How modern SaaS companies grow - a guide to product-led sales

Product-led sales (PLS) is the next big movement in B2B SaaS. Modern SaaS companies that built a successful growth strategy with product-led growth (PLG) are starting to use PLS to increase the monetization of their user base.

How modern SaaS companies grow - a guide to product-led sales

Product-led sales (PLS) is the next big movement in B2B SaaS. Modern SaaS companies that built a successful growth strategy with product-led growth (PLG) are starting to use PLS to increase the monetization of their user base.

When executed successfully, PLS - a hybrid go-to-market motion - can keep customer acquisition costs (CAC) low while unlocking larger deals and higher customer lifetime value (LTV).

In this guide, we will explore why you should consider adopting PLS as your preferred go-to-market strategy and the opportunities as well as challenges associated with implementing it.

What is a go-to-market motion?

A go-to-market (GTM) motion describes different strategies that a company can attract, acquire, and grow customers. Different GTMs affect how a company distributes resources to different functional groups and how go-to-market teams sell a product or service to customers. In short, it is how sales, marketing, and product departments interact to generate revenue.

There are 2 mainstream GTM motions commonly used by B2B SaaS companies today: sales-led and product-led. However, there is a new hybrid model emerging that we call product-led sales (a combination of both).

What is a sales-led GTM motion?

Sales-led GTM motion is when you bring the product to the user through the buyer. Marketing is responsible for finding interested buyers and qualifying leads (MQLs) that are then passed to sales. Once reviewed by the sales team, sales qualified leads (SQLs) are then run through a top-down sales motion with an enterprise buyer.

Advantages

The sales-led approach allows you to align with your customers - focusing on selling to a smaller number of potential customers. Because of the low customer-to-sales ratio, sales-led teams can focus more on building long-term relationships with customers and growing revenue by deepening usage (expansion) or selling a wider variety of product types (upsell) to existing customers.

Disadvantages

The main problem with a traditional sales-led strategy is that a company must continuously grow sales capacity in order to acquire more customers. Even if sales teams become more efficient, an individual seller can only oversee a limited number of transactions in a sales cycle. As a company grows, the costs of (and overhead associated with supporting) a large sales team only increase.

In addition, most B2B buyers prefer to avoid being dragged into a sales funnel - they choose to evaluate and purchase the software via self-service. As this preference becomes standard, companies with a sales-led approach will be increasingly misaligned with how their prospects want to buy.

What is a product-led GTM motion?

In contrast to a sales-led model, product-led growth acquires, retains, and expands customers primarily through direct interaction with the product itself.

The most common product-led models allow customers to use the product at no cost, either for a limited period (free trial) or with limited functionality (freemium). This means that a dedicated sales team may not be required -  customers can discover the value themselves as they interact with the product directly.

What is a product-led sales GTM motion?

Product-led sales augments direct sales motion on top of self-serve product usage to increase revenue. Once the customer is using the product habitually, sales steps in to convert and grow product-qualified accounts (PQAs).

Marketing also plays a role in identifying the buyer when the user and buyer personas are not the same. Sales then closes the deal with insight into the business needs of the enterprise buyer and product usage of the end user.

This is completely opposite of traditional sales-led motion, where the solution is marketed to a buyer and then pushed through a top-down sales motion.

Sales-led vs. product-led sales

Advantages

Having both a self-service go-to-market motion alongside a sales-led motion not only allows prospective customers to self-select into their preferred buying motions but also means you can increase the range of customers you are able to sell to.

In practice, this means that B2B SaaS businesses can:

  1. Sell to prospective customers who prefer to evaluate and buy software on their own.
  2. Provide consultation and support to buyers who are looking for additional, personalized assistance. 

In other words, marketing and sales work together to build a pipeline from active users that fit ICP and have usage patterns that indicate readiness to buy.

With this method, you get advantages from both models: efficiency from PLG (acquisition and conversion) and personalized outreach with sales-led motion.

Challenges

After speaking to sales leaders, and operations experts, we identified primary obstacles to a successful product-led sales GTM motion.

1. Technical data silos

With data stored on multiple platforms and first-party data inaccessible without IT support, customer-facing teams no longer have a complete picture of a user or account.

2. Incomplete customer profiles

Customer profiles must be pulled from various data sources and linked to company accounts at different buying stages. With incomplete data, you can’t deploy specific sales tactics to influence buying journeys. 

If you are not solving this issue in PLS, your growth teams will operate inefficiently - this will cost more than you will get benefit from the GTM strategy.

3. Difficulty measuring success

The lack of visibility means it was near-impossible to know the impact of any given tactic on the customer experience and drive repeatable results.

Moving forward with product-led sales

The change is inevitable. As sales-led businesses reach the point where CAC outpaces revenue growth, they will need to turn to product-led growth strategies to improve customer acquisition efficiency. On the other hand, as product-led companies will be faced with the opportunity to close larger deals, they will take sales-led tactics to scale their growth.

However, as good as it sounds, product-led sales is not a simple GTM strategy to adopt. It requires strategic planning and a specialized technology stack to be executed successfully. 

With Intempt, you can define the profiles of companies that need a higher-touch motion and alert sellers when they should engage, leaving lower potential LTV customers to self-serve.

Whenever you're ready, there are 4 ways Intempt can help you:
1. The Growth OS: We've combined our extensive knowledge of marketing and sales tactics to create the GrowthOS, ushering in a new era of lean, focused, and profitable internet businesses. Over 150 internet businesses are on our waitlist. Join them, and after your trial period, receive $500 in credits.
2. The Intempt Startup Program: This program accelerates startups in eCommerce, SaaS, and Apps. It teaches founder-led and small marketing teams how to acquire, engage, and retain customers. Participants receive a $5000 credit for growth at no cost. Plus, if you refer your accelerator to us and they join our Affiliate Program, we'll double your credits.
3. The Intempt Affiliate Program: Accelerators and incubators can offer the Intempt Startup Program to their communities. Your startups will benefit from our program, and you'll receive a 20% revenue share.
4. The Intempt Agency Program: If you're a CRO agency, consider joining our Agency Program. You'll learn cutting-edge strategies for acquiring, retaining, and monetizing accounts (for SaaS companies) and users (for eCommerce & SaaS companies), implementing Intempt on behalf of eCommerce, SaaS, and Apps companies.
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