Product-led Growth and the Sales-led reality
It's two camps fighting when they should work together.
It shouldn’t be a rivalry, it should be a marriage
"Product-led growth is not applicable to our enterprise business". If I had a $ every time I heard that phrase after being on stage... We are getting there:
Product-led Growth (Showing Value instead of talking about it) to Enterprise buyers is being pulled into reality. It suffers especially for established companies from a couple of difficulties:
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Low Data: We are incredibly bad at predicting anything and data is the antidote for that. We "think" our customers are happy but unless we can measure it we won't know. A lot of product-led maneuvers you do need to come from a trust in the process before you will see tangible proof.
Sales & Marketing buy-in: It's not easy when people tell you "SQL / MQLs are bad. Change your ways". We're basically telling 2 silos that the way they are working is not good enough. At least that's what they hear. Product-led growth is challenging for both silos but ultimately helps both. For Sales, this is done over smart incentivization (expansion and net revenue retention). Marketing needs to widen the funnel responsibility. No more handoffs.
If you pivot from sales-led growth to product-led growth/sales it will take time. This is a long-term initiative. It also is a misconception that it replaces sales. It empowers it. More with less.
Expansion and a scaleable product
If you start to master those lower-value accounts some of them will expand into enterprise accounts. This means your products need to be able to scale with companies in the longer term.
There is almost no content around because it's so highly situational. Leah got you covered. However, a guide is in the works.
What's difficult is what's worth doing, pivoting your company to defend those enterprise accounts is the future. This can be done in iterative steps and milestones without nuking the entire funnel to oblivion.
But there is no way that It can be described in a short post except for the lofty-sounding steps:
It's a culture thing, not a hack.
We need to take proven frameworks and accept that validation will come much later. Our customer sense sucks.
Your leads and salespeople will suffer initially
It requires an intimate internal understanding of what's happening
Lofty PLG advice is not good enough for sales-led companies.
At least we can agree on the separation of creating vs capturing value
No matter what “camp” you’re in, at least we should agree that separating the creation from capturing the value is important regardless of account size.
“What do my teams need to reach *exactly* so this is a good month?”
Good leadership in companies is hard. "What do my teams need to reach *exactly* and *measurably* so this is a good month" -> Most leaders trip on this question.
This question doesn't sound hard until you have to define it. We resort to controlling attendance hours and rigid processes like standups and reporting because we don't know how to find goals that answer the above question. Or worse, we think it's revenue. It's a relic from old times.
Would it matter to you how something is done if you were sure it IS done? Of course not. You'd be happy to let everyone run.
The separation of goals
The first exercise you need to get right is to understand that what you care about is not what the customer cares about.
Your goal is business success. The teams care about customer success. How to connect the two while keeping them separate is the secret sauce.
"Decrease churn by 5%" is a great domain goal and an awful team goal. They can achieve that by making it harder to unsubscribe. "Increasing engagement by x%" are a great team goal that ultimately reduces churn but is meaningless to management.
If you really understand that and keep customer success as a gatekeeper fun things start to happen:
Nothing gets shipped without proof
Most things don't get shipped
Things get unshipped
More time is spent with the customer and data
Not because we tell everyone to, but because we don't accept anything else than customer success.
If you're still stuck thinking that your job is to deliver a project then you're part of the problem. Your job is to know whether the project is still the right thing to do, daily.
You can only know and evaluate this daily if you intimately know what to look for. It's not "what makes sense". You can afford to have delusions based on half-baked opinions in politics and on Twitter. Not in your business.
The best innovators and creators know that they don't know better than their customers.
They know how to measure success.
Let’s say we agree. The difficulty is when we move to higher-value accounts. Data starts to decrease and customer success is harder and harder to define.
Stay tuned, there is more coming on my substack.
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