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Episode #27: What You Need to Know About Product-Led Growth ft. Blake Bartlett (OpenView)

You know how they say someone “wrote the book” on a topic? When it comes to Product-Led Growth, they’re talking about Blake Bartlett.

 Blake is a partner at OpenView, where he’s led investments in major companies like Highspot, Expensify, Calendly, Postscript and Cypress, among others. He also notably coined the term PLG in 2016 – and it’s only gained significant traction in the years since. 

 Blake’s granular understanding of PLG and what it takes for startups to be successful are what made him a great guest on the latest “Unchurned” podcast with UpdateAI CEO Josh Schachter. 

 Josh and Blake cover a lot of ground in this episode, including, of course, what Blake’s quick definition of PLG is: 

“A go-to-market strategy that relies primarily on the product itself as the driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion.”

 They touched on a number of other PLG-related topics, too, like: 

  • OpenView’s SaaS focus 
  • Great examples of PLG
  • Why Sales shouldn’t be worried about PLG 
  • How PLG leads to less “friction”
  • Potential downsides of PLG 

 If you’ve been interested in learning more about PLG – and why it is or isn’t ideal for your company – this podcast was tailor-made for you. 

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👉 Josh would love to connect to hear your feedback & suggestions. Get in touch with him on Linkedin.

“PLG is a go-to-market strategy that relies primarily on the product itself as the driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion.” - Blake Bartlett (OpenView)

Listening to Unchurned will lower your churn and increase your conversions.

Josh Schachter 0:39
Hey, everybody, and welcome to [Un]churned. I’m Josh Schachter, host of [Un]churned and founder and CEO of UpdateAI. Really excited about our guest today. Joining us is Blake Bartlett. Blake is a partner at OpenView partners, one of the leading VCs, you may know open view from a lot of really amazing content that Blake and his team put on, particularly around in plg product led growth. And of course, we’re going to be talking more about product led growth. How could we not with Blake on the show a little bit of a background on Blake. In his in his role as an investor over the years, Blake has either in the past or currently served on the board of companies like Calendly Expensify, sprinkler Wayfair, postscript highspot, as either a board member or board observes some really high profile successful companies to say the least. So with that, Blake, it’s an honor, a pleasure to have you on the show.

Blake Bartlett 1:33
Thanks, Josh. Great to be here and appreciate the invite.

Josh Schachter 1:37
Yeah, absolutely. So I kind of tooted your horn in there with some of the through through the merit of your companies that you’ve helped Chrome. Tell us a little bit about open view, because I know I know your firm is doing some amazing, amazing things in the venture world as well. Yeah. So

Blake Bartlett 1:49
very quickly on open view, you know, venture capital firm firms, technically based in Boston, but we invest everywhere. There’s a few of us that are remote, I’m remote, I live in LA. But the firm in terms of you know, what sets us apart is first and foremost, all about focus. So since day one, when the firm was started back in 2006, all the way to today, you know, we only invest in business software, SAS and infrastructure. And it’s always been that way I’ve never done consumer never done hardware, never did crypto business software all day, every day. We’re also pretty specific about the stage that we get involved, we call it the expansion stage, it’s really a fancy term for post product market fit the round that happens immediately after that. So typically series A and Series B. And then the last piece of focus is just the sheer number of investments that we make, we tend to make, you know, 15 investments, maybe 20 investments per fund, as opposed to, you know, as many as we possibly can. And so we’re not, you know, placing bets and hoping that one pays off, but instead high conviction, high concentration, in another element of focus there. All of that allows us that consistency. And that focus means that all of our portfolio companies tend to experience similar challenges or similar opportunities, they’re all business software companies at a similar stage of their journey, which means that we can then bring a lot of resources to the table from an operational support standpoint, with our team called the expansion team for recruiting, pricing and packaging, product lead growth. So focus enables us to go deep with operational support, and it’s kind of two sides of the same coin. So that’s the story of the firm. You know, as I’ve mentioned, firm was founded in 2006. You know, today, we’re investing out of our seven fund. You know, we’re the firm that coined the term product led growth, which I’m sure we’ll talk a little bit about. So that’s big for us both on investing in companies like data dog, and Expensify, and Calendly, and many others, as well, as you know, having coined the term, a lot of sort of efforts to, you know, get the word out there thought leadership, you know, and all the rest around product led growth. So the quick ones over on open do

