During our visit to SaaStr Annual this year, I attended an excellent panel conversation with CMOs from Freshworks, Felicis Ventures, Twilio, and other leading SaaS companies about adding outbound sales to a product-led growth strategy.
From the conversations I’ve had with many FastSpring customers, I know this is an area many developers want to improve.
- Should you invest in a sales team?
- Should you improve the product to increase conversions from your product-led growth strategy?
- How do I make sales-led and product-led growth work together?
Whatever your approach, these expert insights will help you coordinate your sales-led and product-led efforts — and improve results in the process.
1. Sales-Led and Self-Service Shouldn’t Be Siloed
A product-led growth model is based on the ability of users to try products on their own, but this doesn’t mean you have to be completely hands-off during the buying process.
As Stacey Epstein, CMO of Freshworks, said, “Even though they may go all the way through the product, through the trial, and decide they want to buy it, you still might need sales to help with getting buy-in from a higher buyer in the organization.”
Viviana Faga, soon to be general partner at Felicis Ventures, recommends having product-specific triggers set in place to notify the sales team when they should intervene.
When Faga worked as VP of Marketing at Yammer, her team built what she described as an early warning system, which notified them if a prospect had stopped using the product. “We could see: ‘Were people using the product?’” she said. And her team could take action based on those insights.
2. Treat the Product Like a Sales Rep
In a rep-assisted sale, the sales rep guides a prospect through the product. In a self-serve model, you need the same guidance built into the product itself.
As Epstein said, “Now they’re in the trial, what features am I exposing at what point? I don’t want to overwhelm them, but I want to show them value. Am I giving them cues along the way? How am I leading them through the process to become a paying customer?”
“You’ve got to get your journey from traffic to trial to conversion down,” she added. “It’s so important in product-led growth.”
3. Product and Sales Should Share Ownership for Each Sale
With two conversion paths, it’s common for product and sales teams to grow competitive or even debate who is responsible for a win, which is counterproductive.
Sara Varni, CMO at Twilio, said, “When you’re thinking about the investment you need to make in product-led growth, think about where ownership lives, and it can’t just be one person that has to wake up and think about acquisition.”
“I think it’s critical to have a shared metric across your product and your growth teams,” she added.
4. Be Prepared To Do Things Differently
Finally, product-led growth requires a different approach than growth driven by a traditional sales team.
Carilu Dietrich, the former Head of Corporate Marketing at Atlassian, said, “Product-led growth requires a testing mindset that’s very different from the sales methodology mindset.”
“In a sales model, there has to be a methodology and consistency and a sales territory, and you have structure and predictability,” he added. “In product-led growth, you might add things in and out of the product all the time and change journeys and switch things around, and I think that those different mindsets can be tricky.”
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