Advice for Sales

Building Sales Teams that Unleash PLG’s Potential

PLG selling isn’t just calling down on signups. Get the most out of your self-serve funnel with a mix of inbound, outbound, and ABM selling strategies.

Assa Eldar

September 8, 2022
·
 min read

Efficiency and prioritization are the hallmark of finding and converting revenue in Product-Led Growth (PLG). Self-serve lets customers qualify and convert themselves. But many SaaS startups simply tack a traditional sales strategy onto their self-serve funnel. While what you really want to do is create a PLG-optimized sales motion with the right culture and incentives to drive exponential growth. 

From leading sales at Lusha for nearly 4 years, I’ve learned a lot of what to do – and not do – when implementing a Product-Led Sales motion. Below are 4 selling strategies that worked for us - in their own nuanced ways. 

My biggest lesson - don’t be scared to take risks on big accounts in your self-serve funnel.  

Design your self-serve customer journey

The first step is to design your PLG packages for the customer journey. How do you package your free offering? What features do customers get as they upgrade to paid packages? Those differences should create a natural conversion path from free all the way to enterprise.

You start with a free package that offers real value for one person. Someone shares it with their colleagues. Now, they’re interested in a paid package — maybe one with a team view. Eventually, they reach a point where they want integrations. Or maybe they want large teams. Now they talk to sales.

Of course, some people will never follow that journey. They’ll be happy with your starter packages. It’s companies that match your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) whose journeys you want to guide. Design your PLG packages the right way, and you control that narrative.

Accelerating inbound sales

Too many times, young PLG companies treat their inbound sales teams as active versions of their self-serve model. They spend all day calling existing users and convincing them to move from a free account to, say, a $50 per month subscription. But you’re not going to control volume that way. If you close 60 deals a month, that salesperson has brought in only $3,000 monthly — not a lot! Even worse, that monthly rate doesn’t translate into $36,000 yearly because the odds of churn are much higher. At the end of the day, this kind of inbound sales doesn’t make financial sense.

Something I’ve done is tell the inbound team they can only sell yearly plans with minimum user counts. With the same effort, they close fewer, higher-quality deals. Instead of producing less than $36,000 annually, they add $300,000 in new accounts every month.

Now you need to expand your inbound team. Raising your targets from 15 to 30 deals won’t accelerate your sales. You fall back into that high-volume, high-churn model. You need to start hiring. Each person will have fewer leads to work on, but they will pay more attention to each one. Compared to your original assisted self-serve model, your growing inbound sales team becomes a game changer with annual recurring revenue 20 or 30 times higher than before.

Expand your accounts with outbound sales

At some point, adding more people stops producing the same results. You hit this glass ceiling where your inbound sales just stop growing no matter what you do. So, now’s the time for you to add what I call outreach sales. 

In traditional B2B selling, the outbound team cold calls people who don’t use your product. It starts a sales cycle that can take months. PLG is different. Your leads are companies whose employees already use the product. You’re not cold calling. You’re reaching out to existing users to get to the decision-makers.

With 100s of 1,000s of users, you must prioritize the Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs) with the biggest revenue potential. Look at the low-hanging fruit like your premium accounts — companies with maybe half a dozen users. Have your team reach out and convert them to enterprise accounts.

Next, you start expanding your enterprise accounts. Work with RevOps to slice and dice the numbers. Find companies that fit your ICP but don’t have as many people using your product as they could. Let’s say an enterprise account only has 50 users when it could support 500. Targeting 70% penetration drives your outbound team to have the potential to expand that account by another 300 users.

Exponential growth with account-based marketing

With your inbound and outbound operations running efficiently, it’s time to get ready for the next jump in your sales strategy. Become more strategic by building an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) sales team. Have RevOps run the numbers again. This time, create a list of the largest companies with many free and paid users. 

Now you do something I call creating PLG demand. Have your BDR work their way through LinkedIn and give every potential user in this named account your free service. It won’t be a pure cold call. Your BDR can say, “Hey, your colleagues are already using our product, so here’s your free account.” Eventually, you get to a point where so many people use your product that the company says, “Okay, I’ll just buy it for everyone.”

It’s weird paying your BDRs just to get people using the product. They aren’t getting meetings. There’s no revenue. So, the important thing is to set expectations when you target a named account. And note, this strategy is most likely deployed to just the top 5% of your accounts. Give yourself 6 months and 2 BDRs per account. Their only job is to see how much traction you can get from that company. It takes a long time, and it’s riskier. At the end of the day, everything works out when a named account generates 30 times more revenue.

Make your sales teams revenue multipliers

Product-led growth can be very efficient, but you can’t limit that to the self-serve part of your business. If you want to unleash your company’s revenue potential, you must build inbound and outbound sales teams for PLG selling (these are your routes to market). You won’t do everything all at once. It will take time. But the more you build sales muscles you didn’t have before, the more your inbound and outbound sales teams will multiply your revenues.

