Product-Led Sales: How to Give Power Back to Buyers and Sell More

Vartika Bansal
September 20, 2023
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Can your product truly sell itself? If you’re a PLG company, the answer to this question would define your entire growth model. 

But here’s the truth: no matter how good your product is, it can be incredibly challenging to navigate the lengthy decision-making process within an organization. 

Your prospects expect to talk to somebody to ask questions, have a conversation tailored to their needs, and eventually make an informed decision.

So, while your product can capture inbound demand, you need a product-led sales strategy to convert that demand into revenue. 

This article will break down how a product-led sales setup works and how you can build one from scratch. 

What is product-led sales?

Product-led sales (PLS) is a go-to-market strategy that positions the product as the central driver of your sales process. Merging the strengths of product-led growth (PLG) and traditional sales, PLS emphasizes the significance of the product experience in driving sales, rather than solely relying on conventional sales pitches or marketing tactics

A good product-led sales setup relies on customer data to align the buying experience with user needs and optimize human touchpoints. This method can enrich the user experience and streamline your sales process, making it both efficient and effective.

Product-led sales vs. Product-led growth 

Product-led sales vs Product-led growth

Which companies should embrace product-led sales 

Product-led sales isn’t a magic formula for success. It can only work if your strategy supplements your overall business goals. 

PLS is ideal for you if you have:

  • A strong bottom-up motion but face challenges transitioning from user adoption to enterprise-wide adoption
  • A significant number of "hand-raisers" whose queries lean more towards sales (think inquiries about licenses, pricing, enterprise features) rather than just support
  • A self-serve model but are looking to tap into mid-market or enterprise customers
  • Areas of friction that can be addressed through product documentation, group onboardings, or human touch-points

This model would also work well for companies aiming to combine the strengths of a product-driven approach with the advantages of a human sales touch, especially when targeting larger deals or more complex sales scenarios. 

What makes product-led sales different from traditional B2B SaaS sales

In traditional B2B SaaS sales, the product often takes a backseat in the initial stages of the customer journey. The emphasis is on outbound sales efforts, where:

  • Sales reps reach out to potential clients
  • Pitch the product's value proposition
  • Navigate through lengthy sales cycles involving multiple demos, negotiations, and stakeholder approvals

Your product is typically gated, with prospects having limited or no access until after they make a purchase decision. This approach relies heavily on your sales team’s skillset, and often, your brand reputation.

On the other hand, product-led sales flips this script. Your product is front and center from the get-go. Prospective customers can immediately access your product and see its value firsthand, often through free trials or freemium models. 

Sales teams in a PLS model act more as consultants than traditional salespeople. They step in at strategic moments, informed by user behavior and product engagement data, to assist users, answer questions, or help them unlock further value. 

This approach ensures that by the time a sales reps interacts with a user, the user already understands the product's value. So, the conversation is more about enhancement rather than persuasion.

How to create an airtight product-led sales strategy

Modern B2B buyers increasingly prefer a "try before you buy" approach to buying SaaS. PLS offers a user-centric model emphasizing product value and user experience over traditional sales pitches. 

Let’s break down the key steps to building a PLS strategy with actionable tips from experts.

1. Segment your users and understand their journey

You’re often juggling a diverse clientele, each with distinct needs and challenges. Segmenting these users can give you a clearer picture of each target persona. This means better resource allocation, more informed decision-making, and ultimately, a product and sales strategy that resonates powerfully with your prospects.

This isn't just about categorizing users; it's about deeply understanding their interactions, pain points, and aspirations. 

🗺️Map out the user journey and identify aha! moments 

Start by mapping the entire lifecycle of a user—starting from their first interaction with your product (be it an ad, a referral, or organic search) to the point of conversion, and even further to retention and advocacy. 

You can identify "aha" moments where users realize the value of your product. It’s equally important to pinpoint where users might disengage or drop off. 

🧮Segment your target audience

A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works with B2B buyers. Users have varied needs based on their behavior, the size of their company, or their goals. Once you've segmented your target users, you can customize your sales touchpoints for each group and offer a more tailored experience. 

🔢Use analytics tools to understand user behavior

Dive deep into product usage analytics to identify which features of your product are most loved and which ones might be causing users to churn. Relate this to your user personas to highlight the most relevant features and use cases for each persona. 

2. Prioritize product excellence and offer a trial

In a product-led sales strategy, the quality, usability, and value of your product can move the needle for your business. That’s exactly why you need your product and sales teams to collaborate on delivering product excellence. 

