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The role of SDRs in a PLG motion: 7 ways the job is evolving

Mona Akmal Apr 29, 2022 2:03:32 PM

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As consumerization of B2B go-to-market motions takes hold, every revenue-driving role (SDR, AE, AM, Marketing, Customer Success) is evolving. Such a time of transition poses many opportunities for people with a growth mindset.

Product led growth companies are on the forefront of redefining GTM roles and processes. In this article, we’ll look at how SDRs work in a PLG motion.

What’s different about PLG and why should SDRs care?

To figure out how to be relevant and effective as an SDR in a PLG world, it’s important to first understand the key ways in which PLG motions are different from traditional SDR jobs-to-be-done.

Scale

Instead of relying on a manageable inbound volume of MQLs and leads from outbound prospecting, the SDR team now has a 100x larger base of free or minimally paying product users to reach out to. Doing outreach in the same way just won’t scale.

Prospect expectation

Instead of reaching out to a prospect who’s never used the product and about whom we only know what Zoominfo tells us, we’re reaching out to prospects that actually use the product and understand its capabilities well.

This familiarity means they have higher expectations of personalization and that selling points need to be based on deeper product knowledge. They already understand the product’s value and they have a more diverse set of needs (like help with procurement).

Multi-user, multi-service accounts

One account (i.e. company) may have users scattered throughout the organization. Many of these users may be on different service plans and not even know who else outside of their immediate team is using the product.

Figuring out the right buyer persona can be challenging. It’s more important than ever to have a great identity resolution workflow in place.

Support vs SDR

Because most prospects are already active users of the product, they may have previously engaged with customer support and asked them questions that are traditionally in the SDR/AE realm, such as “how much will it cost if I go from X to Y downloads per month?” The customer just wants an answer, irrespective of the role of the person who gives it to them.

Marketing and SDR collaboration

In traditional B2B motions, SDRs and marketing teams have a clean transition point and often very little collaboration. In the PLG motion, there’s a lot of confusion about who owns the PQL, what the assignment process is, and how user onboarding sequences overlap with SDR conversion outreach sequences. There isn’t a right answer, but teams need to consider this big question.

SDR as sales-assist

Given that prospects are users of the product, they often don’t need to be “sold” but rather need help with the logistics of procurement. This poses an interesting opportunity for SDRs to act as “sales-assist” professionals. This in turn brings into question what an SDR’s goals and compensation structure look like.

SDRs in the PLG world

Given the needs of PLG consumers, here are seven changes for SDRs to embrace.

1. Personalized outreach (with usage insights)

Prospects expect to receive emails that look like this:

Hi Joanna,

It looks like you’re enjoying <product feature X> and actively sharing it with your teammates. Did you know you can use <product feature Y> to make the sharing process even easier? This feature is available to our Pro plan users and they see a 50% higher engagement rate with their content because of it. Would you like me to show you how to enable this capability?

This email is:

  1. Personalized with details about the prospect’s recent usage of the product
  2. Logical about why they should upgrade to a paying SKU based on their recent usage
  3. Asking for time for a specific reason tied to the recent usage instead of booking a meeting with a sales rep

2. Deeper product knowledge

PLG SDRs are well versed in what the product does and comfortable talking about it in some depth. This is essential for a meaningful outreach or introductory call with a prospect who’s already using the product.

To be knowledgeable about the product, training and quarterly refreshes are required (especially for fast-growing companies that are adding new product capabilities quickly).

To be clear, this does not mean SDRs need to be product experts. They should, however, be 20% more knowledgeable than most of them are today.

3. More collaboration with marketing

Because outreach is becoming a lot more personalized based on usage signals, it’s reasonable for the marketing team to own the initial outreach sequence as a natural extension of the onboarding email sequences that growth marketers are often responsible for.

The SDR team can engage once the user responds to the initial outreach. The subsequent learnings from the SDR team (after they’ve engaged with the users) should be applied to the marketing sequences that target product qualified leads and accounts.

4. More collaboration with customer support

Just like marketing feeds leads to SDRs in a timely manner, support should as well. Oftentimes product users will reach out to support asking about pricing or logistics of upgrading. These are high-intent leads but since there’s no formal process to pass them on, they can get lost or delayed.

Setting up a lead creation flow from support to SDRs and lead assignment (just like one would for MQLs) can be a big unlock, especially for developer-centric companies (developers generally hate talking to salespeople 😆).

5. Access to the right insights at the right time

In addition to the typical data SDRs use from Zoominfo and similar resources, they need access to product usage data and marketing engagement data. Both of these data sets can’t simply be a snapshot (point in time), but rather need to show trends over time.

This way, an SDR knows when usage is growing fast and it’s the right time to reach out. If an SDR can quickly see how a PQL user has been using the product over the last N months and how that’s changed over time, they can be much more personalized and effective in their outreach efforts.

Similarly, if the SDR can proactively get alerted when usage starts to grow rapidly and the PQL user is having aha-moment experience in the product, they can time their outreach perfectly so the user feels as if someone’s read their mind. Magic moments like this drive fast conversion.

6. Sales assist

Given that land price points for many PLG companies are low, SDR teams can play the role of sales-lite and convert a user with 1-2 meetings. This is especially true for PQL users that just want some help with the logistics of purchasing the product. In this case, the SDR role is not just for booking meetings but rather converting users.

7. Goal and compensation updates

If the SDR team can play a sales assist role for a portion of the leads they’re pursuing, goals and compensation should no longer be tied only to meetings booked. It should also include a percentage for customer conversions.

Remember to stay creative

Consumerization of B2B GTM, including the rise of PLG, is still in its early days. All the ideas above are just a starting point. The most important thing to remember is that there is no script. Focus on the endgame: turn user growth into revenue growth.

The starting point for PLG is different from traditional GTM in that the people you’re reaching out to know more about your product than you do. How can you serve them in their journey of conversion?


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