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How to layer PLG onto a Sales-Led motion

by Hari Nayak
Friday, August 18, 2023

With the increasing popularity of self-service software, a conventional top-down selling approach is no longer enough. End users now test products and contribute to purchasing decisions. Providing an excellent user experience and fast time to value is essential to succeed in this environment. This is where the Product-Led Growth (PLG) strategy comes into play.

This guide will walk you through adding PLG to stay competitive and improve customer acquisition and retention.

Before you begin

PLG takes work. Building a user base, nurturing free trial users, and guiding them to conversion takes time and patience. Expect it to take one or two years before your company can reap the benefits of PLG.

That said, there are various reasons for introducing PLG in a business. It can

  • Improve the efficiency of sales and marketing efforts.
  • Unlock growth opportunities.
  • Help challenge established B2B players.
  • Or simply be a natural fit for your product.

Know your reasons for choosing PLG. Once you are convinced PLG is right for your business, present your case to key stakeholders such as executives, sales, and product teams and get buy-in. Successful PLG implementation requires support from leadership across the organization.

Assemble & Align a Cross-functional Team

I cannot overstate the importance of having a well-aligned cross-functional team that understands the “Why” of PLG. So, to kickstart a successful PLG implementation, it is essential to bring together a cross-functional team of sales, marketing, rev ops, customer success, and product leaders. This collaborative effort will ensure that:

  • Everyone is on the same page about the goals.
  • Everyone has a voice in the process.
  • Everyone can provide valuable insights.

This team should work together to establish KPIs that align with PLG goals, such as Free Trial Conversion Rate, Time to Aha Moment, criteria for Product-Qualified Lead, etc.

Prep your product for PLG

A PLG-ready product delivers value upfront and allows users to experience the benefits independently. (Your company achieving product-market fit is a pre-requisite. PLG is not of much help without that 🙂.)

You can do the following to get your SaaS product ready for PLG:

  • Clarify Value Prop: Work with your product and marketing teams to craft a clear and compelling value prop that addresses your target audience's specific pain point or need.
  • Offer a Free Trial: Offer a free trial or a freemium version of your product that showcases the value of your product and encourages users to engage with it.
  • Provide a Seamless Onboarding Experience: Design an intuitive onboarding process that guides users through the core features of your product, helping them achieve success quickly.
  • Define the "Aha Moment": Identify the critical point at which users experience your product's maximum value. Make this central to the onboarding process.
  • Build viral loops: Encourage users to invite colleagues to collaborate within the product. It increases engagement and expands your user base.
  • Support Self-Service Conversion: Allow users to upgrade to premium features easily and securely with a self-service payment.

Acquire and Nurture Users

In addition to offering a free trial and using viral loops in your product, your marketing team can help acquire customers by creating awareness and engagement.

Here’s how they can play their part:

  • Educate: Develop educational material, such as blog posts, tutorials, and videos, that solve your customer's problems. Share these resources on your website and social media.
  • Engage: Create user communities or participate in relevant forums where users can discuss their problems and share their experiences. This can improve engagement and generate user-generated content.
  • Influence: Be present on social media platforms where your target audience is active. Share engaging content such as your organization's opinions in the problem space, success stories, and feature updates.
  • Optimize for search: Optimize your website for search engines to improve its visibility in search results. You can also use targeted search ads to capture the attention of potential users.

Once users are in your product, making them successful is essential. Here are some ways how your marketing, customer success, and product teams can nurture users:

  • Email nurture campaigns: Encourage users to engage with your product regularly by sending personalized recommendations or emails about new features, updates, and opportunities. Include a variety of educational resources such as tutorials, videos, knowledge bases, and FAQs.
  • Proactive support: Support your users via multiple channels to address inquiries, issues, and feedback. Implement in-app tooltips, pop-ups, and guides to help users navigate and use features effectively.
  • Create a feedback loop: Encourage users to provide feedback and suggestions directly within the product. Show that you value their input and use their feedback to drive improvements.

The above efforts help engage potential customers who are genuinely interested in your product and appreciate its worth. As a result, these individuals are likely to become paying customers.

Implement a Data Strategy

A data strategy is fundamental for PLG as it helps companies understand user behavior and improve the product experience for sustainable growth. Here’s how a well-defined data strategy can help:

  • User Insights: Data provides insights into who the users are and how they interact with your product, helping you understand their preferences, behaviors, and pain points.
  • Product improvement and Conversion Optimization: Data can give you insights to improve your product, onboarding process, and user engagement. It helps you identify where users drop off, so you can optimize the user journey for maximum results.
  • Personalization: Data enables you to provide personalized recommendations and experiences based on their behavior and preferences.
  • GTM Assist: Data helps identify and prioritize leads and accounts (PQLs and PQAs) based on user engagement and behaviors, guiding your sales, marketing, and customer success efforts.

To implement the first version of your data strategy, you can get started with these 2 steps:

  • Track product usage data: Use a product analytics tool (like Mixpanel, Amplitude, or June) to track data points critical for understanding user behavior and engagement within your product, such as feature usage, time spent, and user path.
  • Build a Customer Database - Building a customer 360 database involves collecting and integrating data from various sources (product usage, CRM, enrichment tools, etc) to create a unified view of each customer. This database enables you to understand your customers better, deliver personalized experiences, and optimize your PLG strategy.

Assist GTM teams

Proving value to your GTM teams is essential to your first PLG iteration. The easiest way is to utilize the product usage and customer 360 data you set up in the previous step and generate insights and recommendations for your GTM teams.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Define Criteria: Define the criteria that indicate a user finds value in the product and is ready for a sales conversation. This could be based on user engagement, feature adoption, or other relevant factors. A simple starting place is to define Product-Qualified Lead (PQL) and Product-Qualified Account (PQA).
  • Act: When a PQL is identified, notify the relevant GTM teams to take action. Provide contextual information about the user's interactions with the product, enabling personalized and value-focused conversations.
  • Feedback loop: Include feedback from GTM teams on what is working and what is not and refine the PQL criteria and outreach efforts.

Similarly, you can define criteria for upsell/cross-sell opportunities or churn risk and share them with your sales and customer success teams.

Experiment and Iterate

Experimentation is relevant to all aspects of PLG—product features and onboarding, marketing campaigns, and PQL definitions. Start with a hypothesis and refine it based on the outcomes. This data-informed approach ensures that your product and growth initiatives are based on real insights. Expect a lot of experimentation in the early days, and know that it should never end. Just as your product will evolve, so should your PLG motion.


Dedication and collaboration are vital to adding product-led growth to a sales-led company. Once in place, this approach creates a synergy between top-down sales and bottom-up growth strategies, leading to sustainable growth and customer satisfaction.