Offering a trial allows potential customers to experience this excellence firsthand. A trial period makes them more motivated to test and eventually invest in your solution. 

Here are a few best practices to leverage a free trial option in your product-led sales strategy:

  • Emphasize quality: Make sure your product is reliable, easy to use, and does what it says it will. Regularly check for problems, make the user experience better, and update features based on what users say.
  • Offer a generous trial period: When you offer a trial, make sure it's long enough for users to really see what your product can do. A week might be too short, but a month could be just right, depending on how complex your product is.
  • Limit restrictions: It's normal to have some limits in a trial version, but make sure they don't stop users from seeing the main benefits of your product. For example, if you're offering a data tool, let users see the full range of analysis, even if you limit how much data they can use.
  • Educate during the trial: Use the trial period to teach users about what your product can do. Allow potential customers to experience the value of your product firsthand. This can reduce sales friction and shorten the sales cycle.
  • Seamless transition: Make sure moving from a trial to a paid version is easy. Keep any data or settings users had during the trial so they don't have to start from scratch.

You can also use the trial to find out what users think. Ask what they liked, what problems they had, and what they'd like to see in the future. This not only helps you improve your product but also shows users you value their opinion.

If you don’t want to offer a free trial, creating interactive demos is the next best tactic to give buyers a glimpse of your product. Let them experience your product’s capabilities and see how it can work for them with interactive product demos—created in minutes with Floik. 

Here’s a great example of how an interactive demo works:

3. Integrate customer success early and streamline onboarding

The initial experience a user has with your product can make or break their long-term relationship with your brand. Integrating customer success early into the user journey can make users feel supported and valued from the outset. 

It's not just about resolving issues; you have to proactively guide users to achieve their goals with your product. Assign customer success representatives to new accounts or users, ensuring they have a go-to person for any queries or challenges.

On top of proactive support, you can also create a smooth onboarding process to minimize time-to-value and nudge users toward activation.

Create an intuitive, tech-touch onboarding flow to guide new users through the essential features of your product. Use visual aids like videos or infographics to make complex processes more digestible.

Remember to set up checkpoints or milestones within the product where users can gauge their progress. Help them celebrate small wins, like completing a setup or achieving a particular task, to motivate and engage users.

💡Pro tip: Use analytics to monitor how users are navigating the onboarding process. Identify drop-off points or areas where users spend too much time, indicating confusion or complexity, and refine accordingly.

4. Align sales and product teams

The success of your sales efforts is directly tied to how well the product meets user needs. When sales and product teams are aligned, they can share insights and feedback to ensure your product evolves in line with customer expectations. 

Sales teams can provide real-time feedback from the field, while product teams can equip sales with deep product knowledge. This synergy can make your product more competitive and supplement your sales strategies with actual product capabilities.

Follow these tips to build sales and product team alignment:

  • Set up recurring meetings to discuss feedback, updates, and challenges
  • Create structured channels for sales teams to provide feedback from users and prospects
  • Organize joint training sessions where product teams can update sales on new features, and sales can share on-the-ground insights and common questions from users
  • Set shared objectives and KPIs for both teams to foster a sense of unity and shared purpose
  • Use shared CRM or project management tools that allow both teams to track user interactions, feedback, and product updates

The bottom line: ensure both teams are in sync regarding product updates, user feedback, and sales strategies. This alignment can lead to more cohesive messaging and better customer experiences.

5. Adopt a consultative sales approach

To make your product-led sales strategy work, your sales team has to understand the unique challenges and needs of each prospect. Tailor your pitch to address those specific pain points, emphasizing how your product can provide a solution.

So, start with thorough questioning to understand the prospect's business and challenges. You should also pay attention to both spoken and unspoken needs of the prospect.

You can customize product demos to address their specific challenges and make the buying experience more impactful. The key is in acting as a knowledgeable advisor rather than a pushy salesperson.

Maximize conversions and buyer engagement with product-led sales

In crowded markets, it's not enough for a product to just be good; it needs a strategy to truly shine. Product-led sales (PLS) is that strategy, blending the best of product-driven growth with the human touch of traditional sales. 

While your product can capture buyers’ attention, it's the personalized, consultative approach of PLS that turns interest into revenue. This method puts the product at the forefront, allowing potential customers to experience its value firsthand. 

So, if you're looking to maximize your revenue and enhance the buyer journey, it's time to build your product-led sales strategy.