The perilous path to PLG
Should you do it in the first place?
Should you and more importantly can you do product-led growth/sales acquisition?
Creating this flow chart was more fun than I care to admit. It’s a practical reminder that product-led growth is not a great fit for every product.
The first hurdle you face is the base product fit. If your product doesn’t serve a recurrent need that can’t be experienced in a short time by itself it starts to get hairy.
If you on top create a new category you most likely can’t explain your product in a few words to anyone, which means they can’t explain it to others either, your word of mouth is dead.
That doesn’t mean you will never be able to go PLG but your market needs to have a certain base acceptance for your solution first. You cannot distribute efficiently to a market with PLG if you have to convince them first.
You need to have great tracking of what your users do (and then utilize this data). If you are of the school “we can implement that later”. No, you can’t. Everything you ship from now on will have to be properly tracked.
You also need to have a great experimentation loop with the goal of learning (not succeeding). 30% of our experiments succeed, and the rest will fail. If you don’t document, iterate, and learn from it that rate will decrease.
If you have Sales you need to be willing to change how they are
Incentivized: Reward expansion revenue, not ticket size. Reward them for bringing the accounts to their AHA moment before they close a deal.
Informed: Account-based tracking is invaluable. Knowing what your account is doing with the product and what they actually want to solve is increasing your chance to close a lot.
Treating qualified leads: PQL (product qualified leads) over MQL (Marketing qualified leads). PQLs are potential customers which already signaled a positive interaction with your product.
Capturing lost PQLs feedback: Your user had an interest and used your product but you couldn’t close. Sales feedback becomes an invaluable source of feedback, teach sales how to feed that back.
Have independent cross-functional teams. It should go without saying. You can’t be customer-centric if your teams aren’t doing that research themselves and can’t execute it.
Collective Consciousness: Be totally transparent from business numbers to customer problems towards everyone. No one should do anything without understanding why
Autonomy: Ask for feedback vs. Ask for permission
Are you outcome-driven toward customer metrics instead of revenue/delivery metrics or can you shift sales, marketing, customer success, and engineering toward that?
Outcome-based goal structure: OKRs and their key results from the teams target usage metrics with the goal of improving the acquisition or retention of users.
Avoid Output goals: No more “We deliver feature X”
If you can drive all of this yourself, congrats, if you can’t consider hiring someone who can, this transformation is difficult, with increasing company size even more.