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Advice for Sales

Building Sales Teams that Unleash PLG’s Potential

Assa Eldar
|
Sales Leader
|
Formerly at Lusha

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September 8, 2022
ReadTime

Efficiency and prioritization are the hallmark of finding and converting revenue in Product-Led Growth (PLG). Self-serve lets customers qualify and convert themselves. But many SaaS startups simply tack a traditional sales strategy onto their self-serve funnel. While what you really want to do is create a PLG-optimized sales motion with the right culture and incentives to drive exponential growth. 

From leading sales at Lusha for nearly 4 years, I’ve learned a lot of what to do – and not do – when implementing a Product-Led Sales motion. Below are 4 selling strategies that worked for us - in their own nuanced ways. 

My biggest lesson - don’t be scared to take risks on big accounts in your self-serve funnel.  

Design your self-serve customer journey

The first step is to design your PLG packages for the customer journey. How do you package your free offering? What features do customers get as they upgrade to paid packages? Those differences should create a natural conversion path from free all the way to enterprise.

You start with a free package that offers real value for one person. Someone shares it with their colleagues. Now, they’re interested in a paid package — maybe one with a team view. Eventually, they reach a point where they want integrations. Or maybe they want large teams. Now they talk to sales.

Of course, some people will never follow that journey. They’ll be happy with your starter packages. It’s companies that match your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) whose journeys you want to guide. Design your PLG packages the right way, and you control that narrative.

Accelerating inbound sales

Too many times, young PLG companies treat their inbound sales teams as active versions of their self-serve model. They spend all day calling existing users and convincing them to move from a free account to, say, a $50 per month subscription. But you’re not going to control volume that way. If you close 60 deals a month, that salesperson has brought in only $3,000 monthly — not a lot! Even worse, that monthly rate doesn’t translate into $36,000 yearly because the odds of churn are much higher. At the end of the day, this kind of inbound sales doesn’t make financial sense.

Something I’ve done is tell the inbound team they can only sell yearly plans with minimum user counts. With the same effort, they close fewer, higher-quality deals. Instead of producing less than $36,000 annually, they add $300,000 in new accounts every month.

Now you need to expand your inbound team. Raising your targets from 15 to 30 deals won’t accelerate your sales. You fall back into that high-volume, high-churn model. You need to start hiring. Each person will have fewer leads to work on, but they will pay more attention to each one. Compared to your original assisted self-serve model, your growing inbound sales team becomes a game changer with annual recurring revenue 20 or 30 times higher than before.

Expand your accounts with outbound sales

At some point, adding more people stops producing the same results. You hit this glass ceiling where your inbound sales just stop growing no matter what you do. So, now’s the time for you to add what I call outreach sales. 

In traditional B2B selling, the outbound team cold calls people who don’t use your product. It starts a sales cycle that can take months. PLG is different. Your leads are companies whose employees already use the product. You’re not cold calling. You’re reaching out to existing users to get to the decision-makers.

With 100s of 1,000s of users, you must prioritize the Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs) with the biggest revenue potential. Look at the low-hanging fruit like your premium accounts — companies with maybe half a dozen users. Have your team reach out and convert them to enterprise accounts.

Next, you start expanding your enterprise accounts. Work with RevOps to slice and dice the numbers. Find companies that fit your ICP but don’t have as many people using your product as they could. Let’s say an enterprise account only has 50 users when it could support 500. Targeting 70% penetration drives your outbound team to have the potential to expand that account by another 300 users.

Exponential growth with account-based marketing

With your inbound and outbound operations running efficiently, it’s time to get ready for the next jump in your sales strategy. Become more strategic by building an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) sales team. Have RevOps run the numbers again. This time, create a list of the largest companies with many free and paid users. 

Now you do something I call creating PLG demand. Have your BDR work their way through LinkedIn and give every potential user in this named account your free service. It won’t be a pure cold call. Your BDR can say, “Hey, your colleagues are already using our product, so here’s your free account.” Eventually, you get to a point where so many people use your product that the company says, “Okay, I’ll just buy it for everyone.”

It’s weird paying your BDRs just to get people using the product. They aren’t getting meetings. There’s no revenue. So, the important thing is to set expectations when you target a named account. And note, this strategy is most likely deployed to just the top 5% of your accounts. Give yourself 6 months and 2 BDRs per account. Their only job is to see how much traction you can get from that company. It takes a long time, and it’s riskier. At the end of the day, everything works out when a named account generates 30 times more revenue.

Make your sales teams revenue multipliers

Product-led growth can be very efficient, but you can’t limit that to the self-serve part of your business. If you want to unleash your company’s revenue potential, you must build inbound and outbound sales teams for PLG selling (these are your routes to market). You won’t do everything all at once. It will take time. But the more you build sales muscles you didn’t have before, the more your inbound and outbound sales teams will multiply your revenues.