Not all products are made equal, and neither are Go-to-Market strategies. You need a strategy that's tailored to your product, business model and target audience. The different styles of GTM strategy are broadly grouped as ‘motions’, with sales-led, product-led and content-led being some of the most popular.
Your GTM motion is what drives your strategy, it's the force behind your customer, revenue and business growth. In this article, we explore the how-tos of a sales-led Go-to-Market strategy, including when to use one, how to use one and what it looks like in practice.
Here to lend a helping hand is Jarod Greene, Vice President of Product and Customer Marketing at Highspot. Jarod leads Highspot’s GTM teams and is experienced in delivering successful sales-led strategies.
But before we catch up with Jarod, let’s nail down exactly what a sales-led strategy is.
What is sales-led Go-to-Market?
Sales-led is the traditional Go-to-Market strategy, with a heavy emphasis on good ol’ fashioned selling. Instead of relying on the product to demonstrate its value, your sales strategy is the driving force behind your launch activities and the success of your product.
Sales-led is a strategy that really works for products with slow time-to-value or barriers to entry that customers might need to be hand-held through. A sales team is therefore crucial when it comes to demonstrating the value of your product and showing customers why they’d want to buy it.
Sales-led strategy is reliant on you having done your market research properly and knowing which audiences to target. Effective sales conversions necessitate going after a buyer who will find value in your product, understanding a customer’s pain points and knowing which aspects of your product will be most relevant to them.
With your sales team playing such an important role in your Go-to-Market strategy, you’ll need to make sure you’ve assembled your team properly. They’ll be the most important pieces on your chess board and you need to invest time and resources into training your sales team so they’re equipped to strategically sell your product. That means in-depth buyer personas, understanding pain points, knowing which product features address said pain points and the ability to deliver a consistent customer journey.
Once again, for successful Go-to-Market your leading motion, be it product or sales, needs to be aligned with marketing so you can get that consistency in positioning, messaging and customer experience.
Sales-led is going to be most effective when your sales reps can build relationships with individual clients and the way to do that is to arm them with as much information as possible. One of the biggest benefits of the sales-led approach is that your customers get hands-on experience, so make the most of that opportunity.
Sales-led Go-to-Market, with Jarod Greene
In what circumstances would you choose a sales-led Go-to-Market strategy?
A sales-led Go-to-Market strategy makes the most sense when the product is relatively expensive and requires customers to invest in people, processes and technology to have successful outcomes.
Products like this will require some guidance and expertise, and in situations where customization is required, the benefits of having sales and services teams create a competitive advantage. The product becomes something that is used cross-functionally and has the opportunity to become sticky as it supports key business processes.
What are the benefits of sales-led Go-to-Market?
The primary benefits come from the direct, personal connections you can forge with customers. You have the ability to understand customer needs at a detailed level and develop and customize your product to meet their needs and drive higher usage and adoption.
You can also create the feedback loop your product teams need to develop new features and capabilities. This can create loyalty and advocacy that benefit the business and the brand for years to come.
Are there any risks to look out for with sales-led Go-to-Market?
The cost of sales is high. You need to make sure you have the resources to enable and empower your sales team so that they are equipped, trained and coached to execute consistently.
Great salespeople and leaders can be hard to attract and retain, so the risk that you stumble across these professionals who can balance the art and science of selling is low. This type of motion is also most at risk in down markets, where the drive to be profitable comes at the expense of people.
Can you give an example of a time you successfully used a sales-led Go-to-Market strategy to beat out a competitor?
I lead a sales-led motion at Highspot and there are now over 200 competitive enablement platforms - many of which are delivered to market through a product-led strategy. While these tools might see success in pockets of an enterprise, ultimately we find that revenue leaders want a unified view of their revenue-generating teams, and having different tools for different teams makes it difficult to understand what is working and what needs to be improved.
One PLG-led solution, in particular, had good traction in a regional department, with the intention of spreading through the business. As most departments were made aware of the solution, new requirements entered into the mix.
As Revenue Operations took the lead on the project and gathered requirements across all stakeholders, it was determined that the PLG-led solution would be ineffective in meeting their needs and that Highspot would address the widest range of requirements, in addition to providing the skills and resources in the discipline to help them improve sales productivity.
How did you decide sales-led Go-to-Market was right for your company?
Highspot has always been a sales-led motion, but it does not stop us from applying some product-led principles. Ultimately, we deliver the most value to customers who need to understand the enablement discipline, meaning their sales teams use and adopt the platform more often.
Our customers see the investment in enablement as holistic - in that it impacts all marketing, sales and customer success teams, and that it’s critical these groups be on the same page as they execute strategy. That requires investments on our side in people and processes that understand the discipline and how to make sure our customers get the most from their investments.
A sales-led Go-to-Market strategy puts your sales reps in the driving seat. It’s best suited for products with:
- Slow-time to value.
- Higher price points.
- Complicated onboarding.
Sales-led allows you to develop really strong relationships with your customers and deliver custom-built product packages.
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