviction to target such accounts. Second, if this thesis is true, the developer focused companies will realise that they are already sitting on tonnes of intent signals that could be monetised.

Our analysis on Reo.Dev data shows developer activity around your product ecosystem significantly represents sales intent. Few highlights:

  • There is a 3X chance of an account with developer activity being at the bottom of the sales funnel than at the top of the funnel
  • The more we move towards the bottom of purchase funnel, the more we see accounts with higher intensity of developer activity
  • 7 out of 10 accounts with developer activity at the bottom of funnel were ‘High’ dev activity accounts.


For this report we analysed developer activity from multiple public and 1st party sources for 50+ organisations using the Reo.Dev engine that had a considerable bottom’s up developer motion. These developer activity sources included:

  • Organisation’s owned Github projects,
  • Organisations competing Github projects
  • Installations of package managers (such as NPM, Helm) and docker pulls
  • Developer activities on org’s technical docs
  • Dev activities on organisation’s cloud products

This developer activity was then triangulated into accounts and analysed along with their CRM’s sales funnel stages in Reo.Dev. We attributed developer activity levels of an account into three categories of Developer Activity Score -High, Medium or Low - based on our proprietary algorithm that translates various developer activities into a top 10 percentile (High), next 30 percentile (Medium) or bottom 60 percentile (Low) band respectively. From the CRM, we looked into accounts that were marked either as Sales Qualified Accounts (defined as ‘Opportunity’ in this report) or Customers.

The initial hypothesis was to understand the correlation of Developer Activity score of an account with the overall accounts that are present in the ‘lead’ stage of CRM. The validation of this hypothesis lays the foundation for having Developer Activity Score as a proxy for accounts that are “hot” as well as propensity of them being lower down the funnel typically due to their engagement with the dev tool.

At an overall level, we observed that 1 in 6 accounts that are typically in the Lead stage of CRM are captured in Reo.Dev’s product with their Development Activity captured and engaging with the dev tool’s collaterals across docs/open source repos/product/website/community engagement. We have considered this statistic as the baseline for all our analysis in this report.

When we looked at the accounts deeper in the sales funnel, we observed that the ratio of accounts in Opportunity/ Deal stage in CRM was 2.06X of the baseline, i.e. about 1 in 3 accounts in Opportunity/ Deal stage was captured by Reo.Dev of having some level of developer activity.

Expanding this analogy to Customer accounts we observed an even higher correlation. The ratio of accounts in Customer stage in CRM was 3.18X to the baseline. Thus, nearly 1 in 2 customers were captured by Reo.Dev with their Development Activity observed and captured by the product.

The above analysis was a big eye opener to us as it clearly showed that the chances of finding an account with developer activity are more as the bottom of the funnel than the top of the funnel, clearly showing the correlation of developer activity with sales opportunity.

Next we wanted to check that does the intensity of developer activity increase along the sales funnel too? So we analysed the Developer Activity Score* of accounts across the CRM life cycle stages, and saw an even stronger correlation.

Taking the slice of accounts that are in CRM which also had developer activity identified by Reo.Dev, we observe these key aspects:

  • ~45% of the accounts in CRM are contributed by ‘Medium and High’ activity band accounts - These accounts have a deeper level of engagement with the dev tool rather than lone wolf developers of an account engaging with the resources
  • ~65% of the accounts in Opportunity stage are contributions from the ‘Medium and High’ activity accounts
  • Nearly 4 out of 5 (78%) in Customer stage have ‘Medium and High’ activity associated with them

Extending the above trend exclusively to ‘High’ Activity accounts only further illustrates the correlation that exists between an account’s presence in CRM vis-a-vis their stage in the sales funnel. 70% of the accounts captured with Developer Activity present in bottom of the funnel stages are the ones with ‘High’ Developer Activity. This aligns with the hypothesis that Developer Activity is going to be a critical indicator of the purchase intent as involvement with the dev tool at an advanced level typically would tend to convert into a paying customer.

All of the aforementioned characteristics provide evidence that Developer Activity is correlated to sales opportunity and Developer activity signals capture purchase intent of an account in a significant manner.

The entire analysis done by us was on accounts available in user’s CRM. Once the above correlation is established, this also meant that accounts which were not in the CRM, but had high or medium developer activity, also had significant sales potential.

And when we looked into this data, we saw that on average a significant 83.4% of accounts with any kind of developer activity around the analysed tenant’s product and associated ecosystem were not in their CRM. This statistic made logical sense due to the anonymous nature of developer activity that got captured by Reo.Dev engine. Developers are active mostly outside a signup, such as on your open source projects, documentation, support communities and other assets. Hence there is a good chance that a typical CRM would have no record of such activity, however significant.

Thus the numbers show that developer marketers have a big problem of an invisible funnel since roughly 5X of accounts with developer activity and the correlated sales opportunities are unknown to them.

What does this data mean for Developer GTM leaders?

The report aligns with the core thesis to developer marketing and a bottom’s up developer motion; that developers can strongly champion and influence purchase within their organisation.

Here is what we think GTM Leaders in Developer Focused Companies can learn from this:

Your Developer activity should be a feeder into sales funnel

Every matured GTM starts with a qualified account. Today developer focused companies rely on multiple ways to reach the qualified accounts. Many start with a cold outreach on their ICP segment, while others look at signal such as website visits or product signups.

