A sales team is like sunscreen––you need it even when you think you don’t.Chase Roberts, Twitter
When you think of product-led growth, your first thought is, of course: the product. You simply cannot have a product-led company without a compelling product or service that solves an unmet and obvious need. But the truth is, even the most successful PLG companies, with the absolute best-in-breed technology and most brilliant business strategies, don’t rely solely on their product to sell. In fact, for a company to achieve the significant and rapid expansion that you’ve seen propel Slack, Zoom, and Dropbox to household names, a sales team is 100% necessary.
What Do Sales Look Like in a Product-Led Company?
There are two simple ways to integrate sales and PLG:
- Sales + Product-Led Funnel
- Product Led-Growth + Sales
The former is useful for traditional sales-led organizations that are competing with product-led bottom-up competitors. The Product-Led Funnel encourages a more buyer-centric selling approach that meets the buyer where they are and doesn’t force a prescriptive sales process. When using the funnel, the sales team interacts with prospective buyers who are very nearly ‘ready to buy.’ They don’t need the standard sales qualification, evaluation, and negotiation, and in fact, that will only slow down the sales cycle.
The latter is what occurs in most of today’s tech start-ups. You start with a remarkable product where users try & buy, tell their friends, and the organization grows organically. However, as mentioned before, adding a sales team drives expansion and renewal revenue. It has the unique capability to sell to a large enterprise organization on a much bigger scale than a product alone.
Check the Data
Take a look at this data reported by Chase Roberts on Twitter:
With companies like Snyk (valued at $4.7 billion) and LaunchDarkly (estimated annual revenue $31.9 million), having over 20% of their employees on the sales team, it’s clear to see the value in investing in a sales organization.
Further, with PLG mogul Amazon Web Services having almost 1,000 employees designated to sales alone, it’s not surprising that companies are layering in a sales team to launch growth and revenue.
Don’t Underestimate Sales
Sales is not a vestige of the past––it still plays a crucial role in the customer acquisition process. A considerable function of a PLG sales team is land and expand, which emphasizes that a solid top-down sales approach complements a bottom-up growth strategy. Despite what you may think, even outbound sales play a role in product-led growth. The point: don’t write off sales even in the fastest growing product-led model.