Will Product-Led Sales Make Salespeople Obsolete?

By Grace Tyson, VP of Sales, Reprise
A black silhouette of a salesman holding a briefcase.

As far as I’m concerned, the answer to that question is unequivocally, absolutely not. Or, as Dwight Schrute from The Office says, “False!”

But not everyone feels that way.

Some companies want their software to take buyers from start to finish – from discovery to purchase – all without ever having communicated with a salesperson.

And that’s cool. After all, buyers want to get their hands on your software ASAP. Making them sit through sales calls before giving it to them is the equivalent of forcing them to attend timeshare meetings to get three free nights in a Florida condo.

But most buyers do want to engage with your sales team; they just want to experience your product first. They want to speak with your salespeople after they’ve identified what they like about your product and what questions they have.

They don’t want to eliminate the salespeople; they want to eliminate the cookie-cutter discovery calls and SPIN selling.

What Will My Product-Led Sales Team Look Like?

I do have to tell you that the way your sales team operates will change as you become increasingly product-led. Which is, I promise you, a very, very good thing.

Travel with me for a moment. Imagine you’ve been operating with a product-led sales team for the past year. Your sales cycles have shortened, leads are better qualified, time-to-value has decreased, and revenue is soaring. So what’s changed?

Change #1: You stopped the timeshare meetings.      

Your buyers now get immediate access to the Florida condo (aka your software product) without ever having to attend sales meetings or calls.

Your sales teams didn’t stop interacting with buyers; they’ve just been hanging back and waiting for their cue to step in. Now, they let your buyers get a tan and sip some piña coladas on the balcony before moving in to close the sale.

Change #2: You made it nice. 

That Florida condo? (Stick with me – we’re still talking about your software product.) It’s been decorated with your buyer’s taste in mind: Pictures of their pets are on the wall, and the fridge is filled with the snacks they love.

You haven’t just been giving your customers upfront product experiences; you’ve been delivering customized experiences – tailoring them to make it easy for your prospects to imagine themselves using it in multiple ways.

Change #3: You invited their influential friends. 

Your buyers have been falling in love with the product experiences you’ve shared, but not all of them had the power to sign the timeshare agreement. (I swear this is my very last condo-as-your-software analogy.)

Yet your salespeople are reaching more decision-makers in more departments than ever before.

Instead of moving on and abandoning the sale, they’ve turned these product enthusiasts into champions. They’ve been listening to their insights and use case suggestions, then giving them new or updated product experiences to share with internal decision-makers.

Sounds Awesome. How Do We Get There?

A year from now, I want you to look back and see the changes and the gains we just talked about. But where to begin? The best advice I can give you as the VP of Sales for a product-led team is to start working with a really good demo creation platform.

There are a few out there, and trust me; they aren’t all built the same. At a bare minimum, you need one that will do two things:

#1: Give your sales teams demos that don’t feel like demos. 

Look for a demo creation platform that can capture the full functionality of your app without losing the dynamic features that make your platform unique, is highly customizable and doesn’t require coding experience to use.

This will make it easy for solutions engineers (or whoever makes your demos) to replicate your software’s look, feel, and functionality within a demo environment.

When this happens:

  • Buyers get to authentically experience what it would be like to use your software.
  • Salespeople can confidently share demos that won’t glitch (nothing fills a prospect with fear, uncertainty, and doubt like a buggy demo).
  • Solutions engineers can produce and customize demos faster and enable sales reps to deliver an end-product so easily that SEs no longer have to sit on unqualified demos as the “technical voice of the product.”

#2 Deliver useful user data.

Product-led sales teams need to know when they should jump into the buyer’s journey – and the right approach to use when they do. Use a demo creation platform that delivers demo usage data transparently and understandably, and they’ll be able to do this.

How do you know if your current demo creation platform can do this?

Dig into analytics. Can you see usage data broken down by user, by demo, and more? This will allow you to determine how engaged your buyers were in the demo and help you transition an educational buyer into an active buyer.

Look at the integrations. Will the demo creation platform connect with CRMs like Salesforce or Hubspot? This will allow your sales team to receive automated prompts when leads become qualified.

Keep the Sales Team; Just Lead with Your Product.

I could go on and on about how buyers don’t want to talk to your reps before seeing your product – no matter how eager or ready they are to build rapport. But we’ve all got things to do, so let’s hit the key points:

  1. Your key players – your hungry salespeople – stay.
  2. You start using a demo creation platform.
  3. Sales teams lead with your product.
  4. Profit.

Best of all, no one actually has to sell a timeshare condo in Florida, so we all appreciate that we work in SaaS a little more.

Want to keep the conversation going? Let’s connect! Contact Reprise, and we’ll show you what our demo creation platform looks like and how it can help your team win with product experiences.

Grace Tyson is the VP of Sales at Reprise, a demo creation platform that helps solutions engineers and product marketers create winning demos. She’s a company builder and sales leader who’s also worked with Luma (now Pillar), Chorus.ai, Midaxo, and InsightSquared. She enjoys going to the theater and spending time with her husband Luke and dog Winry.