Josh Schachter 3:44
something that I think of when I think of open view, and there’s there’s several firms that are doing this well, is your content that you’re creating, it’s really valuable stuff that you’re putting out there, you run pLG 123, which is a segment of insights about, you know, what’s going on in the plg. world. I see posts from from Kyle Boyer, I see, you know, posts and articles from other folks in your team. Is that I mean, it seems to be a very concerted effort. Can you talk a little bit about open views decision to really kind of go all in on, on content? Is this like the the VC version of plg as a way to, to capturing your audience’s hearts?

Blake Bartlett 4:22
Yeah, in a lot of ways it is. We started doing content before we had the term product lead growth. So it actually kind of came from, you know, as they say, you know, necessity is the mother of invention. So, you know, the necessity was back in 2006 2007. We were a brand new firm. Nobody had ever heard the firm, open view before. Nobody knew who we were. So how are we going to build awareness? And how are we going to set ourselves apart? Let’s share insights. You know, let’s share our perspective on operational topics. You know, we’re hearing about these challenges and these problems that founders are experiencing. Great. Let’s go and find the answers to those problems and then write some content about it and then you know, people can To discover us that way we can go from unknown to known. So it sort of started from that point of necessity, or a new firm, nobody’s heard of us, this will can be a way that we can set out and help founders and also build awareness. And eventually, over time, build the brand of OpenView. So we’ve been doing that for, you know, again, since the early days back when content marketing was very first a thing. And certainly, you know, not really on the radar screen of a lot of venture firms. So fast forward to today, we still have that foundation of, you know, a blog that’s very operationally oriented, you know, it doesn’t really look like VC content, we’re not just pumping our portfolio companies, or here’s the three reasons I invested in Company X, it’s more so oriented towards what’s going on in these companies, both our portfolio companies, as well as any other sort of earlier expansion, say software company, you know, how should I think about my sales strategy? How do I think about hiring what’s going on with compensation, you know, all of these types of deep in the weeds, operational topics. And so we still have that going as a blog as a weekly newsletter. But then on top of that, we’ve been able to sort of build things on the foundation. And, you know, we certainly embraced, as many others have, you know, kind of the concept of personal branding. So you mentioned, Kyle, he has much great content, and he writes, he has a sub stack, you know, I do our podcast, I have a video series, there’s many other folks at OpenView, who sort of take that approach as well. And so it’s, the goal is that, you know, obviously, there’s awareness of open view, and, you know, kind of starts to become associated with our brand. But also, it’s coming from a truly altruistic place, that this content exists to help people, it’s operationally focused, it’s not just to fill the top of the funnel for our investment team, it is to help companies and if we’re doing that, then you know, goodness, and goodwill will come back our direction. And we’ll build a brand over time.

Josh Schachter 6:38
So let’s jump into plg. Let’s just get there. Because we know that’s where we’re gonna go talking to Blake. Before starting update AI, I was a product manager, product leader for 15 years out right around where you are playing now and in Silicon Beach, as we call it. And so I was thinking about, like, how would I define plg product lead growth, and I didn’t, I didn’t think about it too, too long. But I struggled a little bit because innately I understand what it is. And I came up with something like this, which is, you know, plg is when the growth and adoption of of a product of your product is based on the success of using that product at the atomic end user level, and then leveraging that user to help draw in even more users that feels very kind of janky. And, and and in some way, jargony. To me, how would you describe product lead growth to everybody out there listening? So

