Picture this. You’re in 6th grade. Your science teacher does the magnet-iron filings experiment. It’s one of the first times you witness nature’s miracles. And it doesn’t disappoint. The air is filled with ‘Woahs’ and ‘Wows’.
You can recreate a similar experience in SaaS today. By using a product just like the magnet, you can attract leads! Instead of centering your lead generation strategy around marketing and sales, in the product-led concept, you center it around your product.
One of the most popular examples today of product-led sales strategy would be Canva’s. By offering a free version of the product with limited features, they garnered an unprecedented level of product adoption, and huge momentum in the industry. Therefore cementing the belief that a great sales strategy was letting the buyers see and use the product rather than pitching to them.
Prerequisites to Adopting a Product-Led Sales Model
Many B2B SaaS companies are adopting a product-led sales model today, and if you, too, want to jump on the bandwagon, check if your B2B company is ready for it. If not, you can lay down the foundation to build your sales and marketing strategy around it. Here are some prerequisites to keep in mind.
- Are you Ready for it?
Shifting from a sales-led model to a product-led model is a huge change. So, before rushing into it, take out some time to introspect, if your team is ready for it. The biggest difference between a sales-led and a product-led strategy is, unlike a sales-led model, in product-led, every team works in collaboration with a common focus - the product. So before anything else, you need to work on bringing the shift in the mindset of your team.
- Understand Your Customers
To build a successful product-led sales strategy, you need to understand the pulse of your customers. What are their pain points? How can your product solve those pain points? Relying on customer feedback from product usage and data from the customer facing teams can help you build a strong product-led sales strategy.
- Build a Killer Product Demo
The best part of a product-led sales strategy is that it’s self serve. So, create a short and sweet interactive product demo to show your prospects what the product can do for them rather than pitching them features that they may or may not like. To create effective demos quickly, use Storylane. Build sandbox-like environments that are tailored to your prospect’s needs. If you’re new to creating interactive demos, here are a few tips to help you get started.
What to do if you’re already a sales-led motion?
"For your existing revenue motion: Since all your revenue comes from sales, don't disrupt this as you identify the transition path and what you need to do. For the sales team, enabling them instead of disrupting them by layering in product-led sales. This means bringing product data to the sales team so they can sell even better - use it to help find expansion opportunities and validate POCs in active deals." —- Minami Rojas, Head of Growth at Endgame
The Benefits of Adopting a Product-Led Sales Model
- Don’t fall behind on catching up with buyers’ expectations: Fast-checkout lanes, self-checkout, buy now, pay later, all these models are popular because of one thing: People want to be done with shopping yesterday.
Yet, B2B sales cycles take weeks or months. There’s friction at every stage of the buyer journey. There’s an SDR who rings to do a discovery call and an AE who does a lengthy demo. By the time the prospect starts using the product, a couple of weeks would have gone by. TrustRadius’ B2B buying report outlines that prospects today are turning to self-serve buying models. Buyers today want to explore products themselves and do not want to go through the hassle of dealing with multiple steps before ever getting their eye on the tool. So when everyone else jumps on the PLG bandwagon and serves prospects exactly what they want, don’t get left behind.
- Sales-led models have a longer sales cycle. It’s common knowledge that the average sales cycle can range anywhere between weeks and months. Product-led growth means all of your growth marketers, product marketers and the rest of the team are leveraging the product on different channels to get leads, capture new markets, and build pipeline. That means throwing interactive demos on your landing pages to instantly boost conversion rates on that page, and sending your prospects sales leave-behinds to engage them even after the demo.
How is Product-Led Sales Different from Other Sales Models?
- Product-led vs. Sales-led Growth
The main difference between product-led and sales-led are:
- Many times a self-service or freemium model is not included in sales-led
- In a product-led motion, usually, there is no intervention of salesperson unless and until it’s required
- Sales-led doesn’t usually have transparent or flexible pricing tiers
- User experience usually takes a back seat in sales-led
- Sales-led products are complex by nature and need hand holding for setup and training
- The company relies only on the sales team to acquire, retain, and expand its customer base in a sales-led model
- Product-led Vs Partner-led
In a partner-led strategy, the organization collaborates with partners and prioritizes those relationships to drive business. Unlike product-led, the major focus is not on the product but the partner relationship.
Partners play a crucial role in identifying leads and closing deals, while organizations offer the necessary resources and training for their partners to succeed.
Cultivating a partner-led culture is not easy. It requires constant innovation and nurturing to maintain a strong partner relationship.
Moving from a Traditional Sales Model to a Product-Led Sales Model
If you're considering moving from being a sales-led company to product-les sales business, here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
Emphasize the Product
The product is at the core of your product-led sales approach, so you must create an exceptional product experience. Make your product easily accessible to your prospects. You may want to leverage an interactive product demo using a platform like Storylane to help your prospects explore and self-learn how the features of the tool can solve their problem.
