The Silent Salesman: Relying On Your Product To Drive Growth

For as long as I can remember, the traditional sales strategy involved a highly active sales team pounding the pavement, crisscrossing the country to attend trade shows, and lots and lots of phone calls and follow-up emails. The goal is to get in front of potential customers to tell them what your product offers and why they need it. For SaaS companies, the initial goal is to book a product demo. However, as the industry dynamics evolve, so do the engagement methods. There’s undoubtedly still a place for this approach, but there’s a new kid in town called product-led growth (PLG), and let’s just say there’s talk.
Let Your Product Do The Talking
In the early 2000s, SaaS companies turned heads when they started using their products to attract and retain new customers rather than relying solely on their sales and marketing teams to push leads through the sales funnel. Once the sales touch is removed, you really only have your products to drive growth—hence, the term product-led growth.
The Diverging Paths To Business Growth
Everyone is familiar with sales-led organizations. They prioritize human interaction as a way to sell products and services. Simply put, they let the sales team do what it does best—relationship building and articulating the value of their products and services. With this strategy, customers typically have to request a demo and have a sales team member walk them through all the bells and whistles of the product to see it in action. And don’t get me wrong, this way is still alive and well. It’s particularly effective for complex products that don’t lend themselves to self-guided experimentation.
Contrarily, product-led organizations let customers self-serve, meaning they get to use a product before they speak to anyone at the organization.
Shifting The Product Development Mindset
The thought process toward product development often leans heavily on the technological aspect, prompting questions like "How do we build this?" and "Who would want this product?" However, I’ve realized that this approach isn’t that effective.
Core Advantages Of A Product-Led Growth Strategy
Customer Benefits
-Superior User Experience: Free or limited access trials let users autonomously assess the value of a product at their own pace, allowing customers to experience your product when and how they want without any hurdles.
-Continuous Customer Feedback Loop: This helps you improve the product in real time and focus on developing products that meet the needs of your current and future customers.
Business Benefits
-Shorter Sales Cycle: Self-onboarding removes the obstacles (e.g., human interaction and demo requirements) for potential customers so they can immediately start using your product. Converting them into paying customers doesn’t take long if they find it valuable.
-High Retention/Lower Churn Rates: Creating customer-centric products and delivering them to users with a dedication to product enhancement increases customer satisfaction, making it easier to attract and retain customers.
Attracting And Retaining Customers Through User Experiences
Customers expect a lot these days. To thrive, businesses must take a highly focused, customer-first approach to product development and delivery. Trials or "freemiums" allow customers to test drive a product or solution before making a purchase decision.
This methodology creates a win-win situation for the customers and the organization, making it an effective strategy for SaaS businesses aiming for sustainable growth.

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Sprint vs Scrum: What's the difference?

The key difference between a sprint versus Scrum is that Scrum is an Agile product development framework, while a sprint is a fixed-length development cycle Scrum teams use to incrementally develop a product. Sprints are a part of Scrum.
The most popular software development process in use today, Scrum self-identifies as a simple, intentionally incomplete, lightweight framework that helps teams solve complex problem.
Scrum doesn’t have a lot of rules.
What is a sprint in Scrum?
In Scrum, sprints are a time-boxed container in which all other events occur. According to the latest Scrum Guide, “each Sprint may be considered a short project.”
One of the events that takes place during an Agile sprint is the daily Scrum. The sprint’s daily Scrum is the important ritual for which the Scrum framework is named.
A sprint’s daily Scrum is a quick, 15-minute meeting where developers discuss their progress, share concerns, motivate each other and potentially adapt their plans if unforeseen circumstances disrupt their quest to achieve the sprint goal. Only developers are expected to participate in the daily Scrum. Scrum masters and product owners aren’t required.
How sprints work in Scrum
One of the biggest misconceptions about sprints and Scrum is that the term sprint only applies to Scrum’s development phase. Many people think that Scrum events such as planning, retrospectives and reviews happen outside of the time-boxed confines of Scrum’s sprint. That’s incorrect.
All four of Scrum’s prescribed meetings happen inside the scope of a sprint. Furthermore, when one sprint ends the next sprint starts immediately. In Scrum, nothing happens outside of the scope of a sprint.
Sprints in Scrum, SAFe, Agile and other frameworks and methodologies
While Scrum and sprints are two heavily intertwined topics, the concept of a sprint is not limited to Scrum.
The term sprint is used widely throughout Agile circles by teams that use a variety of development frameworks, processes and methodologies including SAFe, XP, Lean and Scrumbut. Every Agile methodology that does development in short, time-boxed increments to minimize risk regularly defines their short-term development horizon as a sprint.
The concept of a sprint is pivotal to Scrum, but the term is widely used throughout the world of software and product development.