Blake Bartlett 7:36
I have two answers for you. The first is, we call it the textbook definition of product lead growth. So you know, back in 2016, you know, when we came up with the term product, lead growth, you know, immediate next action was okay, well, what’s the definition of that? What does that mean when we say this term? And so what we came up with back then, and we still sort of point to today as being you know, that dictionary definition is product, lead growth is a go to market strategy that relies primarily on the product itself as the driver of customer acquisition, conversion, and expansion, and the dot, dot dot, what’s sort of not included in that is, as opposed to the humans on your sales and marketing team acting as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion. So the product itself is the actor that’s driving, it’s at the core of your go to market strategy, rather than humans and your sales marketing team. So that’s kind of the dictionary definition. Now, it’s, it’s a lot easier, that still can be a little bit jargony, as you had mentioned, so I can also just give an example and tell a story. So the best example of product led growth is zoom in the pandemic. So zoom was a business conferencing tool. Business people were familiar with it, but it was really just a replacement for WebEx and you know, these types of things. Goto meeting that you had used in the past, it was a better way to do that, you know, had gone public was a massive success story as a SaaS company. And then COVID hit and then within a few weeks, it became a worldwide phenomenon that like how we survived the pandemic and we can all recall the seeing SNL hosted on you know, on Zoom, we can see you know, I went to zoom weddings I went to I had my birthday on Zoom like I did family, you know, facetimes on Zoom, like there’s religious services on Zoom like school over zoom, like zoom became the thing that again, we survived the pandemic because of

Josh Schachter 9:16
the can Kleenex.

Blake Bartlett 9:18
Exactly. So how does this connect to product lead growth, if it had been traditional top down enterprise sales, then when my you know, the Zoom weddings coming into the funnel, when SNL is coming into the funnel, when you know, all of these sort of non business use case folks are coming to the funnel, guess what they would be qualified out, we don’t sell to you. We’re a business conferencing solution, like wait for the next enterprise to come into the pipe. But because it’s product lead growth, which really what that means is self service. So anybody without talking to sales without going through a sales cycle, can say I want to sign up now. And I want to start using this and that’s exactly what happened with zoom in the pandemic is enter a username and password and boom, you’re hosting meetings, obvious There’s that 40 minute limit, and they had a freemium approach and all this kind of stuff. But through having a self service funnel, you can say yes to everybody, for any reason that they could imagine using your product, as opposed to looking for reasons to say no to people. And so you kind of open the floodgates, you know, the store your store of your product, you know, the thing that drives transaction is open 24/7, for anybody on the globe for any reason, they could want to use it. And it’s very different. And it sort of completely removes the constraints on the top of your funnel, you know, from what would have historically been like, we only have so many sellers, you know, we have to say, super focused is this person in our ICP or not, and you’re trying to weed things out of your funnel. And that’s completely changed in product lead growth, where anybody can use your product for any reason, at any time of the day from any country and get going. And if they get value, then they can swipe their credit card and convert as well. So that’s really kind of product lead growth, both the technical definition, if you will, but then more. So like, what does it look like in practice, and give me an example like zoom is the perfect example.

Josh Schachter 10:55
Yeah, and I think with Zoom, it’s not just that, that you could sign up through, you know, self service channels, I think, cuz I’m close to some of those guys over there. It’s also that from the very foundation of they’re building out that product, it was built in a way so that it would be a really clean experience, and very user friendly user intuitive experience for that, as I called it, the atomic the end user, each individual end user, because they weren’t beholden to an enterprise contract that would force them there, right. Like they could go anywhere else. So it wasn’t just like, Oh, cool. They had a good like landing page and onboarding flow. It was beyond that it was the the product was super simple to install, you know, super intuitive. And now, of course, there is, you know, they’re catching up to their growth in some ways, which, which could be apparel of plg, as well, by the way, we could maybe talk about that. But But yeah, I agree. It’s, it’s a, it’s a great example.

