Driving business growth can be challenging no matter the industry. Throw in outside forces like the economy, public health crises, natural disasters, and international tensions, and you have quite the conundrum on your hands. Nevertheless, every business needs a growth strategy, and it’s critical to identify which one is the right one. 

That’s why having a look at product-led growth vs. sales-led and human-led growth is a great first step. In this article, we’re going to highlight the differences and explore how each one works. You’ll be able to take away key points to discuss with your team and make informed decisions together.

If you already align with one of these strategies, you can still benefit from reading this article. You may even find that not one but a combination of strategies is the best approach.

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Exploring the Differences Between Sales, Human, and Product-led Growth

The major differences between sales-led growth vs. product-led and human-led growth strategies boils down to business processes. For example:

  • Sales-led growth uses its sales team to guide customers through the buying process. It provides 1-on-1 attention to nurture and convert buyers through the entire journey.
  • Human-led growth uses human connections to drive customer acquisition and retention. It focuses on providing a human element to every interaction.
  • Product-led growth uses a self-service model to let customers experience the product and lead their own way through the buyer journey. It relies on the product to drive the experience.

Now, you may be thinking more than one of these approaches is beneficial. You’re not wrong. In fact, some businesses may find a combined growth strategy gives them the best of both (or all) worlds.

Let’s dive a little deeper into how each one works.

Sales-Led Growth Explained

Sales-led growth puts the sales team at the center of the customer experience. From the very beginning of the relationship, a salesperson is assigned to each customer to provide a very tailored, personalized sales journey.

For businesses that assume this strategy, a sales-led approach begins with the customer requesting a demo. Frequently, the sales team provides a personalized demo, which can be presented in a way that meets the specific needs of the potential buyer. Then, the same sales team will be assigned to nurture and convert the customer, helping them through each stage.

The sales-led growth model is an excellent strategy for large companies that target enterprise organizations with longer sales periods.

The benefit of this method is you lose fewer prospects due to the close relationship between customers and sales.

The downfall of this method is you may lose more prospects who fall out of the sales cycle if they no longer perceive the value of your product.

Human-led Growth Explained

Human-led growth puts humans at the center of the customer experience. The idea is to establish a human connection at every customer interaction, supporting the belief that human connections build trust and drive sales.

Whereas sales- and product-led growth are standalone strategies, human-led serves as a complement to sales-led and product-led models. This is because the “human touch” can be implemented in both funnels to increase the appeal of your business and overcome the issues of each.

 For example, if you’re using a sales-driven strategy, then you can personalize emails with a photo of the salesperson or a custom video. In a product-driven strategy, you can assign photos to your customer testimonials or online reviews to increase the impact of social proof.   

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Product-Led Growth Explained

Product-led growth puts the product at the center of the customer experience. Since it doesn’t rely on salespeople to support the process, every aspect of the buyer journey must be supported by the product.

For many businesses that take this approach, a product-led strategy begins with a free trial or freemium model to let customers experience the product themselves. This casts a wider top-of-funnel net, which means more people can find the perceived value early on — and are — more likely to become customers.

The product-led model is a smart strategy for small businesses with a shorter sales cycle, as customers will need to do the driving here.  

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Conclusion

Now that you understand product-led growth vs. sales- and human-led growth, how can you decide which one is best for your business? Consider your target audience (small business vs. enterprise organization), pricing model (free trial vs. personalized demo), and the ease of use of your product (self-service model vs. sales-guided model). The answers to these should give you an idea of which approach — or combination of — makes sense for your company and customers.

If you’re interested in learning more ways to drive organizational growth, check out Simplilearn’s wide array of digital marketing courses and bootcamps today!

About the Author

Rob SandersRob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience. During that time, Rob has helped a wide range of companies utilize new and emerging technologies to increase sales and profitability. As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob helps clients maximize their digital marketing efforts via SEO, SEM, SMO, and Web Analytics. He is responsible for many facets of the web analytics value chain, from identifying business goals and objectives to developing strategies and translating those into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Rob also teaches digital marketing and analytics classes throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a contributor for Simplilearn, Rob creates expert thought leadership content on a variety of digital marketing and analytics topics.

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