John Eitel (Canva): How PLG Founders Can Avoid Common Mistakes in Adding a Top-Down Sales Motion
Blake Bartlett: What are the most common mistakes you see PLG founders make when they're adding sales to a bottom up or self- service motion?
John Eitel: Good question. I think there's really one or two major ones that I see that I'll bundle into one here. But I would say when you make the decision to bring in a top down motion, you need to fully commit and support this effort. I think the organization is going to have lots of questions around, why do we need this? What's the importance of this? We were so successful up until this point, so why now? And so having one, the top down kind of message, there is a very real need in how this is going to help us attain our goals more efficiently. I think that's the key here. Being, I think, also helpful and giving that team and opportunity to spotlight their wins, successes, challenges and things that they're working through too. So I think go all in on it. I think that's the key to making it successful and I've seen some teams maybe just not go all in or come into it halfheartedly and I think that causes just confusion, makes it probably tougher for all the teams.
John Eitel: And so I think making sure that everybody's aligned and understands that. I think the other thing too is a common quote I hear is," No one wants to talk to sales." And I think that's a bit of a false narrative there. I think probably no one wants to talk to the wrong type of sales professional that's overly pushy and salesy. I think if you hire the right teams, if you train them the right way and you make sure that they understand the voice of the company and the messaging and you give them clear direction on when to engage, I think that's the right way to do it. Otherwise you're buying a really expensive car and you're putting a governor on it and limiting its speed. And so I think that you want to make sure that they have clear understanding of where to go, what to do, and how to really represent the brand, but don't hide them in the back or make sure that they don't feel empowered. I think that's the key here and again, rolls into that whole thought of make the decision and then commit and really get everybody onboard and moving in the right direction there.
John Eitel: With all of my teams, I would say the hidden subtext is," Be helpful," and I think that's what we need to be thinking about. Are these touchpoints helpful? Are they moving this customer through the process to a place that they need to get to? Is it helping them get the value out of it? But I think that has to be in the back of your mind there and I think that's how you avoid the, no one wants to talk to sales, mantra. I think you hire the right people with the right mindset. You give them the right direction and you get out of their way and they have this be helpful mindset in the back of their mind, it's going to lead to magical things.
Adding a top-down sales motion is a make-or-break moment for PLG companies. If it’s done right, it can make you the next big thing in your category. If it’s not done right, it can break your team and ultimately compromise your position in the market. The answer? All-in commitment from the founders and key leaders. Enterprise PLG is a team sport!
- [00:06] The most common mistakes John sees PLG founder make when adding sales to a bottom-up or self-service motion
- [02:15] The hidden subtext to be helpful
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John Eitel, Former Global Vice President of Sales & Success at Canva
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