Empower Your Product-Led Sales Team
Help your sales reps to thrive in a product-led sales environment by offering them adequate training and resources. For example, they should be able to quickly create a personalized interactive demo while sending a cold email or should be able to create demo leave-behinds when following up with prospects.
Leverage Product Usage Data
Track your product usage and make this data available to your sales reps. By knowing the product usage data, the sales rep can prioritize follow ups with leads who have the highest intent to purchase. Invest in a tool that can help you track and trace the product usage data and capture it in your CRM. Storylane also offers an analytics feature that helps you to track and analyze data related to demo views so that your sales rep can follow up at the right time.
Measure Impact and Improve
To understand you're on the right track, you need to measure your product-led sales model’s success constantly. Consider customer feedback to identify areas of improvement, work on them, and improve.
Here’s an example of how the Salesforge.ai’s team transitioned to a product-led sales mode:
"We recently transitioned from a traditional sales model to a product-led sales model. Few things that we considered during the transition:
- We built a huge knowledge base so the users can self-serve/troubleshoot. It's a huge resource investment to do huge pieces of content, including videos.
- We made the product onboarding process seamless, especially since its a complex product, from Navi flows to content snippets to the right flow steps, so that the user realizes the value ASAP.
- We increased our support/chat support resources to stay on top of the game."
Frank Sondors, CEO, Salesforge.ai
Key Components to Include in Your Product-Led Sales Strategy
If you look up SaaS brands with product-led strategies, you'll identify some of the key components they all have incorporated in their strategy. These are:
Availability of Freemium Version
One of the key aspects of a product-led sales strategy is its self-service nature or availability of a freemium version. So if you're hopping on to product-led sales, ensure you have a freemium version of your product for potential customers to try on. Encourage a lead to familiarize themselves with your product through free trials and freemium models so that when the sales team reaches out to them, the prospects are sales-ready. Leverage product usage data to create your go-to-market playbook.You can also consider creating an interactive product demo for the prospect to explore the product on their own.
Have Clear Definition of Product-Qualified Lead
A product-qualified lead, or PQL, is a prospect who has already used your product and has found value in it after trying your freemium product or going through the product walkthrough. To identify these leads, you need to define your metrics like how much time they're spending on the tool, feature adoption rate, customer lifetime value, etc.
A Solid Techstack to Support Product-Led Sales
You might want to argue that for product-led sales, all you need is your product, right? Wrong!
Although your product is at the center of your product-led sales strategy, you need tools for great product adoption and to perfect user experience. For your product-led sales strategy to work, leverage customer success, product marketing, and sales teams to make your product usage viral. So, yes, you need marketing tools for running campaigns, taking data-driven action by using product analytics tools, and other tools to measure customer satisfaction, revenue acquisition and sales, building interactive demo videos, and so on.
Here's a list of tools you need in your product-led sales tech stack:
Sales and Customer Relationship Management Tool
Most mature marketing teams would have already invested in a tool like this. If not, you have to get one, yesterday! These tools help uncover the information of your website visitors. It tracks how each visitor interacted with your website and reveals their demographic and firmographic details. This info is useful to know which feature pages are getting the most visitors and from where, and helps you double down on product messaging and positioning. An example is Pipedrive for SMBs, and Hubspot for bigger teams. Both offer a variety of product integrations and are easy to use.
Interactive Demo Platform
If you want to go a step further and track who’s checking out your product demos, invest in a demo platform like Storylane. Storylane helps you create interactive demos that help your prospect get an early product experience without the intervention of a salesperson. Such demo platforms help you illustrate your product's value and capabilities through storytelling. It lets you create multiple personalized demos for different user personas in minutes, highlighting their pain points and how your product features can solve them. When potential customers can actually "see" how the product will help them, it helps them make an informed purchase decision.
User Onboarding Tool
Now that you’re ready to onboard your user, invest in a user onboarding tool like Userflow, It lets you build customized in-app tours for easy user onboarding. You can create checklists and surveys without any coding. The tool works as the top layer of your app, offering tooltips, buttons, modals, and more.
Is Product-Led Sales Right For Your Business?
While product-led sales are the new norm for selling software, it might not be the right approach for you if you have an enterprise-level solution, or your target audience is not so tech-savvy, or you're not ready to invest in support and product development.
So how do you know if product-led sales are right for your business? Here are some probing questions for you to answer.
- Is your product easy and simple to use?
- Is your target audience tech-savvy and familiar with SaaS product usage?
If your answer is a BIG yes to these questions, you're ready for a product-led sales approach.