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Hybrid SaaS sales model

Your growth strategy decides whether you survive and thrive.

Should you, like many successful SaaS companies, including Slack, Dropbox, and HubSpot, use a hybrid approach that combines product-led and sales-led growth? Let’s have a look.

What is a Hybrid SaaS sales model?

A hybrid sales model uses a sales-led and product-led strategy in parallel. Sales-led growth (SLG) follows the traditional sales process that puts human touch points at the center. Potential customers request a demo or a meeting with the sales team to understand the product’s value. After a meeting or two, they sign the contract and gain access to the full product.

Product-led growth (PLG) puts product usage at the center. Customers directly ‘get started’ with the product through a free trial, freemium model, or self-serve option. Customer service is limited and support documentation is quite extensive. The SaaS solution is otherwise simple enough for customers to figure out on their own.

A hybrid sales delivery model can look something like this:

  • You combine both sales and customer acquisition motions right from the beginning
  • When moving downmarket, you adopt a sales-led strategy with a product-led overlay. For example, upsell to existing customers, offer demos to sales qualified leads (SQLs), and premium onboarding to new sign-ups.
  • When moving upmarket, you use a product-led approach with a sales overlay. For example, offer free trials of your product, more product information through webinars and test environments, and a no-touch self-service onboarding option.

Here’s how it will look in action

Say as part of your product-led strategy, you offer a free trial of your SaaS product. Your product team examines the customer journey and user experience to improve your software application.

This doesn’t happen in a silo - your product management team collaborates with marketing and sales teams, gathering feedback to improve the software development as well as positioning and pricing aka product management.

It results in a better product and improvements in value and user experience. A ‘Call Sales’ CTA activates the sales-led motion, which will become even more important as you add new features and functionality or double down on bottom-of-funnel growth.

Benefits of a Hybrid SaaS sales model

The hybrid sales model combines the benefits of the sales-led and product-led approaches.

PLG benefits

SLG benefits

  • Targeting niche clients
  • Increase in annual contract value (ACV)
  • Upsell and cross-sell opportunities
  • Hands-on approach by sales reps in communicating product value
  • Close customer interactions

If you already have a PLG strategy, you operate a lean sales team and your operational and acquisition costs are low. Overlaying SLG allows you to easily identify your target market for your sales team to pursue.

By expanding upmarket and downmarket, a hybrid SaaS model unlocks a massive total addressable market (TAM). Adopting both approaches also generates more customer data and insights to maximize growth opportunities.

Challenges of a Hybrid SaaS sales model

There are three main challenges to implementing a hybrid solution. Solving for them will assure quick growth.

  • Creating a new team to manage both elements of growth, with proper onboarding and goal-setting.
  • Identifying a pricing model that satisfies both your PLG and SLG audiences
  • Integrating tools and processes that support your hybrid motion

Is it for you?

While most successful startups have used product usage to drive acquisition, they’ve also relied on customer success teams to create new revenue. There’s no reason why a well-executed and managed product-led, sales-powered approach wouldn’t work well for your company.