With companies like Slack and Calendly generating over 10 million monthly users in roughly their first decade, the idea of product-led growth is becoming an aspiring concept for every SaaS company. But true product-led growth is a mighty concept and is extremely rare (even product-led companies have to layer in a sales team eventually.) For most SaaS companies, true PLG exists as a guidepost and the map to follow is product-led sales. Here are seven articles to walk you through product-led sales, from introduction to adoption, and every angle of the SaaS world.
What is product-led growth, and how do sales operate within it?
“Product-led sales offers you a way to create a more modern buying experience based on how customers actually want to buy, not on how you want to sell to them.”Anna Talerico, Introduction to Product-Led Sales.
This article, by Product Led’s Wes Bush, describes in tangible terms the difference between product-led and sales-led. He uses perceived value and experienced value to define the outputs of a sales cycle.
The perceived value is a product’s worth given by a sales representative before purchase. Once a customer has bought the service, they witness its experienced value (or, its actual worth.) Often these two values are not equal, which negatively impacts the user experience, and halts upward growth.
However, in true product-led growth, the consumer learns both the perceived value and the experienced value simultaneously, creating the sought-after transparency that today’s customers demand. This ultimately contributes to the product’s reputation which is crucial to the word-of-mouth marketing strategy employed by PLG.
In this article, Anna Talerico of Arthur Ventures introduces the idea of Product-Led sales and outlines two effective methods of achieving it: Product Led Growth + Sales and Sales + Product Led Funnel.
The first occurs when a PLG company layers in a sales team to increase revenue growth, especially on a larger scale. When expanding PLG companies into the organization level, a sales team can be highly effective.
The second method offers a realistic approach to the PLG world for existing sales-led companies. By initiating the Product-Led-Funnel, a company can transition from sales-led to “sales-assisted.” It avoids the friction of the qualification, evaluation, and negotiation stage while maintaining the need for a strong sales organization. In addition, it gives your product the same competitive advantage as traditional product-led software.
This article provides a thorough walkthrough of product-led strategy: what it looks like and how it contrasts to other sales models. It also offers useful marketing suggestions for transitioning into PLG.
My company is product-led already. How do I incorporate a sales team?
For companies that have been product-led from conception: though your customer acquisition is largely online-based, you will eventually need to incorporate a sales team if you want to achieve major and rapid expansion. This article from Arthur Ventures outlines four different sales motions to adopt depending on your company’s needs: self-service, sales-assisted, inbound, and outbound. What’s more––each motion comes with a complete description of what they might look like within your company.
When you think of a product-led company, you may not necessarily think of outbound sales. Why? Because product-led growth exists on a keystone of red-hot leads, while outbound generally lives somewhere deep in Antarctica (cold leads, that is).
However, despite the two concept’s polarity, it is not entirely impossible to layer outbound sales into a PLG company, and in fact, it can be quite beneficial. This article outlines the key strategies to employ when integrating outbound into your sales organization, including realistic expectations, changing cadence, and keeping rigor and tenacity.
My company is sales-led. How Can I Evolve Into Product-Led?
“There’s nuance in the product-led sphere, and other ways to take advantage of a product-led strategy even if you can’t fully rely on a self-service channel.”Anna Talerico, The Importance of a Product-Led Funnel.
In this article, Patrick Meenan and Anna Talerico of Arthur Ventures introduce the product-led funnel. Because true online acquisition PLG is so rare, the funnel serves as a tool for businesses to adopt product-led growth practices that suit their business. Introducing a product-led funnel might look like a “sales-assisted” organization or one that offers a free version with purchase options available through a sales representative. Overall, this article stresses that product-led growth isn’t binary; There are more ways than one to use product-led strategies to drive revenue forward.
This article from Arthur Ventures discusses the fundamental differences between product-led and sales-led companies. While it highlights the requirements needed to define as pure PLG, it also gives practical methods for evolving a traditional sales-led company into a more product-led market.
Enjoy these reads! With the practical advice given by these generous authors, you too can adopt strategies for selling to customer’s the way they demand. Welcome to the product-led funnel!