4 Things we learned from the 2021 Product-Led Sales Benchmark Report

In 2021 we set the foundation for understanding how revenue engines are built in a product-led world. In 2022 we're curious to see how things have evolved.

Sandy Mangat
October 18, 2022
4 Things we learned from the 2021 Product-Led Sales Benchmark Report

Following the success of last year’s PLS Benchmark Report, we’re back again. This time we partnered with our friends at OpenView, RevOps Co-op, and RevGenius to learn more about how sales teams are structured at PLG companies. 

In 2021 we set the foundation for understanding how revenue engines are built in a product-led world. In 2022 we're curious to see how things have evolved. We'll be paying close attention to the big questions...

  1. How does a product-led organization structure their sales team?
  2. What types of tools are teams using to built the ultimate GTM tech stack
  3. How do teams split their customer segments?

Whether you’ve only dipped your toes in PLG or are a well oiled Product-Led Sales machine - we want to hear about your experiences.

Take the survey.

Building on the foundation of a new category: Product-Led Sales

We’ve seen that the most successful and high growth SaaS businesses are Product-Led Growth (PLG) companies. While the healthy self-serve growth of PLG companies is impressive, the real breakthrough happens when these teams pair their self-serve products with a robust sales motion. 

This new sales motion at PLG companies is called Product-Led Sales (PLS). Product-Led Sales (PLS) is a go-to-market approach that relies on existing users of the product to drive revenue, including conversion, upsell, cross-sell and expansion.

Product-Led Sales is still in its infancy but gaining popularity quickly. We created the PLS benchmark report as a way to create a baseline for every revenue team or sales leader. .The insights we gleaned from last year’s survey helped us understand the basics, like how teams are measuring PQLs and how they are structured.

This year we’re going to go deeper, as the category matures, so do the types of questions, concepts, and playbooks teams need to succeed. 

Take the survey.

4 things we learned from the 2021 PLS Benchmark Report

1. PLG companies don’t do sales = myth

97% of all companies surveyed have sales or plan to add sales on top of their PLG motion. However, last year respondents were still split, some sales teams are still conducting cold outbound (44%) while other are experimenting with PQLs (47%).   

It’s clear that most companies are still in the exploration phases.

2. Product-Led Sales team still do outbound

While a majority of respondents (72%) have sales conducting outreach to inbound leads and many have started to conduct outreach to PQLs (47%), 50% are still relying on MQLs to inform outreach and 44% are still conducting cold outbound, both of which are more traditional enterprise sales tactics.

We suspect that we’ll learn more about how teams have evolved traditional cold outbound approaches to complement PLS, with tactics that take in product usage data for key messaging and multithreading based on PLS results, in this year’s survey!

More on combining PLS with Outbound here.

3. Sales-Assist is becoming an important (and recognized) part of the team

Turns out the sales team structure at PLG companies is not too different from any other SaaS company, with the first hire normally being a Head of Sales, VP of Sales, or a CRO. 

48% of respondents made their first hire between $500K and $1M in ARR and that hire typically reported directly to the CEO/Founder. Compensation also looked as it did in the traditional enterprise sales world. We’re looking forward to getting some data around this for the 2022 Benchmark report.

For some insights on newer comp models check out Ben Sabrin’s AMA.

Where things got interesting in last years report was with the role of sales-assist, an emerging function within a PLS team. Sales-assist is exactly what it sounds like…helping/assisting a user in their journey, whether that means they are ready to purchase or have hit a point of friction, and everything in between. In 2021 ~29% of companies had this role, but we expect to see adoption of the sales-assist role has accelerated this year. 

4. CRMs were still dominating over the data warehouse

Most respondents either used Salesforce or Hubspot as their CRM with a few smaller companies opting for a Google sheet, Notion page, or Airtable base.

When it comes to the data warehouse, 24% of respondents didn’t have one. We feel pretty strongly that this number has increased over the past 12 months, as more PLG companies recognize the power of leveraging the data warehouse as the system of record for their company. 

You can read more about our thoughts on CRMs and why we believe the data warehouse is a better backend for your GTM tech stack here.

Take the PLS Benchmark Survey

Help us chart the evolution of Product-Led Sales with real data and find out how you stack up against your peers.

The survey should take you ~5-7 minutes to complete and all of the results are anonymized (we won’t reveal your secrets), but if you want to receive the results you have the option of giving us your email. 

👉 Take the survey 

Sandy Mangat
Head of Marketing at Pocus
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