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10 best practices for product-led sales (PLS)
Product-led sales (PLS) continues to gain traction and for good reason.
In this post I breakdown 10 best practices in implementing PLS that will help you avoid common pitfalls.
With PLS, product usage provides the primary pipeline for the sales team.
PLS promises improved close rates, shorter deal cycles & higher revenue retention when compared to traditional sales motions.
PLG native companies eventually need to layer on sales to scale revenue, and PLS enables them to do so effectively.
Sales-led companies can benefit from using PLS to become smarter and more efficient with their go-to-market activities.
But it's easy to make several common mistakes that will hinder - or outright sabotage - your PLS implementation, so here are 10 best practices to help stay on the right track.
👉 Ungate access to value
An obvious starter, but PLS relies on product usage to generate leads so providing a free trial, or perpetual value in a free plan (or a combination of both via a reverse trial) is essential to fuel bottom up pipeline generation outside of the existing customer base.
👉 Establish proven habit loops in the product
A successful PLS motion demands value realisation and habit formation in the product before sales outreach. Any sales outreach before that point must be in sales-assist mode (not 'What can I sell you?' but 'How can I help you?').
👉 Identify Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) based on user behaviour
PQLs are product users with potential buying authority. PLS platforms such as Pocus, Correlated, Groundswell, Endgame, HeadsUp become essential to track and segment your PQLs. But that's just part of the story…..enter PQAs…..
👉 Identify Product Qualified Accounts (PQAs) to trigger sales team engagement
Combining behavioural, firmographic, use-case and environmental/platform signals across aggregate account level activity allows you to ensure sales team engagement happens only with qualified accounts (ICP with sufficient intent displayed).
👉 Build playbooks for key PQA segmentation
Sales teams should implement playbooks that support multiple different contexts e.g. PQA with PQL, PQA without PQL, different behavioural signals etc.
👉 Implement feedback loops to improve the PQA scoring model and playbooks
On a regular cadence (suggestion: align roughly with sales cycle length) learnings from engagements (closed-won or closed-lost, time-to-close and so on) should be used to improve the model. This is also the ideal opportunity to evolve the playbooks too.
👉 Closely align your sales and marketing teams with your product and customer success teams.
In order to optimise the entire e2e customer journey, it's critical to share feedback, learnings, insights, and goals across teams.
👉 Educate and enable your sales team on how to adopt a PLS mindset and approach.
Give them the skills, tools, and knowledge they need to succeed. Observe what's working well and what's not, and provide coaching and feedback regularly.
👉 Incentivise sales teams in ways that promotes the behaviour and customer engagement models you need
PLS models are typically characterised by smaller lands and bigger LTV through expansion, so comp plans should reflect this.
👉 Ensure non-product communication is still product-led
Drive all communication with prospects and customers with product data. Ensure that it's relevant to them and their specific situation. This applies equally to marketing and sales automation as it does to human sales outreach.
Where use-case complexity is high, leverage sales-assist / product specialists to help get users and their teams to value and habit.