How to build a Product-Led Sales team

How to build a Product-Led Sales team

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If you’re reading this, you may fall into one of two buckets,

  1. Your product has a successful self-serve go-to-market (GTM) motion with users and revenue growing at a fast clip, but you believe you’re leaving money on the table from a conversion rate standpoint and you’re likely not seeing as many enterprise deals as you should be. 
  1. You have a traditional enterprise sales process, but now you’re layering on a self-serve product line or a free version of your product. As a result, you’re planning organizational and process changes on how your sales team should respond to this shift.

Regardless of which bucket you're in, you’re far from alone. Over 96% of PLG companies have sales teams (source: Peer Signal) and most originally operated as either Product-Led or Sales-Led, so the community has honed in on some tried & true best practices to start building your motion.

Goals of a product led sales team

The first question you’ll want to answer when building out a Product-Led Sales Team is what problem the team will be solving. This might feel like an easy question (ie. increase conversion rates!), although it’s important to take a closer look at your existing customer base to fully understand what sales should be focusing on and the type of sales function you want to build. 

A few examples:

Increase conversion rates by adding value

Many PLG sales teams are often primarily focused on maximizing value during self-serve or a trial experience in order to increase the chance of conversion to paid. This role acts like more of a product specialist, perhaps nudging users towards functionality that they might find valuable. This role is sometimes referred to as a Sales Assist. Kyle Poyar at OpenView wrote a great overview of how PLG companies are adopting the sales assist role.

Reduce self-serve drop offs

Because many self-serve users may have low intent and are just exploring options, self-serve products often see the highest drop-off soon after sign up. To reduce this drop-off, many Product-Led Sales teams will align XDR teams to re-engage these users.

Assist during the evaluation phase

For more complex products and those with multiple paid plans (ie, Growth, Pro, Enterprise), sales teams will engage with users as they begin to evaluate these upgrade paths to ensure they’re aligned with the plan that offers the most value. Sales in this motion also has the added benefit of leveraging the user’s trial data to aid their evaluation.

Drive enterprise deals

Despite all the benefits of a self-serve motion, self-serve doesn’t often support enterprise evaluations where procurement, security and/or multiple stakeholders may be involved in the buying process. In these instances, it’s important to be able to support evaluations with a sales motion that aligns with their process. Often sales teams will utilize product data to help bolster their case to a buying committee.

Outbound to target accounts

Even product led companies need to generate new pipeline through an outbound motion! Nearly all PLG companies eventually adopt an outbound motion that is closely aligned with a product-led strategy to take advantage of many of the benefits of Product Led Growth. One perk of outbounding in a product-led company is the ability for sales to utilize current or former product usage to generate warmer conversation starters than typical completely cold outbound. Learn how to run a sales-assist playbook here!

The intersection of Product-Led & Sales Led

While some might feel it’s contradictory, sales & product-led motion can be extremely complimentary and open new doors for revenue teams.

For new Product-Led Sales teams, especially those that come from Sales-Led, a common pitfall can be allowing sales reps to engage leads before they’re fully qualified. Most traditional sales orgs are used to engaging with leads much earlier in the funnel (i.e. MQL) so it’s important to govern when reps are able to engage leads. Since true PLG companies have products that deliver lots of value to end users prior to and through payment, sales naturally needs to wait until there’s a compelling moment to engage around conversion, expansion or upsell.

In order to avoid this, clear operating procedures and lead routing should be set with revenue functions to ensure they’re properly aligned to the Product-Led motion.

Alignment across your GTM

When introducing any revenue function (Sales, Marketing, XDR, Account Managers, Customer Success Managers, etc.) to a product-led motion, one of the tallest hurdles for many companies is establishing clear alignment throughout the customer journey. How these various functions interact with users at different points in the lifecycle is essential to the customer experience and driving adoption > conversion > expansion.

One of the most effective & common methods for implementing this go-to-market (GTM) alignment is through the orchestration of Product Qualified Leads (PQLs). Customers become PQLs at many points in their lifecycle as their product usage indicates that they are qualified for a particular revenue event (conversion, upsell, cross-sell, etc.). 

The most successful PQL strategies are often those that enable actionability, allowing the appropriate teams to easily scale personalized next steps depending on where each customer is in their journey. 

Product led sales tech stack

The best run product led sales motions rely on most of the same tools that traditional SaaS sales teams use: CRM (Salesforce/Hubspot), Sales Engagement (Outreach/Salesloft), Enrichment (Clearbit, LeadIQ),  Communication (Slack), etc. The biggest changes to selling motion is instead seen in how reps are using these familiar tools, which requires some additional tooling to understand the customer lifecycle. 

One of the biggest differentiators in selling within a Product-Led motion is the access to product usage data from trial & customer accounts, offering reps a ton of insight into where users are seeing value, when these key moments happen, and context for next steps.

While incredibly valuable, if this data is not provided to reps in a consumable format within the right environments, it can sometimes result in more harm than good. For instance, adoption data and account health is commonly made accessible in detailed SFDC reports, although it can easily be interpreted differently across individual reps, leading to inconsistent outcomes and conversion rates across the team. Not to mention, not all reps are logging in daily to read these dashboards.

As a solution, leading PLG companies have implemented product usage-based playbooks with Correlated that integrate with their sales teams existing tools, allowing them to automate and dynamically personalize Outreach/SalesLoft sequences and other actions within SFDC, Slack, etc. This allows for consistent, scaled outreach at the correct moments in the customer journey, leading to increased conversions rates. Correlated’s Goals functionality now also allows teams to test & iterate playbooks to understand which are driving the most revenue!

If you’re left with more questions about rolling out product-led sales or related, don’t miss the Product-Led Revenue’s peer discussion, where leaders across the community gather biweekly to discuss all things product-led revenue & sales - register here! Or if you want to learn more about Correlated, get a demo here or get started for free.

Interested in learning about how Correlated can help your PLG company uncover expansion and upsell opportunities?

Sales and revenue leaders at PLG companies, like yourself, are faced with unique challenges. Using tools like Correlated can help sales and marketing teams identify new accounts that are ready to convert, or can help to notify your team for expansion and upsell opportunities.

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