A decade back, if your product is able to convince the buyer or the decision-maker, say, the CEO, and CIO, that it will solve the business use cases, it’s a win-win. The user experience was not really a big deal then. Do you think the same scenario still exists? Definitely not.
Then why usability and end-user experience have started to matter a lot in present-day product development? Kausambi Manjita, the Co-founder and CEO of Mason, feels that this is the significant difference between the conventional sales-led model and the current product-led growth strategy. Not just that, she throws light on a lot of interesting insights from her experience in the modern product-led growth model. Let’s get started!
What is Product-Led Growth?
To start with, what is product-led growth? Product-Led growth means different things to different people. However, I feel the core of the PLG is keeping the user at the center and ensuring that the users of the products find the product meaningful, get value out of it, and feel that it makes their day-to-day life better.
You may ask why so much emphasis on the user? The penetration of digital products in our everyday lives has exceeded far more than we expected. Especially in the past two years, we have been dependent on products such as Slack and Zoom to communicate and collaborate with our team members. In such cases, it is of utmost importance that they provide the best ever experience possible to the users because if I, as a user, don’t want to use a product, nobody can force me to use that. This shows that the adoption of products by the users is becoming to play a major role here.
Why should businesses use a Product-Led approach?
As a business, you should not just optimize your business model for how people were buying yesterday, and today, but also for how people will be buying tomorrow.
A few years back, the user did not hold much power to choose what they wanted to use to create the desired outcomes. You could sell a productivity tool to the head of business, and everybody has to use it.
But today, the users should feel empowered, thinking that they have the right tools to become successful. And that’s why businesses should put users first and think of a product-led model than just thinking from a buyer’s perspective.
The impact of rising of end-users in Product-Led Growth
You might have heard of the three pillars of Product-led growth. I am putting it in simpler words here. However, you can find many articles talking about this.
- Design for the end-user
- Deliver value before monetizing your product.
- Invest in the product from day one, as the product is your Go-to-Market strategy.
If we dive deep into this, all of the above points are purely about the end-user.
Why design for the end-user? You have seen users becoming ambassadors for your product and rooting for you in public forums. This happens only when they genuinely love your product. Notice, not just use but love your product. So, when you design products for your end-user, you can see emotions come into play and word of mouth spreading like wildfire.
Similarly, free trial and freemium are a way to make the users understand the value of the product and leverage that to convince them to pay for it.
This shows how the importance of end-users is having a major impact on the product-led growth model.
Transitioning to Product-Led Growth
The key for any team to crack product-led growth, in my opinion, is the mindset. You already have a team geared towards selling rather than adoption. So, the primary thing is to get the team in the direction you are in the journey to PLG, and everything else will fall in place.
Examples of best Product-Led Growth models
Many products are doing phenomenal work when it comes to a Product-led approach. Spring, previously, Userleap is one of my favorites. It is a user research tool, and they have done a great job in productizing it. It’s such an easy-to-use tool, and the team at Mason was able to see its value from
Another product I love is Intercom. In the past few months, we upgraded from a free plan to several thousand without interference from even a single salesperson. Intercom was able to successfully upsell and upgrade through the product and show us the value of their several product lines with zero sales calls.
Is PLG for everyone?
I agree that PLG is not everyone’s cup of tea. One should put their thoughts into a few questions before even considering whether PLG is right for them.
First, think about the product-market condition because users are not evolved to make such decisions in certain industries.
The next question is, will you be able to provide your users the value from day 1. Because time is crucial in PLG, and if your product will need various integrations and will take so much time, it’s probably not the right way to go about it.
Are there any champions who can help you drive the internal adoption of your product? For example, can you think of the network effects and evangelists driving up the adoption of the product, considering you will not be spending much on sales and marketing?
Thinking of all of these will give you an idea of whether PLG is right for you.
Final thoughts: The Future of Product-led Growth
Even larger Product-led companies like Slack and Intercom have sales and marketing teams, but they make sure everything is geared towards the end-user. So, Product-led growth doesn’t mean you will never need sales or marketing functions. Let’s retake the example of the Intercom. We are a small team, and it was easier for us to get started with the product without the interference of the sales team. Say, comparatively, a bigger organization wants to implement the same to be used by independent teams, and they might need help from the Intercom team with better implementation strategies.
So I think the future of product-led growth is how you continue to focus on the user and the user’s time to value, even when you layer a sales or a marketing notion to it. And the PLG will continue to impact all parts of the acquisition, adoption, expansion, and retention funnels.