At SaaStr Annual 2017, Blake Bartlett, a partner at OpenView Venture Partners, dove into what truly defines a successful product-led growth (PLG) company in his session, “Grow 10x Faster & Cheaper with Product-Led Growth.” As Blake noted:
“You most likely won’t hear about the best SaaS products through a cold call. It will be through word of mouth.”
OpenView has many portfolio companies that are prime examples of what a successful product-led growth strategy looks like. During his session, Blake broke out five traits of successful PLG companies:
PLG companies have an inherent consumer-like virality component. They have invested heavily in user research, UX and UI design, and product marketing, focusing on building product features to engineer vitality. Think about LinkedIn’s “Connect to Your Address Book”, the social virality behind Slack, or our portfolio company Sigstr’s “Powered by Sigstr” referral on the bottom of every Sigstr email signature.
2. Easy Sign-Up
The second key trait of a PLG company is an incredibly easy sign-up process. Whether it’s offering account creation without a credit card, single-sign-on, or other hacks, you should be looking to minimize any and all friction in your sign-up process.
3. Deliver Value Quickly
Going hand-in-hand with an easy sign-up process is the ability to deliver value quickly to new users — as immediately as you can. Crowdfire does a good job at this by providing real value and benefits via recommendations during the actual sign-up/onboarding.
Blake talked about the importance of constantly thinking about and measuring your Time to Value (TTV) — I plan to do a post detailing some “unconventional SaaS metrics” like TTV and how to measure/utilize them in the near future as well. Remember, your TTV is directly correlated to the price you are able to charge.
4. Value First, Money Later
Instead of trying to capture credit cards and get new users into a pricing tier from day one, you need to be solely focused on first delivering true value. Your paywalls should not lead, they should follow in your product experience.
5. Sales Is Cool
Blake ended his session by discussing the importance of redefining a “customer.” Your prospects, free trial accounts, and freemium accounts are all non-paying “customers” and you should think of them that way. Focus on making all your customers — including non-paying customers — successful across the entire sales-to-support continuum.
Thanks again to Blake for sharing this presentation at SaaStr Annual this year. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him and OpenView on product-led-growth in the future!