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How product-led growth can help scale your business

In the modern digital landscape, product-led growth has emerged as a powerful and efficient growth strategy that aligns with customers' preferences and expectations.
Product-led growth (PLG) centers the product as the primary driver for customer acquisition, engagement, retention and expansion. In a PLG strategy, the product itself is designed to be intuitive, user-friendly and valuable, enabling users to easily adopt and get value from it without extensive effort from sales and marketing teams.
PLG often leads to lower customer acquisition costs, faster adoption rates, higher user engagement and increased customer loyalty.
However, PLG has made sales and marketing teams wonder if their roles will become obsolete. In short, no -- they aren't going anywhere. Marketers still hold the key to attracting users while sales reps amplify monthly recurring revenue. However, you should use PLG alongside existing efforts to gain a competitive edge in the market.
Growth isn't sequential
When you find product-market fit, you should distribute your product or service in a cost-effective way to grow your business. This process is known as the sales funnel. However, growth is only possible if you can help customers efficiently navigate their journeys through the funnel. If you can't drive product growth, it doesn't matter how good the offering is.
Further, this model requires a constant and increasing flow of potential users to function. You must acquire, retain and monetize your customer base. However, generating revenue, activating and retaining customers, and getting referrals creates silos within an organization
Sales funnels vs. growth loops
The linear sales funnel is a traditional approach to sales and marketing. It represents a step-by-step process detailing customers' actions, ideally leading to conversions, which produce more revenue over a customer's lifetime than acquisition. The sales funnel assumes that customer acquisition is an event, not a process. The funnel is a natural visual aid since the number of potential customers decreases as they move toward the final conversion stage, with only a fraction making a purchase.
The growth loop is a cyclical approach that recognizes how customer acquisition, retention and monetization are interconnected and ongoing processes. Growth loops account for the fact that one customer's actions lead to more customers, creating a self-reinforcing cycle.
The future of PLG
PLG might become the dominant go-to-market strategy for B2B SaaS companies. It is disrupting the way vendors sell software. Product-led strategies are becoming increasingly effective due to advances in AI and machine learning (ML).
Businesses can use AI and ML to personalize CX, identify and fix usability issues, and predict churn. We can expect to see new tools and technologies emerge that are specifically designed to help companies implement and execute PLG strategies. PLG is currently most popular in the SaaS industry, but it has the potential to be successful in various other industries, as well.

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Product-Led Growth Strategies: Are Customers Your Forgotten Product Manager?

