Rolling out a Product-Led Growth (PLG) motion is both a market opportunity and a messaging challenge for most enterprise leaders. On one hand, you have lots of doors to get folks into the product. On the other, convoluted platform messaging makes it hard to understand what the product does.
Whether your enterprise team needs to rethink its value props or cross-sell more collaboratively, here’s my four-step enterprise framework for creating a bottom-up PLG motion that doesn’t go, well, bottoms up.
1 - When it comes to GTM messaging, think like a startup
Behind every enterprise platform is a killer point solution that put it on the map. As that point solution scales, and a company builds more products, it eventually expands into a platform play.
By the end, enterprise leaders are left with multiple product lines to sell, a wide range of buyers and product values, and (hopefully) a single all-encompassing platform message that ties it all together.
When layering in a PLG motion on top, it often fails to thrive for two big reasons:
- #1. The go-to-market (GTM) messaging is too complicated. Enterprise leaders tend to forget that most folks come in via a point solution (especially in a PLG motion!). They end up overcomplicating their product messaging by making it all-encompassing, which ultimately divorces bottoms-up messaging from the context that buyers need to understand what the product does.
❌ By appealing to everyone, the messaging appeals to no one.
- #2. It satisfies everyone but no one is excited about. As a company scales, its internal processes start to slow as the number of stakeholders involved grows larger. It’s not unusual for a single piece of messaging to change hands between 60 different stakeholders. When this happens, messaging becomes the lowest common denominator: satisfying every stakeholder yet exciting none of them.
❌ If internal folks aren’t excited about your messaging, why will buyers be?
All of this leads to a PLG motion that’s only that much harder to run. If you’re running a PLG motion at a large company, don’t approach it with an enterprise mindset.
Think about it as a startup selling a point solution that solves a specific problem. Speaking at the right level, with the right business context, is what makes a value proposition compelling for your buyers—not jargony, corporate buzzwords and weird, conglomerate language used by a lot of enterprises today.
2 - Use marketing content to support your sales cycle
Sending generic emails and token case studies with an ROI metric isn’t going to get attention from today’s prospective buyers—it’s become far too played out. Getting people’s attention and building their trust will not only take time, but also require you to show value.
I’m living proof that a content-first strategy builds trust faster and gets more sales than typical outbound tactics. After a brief stint as an SDR—during which I cold-called and cold-emailed to no avail—I flipped completely to creating content for our company. We have folks reaching out to us every single day, thanking us for our helpful content and asking for a sales conversation. I used content as a vehicle to build up that trust, and now they want to know even more about how we can help them.
Think about the level of content and thoughtfulness your enterprise currently takes in its outbound marketing approach: How can you apply that inward to create visual content or quick explainer videos throughout the sales cycle and in customer conversations?
An easy place to start is going one level deeper than generic case studies to create templates that show customers and prospects specific ways to use your product.
You can also share metadata around how others in their industry use the product and what types of outcomes they’re seeing. These are the types of things that completely change the dynamic of your sales conversations and make people want to proactively reach out to you.
Plus, an added perk for sales reps in large companies is tapping into their big marketing teams with content engines—not becoming the content creators themselves.
3 - Adjust your sales narrative based on audience, time horizon, and channel
Building on the above, change up your narrative based on who you’re talking to and what they care about. I recommend thinking about this in terms of job level and time horizon.
For example, the higher up someone is in an organization, the more future-oriented they need to think. Someone lower in the organization focuses on today and tomorrow; mid-level managers think about the current month and quarter; and executive decision-makers plan for next year and those following.
Working with an individual contributor or end user?
→ Share templates that help them accomplish what needs to get done today.
Headed into a conversation with an executive stakeholder?
→ Talk about the trends coming down the pike and what they should be thinking about as a thought leader in their space.
Another perk about running PLG at an enterprise is that there are tons of underutilized subject matter experts you can pull in to add even deeper value to these conversations.
Likewise, an additional starting point is tailoring initial sales conversations and content around the door or channel someone came in through:
“Hey, I noticed you came in through the marketing automation door of our really horizontal platform. Did you know that you can do this? Here’s a template that shows you how.”
Providing the right value upfront makes it easier to open up a dialogue and then bridge the conversation to other use cases more effectively.
4 - Drive expansions with tight Sales and Product Marketing collaboration
Last, but certainly not least: Getting folks into the product is the first step in what will hopefully be a much longer journey across the platform. This makes a collaborative relationship between sales reps and product marketers table stakes for cross-selling and expansions.
In an ideal world, these two teams are tightly integrated, with product marketers sharing in-depth customer research, value propositions, and use cases for sales reps to use in their conversations and presentation decks. But in reality, very little back and forth takes place.
Case in point: I talk to lots of sales leaders at Fortune 500 companies. You’d be surprised at how many still use marketing material that hasn’t been updated in years.
The disconnect between these teams leads to outdated value messaging and missed opportunities for higher sales revenue and larger customer expansions. Closing this gap also makes providing personalized, relevant content to prospects and customers that much easier for Sales.
In a perfect symbiotic relationship, a sales rep can easily grab enablement materials and value props for any given use case during customer conversations. On the other side, product marketers can use feedback from Sales to continuously update messaging and product materials with what resonates most with folks.
Messaging Checklist for Enterprise PLG:
- How many stakeholders are currently involved in PLG messaging? How many need to be?
- Is the messaging for your PLG motion built to sell a specific point solution or an enterprise platform?
- Have you pinpointed where customers might benefit from marketing content in their journey with your products?
- Can someone understand your product without any additional context than what’s on your landing page today?
- Are your use cases and value props generated by product marketers?
- How easy is it for sales reps to grab sales enablement materials for different use cases?
- Is Product Marketing incorporating in-depth customer research into decks and slides with talk tracks that Sales can pull from?
- Have you established a communication channel between sales and product marketing so they can both iterate from the other side’s insights?
More frameworks like this one?
I hope I’ve illustrated the importance of adjusting your messaging and product marketing strategy to support Product-Led Sales at the enterprise level.
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