Product-Led Growth (PLG) Is the Future of Business – How to Start

For product-driven growth to be successful, the entire company must change—from processes and practices to culture, skill sets, and how success is measured.

Product-driven growth (PLG) may seem like a new concept, but in reality it is not. Industry leaders like Zoom, Slack, and Calendly have already shown how to succeed with strategies that focus on selling the product itself. PLG focuses on the efficiency and ease of use of its products. It’s all about providing value to the end user through a self-service experience. It is also an approach that matches what consumers want. When asked what makes a successful B2B experience, consumers cite “self-service” first.

Even so, many companies have yet to launch a PLG strategy. The reasons are varied. The product may not be sufficiently developed to enable self-service, or PLG may not be the highest business goal. Whatever the reason, these companies are missing out on big opportunities.

PLG cannot be implemented overnight. For many companies, implementing an effective PLG movement requires revising the overall strategy. This means not just overhauling products, but overhauling business models to incorporate new ways of marketing, selling, supporting and operating the business.

Download the infographic now: A manufacturing leader's perspective on edge computing and 5G

So where should business leaders begin? The three main areas to consider are:

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Data needs to steer a PLG ship.

Behind every strong PLG strategy is a key set of data that can point your business in the right direction. This data is critical to identifying how and where customers find value in your product, and informing your team of improvements that lead to habitual use and adoption.

For PLG, having data about everything our customers do is especially important. PLG is all about eliminating friction, and friction tends to show up most where we’re not looking. (Nobody designs for friction, after all!) Where websites are difficult to navigate is often invisible to us. Features we find useful often turn out not to be.

To fully understand these roadblocks, it’s useful to have tools that capture everything your customers do, especially tools that do it automatically. Better yet, use a tool that allows you to surface moments of user friction without having to go and search yourself.

See also: Function as a service: Paywalls aren’t just for content.

Focus on user experience first

Our own research confirms that ease of use is key. When choosing between two websites that achieve similar goals, 89% of consumers said ease of use was a key factor in their decision.

From a product perspective, PLG forces teams to consider all features of a product, not just standout features that may be overlooked in a sales-driven strategy. Adding new features is certainly necessary, but as PLG becomes more popular, expect to see more teams working on making existing features easier to use rather than prioritizing new features. As the team grows, we will increasingly focus on improving trial periods, onboarding new users, improving user experience, and facilitating end-to-end customer journeys.

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Of course, perfecting a digital experience takes trial and error. It requires continuous test runs, hypotheses and experiments. Each team member should adopt a “product mindset” to iterate on every product update and use customer behavior to inform business decisions.

See also: What is EaaS and what value can it bring?

A company-wide PLG initiative

To truly transform the product experience, your PLG strategy must touch every aspect of your business. While many in the marketplace consider a PLG strategy to be separate from sales or marketing-led efforts, in reality they must co-exist for a company to achieve optimal success. This takes time and requires a complete reorganization of the organization, with a focus on selling, marketing and communicating value through products. Some of these changes include:

  • Change your mindset to product and customer focus. Your product is the star of the show, so you should spend time building your product around customer feedback, understanding potential roadblocks and removing them to smooth out how you deliver value.
  • Shift marketing and sales from focusing on marketing-qualified leads (MQL) to focusing on product-qualified leads (PQL). That means shifting your goals from identifying people who engage with your marketing collateral to working hard to get people to your product, then using their in-product behavior to measure their level of intent.
  • A sales behavior that makes salespeople close deals faster and more effectively for faster sales cycles overall. In the PLG model, salespeople will talk to a lot more people who have already used the product. Their job, therefore, is not to sell the initial value of the product, but rather to work with potential customers to tailor the product to their specific needs. This may require an increase in the salesperson’s knowledge of the product.
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For PLG to be successful, the entire company must change—from processes and practices to culture, skill sets, and how success is measured. Initial investment in PLG may seem daunting, but remember. No matter what you invest upfront in your product experience, you will reap exponential growth.

Download the infographic now: Manufacturing leaders' views on edge computing and 5G


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