Product-led growth is a hot topic these days. Product-led organizations desire a deeper connection with their customers and users. They attempt to understand their problems and anticipate what the customer wants.
Let's take a look at product-led growth strategies.
“Product-led growth means that every team in your business influences the product,” says Wes Bush, author of "Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself."
Consider your traditional sales-led growth model that consistently needs more: more business development reps to cold call prospective customers, more salespeople to demo to them, and more marketing budgets to generate the leads to fill the funnel.
Instead, product-led growth strategies rely on the product to drive customer acquisition, activation, retention and expansion. Regardless of if a company uses a free trial or a freemium product to drive sales, product-led growth companies always focus on one thing: the end user.
Product-Led Growth Strategies: It’s All About Adoption
Customers have come to expect a frictionless product experience. They don’t want to contact a salesperson to upgrade or purchase. They want a seamless experience driven by the product.
In product-led growth strategies, users need to get value from a product as quickly as possible, because it’s the customer onboarding experience that will convince them to activate or continue beyond a free trial period.
However, with many products, it can be challenging for customers to set up teams on a new platform or access the features necessary to accomplish their goals. That’s where customer success comes in.
Customer onboarding can make the difference between a customer successfully adopting your product the first time they use it, or churning before they realize the value your product you can deliver.
Marrying Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback
It used to be that all we needed to design a good product was gut instinct. But now, we must get as close to our customers as possible. And that means one thing: obsessing over data.
By aligning customer feedback with product data, product managers can make data-driven decisions about product development and improvement.
But quantitative data only goes so far, and that’s where customer success comes in. Customer success teams can help drive product-led growth with their understanding of the customer and their needs.
3 Ways to More Empathetic Understanding of Customers
Here are three ways customer success teams can help the product team supplement their quantitative feedback with a more empathetic understanding of the customer:
-Bring customer experience tools to the table: One of the most important things that product management and customer success teams can do is to develop a shared understanding of the customer. This includes understanding the customer's needs, preferences, pain points and goals.
-Get a deeper understanding of how customers use the product: Customer success teams are in regular contact with customers and can provide valuable feedback on product features and functionality. Product management teams can use this feedback to develop products that meet customer needs.
-Tap into your most passionate customers: Your CSMs know who your “power users” or brand evangelists are. They can help you close the feedback loop with these high-value customers, building greater loyalty and fueling their passion for your product.

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Embracing Product-Led Growth: The Shift Toward User-Centric SaaS Solutions

It’s time to say goodbye to traditional marketing-driven strategies and hello to product-led growth (PLG)! I believe the shift toward user-centricity is about to revolutionize the way we think about software as a service (SaaS). According to UserGuiding, 21 large companies have implemented PLG with a total market capitalization of $208 billion, and MarketSplash has found that the brands that have adopted PLG harness 60% higher average revenue per user than non-PLG brands.
Based on my experience, let's explore how embracing PLG can lead to success for SaaS companies, providing tangible benefits for both businesses and their customers.
The Rise Of Product-Led Growth In SaaS
PLG is reshaping the SaaS landscape by focusing on user-centricity and instant gratification, leading to higher conversion and retention rates. According to Emerge, “PLG companies have 60% more ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) than non-PLG companies.” PLG is all about letting users experience your product firsthand and allowing its value to speak for itself. This can provide a number of benefits, including:
-Sense Of Ownership
One of the key advantages of PLG is its ability to foster a sense of ownership among users. By allowing individuals to discover and engage with a product at their own pace, you give them a way to develop a deeper understanding of its features and benefits and discover its value before they invest in it.
-The Snowball Effect
PLG also empowers SaaS companies to scale quickly via virality and network effects.
-Data-Driven Product Development
PLG equips companies with smart tracking to help them gain user insights, identify pain points and make data-driven decisions.
Three Strategies For Implementing PLG In SaaS
1.The Freemium Model
Consider offering a self-serve free trial or freemium model in SaaS to provide immediate value. In my experience, this model can often bypass sales engagement and speed up adoption while collecting helpful user data. Freemium models are generally designed so that, once hooked, users can easily upgrade for more features.
2.Shareability
Embed social sharing in your product, and incentivize referrals by offering rewards to those who bring in new customers. This win-win situation can turn satisfied customers into loyal brand advocates who bring in new customers.
3.Product-Led Conversion Funnel
Traditionally, marketing funnels were driven by generating leads, which were then handed off to sales for closure. In PLG models, the focus is on building an in-product conversion funnel. This involves streamlining the user journey from sign-up to long-term usage, minimizing friction and showcasing immediate value.
Challenges With Adopting A Product-Led Growth Model
As with any system, there are potential challenges when adopting product-led growth. For example:
1.Sustainable Customer Acquisition: A great product attracts customers, but they need to know it exists first, especially before you have cultivated solid word-of-mouth referrals. Consider implementing targeted marketing and sales channels to sustain your growth and maximize revenue potential.
2.Continuous Innovation: User needs are constantly evolving, so keep innovating and iterating to ensure your product keeps meeting those needs. I recommend investing in R&D and incorporating ways to maintain team agility into your overall plan.
3.UX Design: It can be hard to create a seamless UX that drives continuous product adoption. I recommend continuously A/B testing your UX elements to find what resonates most with users. Menus and options should be intuitive, as complexity is often the enemy of adoption. Integrate tooltips, walkthroughs and tutorials so that learning is part of the experience.
Overall, embracing a product-led growth strategy requires putting your product at the forefront and using it as a catalyst for success. By focusing on delivering immediate value and empowering users to become advocates, your SaaS company can unlock great growth potential in today's competitive landscape.