Blake Bartlett 11:54
Yeah, on that the one way to think about product led growth is, you know, a term that was actually pretty popular and like, call it 2010 to 2012, which was the consumerization of enterprise, or the consumerization of IT, and what that meant back then, so we’re now talking a decade plus ago, that really was all about design user experience. And you know, the very obvious realization now in retrospect, which is why does my work software look so clunky? Looks so terrible? Why is it so painful to use just to take a simple action? It’s 20 clicks? Why can’t it be more like Facebook? Right? And then, founders had that realization companies had that realization, they said, we can differentiate through design, what if we made your work applications look, feel and operate more similar to consumer applications like, and then product design became a thing. And you know, we’re all benefited from it. However, with product led growth, that was only half of the equation that was what does the product look like? And what is the UX sort of experience you have using it once you’re a customer of that product, but the other side of it was, how do you become a customer in the first place. And so this is where plg comes in. And I sort of, you know, sometimes will refer to plg, as the full consumerization of enterprise, we did the product design in the US before, but you still had to talk to a salesperson, in order to use it, you still had to go through a three or six month sales cycle, in order to get your fingers on the keyboard, you might have to get you know, onboarded from their onboarding team, like it’s not exactly self service. And so when you add this distribution piece, it’s not just the product you build, but it’s how do you distribute it? Are you distributing it in a consumer like manner as well, and that’s the other side of the coin. And that’s what plg brings to the table, you gotta have that product that a consumer would actually want to use, that an end user would actually want to use, and like, it’s gonna resonate with them. But then you have to sell to them in a way that’s like signing up for a consumer app as well. And so that’s why, you know, Zoom slack. Calendly. Like any product that we you know, Miro notion airtable Like any of these things, it’s like signing up for Netflix. It’s like downloading a new mobile game on your phone. It’s that easy. And so it’s the full consumerization of the enterprise, because it’s adding consumer like distribution through self service. And so that’s kind of like that whole thing together as product like growth. I want

Josh Schachter 14:04
to stay on Zoom for a second. And not that we want to sequester the entire conversation to video conferencing. But I’ve actually wondered, of late, why is it that? And I’m just curious if you know, the answer to this, or can take a guess, why did zoom pick up so much. I mean, clearly understand, like, WebEx was more enterprise driven, it wasn’t positioned to be able to be nimble, and grow in a plg fashion, but like, Google, Google, what does it go mate? Yep.

Blake Bartlett 14:31

Josh Schachter 14:33
So like, what was the Delta there between what zoom was doing what Google was doing and why it didn’t seem to see the same uptick?

Blake Bartlett 14:40
Yeah, this will definitely be a hypothesis will be a guess. But I do think that there’s something particularly powerful when you have plg combined with inherent virality. And when you can combine those two things, and it doesn’t exist, you know, kind of in every single product. There are viral loops in every product, but some are stronger than others. And so zoom is in incredibly strong viral loop, because you cannot use the product without somebody else, right, you can’t have a meeting with yourself, there’s always going to be at least one other person. In some cases, there might be lots of people on your Zoom meeting. And so by hosting a Zoom meeting, you know, all of those people if they didn’t know about zoom before now know about it, right. And so and guess what also is what makes the sort of viral loop stronger, is that when both users or all of the users in a transaction or equation are all trying to solve the same problem at the same time, and then somebody introduces it’s inherently viral, and then everybody can sign up for it, you know, immediately thereafter, it Prime’s the pump for capitalizing on that morality. Because you know, if zoom had, you know, video conferencing is inherently viral. But then if once you close the Zoom meeting, if that was the first one you were ever on, and then it said, Hey, click here to talk to our sales team. You know, anybody who’s just a consumer and doesn’t think of themselves as enterprise, or business person isn’t gonna click on that. But if the button says, like, Hey, that was pretty cool to host that meeting, like, click here to host your own meeting for free, then a lot of people are going to click on that. And so combining recognizing the viral loop that you have, and the strong virality of zoom Calendly, similar, you know, scheduling is inherently viral as well, and then attaching plg and self service to that viral loop. And then also, there’s something to be said, for solving one problem. Because when you’re a module of a bigger platform, and it’s like, well, we have that to come adopt our platform, it’s like, that’s not the problem I’m trying to solve. This gets to the Google example a little bit. I’m not, I’m a Microsoft shop, I’m not going to convert my entire organization to Google in order to use Google meat. However, I can use Zoom because it does one thing. And so that sort of three elements, or three legs of the stool have inherent morality, plg and self service, and then it sort of does one thing and one thing only, and you can get it for that one thing, and you don’t have to, you know, adopt a broader platform in order to get that module. All that together, I think is where the magic is.

