“Product led growth” is the newest buzzword in the B2B SaaS… wordworld. As with many buzzwords, it came about because it is a great idea on paper.

The idea of product led is a timely re appropriation of an important concept. The B2C narrative of consumer self-guidance through the product cycle is one that can and should translate in the B2B space. For whatever reason, until the rise of product led growth, this simply was not the case.

But is there a place in business to business interaction without a need for active salesmanship? Can you really trust clients to give your products a fair shake if the value proposition is left completely up to them? It sounds like a dream for clients — no pressure, no annoying follow up, all the time in the world to decide.

This is simply not how sales works. Even if you have a product led growth narrative in place, you need a dedicated sales team to make sure that you meet your business goals.

Understanding the Value Proposition

Product led growth incorrectly assumes that all customers know exactly what they want. Nothing could be further from the truth. (Let’s all remember the iPhone case study where Steve Jobs famously made this point common knowledge!)

If you are thinking about foregoing a professional sales team to replace them with a buzzword tactic, you may be misinterpreting the actual function of the sales team.

Your sales team is not there to sell. The customer does that on his own.

Your sales team is there to offer product-market fit that your customer may not have thought of. The default journey a client takes may not be the appropriate journey for that client and product, and they would have no way of knowing without the careful guidance of a human professional. What’s more, people actually prefer to receive advice from those they deem experts. The problem with most sales teams is that clients do not view them as experts, and with good reason. They are rushing through the journey trying to close the sale instead of guiding the customer to the appropriate solution.

Automating the Unimportant

This is not to say that you can’t automate the more unimportant aspects of the customer journey. Properly managed, you can even use that automation as a sales tactic. In the digital age, everyone loves transparency. So there’s no reason why you can’t have a pricing page and a product demo that requires no human interaction.

Wait a minute — price and product demo are unimportant?

Hear me out.

We must assume that your business is capable enough to offer a competitive price that is also commensurate with the level of service you plan to offer. We can also assume that your competition is doing the same thing, giving you very little edge in this aspect of the product journey (unless you just made created your industry’s iPhone). We should also assume that you cannot tailor an automated product demo to the exact needs of each customer. Neither can your competition.

General pricing and a generic demo show general competency. In order for a client to pick you over your competition, your sales team needs to be on point. Automating the more unimportant aspects of the sales funnel opening gives your sales people more time and energy to focus on the mid-funnel details and the close.

Overcoming Objections

You can also somewhat automate common objections, but this probably won’t work for your more important clients. If you have a fish on the hook that is looking to spend six figures, that fish will probably have more detailed questions than your chat bot can handle.

Here is when your precisely trained sales team proves its worth. Those deep industry questions that pertain to problems only experienced professionals even know to ask questions about need to be answered by a sales rep with said experience. When you get down into this level of questioning, your sales people aren’t really even trying to overcome objections. They are truly trying to find product market fit with respect to the unique problems that your larger clients will tend to have.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to give your entire sales process over to technology because of the latest buzzword. There may be a day when this is possible, but it is definitely not today. Although you may read a few articles saying Gen Z would rather correspond with a computer than a human salesman, realize they are only talking about you if your salespeople don’t have any new information to offer. Just as your product is creating value with its technological advances, so too must your sales team create the personal value with your clientele that truly encourages long-term B2B relationships.

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