Looking at the data, we recommend that accounts with developers active around your product or community should be the first qualifier. This data should then be overlapped with your ICP criteria to build your target account list. Finally based on the maturity of developer activity with the account, you can define your account GTM strategy. If you are seeing one or two developers just starting the exploration you will need a more nurturing and education GTM strategy, while if you see that the account is ripe with few more developers and activities, that means the account must have matured for outreach.

Developer activity can help you prioritise your mid of funnel accounts

As the data shows a positive correlation between developer activity and sales probability, developer activity can be a great signal for sales executives to prioritise mid of funnel accounts. Sales executive have a long list of accounts to close. Many of them focus on a region and vertical, have discovery calls with multiple prospects, but there is always that challenge of which accounts should they prioritise.

They use intent tooling for tracking email opens, sales proposals reviewed which work for business buyers but developer are active on different assets such as your docs, code commands, product trials and more. Exposing sales executives to developer activity trends within their list of accounts can help them prioritise and strategise their pitch better.

GTM leaders need to build sales tooling for Developer data mining

While many of the things said above might appear logical, analysing developer activity is tough and the reason for that is most of the developer activities are anonymous in nature. You will find them signing up with burner email IDs or active from their Github or Stackoverflow IDs or even evaluating things anonymously on your docs without signing up. In fact a lot of developer experience (DX) stack has been created so that developers can evaluate the product without having to signup or pay.

Hence you will need tooling to understand and triangulate developer intent, the detailed stack requirements are been given below.

Converting Developer Activity into purchase intent: Emerging Playbooks

As we can see from the data that developer activity is correlated to sales opportunity. It is also equally important to understand that while analysing developer motion will give you both accounts and developer leads who are interacting with your product, meaningless outreach to both might not help. Unlike in other marketing motion, qualification is much more important in Developer focused GTM.

Hence we wanted to conclude this report with few emerging developer led GTM trends:

Think accounts, not leads

When it comes to Developer Led GTM, champions are employing account based strategies. Instead of looking at opportunity from individual developer’s activities they are trying to create one complete account picture and then prioritising accounts based on activity trends. When they move the analyses from a developer to an account level, you start looking at a broader opportunity and start getting better signals.

Find the ‘right time to get in’ an account

It is important to know that any developer activity does not mean sales opportunity, but the sales opportunity matures with developer activity. The Developer activity lifecycle in a product purchase can be broken into 4 stages:

  • Pioneering: Pioneer or champion developer discovers the product and start playing around with it
  • Surge: More developers join the product evaluation and the developer activity surges. These teams will tinker with the product and start exploring it more. This stage will be represented by a ‘surge’ in cumulative developer activity
  • Evaluation: The buyer in the organisation is made aware of the problem. The users go deeper into the product and start building POCs. The developer activity soars even more as multiple developers or teams tinker with the product.
  • Decisioning: The buyer builds a business case for the product. The Developer teams qualify solutions and make their recommendations

Hence when it comes to Developer led GTM, it is very important to find the right time to get into an account. If you rush in too early, the buyer would not have been involved in the purchase. If you go too late, the buyer would have already moved to competition or the organisation would have adopted an open source product.

From the chart above you will see that the right time to outreach the account when stage 2 is maturing. It might vary org to org, but typically we see this is represented by 2 or more developers getting active on the product around the same time and surges in developer activity.

Build a winning DevX to win the GTM game

For an evaluation to mature it will have to pass through the early stages of developer discovery and pioneering. These developers are finding solutions to their organisation’s tech problems. There is no business case for GTM teams yet. Hence the most prominent engagement strategy here is to build the right developer experience to help the developers discover the product and learn about it as quickly and easily as possible. Thus the best Dev GTM teams lead through education and developer relations and ensure the developer teams get the best experience in understanding and tinkering with the product. Here is a great post that talks about Developer Experience (DX) and the tools you can use to design it.

Build and run separate user and buyer databases and nurtures

As you can see above, the Developer led GTM has a hybrid motion with two different personas. The two personas - the Buyer and the User (Developer) have very different needs and motives around your product. Also they are so different that the same communication and massaging will not work for both the personas. Yet, we see majority of marketers do not differentiate between the two. Hence a developer is outreached with a sales messaging while a buyer gets technical nurtures.

Hence champion GTM leaders are clearly differentiating between a buyer and a user, and designing very different messaging strategies for them that are aligned with their motivations and incentives.

About Reo.Dev

Reo.Dev is a GTM OS for developer focused companies. Reo.Dev helps GTM teams accelerate their sales by using AI to gauge developer intent signals across millions of open source, public and first party data. Reo.Dev’s revenue AI engine converts these intent signals into organisations and developers who are already interested in their product and provides GTM teams a comprehensive platform to take these intent signals to the last mile.

We power the growth engine for popular developer tools such as Ververica (part of Alibaba Group and owner of Apache Flink), Lightbend (owner of Akka) and Unleash (top alternative to Launch Darkly). For more information visit www.reo.dev

*Developer Activity Score is Reo.Dev’s proprietary algorithm that measures and labels overall developer activity levels within an account. It looks at developer activities across channels, number of developers, their recency of activity and multiple other parameters to translate developer activity into a top 5 percentile (High), next 15 percentile (Medium) or bottom 80 percentile (Low) band respectively.

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