Josh Schachter 16:51
Yeah, that makes sense. Do one thing, do it? Well, if you’re DocuSign, signed documents, if you’re Calendly, help book meetings, if you’re zoom, facilitate video conferences, and then grow, right, and then build out learn, plan and expand your

Blake Bartlett 17:04
Yeah, you can create a platform later. And like zoom is a platform now, and like zoom phone, and all these different things, and a contact center and all this stuff, but you can still just get zoom for video conferencing, you don’t have to get the whole platform. But that creates sort of an expansion opportunity and upsell opportunity, it also gives them an opportunity to go after deals in a top down fashion as well, like new Call Center call centers looking to rip and replace their existing infrastructure for $10 million a year, we can go after that as well, in addition to our sort of plg foundation that we have.

Josh Schachter 17:32
So as the expert in plg, like I want your advice, I’m just gonna be transparent with with you and with the audience. And, you know, I’m the founder and CEO of update AI, our product, I think, in many ways sounds like it is it would work well, it will work well. We’re launching publicly next weeks as we’re recording this. So my verb tense is kind of shifting. So it will work well for for blg. The fact that we are in your meetings, listening, our AI detects action items, and then individually to the host of the meeting, sends out those action items to that person to help them with their productivity. Seems like plg, you know, primed for me that to me. But I don’t know, like I have some concerns with with plg motion, it feels expensive. It feels like maybe it’s not a direct path to revenues. And talking to a VC, you can tell me about that. Because as great as you know, early stage founder, it would be to grow to 10s and 10s of 1000s of views or hundreds of 1000s users, it’s money and MRR that talks right and continuing to grow my company. So with a limited understanding of our product today, but the description I gave you before and now, like what are your thoughts on our go to market motion.

Blake Bartlett 18:54
So there’s two ways that product lead growth businesses can get and can get the initial convert to paid. And there isn’t one isn’t better than the other, it’s kind of more about your specific context and which is appropriate to your product and the value that it delivers. So great example, you know, zoom in Calendly, which we’ve been talking about, it offers a lot of personal productivity benefit. So you, you know, obviously this is very different today. But like let’s rewind the tapes back to maybe four or five years ago, when zoom was still pretty early on. You know, maybe your organization used you know, GoToMeeting and it was just a pain in the ass. So then you you say alright, Zoom is a better way and I can individually swipe my credit card for a single seat of zoom. Because I get that much value out of it. Calendly similar it’s like this is makes my workflow my day to day easier. So I’m happy to upgrade to pay to get sort of more features and just automate all of my scheduling workflows. uncountably many other products we could point to that have sort of an individual value and an individual’s sort of again, back to consumer like motivation. Like, here’s why you should want to get behind the paywall and swipe a credit card.

Josh Schachter 20:03
superhuman, right? That’s another one I would think of that jumped to the top was

Blake Bartlett 20:06
definitely, but some products are a little bit the value that has that people are willing to pay for is more about the team using it now you can still sort of have initial product lead growth, adoption, but the conversion, it’s less of a personal productivity benefit, it’s more of a team based productivity benefit. And so that’s actually going to be coming from the manager, that’s going to be coming from somebody who holds budget, you might actually require a sales conversation in order to get that convert. But it’s not like you shouldn’t do product lead growth in that case, because what gets you the meeting? And what gets you to the front of the line and what becomes your business value story. It’s like, well look at all the things your users are doing, you’re already using the product, the platform, you’re getting this value, if you converted, then you get all of this incremental value. And so recognizing, do you have a product that sort of has personal benefit that would prompt somebody just as a single person to convert? Or does it require a team based usage? And that’ll take you down kind of one of two paths. But you know, again, it’s not mutually exclusive product, lead growth kind of works in both environments. But there’s a different answer that’s right, for each individual company and product based on the value deliver, how the user personas engaging with it, et cetera.