The original content of the note was published on Forbes.com. To read the full note visit here

Growth Marketing Strategies for Web3 Brands to Achieve Product Market Fit

Marc Andreessen defined Product-market fit as finding a good market with a product capable of satisfying that market. Marc is often credited with developing the PMF concept
In other words, it is the point at which a product satisfies a strong demand within its intended market, resulting in widespread customer adoption, engagement, and satisfaction.
Generally, PMF is characterized by many factors which could be Customer Demand, Usage and Adoption, Customer Satisfaction, Engagement and Retention, Competitive Advantage, etc.
Many startups often focus on reaching this stage before scaling their operations and investing heavily in marketing and expansion efforts.
If you remember the early days of Netflix, how they originally started as a DVD rental service but then achieved PMF when they transitioned into a streaming platform.
They identified a growing customer demand for convenient and on-demand access to a wide variety of movies and TV shows.
And then capitalized on the shift toward online streaming.
It’s not just Netflix as a startup that has hit PMF, other brands like Apple, Tesla, Lemlist, Nike, Airbnb, Slack, Meta (Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp), Paypal, Superhuman, Stripe, Supreme, and Linktree amongst many other hundreds of startups have also hit PMF.
It’s my belief, however, for PMF to happen, the Product and the Market must be fitted together. Sounds cliche, however, that fitting is like a bowl of spices — filled with different spices — all mixed and called Brand Connection.
Many of these brands I mentioned went viral, people loved their products, and till now, their core customers are true stans; they have a strong brand connection.
This means that if Virality is always engineered from the get-go, so also, Brand Connection is engineered from the get-go too.

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How Enterprise Sales Can Supercharge Product-Led GrowthAppropriate resource allocation

Despite the recent reset of technology sector valuations, product-led growth (PLG) software companies continue to outperform.
PLG has caught fire in software markets. It focuses on enabling end users to discover, try, buy, and scale up their usage in a self-service manner. Many companies adopt a PLG strategy from day one and add traditional sales-led commercial motions over time. Meanwhile, sales-led software companies can add a PLG motion or take a hybrid approach by applying the PLG model or capabilities to select parts of their product and customer portfolios—for example, relying on a sales team for the initial sale, then shifting to PLG self-service for renewals or expansions.
PLG works best in markets where product configuration and deployment time are usually quick; end users can make purchasing decisions; the product is sticky, with usage growing over time; the potential customer base is broad, with lots of free users who can convert to paid users; and the product has features that entice users to upgrade to the next, higher-priced tier.
But in markets suited to PLG, what’s surprising is how many companies continue to struggle with the key to unlocking its full potential: enterprise sales.
Breaking through the ceiling
It may seem counterintuitive to integrate a live person into a business model tied to self-service. Nevertheless, getting end users to discover, sign up for, and engage with a product on their own can be challenging, especially if the product is complex or all its benefits aren’t obvious.
Plus, once PLG companies reach a critical mass of users, they often hit a revenue ceiling that’s tough to break through. As customer spending on an individual software vendor grows, the extra scrutiny and required budget approval by senior leadership can become roadblocks.
A dedicated sales team can help PLG companies move beyond one-off software purchases within enterprises and land bigger deals across the customer’s organization. Sales, customer success, and support teams can also unlock new avenues of growth for both customers and vendors by helping end users scale up product usage beyond what they could do alone.
Integrating enterprise sales and self-service
Many companies have difficulty seamlessly marrying enterprise sales with a product-led sales motion. The product, customer success, sales, and marketing teams share ownership of the customer journey and touch the same customer experiences, so without well-defined connection points and an operating model that effectively integrates the distinct functions, companies will have trouble maximizing growth. Leading companies focus on three things.
.Defined triggers for a person to engage with a customer
.Clear collaboration strategies
.Appropriate resource allocation

