First of all, there is no one-size-fits-all sales motion. The best we can do is take the techniques and fundamentals, in this case, rooted in customer experience, and apply them to our unique situations. Every business is different, and every business will face different challenges.
My advice is to read the guide and then reevaluate your existing sales motion for opportunities to build in some of the techniques and ideas you learn here.
It may turn out that following a product led sales model isn’t right for your business. That’s fine. There are other ways to sell. My objective here is to help you understand some of the benefits and techniques of PLG, and provide some guidance on how you can build some of these techniques into your existing process.
There’s a lot of confusion around what PLG is and is not, and this Q&A format is intended to help you get some answers without trying to force a new process on you.
Here we go…I hope you find the guide to be helpful!
What exactly is a Product Led Growth Sales Motion?
We’re jumping right in here. This is a tough question to answer because product led growth means something different to every organization. In its purest form, customers sign up for your product or service, achieve value, and pay you money 🙂 This is magical.
Product Led Growth is all about the relationship your customers have with your product.
In the scenario above, your product needs to be:
- Easy to use
- Have a clear path to value
- Efficiently progress free or trial customers to paid
Notice there is no sales function in the above diagram. Your product is selling itself here. This is rare, and difficult to achieve, but not impossible. Typically these are products that serve a specific and very targeted service, that is a need not a want.
Some services that are in this category include:
Stripe – If you’re building an online business you need a payments gateway.
Github – If there is a dev shop out there not using GitHub I have yet to come across it. It’s become the norm for a collaborative developer environment.
Jira – Software teams need to plan, track, and release software and Jira has been leading this space for a number of years now.
Yes, I know. These businesses all have some sort of sales function today, along with different product lines, but it wasn’t always that way and a large portion of their new business is still no-touch.
Ok, so what is a Product Led Sales Motion?
A product led sales motion relies on your product as the primary driver of growth. Essentially what we’re trying to accomplish is a predictable path to revenue with as little outside influence as possible. You want your product to convert prospects to revenue by delivering value in a clear and concise manner.
When outside influence is needed in the form of customer success or sales, the approach is greatly influenced by product usage data. Meaning:
- You’ve defined the key activities that lead to revenue-generating customers
- You’ve instrumented these analytics in your application
- You’re tracking and analyzing these key metrics
- You’ve made this data available across the business
- You’ve developed best practices for interpreting and acting on this data
For now let’s define a product led sales motion as a sales methodology that positions your product as the primary driver of growth and relies on customer usage data to drive the interactions that help progress customers towards achieving value.
Check out The Beginners Guide to Product Led Growth and learn how to plan, execute, and measure a product led growth strategy for your SaaS business.
How do I know if my product is right for a Product Led Sales Motion?
PLG is a business strategy. You make a choice to be product led. If you’re already in-market and having success selling, perhaps the best course of action if to understand the drivers and techniques that fuel a PLG Sales Motion and adopt the ones that you believe can improve upon your existing sales motion.
It’s not all or nothing, you know your business better than an outsider preaching about a better way to sell, or that the future of selling is PLG.
My goal is to help you understand what makes a PLG Sales Motion so compelling so that you can take that information and use it as you see fit.
So is a PLG Sales Motion right for your product or business?
I don’t know.
What I can tell you is that by going through the steps above to make product usage data available to your teams and teaching them how to use it, you will make them better at selling your product.
Start there and see where it takes you.
What Data Do I need to run Product Led Sales effectively?
A good place to start is by identifying the customers that are progressing towards revenue, and the ones that are hung up somewhere in the process.
What we’re really talking about is retention metrics.
Core SaaS Retention Metrics
Key Feature Adoption – are your customers finding and using your core set of features. Simple. If they’re not, figure out why.
Active Users (daily, weekly, monthly) – the number of users that are active in your product. This should be trending up, if it’s going down you have a problem. Dig in and figure out where the disconnect is.
Value – This is where many SaaS businesses lose track and/or overcomplicate things. Value represents the point when your product is giving more than its taking.
Remember product led growth is about the relationship your customer has with your product.
In the beginning, there is a lot of strain on the customer to set up and configure things, learn the UX, adopt a new process, etc. There eventually comes a point where the heavy lifting is over and your product starts to give back.
This shift is the moment when value is first achieved.
Check out this article for more on retention metrics: Measuring User Retention In SaaS Products
My product sells itself. Do I Still need sales?
This is totally your call. If you’re satisfied with your business as it currently operates, then the answer is no. If you believe there is some revenue being left on the table that you can capture by adding a sales function, then go for it.
There is no recipe that you can apply to every business that is guaranteed to grow them. The best advice I can give you is to always be learning and to apply the techniques and tactics that make sense for your business.
This sounds like the way my team is already selling?
Awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing:)
How do I measure my teams performance in a Product Led Sales Motion?
Overall performance is measured the same way. Sales will have a quota to hit and you measure your team’s ability to hit the number.
Where you can have a positive impact is by defining sales activity goals that encourage a product led sales motion, and by framing the conversations you have with sales reps around customer engagement and product usage as much as possible.
Great sales organizations are able to develop a sales methodology that is teachable and provides repeatable and predictable results. This is how sales teams have been able to scale businesses with such great success.
If you take that same framework, but apply it to your product, what you’re trying to do is create a process that leads customers to experience your product value in the most efficient way possible. So the motion would be around driving success within key areas of your product. The areas that have been proven to drive customer engagement and retention.
Use your data to your advantage. Understand customer usage and drive growth by keying in on the factors that are most likely to lead to revenue.
What tools are best for enabling a product led sales motion?
Well, you need data and your team needs to be able to consume and react to that data with ease. For the majority of sales organizations, this means you need to make product data available to your sales reps in SFDC – not always an easy task.
Other alternatives are all going to require your sales team to leave your CRM and go to a tool like MixPanel to understand engagement.
The best advice I can give you regarding tooling is to talk to your head on engineering or systems and let them know you need to make product engagement data available to your sales reps.
It’s not a nice to have. Make it a priority.
This is a priority for the business and the two of you along with any other stakeholders need to put your heads together to figure out the best way to make this happen within your organization.
There are hundreds of options to make this work. Pick the one that best for your business.
My team sells into the Enterprise. How can I apply Product Led sales tactics to Enterprise sales?
Enterprise Sales Motion typically involves cold leads, a heavy focus on outbound, lengthy POC’s, and lots of red tape. Sales reps are typically very hands-on and spend incredible amounts of time working deals…
Much of your process is going to remain the same, where you can get more thoughtful in your approach and maybe find some value in PLG techniques is when you get into POC’s or releasing trial accounts to your enterprise prospects.
Here you can fall back on the data:
- Are they using the product on a regular basis?
- Have they reached key milestones (Activation, Value, Key Feature Usage)
- Have they invited other team members? Are they fully engaged?
Use engagement data in the same way described above in earlier questions to frame the conversation and the action taken by those involved in the deal and take the same approach – make your customer successful.
Wrapping up PLG Sales
It’s all about your customer and the relationship they have with your product. That said, your business is unique and you’ll need to determine what the best recipe is for you and your customers.
Hopefully, after reading this guide you have a better understanding of how to incorporate product led methodologies into your existing processes and don’t feel like you have to turn your whole or upside down in order to be prepared for the future of sales.
Check out The Beginners Guide to Product Led Growth for a more comprehensive guide to Product Led Growth.