Josh Schachter 21:17
So that was my next you kind of answered my next question, which is, can you use the two in tandem plg, and a direct sales lead motion and sounds like yeah, so your, your plg can, you can either monetize it directly. And I imagine it has to be a very salient and a very acute pain point, if you’re monetizing it directly, because these are now individuals that are, are paying with their own personal money, or they’re going through the, the, the journey of using Expensify. And expensing it. So but, or you can use plg, as just the product adoption flywheel, and then you signals from that, to knock on the door of the decision makers and the budget owners to then to then sign your contracts and go from there.

Blake Bartlett 21:57
Yeah, yeah, plg always needs sales in order to continue scaling. So even in those examples, like the Calendly example, or companies like that, that have personal productivity benefit, that somebody might be willing to swipe their credit card for $10 a month for even then you’re not gonna get, you know, 500 seats in an organization through a bunch of individuals swipe credit cards, you know, at some point, the budget items gonna get big enough, and like, you’re gonna have to have a sales conversation. And so you still need to then prove the business value, even if you’ve gotten 10 people to convert, they’re all paying $10 a month, that doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna get the six figure contract, you still have to go and have the conversation, you’re still doing, you know, proof of value, here’s the ROI calculator, here’s the business value, you still have to go through procurement, you still have to go through security review. So like all this standard sales stuff happens. But you got the adoption. First, you got some initial conversion first. And so now it’s an expansion sale, you know, we’re already inside the four walls, the organization are already giving us budget now, sort of make it official across your entire team across your entire org. But that’s not a guarantee, just because you got somebody who swiped a credit card, you still have to go through that journey. And so recognizing that and sort of not assuming because there can be this misconception about product like growth is that if you do it, right, you never have to hire a salesperson. And it’s just gonna be this like viral success phenomenon, you get to a billion dollars revenue with like, you know, just robots. That’s not product lead growth, it’s more of, you know, it helps you get to the first sales meeting, it helps you get the initial conversion, but at some point, in order to continue expanding and accounts and get to where you want to go, you’re still gonna have to have sales conversations. And so the role of sales is incredibly important. But you get a lot of benefit from all the usage data, all this sort of proof of value of what people are already doing inside that account on your product. And how do we take it to the next level versus like, I’m a stranger and like, you know, you should buy my product, because it’s great. Let me give you a demo.

Josh Schachter 23:49
I guess the sequence to me, it sounds like it’s using plg to create the the tinder and I don’t mean that in a dating app sense, but like the spark, right of the product, and then you’re pouring gasoline on that. And that is the direct sales lead motion. And then you’re going back, and I suppose you’ve got the self sign up self activation plays already set up in your product because of the initial plg. So it makes the adoption and the onboarding, the expansion that much easier once you do actually get that sales lead promotion in place. Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Blake Bartlett 24:27
And then also, there’s a bunch of, I guess, you could say, automation and cost reduction benefit from product lead growth as well, which is that because you forced yourself to create a self service product that somebody could go through the entire journey, pay for it without ever talking to somebody from your team. That means you have to wire your product to allow all of the steps that something that a user needs to take to be completely automated. And so even if so that gives you this automated sort of foundation that you’re standing on, as opposed to a Human based process where it’s like, oh, well, in order for this to happen, somebody has to provision an account. In order for them to take these actions, I have to turn on like through feature flagging that module, you know, oh, they want to pay? Well, you know, we only have invoices. And so like, now I have to create a purchase order, like all of these different things that are manual efforts, that if all of that stuff is automated, even if you’re selling the product, and it requires a sales conversation, because, you know, they’re just not going to depart with their budget without sort of a sales conversation and going through a sales process, you still then have the benefit of you’re standing on an automated Foundation. And so all of the you know, cost all of the time, all of the friction, all of those sort of, you know handoffs from one team to the next team, and did this person, click the button, the way they’re supposed to all that stuff that happens in order to set up an account, now just magically happens. And so even if you’re selling it, you still get the benefit and the automation and the sort of customer satisfaction experience of you know, having the automation in the background. So product, lead growth is great from you know, all of the ways that it allows you to, you know, say yes to everybody and have an open funnel and your cash registers ringing 24/7 365. All that stuff is great, that’s about you know, growing faster, and sort of top of the funnel, but there’s also a cost of customer acquisition, cost of sales, gross margin, et cetera, benefit of you just have to have, you don’t have to have an army of humans in order to get people onto the platform and keep them successful, because you’ve automated the whole thing. And so there’s a lot of benefits a lot of different ways we’ll get product like growth,

