What Is Sales-Led GTM?

A sales-led GTM strategy performs in the B2B tech sector when complex and high-value items are sold. This sales approach drives growth by empowering sales teams and aligning marketing and product functions to support sales. Success stories like ServiceNow and Salesforce illustrate its effectiveness.

What Is Sales-Led GTM?
Sales-led GTM is especially suitable for closing elephant-sized deals.

“Next year, we need to double our revenue at least!”

Every startup CEO states this sentence. While more established companies might have more conservative growth targets, the common goal is accelerating sales. A systematic effort is required for a company with ambitious growth goals; just winging it is not an option.

Meeting growth targets is always vital on both company and personal levels. If a start-up falls behind its growth targets, it will lose interest from investors, and access to ever-important capital becomes more difficult. On the other hand, stock-listed companies see the impact of failing to deliver on the company's market value. On a more personal level, regardless of company size, missing targets leads to top management's position becoming shaky at best. Reaching set targets is a company broad imperative.

Reaching set targets is a company broad imperative.

This might be a familiar situation for you: There is an ongoing company-wide debate about what to do as revenue lags behind the targets. Sales claim there are no leads to sell to, marketing is unsure which problems their product is meant to solve, and the product is lost in feature requests. Difficult decisions need to be made, and an updated strategy is required to move forward.

For many B2B companies looking to accelerate sales, transitioning to a sales-led GTM strategy could be the way forward and the key to reaching set growth goals.

Meet Sales-Led GTM

A go-to-market strategy details how you sell your products to customers. A sales-led GTM places the sales function as the company's growth and revenue engine.

Sales-led GTM is commonly adopted by B2B technology companies offering complex or high-value items as sales representatives play a crucial role. Making a sale usually entails a consultative sales process concentrating on developing relationships, comprehending customers' requirements, and suggesting a suitable solution. The company’s sales approach might lean towards outbound or inbound, as both are within the scope of sales-led GTM.

A sales-led go-to-market strategy emphasises sales efforts to facilitate customer acquisition and business growth.

A sales-led go-to-market strategy empowers sales teams to act autonomously and pursue the most critical opportunities with the best sales approach. When implementing the strategy, each sales representative might prioritise opportunities in their sales pipelines based on the deal value, their relationship with the buyers, or similar deals they have signed earlier. Eventually, sales map out their unique selling points and ideal customer profiles to focus on. This is when the growth should kick in.

A sales-led GTM strategy empowers sales teams to act with high autonomy and pursue opportunities with the sales approach they deem best.

To make sales-led GTM a company-wide strategy, other departments, such as marketing and product, would then follow feedback and guidance from sales leadership. For example, marketing efforts should be focused on enabling the sales team to have discussions related to their selling points and targeted towards a defined ideal customer profile, as this is the path of least resistance for sales. On the other hand, product development should produce features supporting sales in making deals (features that create a wow effect) and features solving customers' pain points (features that customers actually use).

Some global companies nailing sales-led GTM are ServiceNow and Salesforce.

Sales-led GTM Is Not For All

The alternative option to sales-led growth would be product-led growth, PLG. On a practical level, sales-led GTM is a sales approach where the sales team interacts with customers before they get hands-on with the product, while in PLG the purchase can be made entirely without interacting with anyone at the company. The product "sells itself". Drilling even more into the nitty-gritty, if a tech company's website says “Contact Sales” or “Book a demo,” you can be pretty sure you are looking at a sales-driven company.

Sales-led GTM is a sales approach where the sales team interacts with customers before they get hands-on with the product.

There are a few noteworthy perquisites that make sales-led GTM suitable for you. This approach mainly works for companies offering their services with a price and margin that can justify the investment into a sales team. Sales teams cost money to hire, train and manage, so having one makes sense only if selling the product in question can not be done via no-touch self-service; the problem your service solves is such that prospects want personal service or they do not know even to search for your offering independently.

Many companies have successfully combined sales-led GTM with product-led growth. For example, after establishing itself via PLG in the SME segment, transitioning to enterprise sales might benefit or even require partly adopting sales-led GTM. However, when combining elements from sales and product-led growth approaches, one must be careful: mismatches are expensive at best and destructive if done wrong.

What next?

To start your journey towards a sales-led go-to-market, you must make the needed investments in a professional sales team (if you are transitioning from founder-led sales) or, in the case of more established organisations, give sales more freedom and power to decide the direction of the product and the company.

The benefits of transitioning to a sales-led company might not be apparent overnight. However, you should eventually start seeing more traction on sales KPIs, and the company should find a shared tone and direction.

Avoid Stalled Growth with Sales-Led GTM Checklist | GTM Club
GTM Club’s checklist includes 18 questions to evaluate companies’ readiness and fit for a sales-led GTM journey.

Using our checklist, you can identify your readiness for sales-led GTM.

Whatever your starting position, GTM Club supports you on the journey. Join GTM Club by subscribing to our newsletter for free!

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