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Product Led Sales Vendor Highlight: Groundswell

Product-led sales is a huge growth segment in SaaS right now – it’s a topic many of us find fascinating, myself included. I’ll be highlighting some of the vendors who do it best in this series so we can all learn from each other in the PLG community. 

For this installment, I talked to Brendan Short who is the co-founder and CEO of Groundswell to see what he does, what they do, and his thoughts on product-led sales. 

What Groundswell Does 

Groundswell’s mission is putting product usage data into the hands of salespeople. They’re thinking about the product-led sales space in terms of product usage: who is trying your product, and how you can get information on those people into the hands of your sales team. 

They are using a blended approach to product-led growth. PLG for Brendan doesn’t mean that you are growing without a sales team in addition to your bottoms-up approach, but making those two things work better together. 

In the last decade, the dynamic duo was sales and marketing working together. Sure, they’d have a healthy clash now and then, but they made each other stronger. And now sales and product are going down that same path of healthy friction and strong collaboration. 

Brendan’s Background

For the year before he co-founded Groundswell, he was at Zoom. He began consulting there and then ended up joining full-time during their pandemic growth spurt. 

While he was at Zoom, Brendan saw a glimpse into the world of software selling as it stands today: sending cold emails, doing cold calls and outreach, and relying on third-party data sources. 

He noticed a big gap – why were they not looking into the companies who are already using Zoom, and talking to people at those companies instead of all this cold outreach? Some of it was a customer privacy issue, and some was because it’s hard to get this data into Salesforce and so into the hands of salespeople. 

He started exploring this space and figuring out how to build it internally or buy a tool that is already there – but he found no existing solution. Instead, he found an opportunity. 

Groundswell’s short-term focus is getting product data pushed into the hands of salespeople – but only the right data, because there’s so much out there today and they don’t have time to sort through it all while trying to hit quotas. Their mid-term goal is building workflows and automations on the backend. And the long-term goal is basically becoming the brain of the revenue organization. 

This issue of knowing which companies to reach out to and when to do it is an open question for even the best B2B businesses out there – so he sees it as a huge opportunity. 

Finding the Right Product Led Sales Signals 

When looking at the most valuable data sources for companies and salespeople, one always comes to the top – the product users they already have. Different intent signals come from that data, and it’s the most interesting data as well. Plus, the company already owns that data – they don’t need to buy it from a third party. Groundswell helps companies access and sort the data they already have. 

The Revenue Operations Model

One thing Brendan sees shifting slowly and starting to accelerate is a recognition of the need for a Chief Revenue Officer function that owns everything revenue-related. That goes from top-of-funnel action to closing activities to customer success/retention/renewal action too. 

All of those activities should be powered by the same force, in an ideal world. Currently there are lots of different revenue spaces but they’re increasingly starting to blend together: marketing is melding into sales, sales is bleeding into customer success, and separate funnels are joining into one. That’s why now he sees it as more important than ever to have one person owning all of those different functions. 

Their Users

Groundswell has three distinct profiles they’re selling to. 

  • The sales/revenue leader (ideally a Chief Revenue Officer). This is the primary target. Groundswell goes to them and says, hey there’s this very powerful intent data source you already own that you should be leveraging, and you don’t even have to go buy it. It will make your salespeople close deals faster and focus on deals that matter, get out in front of churn, upsell or cross sell, etc. You’ll get all these benefits if you put the product into the hands of salespeople – and there’s a fairly straightforward ROI on this for those buyers. 
  • The salesperson (the end user). These are the sales development reps and AEs Brendan is focused on right now, maybe later they will target customer success teams more. Groundswell primarily engages these folks in Salesforce and Slack – they don’t think salespeople want to look at yet another tool and open another tab, so they want to meet them where they already are. 
  • The admin of the product. These are the people who actually log into Groundwell and configure those events, metrics, notifications, etc for the benefit of the end user AEs. They’re the mad scientists in revenue operations and sales operations, they’re already in Salesforce, and it’s a no-code solution which makes their lives easier. 

Learn More About Groundswell

Feel free to reach out to Brendan on the Groundswell website – he’s happy to share their playbook and other learnings, and soon they’ll start blogging as well. The team spent a lot of hours researching so follow along if you’re interested in the space.