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Product-led growth is an efficient market strategy but it requires a lot of elements. Do you think the success of Slack and Zoom was common? Not at all.

This is why there has been a shift in mindset regarding hiring sales reps. Organizations are understanding the purpose behind including a sales team with the product-led approach. Because being a product-led business doesn’t mean that you cannot implement sales. 

Having a PLG approach with a sales team gives you more clarity and advantages to focus on. As PLG brings Product Qualified Leads (PQL), your sales team gets to work with warmer leads rather than trying to get the attention of someone who hasn’t heard about your product.

This article will help you understand how to strategize your approach towards having a sales team and how to transform your product and sales team into a fine-tuned machine that generates highly engaged customers.

What is product-led growth?

Product-led growth is about creating better and reliable products. In the PLG concept, your product acts as the main driver to acquire, engage, and retain customers. 

I bet no one pushed you to use Slack or Dropbox, and the product itself was tempting and valuable enough to attract and retain your attention.

The critical aspects of product-led growth are:

  • Your product is the ultimate channel to market to your target audience.
  • The product must be tempting enough to attract the audience.
  • User segmentation and personalized in-app experiences are crucial in PLG.
  • Never bug your user with paywalls before the customer has seen the value.
  • You should track the product usage activity to drive personalized onboarding and experience.
  • The user experience should be your priority.

In the PLG approach, the product is the leading artist, and it needs a supporting cast to enhance its role. The sales team is one of the vital supportive artistin this award-winning movie which is in the making.

Why Sales Is An Integral Part Of ProductLed Growth?

The sales team becomes an expansion tool when you have a product that already tempts, attracts, and retains users.

Think of it as a catalyst that fastens up the process of your company’s growth. Your sales team plays the role of guiding the process of feature adoption and evolving the post-trial funnel. Because even with a freemium model, you can have similar users but at different parts of their journey.

For instance, user X might need help understanding your premium features, whereas user Y might need clarity regarding the return on investment of the amount invested. The key responsibility of the sales team is to find those people and create plans to engage with them.

This strategy works well when your product is easy to use and self-service. However, things get more complicated when you move to an enterprise model, and the product is expensive, complex with more than one type of user.

Here is where your sales team plugs in. Your sales team will help you navigate and create the strategy as how to aid your users and convert them based on their user’s journey. Having a sales team helps you not to keep all of your eggs in one basket.

The Who, When, And What Of ProductLed Sales

Including sales in your product-led approach is about who your sales team engages with when in the customer’s journey and with what resource or content they engage with.

Who

Product-led growth is all about focusing on your business’s best leads or the best users. Decoding what exactly signifies best for your business differs according to your buyer persona.

But generally, for every PLG company, it includes:

  • Demographics (geographical location, age, gender, designation, etc.)
  • Engagement (social media and blogs)
  • Product usage
  • Sales engagement (trigger points, email opens, etc.)

However, figuring out the right set of product qualified leads is tricky. This is why Salesmachine built a solution that bridges the gap between user behavior and sales opportunities. It helps you see the top leads and their interactions with your product.

When

Knowing when to plug in your sales team is a careful move. Your product must do the challenging work of pulling in the customers. If your product adds value to users’ lives, the conversion part gets easier.

It is best to have certain checkpoints that notify you when the user has reached the perfect moment to involve sales.

Salesmachine helps you get your priorities right and improves the sales reps’ performance by showing them the opportunities with solid signals.

This way, you can easily segment the users who are ready to hit the premium segment of your product, and as your sales team works with warmer leads, the conversion rates get higher.

What

The sales team’s toughest part is getting prospects’ attention, and the key to success lies in the approach. However, as a product-led business, you can use personalization to do things better thanks to the two valuable pieces of information about your business.

  • More details about prospects

You have users who already use your product, because of which you have context. Your sales reps will have data about:

  • their designation
  • the size of their organization
  • the technology they use
  • You know the user journey

Salesmachine helps you understand the user journey and gives you context about their engagements with the product. This gives you crucial data to quickly act upon and personalize your messaging. Also, you can add a personalized touch using the salesmachine automations the segment triggered workflows

 

Drivers Of Sales For A Product-Led Company

Most product-led companies squeeze in the sales team only to scratch their head regarding actual strategy and how they should take it forward. In the beginning, it’s crucial to understand the sales drivers to understand the various layers of a product-led sales team.

Self-service

A typical product-led approach relies on self-service. It’s about users signing up on their own for the freemium and/or free trial version and using the product. In the beginning, the customer never interacts with any person from the company.

However, there must be a way for users to expand with time.

Sales Approach

Every product-led company has ready-to-buy leads, but they are not able to finish the procedure for some reason. And most organizations fail to identify those leads and focus on others who are still on a journey.

Inbound

The ultimate goal of online marketing is to generate leads. As for inbound leads, there are two kinds; warm and hot leads. Hot leads generally want to speak to the sales reps from your organization. For this, you need to have sales reps who can contact these leads and convert them.

Outbound

Outbound selling to new people is the least effective option for any organization. It involves more effort and an unsure method to rely upon. However, it can drive great results if it reaches a specific audience that might be tough to reach with just online marketing.

How To Implement Sales In The Product-Led Approach?

Old school sales method doesn’t work anymore. 

Hard selling to strangers increases friction, which means more customer acquisition cost (CAC) and less annual recurring revenue (ARR). However, with the new approach— product-led sales – you have a huge funnel of self-service users. This means you are not targeting new users but people already using it.

Self Supply Loop

You should check on some signals before including sales to your product-led team. You should not hire sales reps unless you have checked off any of the above mentioned requirements because you don’t want to sell to the customers who aren’t ready to purchase yet.

Rather than qualifying these measures in a quantitative approach, it is better to look at two qualitative measures.

  • You see more complex queries coming into your inbox. The customer success team sees a gradual increase in the number of messages and questions coming in. For example, someone asks how to add more people here from my team? What features are you planning to include?
  • The customer success or support team is handling more sales queries. And when you know that it has taken over most of their job, you realize you need to hire a sales team.
  • Cross Functional Buy In

Building a sales team in your company isn’t just another thing to do as a formality. Including sales in your product-led team needs a well-defined strategy.

You must begin with setting KPIs, results, plan, and metrics. Ask all other teams of your company how you should use sales reps to grow your business. The best way is to summarize everything you discuss in a one-page document.

Some of the key sections that you must talk about are:

  • Why do you need a sales team?
  • What is your goal?
  • How will you evaluate the results?
  • Do you have enough tech resources, or do you need some more?
  • What is the anticipated cost?

You must add anything else that will help you decide the purpose of your adding a sales team. The responsibility of having a sales team doesn’t end with hiring and onboarding. 

When you are layering a new team, it shifts your organization’s culture. Due to this, your sales reps will need constant training and education to keep up with recent trends in your organization.

Setting Up PQLs

Here is where things start getting more fun. Before you think about Product Qualified Leads (PQLS), you need to reassess your tech stack. Tools are crucial for every PLG company, and with that, some of the obvious ones are:

  • A tool to safely store your data, such as Snowflake,Segment or Intercom
  • A CRM solution and/or A tool that assists you with product-led sales, like Salesmachine. 

A product-led sales solution such as Salesmachine enables you to identify the best PQLs for your business so that your sales team knows who to run after.

The next thing to do is to define your PQLs. The definition of PQLs is an evolving process, and it constantly changes with time. The best way to describe your PQLs is to think about the following three factors:

  • Customer fit

How well does this account match your ideal buyer persona? Is that someone who you want to target?

  • Product Usage

Think about the number of daily active users, frequency of those users, how recent they have used your product, the time spent, how convincing their ratio of converting from free to paid looks like, and the number of invites sent from the account.

  • Intent

The final thing to think about is their buying intent. Are there any clear signals? For example, are they frequently checking the service page? Or do you see more users onboarding from the invites sent?

Hiring Product-Led Sales Team

The sales team for a product-led organization is wildly different from the traditional approach. It is more data-driven, value-focused, and customer-centric.

So most of the high-value product-led organizations generally have these three sales roles:

  • SDR/BDR – They are more focused on inbound, outbound, and qualifying leads. So that they can send those leads to the account executive.
  • Account Executive – An account executive focuses on ultimately closing those deals.
  • Sales Assist – The role of sales assist involves three functions:
    • Supporting the customer to get the most value out of your product.
    • Sales support
    • Feedback

The above three roles are for big and mature organizations. If you are an early-stage startup but still want to hire someone for sales, then you must employ a generalist that can do a bit of all three roles.

Execute The Plan

Finally, it is time that you create a playbook for the organization that explains everything, including these:

  • There shouldn’t be a clash between a self-serve and sales deal. So to prevent that, you need to set clear terms for what’s a self-serve deal and what’s a sales deal?
  • There should be a way to distribute all the information to a broader team. When are you holding training sessions, and what needs to be improved? It shouldn’t be something discreet but accessible to the entire organization.
  • Set clear revenue expectations
  • You need to hold frequent training sessions to be on the same page.

Conclusion

There is no reason to over-complicate the process of hiring a sales team. You must find a way for your organization to search for the best-fit users so that you can hand them over to your sales team. 

Strategies are meant to evolve— the more you track results, the more you can find new ways to develop them. Salesmachine empowers your sales team with the best leads to go after.

Start now to convert more product-qualified leads and increase your revenues.

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