What is Sales-Led Growth? Plus Top Examples to Inspire You

February 27, 2024


Are you tired of the traditional marketing funnel that seems more like a black hole than a strategic plan? Do you want to focus on driving revenue growth rather than just generating leads? 

If so, you might consider sales-led growth—a new approach to business growth that puts sales at the forefront. We'll dive into sales-led growth and how it differs from traditional marketing and provide real-life examples of companies successfully implementing this strategy. 

Sales-Led Growth, Explained

Sales-led growth (SLG) is a strategy that places sales teams at the forefront of the company. In other words, sales reps move leads through the sales funnel.

As such, sales teams in sales-led businesses often “steer the ship.” They forge relationships with potential and current customers and then use first-hand information to reshape marketing strategies, product development, and the sales process. 

For these organizations, customer lifetime value (CLV) is the ultimate indicator of success.

The sales-led growth model drives revenue growth because it prioritizes customer satisfaction and profitability. For this reason, many SaaS companies use a sales-led growth strategy; we’ll talk about them later. First, we need to compare sales-led growth and product-led growth (PLG).

Sales-Led Growth vs Product-Led Growth

PLG is a marketing and growth strategy that uses the product as the main driver of customer acquisition. Product-led companies often use demos and free trials to showcase the value of what they’re selling. 

This contrasts with SLG, which emphasizes the how of selling.

Many software companies tout PLG as the “gold standard.” However, research has shown that public companies that embraced the PLG model initially are 5–10% less profitable than their sales-led competitors.

So, let’s quickly compare sales-led and product-led growth.

To start, SLG is more scalable than PLG, as it’s usually easier to modify a sales process than overhaul a product. For the same reason, SLG allows companies to respond more to the market.

On the other hand, PLG tends to have lower customer acquisition costs, as the thing you’ve already invested in—the product—is also your strongest marketing tool.

The Benefits of Sales-Led Growth

Overall, sales-led growth is a strong contender for “best approach.” Businesses adopt this go-to-market strategy because:

  • It’s customer-focused: Who knows the customer best? The sales rep who handles the customer interactions. The sales team understands your target audience, and when they’re in charge, they can implement customer-centric solutions to pain points and boost customer retention.
  • It promotes agility: The frontline sales team can take real-time feedback from your target market and then use it to inform strategy and process changes. These insights can help shorten your sales cycles.
  • It helps increase revenue: SLG is a powerful growth strategy because when you make sales, you make money. Focusing on your sales efforts can help you exceed growth targets.
  • It encourages team alignment: By declaring customer satisfaction and growth as your primary goals, you help your sales, customer success, and marketing teams stay on the same page.

How to Drive Success With a Sales-Led Growth Strategy

With so many benefits, a sales-led approach can revolutionize the way you do business and help you reach your goals.

With that said, if you want to implement a sales-led growth strategy, you’ll have to:

  • Empower your sales team: The sales-led growth model starts with making your sales team into leaders. Give your sales reps and account executives the power to take charge and make decisions, then have them talk strategy with your marketing and customer success teams.
  • Understand and appeal to your customers: Sales-led growth relies far more on customer experience than product-led growth. You need to really know your audience; use your data on customer behavior for a full picture. Pair this deep understanding with a human touch to strengthen your relationships throughout the sales process.
  • Use a robust CRM: A customer relationship management (CRM) solution like Salesforce or HubSpot will help your sales team track their progress and inform any process changes they may need to make. Built-in automation features will also simplify the process.
  • Measure and iterate: Above all, an effective sales strategy is adaptive. As you experiment with sales-led growth, listen to the data—it’ll tell you what’s working and what needs to change.

Examples of Sales-Led Growth

Need more convincing that a sales-led strategy is worth adopting? Here are a couple of real-world examples of sales-led companies to inspire you.

Example 1: Salesforce

Given the company name, it’s fitting that Salesforce is a prime example of sales-driven growth. The platform has become the dominant CRM solution by keeping sales at the center of the customer journey.

When you enter the sales cycle, a Salesforce rep provides support, pricing info, and more. Even their chatbot Salesforce Assistant encourages you to speak to a rep—the first option on live chat is “Chat live with a sales expert.”

Although Salesforce offers free trials (a common PLG strategy), sales are still the heart of its customer journey and growth strategy.

Example 2: Oracle

Another SLG success story features the enterprise software company Oracle. As of 2022, Oracle was the second-largest software firm in the world—and their sales-led approach is part of the reason.

Head to the Oracle website, and you’ll immediately feel directed toward the sales department. The CTA button at the top of the page reads “Contact Sales.” The pop-up in the bottom corner has the sales phone number.

Once a potential customer reaches the sales team, the Oracle rep works to understand their needs and pain points, building a relationship before suggesting product solutions.

Embrace a Sales-Led Model Today

You could benefit from a sales-led approach if you’re looking for a tried-and-true way to kickstart growth and boost your revenue. Sales-led growth is a winning strategy for SaaS companies—and for successful companies in general.

See for yourself how easy we make the process. Prioritize your sales team and the customers they interact with to start driving business growth.