Josh Schachter 26:25
there’s so many merits and virtues to it. What are some of the pitfalls and in my mind, you can think of things like, well, they’ve got more people in the product. So I’ve got a greater cost of goods, right, like my server space, and all that kind of stuff, that the actual performance of my product, I have more operations to deal with more more credit card denials, more refund requests, I’ve get a more automated in some sense, in my interactions with the customer. So I’m farther away from actually getting to that voice of the customer. I just bring these up, you know, as somewhat of strawman arguments, but But what do you say about some of like, what do you see as some of the pitfalls of plg? And how to overcome them?

Blake Bartlett 27:08
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s pitfalls in the sense that things are different. And so you have to operate differently. It’s not necessarily I wouldn’t put a value judgment on it, that it’s a pitfall. So therefore, it’s bad or dangerous, it’s just different. And so you have to bring the right tool, you know, to the right problem. And so as an example, you know, in traditional enterprise, you know, if you had 1000 accounts, like that’s a lot, but in plg, you can have 1000 users after one product, hunt, launch, right. And then if you continue to scale, it’s like, look at Slack, look at zoom, look at you know, any of the sort of really popular plg products out there Calendly many others, it’s like they have users in the millions. And so think about customer support. How does b2b Customer Support support, you know, millions of users, some of which are paying, some of which aren’t, some of which are single seats inside an account, some of which are solopreneurs, or just freelancers, some of which are members of like, hey, 50 of us use it hear? How do you do support in that way? It’s not enterprise like support, it’s much more consumer like support. So you’re gonna probably recruit from like, hey, who ran support for Spotify? Who ran support for Netflix, who ran support for Epic Games? Like, what can I learn from them. And so that’s the right tool for the plg customer support problem. And it’s very different than, again, traditional enterprise. So that would be something to be conscious of. But I think the biggest problems or challenges that people can face is actually kind of back to what we were talking about, which is how do you go from initial user adoption, to business adoption, in the sense of like, paying and getting budget and all those kinds of things. And it’s this realization that, you know, even if you’re in the situation where an individual user gets value, and they’re willing to swipe a credit card, in order to get to that bigger sort of expand opportunity and an enterprise deal with them, you still have to talk to a different buyer. And so your user is not your buyer. You know, it’s very rare that, you know, you’re if you’re selling a self service tool to the marketing department that your CMO is going to be using it as much as like your, you know, social media marketing manager, CMOs, like sit in meetings all day, they don’t adopt products all day, like their work is email and meetings and talking. It’s not sort of using software products. And so, you know, it’s this recognition that your user isn’t necessarily your buyer, even if you’ve got an initial convert through a swipe a credit card. So how do you find the buyer? How do you then use the benefit of the usage that you’ve had on your platform to tell a better business value story to the buyer? And I think a lot of times people can, you know, view the going from user adoption to business adoption a little bit too simplistically, they’ll sort of say, like, well, like 20 users use my product and your company, and they all give me an NPS of 85. So and they love it, and they said, they’ll quit if they can’t use it. So therefore, you should obviously give me $100,000 a year, but that’s not really how, you know, budget works. Like people say, Okay, that’s great that people have this personal preference, but what’s the business value of that personal preference? And so if you can’t then translate the user love and user adoption, even the user converts on his web credit card to here’s how you organization through spending $100,000 a year with me are going to save way more than that, or generate more than that in revenue, you still have to do that business conversation, a lot of people just assume users love us so much, we’re gonna go wall to wall in this organization, it’s an inevitability, and then they sort of get faced with the very stark reality that you have to prove business value, and then they get got caught flat footed, and then they don’t get the expand. And so that’s probably the biggest challenge that you’re gonna have to get over is that user adoption versus business adoption. And user love does not equal business value for a company

