Sales-Led Growth (SLG) isn't just about having a standout sales team—it's a strategic dance between product prowess and sales finesse. Ever wondered why giants like Bain and McKinsey thrive while others falter? Let's unveil the nuanced strategies that determine success and the common missteps that can jeopardize growth. Is SLG is the missing piece to your business puzzle, or would it just waste your resources? Dive in to find out.
A robust SLG strategy is pivotal in ensuring that every dollar spent translates into value for stakeholders. But how do you ensure your sales-driven growth strategy aligns with your business’s objectives?
Picture this: investing in a world-class sales team for a product that underdeliver can not only damage your reputation but also result in significant financial setbacks. When growth is spearheaded by sales, it's crucial to balance product quality, customer relationships, and market trends or you risk wasting all those hard earned sales.
Sales led growth is more than just improving your sales pipeline. It impacts your resource allocation, customer relationships, and the overall brand perception.
At Orogamis, we advocate for a comprehensive SLG strategy. Rather than merely focusing on increasing sales, we emphasize a balance where sales growth complements other business goals—be it customer satisfaction, market presence, or company valuation.
If you want to learn more and understand if sales-led growth will help you make it or break it, you're in the right place.
Sales-Led Growth typically comes as the concerted efforts of Sales and Marketing teams to generate leads, create new sales opportunities, close deals, and manage long, often complex sales cycles. Providers who have already established themselves with acclaimed products or services will have the biggest bang for the buck with Sales-Led Growth.
While Product-Led Growth may feel "simpler" than assembling and managing a team of Sales and Marketing rockstars, it doesn’t mean PLG is less expensive or less time-consuming. In fact, PLG can be a true ordeal if you have a complex product with an onboarding process that is far from easy or seamless.
A high ticket may be a good indicator that putting time and resources into Marketing and Sales can be worth the while, as it will improve the chances to secure plump, juicy enterprise accounts.
While it is helpful to compare and contrast them side-by-side, though, the reality is that there is no ‘better’ choice, and what might work for one company may spell disaster for another.
Included among the greatest natively sales-led companies in the world are incidentally some of the biggest consulting firms in the world: Bain and McKinsey, for example. High-level management consulting can certainly leverage technology to improve their operations, but at their core, the services they provide don’t lend to a product-led approach.
Consider Omnilert, an AI-powered gun detection software solution for schools, universities, and corporate campuses. This SaaS product integrates with existing security cameras and runs a constant detection algorithm that alerts the administration to the presence of firearms on premises.
This type of solution would be virtually impossible to bootstrap using a product-led growth model, as the target market, the product complexity, and the long sales cycle necessitate the involvement of sales and marketing teams.
Another fantastic example of a Sales-Led Growth model in action is Cleargage. This B2B healthcare tech provider develops customized patient billing and collections solutions that make it easier for hospitals and clinics to get paid for the services they provide.
Imagine the struggle Cleargage would have if it relied on a 100% product-led growth strategy—getting the word out to their potential buyers could take years, even if the product was perfectly built and worked like a charm.
While not in the SaaS space, Sambrailo typifies sales-led growth success. The company manufactures packaging for commercial farmers and agricultural distributors. The nature of this type of business demands a sales-led growth model, as breaking into greenfield opportunities relying solely on product quality and performance simply wouldn’t be feasible.
With Sales-Led Growth, marketing teams generate the leads that the sales team converts into one-time, recurring, or hybrid revenue. This comes with a drawback: long, complex funnels and extended sales cycles that are a challenge to effectively manage.
However you skin it, Sales-Led Growth models put most (if not all) the pressure on salespeople. Considering this, the case could be made that Sales-Led companies are only as good as their sales teams. And if you haven’t heard, outstanding marketing teams and trained, qualified salespeople are expensive (nevertheless, worth every penny when SLG is a good fit for the company).
Common critiques of Sales-Led business strategies include:
Beware: a common trap that startups fall into is attempting to rely on a Sales-Led Growth strategy not in lieu of, but because of an incomplete or immature product.
In other words, a company might lean heavily into building whizbang sales and marketing teams who are trained to market and sell a product that simply doesn’t do what it says on the tin.
Or, a struggling company might hire a Chief Revenue Officer at a hefty premium in an attempt to fix fundamental product issues, only to effectively lose the money the company invested—money that could have otherwise been used to directly improve the product (this is a real-world example we’ve seen here at Orogamis and more common than you’d imagine).
It’s possible that the product is still only a prototype, and the kinks are being worked out. Or, maybe just a few more months of development are needed before it’s really ready for primetime. The thinking is that, “if we can just get sales in the door, we’ll get the traction we need for a full-featured product launch.”
This is a recipe for disaster, and it’s an all-too-common precursor to an early-stage company death sentence.
In the above-mentioned examples of Asana and Atlassian, the trend we see is the same: what started as a Product-Led Growth strategy worked great until the business plateaued with market saturation within smaller accounts. And to expand enterprise accounts, an SLG growth strategy can be a true game-changer.
These examples show us that adding a Sales-Led Growth model can enable companies to land bigger fish by combining expert salespeople with a battle-tested product that historically sold itself (literally). In this way, Sales-Led Growth can be seen as a natural evolution for successful PLG-oriented companies.
The converse is also true. SLG-centered companies that witnessed big-time growth will often engage the afterburners by developing and executing a Product-Led Growth campaign. The results are higher close rates, shorter sales cycles, and a much healthier bottom line.
If you’re considering deploying a Sales-Led Growth strategy, be sure you have at least the following boxes ticked before you start hiring dedicated staff:
Each of these warrants its own long-form deep dive, but for the sake of brevity, we now move on to the pros, cons, and considerations of the Product-Led Sales strategy.
The art of Sales-Led Growth is not just about having a solid commercial team, but also about how you position your product and the experience you deliver.
From renowned consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey to unique SaaS solutions like Omnilert, the SLG model has proven its prowess in ensuring business success in specific contexts. Whether your product is in its infancy or at a point of market saturation, if you're eyeing those lucrative enterprise accounts, adopting an SLG strategy might be your next best move.
The key is understanding when and how to leverage it. If this deep dive into Sales-Led Growth has resonated with you, consider revisiting your growth strategy today. Need further insights or guidance? Book a Discovery Call here.