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Lean Into AI To Advance Product Innovation—But Do So With Caution

While generative AI is taking the business world by storm, it’s important to note that it’s not necessarily new. Many of today's promises for AI were also made in the past. It was less than 40 years ago that LISP machines, packed with expert knowledge, were supposed to unlock the promises of AI. What went wrong? ''People believed their own hype,'' said S. Jerrold Kaplan, cofounder of one leading artificial intelligence company, TeKnowledge. So as generative AI occupies massive mind space for most innovative companies, the question they must ask is, “Are we doing this the right way?”
Unfortunately, many aren’t. In fact, there’s a bit of an Ouroboros vibe—the ancient symbol of a snake eating its tail. As companies rush to use AI, they’re making mistakes that could cost money and put the organization in jeopardy.
With that in mind, let’s explore how companies can use companies AI to forward innovation while protecting themselves.
Tap into AI for product ideation and brainstorming.
Product people must always find the next big thing or improve upon the last big thing. Even the most creative teams may stare at a blank whiteboard and scratch their heads, trying to dream up compelling ideas.
Generative AI is great for ideation. For example, input your identified customer problems and use AI to think of potential solutions. Then take each of those solutions and ask how to solve them. To be clear, you’re not going to find transformative innovation in the answer, but AI can help guide your team toward new ideas that you can discuss.
And that’s the key—find novel ideas that align with your company’s overarching innovation goals. From there, use human smarts to build them out.
It’s essential to understand the problem they are attempting to solve. That requires listening and thinking—not just assembling data from various sources. Currently, humans are better at that.
Use AI’s product development capabilities.
Product development is built on key performance indicators (KPIs) that guide product people from ideation to launch. But what KPIs should you choose? This is a perfect job for AI, especially for companies that track diverse and complex metrics for products.
Use your knowledge of the industry you’re targeting and your organization's data and let AI guide you toward KPIs that will help keep product development moving forward and on time. Another bonus: Your AI research may uncover new KPIs you hadn’t thought of previously but may make more sense based on the product.
Incorporate AI into InnovationOps.
Companies are adopting an InnovationOps philosophy, which operationalizes innovation to build innovative philosophies into corporate DNA. The idea is to bring together an organization’s people, processes and innovative jobs to be done.
Keep AI human-based.
A common fear many have about generative AI is that it will take their jobs. Not exactly. It’ll be a human who understands how to use AI. Don’t underestimate people's importance in making AI a driving force in your innovation efforts.
Safeguard your IP and brand.
Don’t put anything into an AI tool you wouldn’t want to show up in someone else’s query or give hackers access to. While inputting every bit of information you can think of in an innovation project is tempting, you have to be careful. Oversharing proprietary information on a generative AI is a growing concern for companies.
Research and refine AI output.
Generative AI’s knowledge isn’t up to date. So your query results shouldn’t necessarily be taken at face value. It probably won't know about recent competitive pivots, legislation or compliance updates. Use your expertise to research AI insight to make sure what you’re getting is accurate.
The promise of AI in innovation is huge, as it unlocks unprecedented efficiency and head-turning output. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg as it relates to the promise the technology holds, so lean into it. But do so with governance—no one wants snake tail for dinner.

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Learn How To Drive Sustainable Revenue With Product-Led Growth

