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Confessions Part 2: Navigating the PLG Landscape - Fact vs. Fiction for Founders and Investors

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn here)

The go to market model of PLG (Product Led Growth) has been around for some years in technology markets. Yet, many founders struggle to decide between PLG and SLG (Sales Led Growth) as their go to market motion. In this post I will clarify some of the misconceptions and will provide actionable advice.

PLG Definition:

Sales Led Growth is the process of focusing on sales as the primary engine for driving growth.

Product Led Growth focuses on product features and customer experience as the primary drivers of growth.

Common Misconceptions:

  1. PLG is owned by the Product Organization. No, it is a well coordinated motion that involves any function in a technology company (including CEO, finance, marketing, development, etc.) to ensure success.

  2. In PLG you don’t need sales. No, just look at successful well known PLG companies (like Zoom, DataDog, Snowflake and others). They all have a substantial sales organization.

  3. PLG doesn’t work for Enterprise. No, think of the concept of land and expand. Landing in a department or part of a business unit works well with PLG, no matter the total size of the customer‘s organization.

  4. PLG will drive the growth of revenue by itself. No, PLG is incredibly powerful for increasing the top of the funnel but it won’t miraculously lead to 8 or 9 digit spend with a customer without human interaction.

Top Recommendations:

  1. Understand where you are on your journey crossing the chasm. Customers before the chasm are more self-sufficient than after the chasm. Especially founders with a technical background must learn that not every buyer is buying like they do. Imagine a top 3 global company in the early or even late majority. Far more people than the user of your product are involved in the buying process, including some who might not fully understand what your product is doing.

  2. Understand the buying journey of your customers. Think about what you can automate and how a hybrid approach with PLG and SLG, with appropriate qualification, can help you spend your precious resources in opportunities with the best yield and likelihood of winning.

  3. No matter if you’re selling into an established or a developing market, expect that you will compete against the incumbent providers and their ecosystems.

  4. Leverage the Disruption Selling Tools.

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