for a company like Calendly. In the largest, again, you sit on the board, for your largest enterprise customers, who is the executive sponsor, who’s the buyer.

So you’ve got to find somebody in business and like in a line of business, who is going to care, because that is where you get the budget. And so for calendar as an example, because there’s no there’s no vice president of meetings, no, the Vice President of meetings. And then also it could be, you know, with a product like that, and many other products, you know, that are communication products, productivity products, meeting products, those types of things. Like there’s no chief calendar officer, there’s no chief meeting officer, there is no chief productivity officer. So it can, if you don’t intentionally identify who your business persona is, that’s associated with a, you know, solution that you offer to that business user, you don’t have to only have one solution, you have lots of solutions. But if you don’t find that business owner with a business solution for a real business problem, then you can get sidelined to it. And it it has no motivation, they look for reasons to say no to things unless it’s an IT product, like a password manager or something like that. But if it’s like hey, like, help us by this new calendar thing, they’re gonna look for every reason not to, you know, go with you versus to go with you. And so if you can align to business value, and where the real budgets are, and then use it as an enabler, as opposed to getting, you know, sort of sidelines it because you didn’t proactively go after a business owner. That’s how you kind of work around that, that challenge. So for a

company like Calendly, I don’t want to put you on the hot seat and share trade secrets or anything. But for a company like that, I imagine like one one obvious use case is, is for salespeople, right? You know, make it easy to book book, book, demos, book appointments. And so you start there through that through that functional line, ultimately, that percolates at some point that, that that groundswells groundswell grows gets to it. And then they make a decision to apply it more broadly across different functions for a myriad of different use cases that are not as defined. Is that kind of the how that works?

Yeah, no, that is a, you know, great example. Yeah, sales teams get a lot of value out of Calendly. And so if you can orient towards the one thing that I would change from what you said is, you go from individual sales reps, maybe to the manager, look at how many more, you know, meetings and appointments, you know, these folks who use calendar getting out of these versus these folks who just do it all manually. And then you know, if you can kind of follow this is where you actually have to get close to the customer talk to them a little bit, you know, okay, great. They’re getting more meetings, what’s that turning into in terms of, you know, down funnel stuff, you’re getting more closed ones. But then that starts to become a conversation that guess who cares about the VP of sales or the CRO, right? And so you can actually go and say, All right, every seller in this organization should use this product. And then you sort of have maybe a handful of people that would have used commonly for personal productivity reasons, then you get the whole sales team, then there’s offerings for other high volume schedulers, like recruiters, like Go Go get the recruiting team, and then at some point, you know, becomes a conversation with it, which is, should we just go wall to wall with everybody, right? And so finding, so it comes later, but you sort of get the budget from you know, the business owner from showing you know, in the sales example, you know, before and after this product, you know, you can see the real time results in your funnel, don’t you want more of that, like buy our product, it gives you that

and it grows from there. Like, thank you so much. Where can we follow you? Where can we grab the most of your help? for content out there,

yeah, best two places LinkedIn. So add me on LinkedIn, follow me on LinkedIn, I publish a ton of content there. And then YouTube, the pLG 123 is on YouTube. So weekly videos about product lead growth. And then also we publish full episodes of our build podcast on the YouTube channel as well. So those are the best two places.

Blake Bartlett, we didn’t even talk about how you coined the term plg we didn’t even get to that. That’s okay. We’ll save it for next time. Thank you so much. Sounds good. Thanks, Josh.