The pandemic caused unexpected growth for some companies due to changes in our behavior. Zoom, Slack, Shopify, Netflix, and Square were well-positioned for this growth because they focus on product-led growth, also known as PLG.
These companies were able to experience hypergrowth during the pandemic by delivering an exceptional product experience that meets customers' needs in a rapidly changing environment. By focusing on product-led growth, these companies were able to weather the challenges and emerge as leaders in their respective industries.
1.Ask the right questions to evaluate Product-Led Growth's success.
Here are some key questions that can help assess the success of a product-led growth strategy and where to focus when implementing one.
1.How well is our product meeting customer needs and solving their problems?
2.What is our customer acquisition cost, and how is it trending over time?
3.What percentage of our growth comes from product-led channels like word-of-mouth and organic search?
4.How effectively are we using data and analytics to drive product decisions and inform the go-to-market strategy?
5.What is our net promoter score, and how has it been trending over time?
6.How well are we retaining and growing our existing customer base?
7.What is the feedback from our customers on product features, and how can we improve?
8.How well do we integrate product, marketing, and sales efforts to drive growth?
9.How do we build cross-functional solid alignment across the organization to execute a product-led growth strategy?
10.What are the metrics to measure success and set the right expectations with key stakeholders?
Answering these questions can provide insights into the effectiveness of a product-led growth strategy.
2.Embrace innovation as a critical component of Product-Led Growth.
Innovation is a critical component of product-led growth. A PLG strategy requires continually delivering new and improved experiences to customers. Tweaking, testing, and measuring parts of the user experience helps us keep our users more engaged and drive growth, even as we enter a period of increasing consumer thriftiness. This requires a culture of innovation where new ideas are encouraged and rapidly tested—and failures are seen as opportunities to learn and improve.
A successful growth strategy requires product-led growth and innovation, regardless of external economic conditions. Companies must prioritize the customer by continuously delivering new and improved experiences through innovation to attract and retain customers. This approach can help drive customer engagement and achieve sustainable revenue growth.
3.Build a community that adds value to your customers.
While having an enthusiastic customer base is excellent, if you can turn that user base into a community capable of supporting one another and sharing knowledge, you have the potential for a home run.
With relatively little effort from your company, a community can add exponential value to your users. Establishing a community may be as simple as setting up a Facebook group for verified users to talk with each other, monitoring that, and engaging where appropriate. Tracking the amount of user-generated content and the number of members provides a window into your community's health.
Follow the data—this will help identify the features that are your selling points.
This can show you where to focus your R&D for future iterations. And with a product-led growth strategy, reinvestment in your product is the key to everything.
As businesses look for more cost-effective ways to grow, a product's value proposition that delivers a great customer experience becomes increasingly compelling—and customers are less likely to "churn." This creates new opportunities for companies that have embraced product-led growth and innovation to differentiate themselves from their competition and achieve sustained growth through whatever economic waters are flowing through the moment.

The original content of the note was published on Hackernoon.com. To read the full note visit here

How To Combine A Product-Led Growth Approach With Your SEO Strategy

In today's digital landscape, where the competition is fierce and user acquisition costs continue to rise, businesses need to find innovative ways to grow and stay ahead. I've found two powerful growth strategies that, when combined, have proven to be a game-changer for my software-as-a-service clients: product-led growth (PLG) and search engine optimization (SEO). Both have their merits individually, but when layered together, PLG and SEO can create an unstoppable force that drives compounding growth.
The Basics Of SEO And PLG
SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and online presence to rank higher in search engine results. It involves a variety of techniques and strategies, such as keyword research, on-page optimization, authoritative content creation and link building. The ultimate goal of SEO is to increase visibility and organic traffic and, in turn, improve user growth at a lower customer acquisition cost.
PLG is a business strategy that enables organizations to build products customers love and use as their primary growth lever. It emphasizes a customer-centric approach where users can experience the product before making a purchase.
The Intersection Of SEO And PLG
SEO and PLG are not mutually exclusive strategies; they work hand in hand to amplify results. SEO helps increase the visibility and discoverability of the product, while a well-designed product experience fosters positive user interactions. Let's take a closer look.
SEO plays a crucial role throughout the different stages of a PLG strategy. During the acquisition phase, SEO ensures your product is discoverable by the target audience. In the retention phase, SEO provides ongoing value by optimizing helpful content, support resources and personalized experiences. Lastly, in the monetization phase, SEO ensures your product is visible to users with high purchase intent, which can result in increased conversions and revenue.
PLG can be a powerful asset in your SEO arsenal because it helps businesses prioritize the user experience and implement growth-oriented product features. In doing so, businesses can create a compelling value proposition that attracts not only users but also search engines. Additionally, incorporating user-generated content and leveraging customer feedback can provide valuable SEO signals, further boosting the visibility and authority of your product in search engine rankings.

The original content of the note was published on Forbes.com. To read the full note visit here