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How B2B Companies are Adapting to the Product-Led Movement, Part 1: Sales

I was delighted to host a recent Revenue Collective webinar about how B2B companies are getting on board with the rise of product-led growth. It’s a huge switch for the industry – buyers got accustomed to PLG in their B2C experiences, and now they’re increasingly frustrated with the old-school sales-led process where they need to jump through all those hoops just to buy your product. 

So I had a fascinating discussion with some of the top visionaries in the SaaS world to talk about how their sales and marketing teams are making the shift and even learning to thrive in this new PLG world. Our panelists were: 

We talked about everything PLG-related, and how your organization can make a product-forward approach work for you even if you’re still sales-focused. Here’s my recap of the most important points from our discussion talking about the role of sales in PLG. 

Why sales orgs are looking at PLG 

Sales orgs are looking at PLG because they have to be – everyone is talking about it in the B2B world and seemingly everywhere else as well. There’s tons of investor activity around it, and lots of white papers and blogs being published too. There’s certainly a hype factor behind it, but there’s also a reason for the hype. And that’s because PLG is really all about letting buyers buy in the way they want to. 

Seven or eight years ago, the B2B sales world was totally different. The whole idea of a tech stack was new, and people didn’t really know how to buy SaaS products. But this isn’t true any longer. Buyers mostly aren’t interested in being led by the hand through this process because they’ve bought SaaS products before and done their research on this purchase. 

They don’t want to jump through all the hoops – they want to see what it’s actually like to be a user of your software. They’re probably going to use your software daily, or their teams will, and they’ve had the experience of buying a product that sounded good but was painful to use and want to avoid going through that again. 

And another thing that’s changed: your product is no longer an afterthought. Buyers today have a sophisticated understanding of the value they’re going to get from your product and want to see exactly how they’re going to get it. They don’t want a big show or fancy packaging anymore. 

What have prospect conversations been like? 

If your organization isn’t doing PLG right now (or even if you are), you have probably had the experience of someone telling you that your buying process kind of sucks. That’s like a punch right in the gut. This can even happen if you’re adapting often to changing buyer needs. 

But it’s hard to get it just right every time. Buyer expertise varies really widely across the board – you can have prospects who know nothing and need a ton of hand-holding, and you can have people who have used your product a lot and just want to buy it. To be successful, you need to understand where each buyer is coming from so you can tailor your sales approach to them. What buyers really dislike is going through a highly regimented process where they know what they want, but sales isn’t listening. 

What should sales do about it? 

The way sales helps during a free trial hasn’t changed much – they’re still there to help when needed. But more traditional and enterprise sales orgs are struggling to do traditional discovery calls. Many sales teams are now trying to figure out how to use technology like Reprise to create product tours that can be used in the sales process, like sending a product tour to the prospect before the demo even happens so they can jump right into the product. 

Sales teams also need to be able to pivot quickly if they’re talking to a prospect who is sophisticated and educated on the product and the process. Don’t just go through the whole rigid process because your manager told you to. Use cues, be aware, and understand how to get them across the finish line. And adapt on the fly so you don’t piss the prospect off. 

Watch the Complete Webinar 

We’ve got more recap coming for you soon to talk all about the vital role marketing plays in the PLG process, so stay tuned. And you can watch the whole webinar here so you don’t miss a thing:

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash