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How to get started with your PLG monetisation team
Avoid these common traps
Today I’m going to help you get started with your first monetisation team in growth.
Spinning up a growth team with a dedicated monetisation remit will allow you to start to impact top-line growth far more directly than other growth initiatives.
But beware - it’s common to feel strong executive pressure to demonstrate positive early returns on investments in growth and direct revenue impact is often the thing that is looked for as the most tangible of those returns.
This can often lead to premature investment into growth monetisation making success an uphill struggle into strong headwinds for the teams on the coal face.
Many growth monetisation initiatives get off to a shaky start
Growth monetisation efforts often falter at the starting line due to launching prematurely. Usually one or more of these issues is present:
Lack of clear alignment on why you’re setting up a monetisation team
Lack of focus
Unrealistic expectations on the timeframe to impact
Product with poor retention characteristics
Lack of the right mix of skills for the core team
Insufficient buy-in from cross-functional stakeholders
The good news is that by being aware of these things you can ensure that you sequence monetisation efforts at the right time, avoid the traps, and better set up the team for success.
Here’s how, step by step:
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Step 1: Agree on the outcomes you’re trying to drive
Before starting, priority number one needs to be for you to understand the problem you’re trying to solve and the opportunity that lies in solving that problem.
How you build out the monetisation team and execute will look very different if you are trying to address each of the following opportunities/priorities:
Increasing GTM efficiency and lowering CAC by implementing a self-serve motion
Expanding addressable market to non-covered territories via a self-serve motion
Increasing self-serve revenue by optimising the monetisation journey
Increasing customer LTV and NDR across all revenue channels through monetisation awareness
Improving sales team close rates by formalising a product-led sales process
The specific goals for the initiative should be driven by the broader growth strategy and have clear alignment across the executive team.
You should also ensure KPI ownership is clear. If the relevant motion is there, in B2B SaaS, I’m a proponent for the growth monetisation team owning both:
Self-serve revenue $
PQA pipeline $ (or volume)
Having this alignment also means you’ll have an agreed framework for ongoing reporting.
If you don’t get this step right, buckle up, it’ll be a bumpy ride.
Step 2: Constrain your focus
Trying to do too much at once is difficult for any product team. The different types of work that a growth monetisation team might take on are widely varied in nature and the cost of trying to split energy across these different areas concurrently can be high. This is even further exacerbated by the fact that different skill sets and profiles are better suited to different types of work.
I experienced this at Snyk when we tried to initially bifurcate the efforts of the monetisation team across self-serve infrastructure implementation and monetisation awareness experimentation. As soon as we reset to first focus just on the infrastructure work everything moved much faster.
Step 3: Set timeline expectations
A huge cause of frustration within the management team can come with misaligned expectations around the timeline for impact. Getting ahead of this by setting appropriate expectations seems obvious but is something I’ve seen growth leaders slip up with.
This is a particularly sensitive area because of expectations on $$$.
The specific timelines are obviously going to vary depending on the team focus (the monetisation opportunity) and the status quo.
An area I’ve seen to have wide misconceptions around is the effort and time involved in standing up self-serve infrastructure, and even more so when that needs to happen in the context of broader existing sales-led monetisation infra.
Step 4: Ensure the product is ready
Monetisation is rarely the first opportunity you should be focused on in your growth team. Don’t jump into monetisation efforts if you are haemorrhaging users.
If your product isn’t retaining well it’s essentially down to one of two things
There’s not enough value for users to keep them coming back (a PMF problem)
You’re not doing a good enough job connecting new users to the value
If it’s the former, stop all efforts across all of growth immediately, and do nothing but focus on crafting a product that solves an important enough problem for users to keep them wanting to return.
If it’s the latter you should pause monetisation efforts and think about investing more in improving activation by getting better at helping users and teams to build habits around the core value.
99% of the time, growth teams building strong activation and engagement mechanisms is an essential prerequisite to scalable monetisation (via any channel).
Step 5: Design and staff the team with the right skills
Different problems and opportunities require different skill sets. While growth generalists can adapt to many problems, there are going to be situations where they won’t be effective or where other profiles will be able to move more quickly.
The Reforge growth practitioner profiles matrix provides a solid model to support your staffing considerations.
If you want to learn more about this framework, consider enrolling in the Reforge Growth Leadership program.
Note: If you’re starting with a nucleus and are going to further staff the team while executing, ensure time to hire and ramp new team members is factored into any expectations on the timeline.
Step 6: Closely involve key cross-functional stakeholders
While your growth team may be centralised, there will always be important relationships they need to build with people in other functions across the org.
This is especially true with monetisation where relationships with the GTM org (in its broadest definition of sales, marketing, customer success, and supporting ops) are particularly important. The growth monetisation team will often act as a critical bridge in enabling other teams to effectively leverage product usage data in acquiring and retaining paying customers.
Some initiatives may even demand you reconsider membership in the core monetisation team to be more inclusive. For example, as PLG native companies scale and layer on product-led sales motions, it’s best practice to have an experimentation-minded product specialist or a BDR working within growth monetisation teams to better support experimentation around the end-to-end revenue optimisation process.
When you get all of these things in place, your monetisation team will be standing on much firmer ground. You’ll have changed the direction of the wind in their favour and they’ll be much more likely to succeed in addressing the strategic monetisation opportunities in their remit.
Take time to focus on these things upfront to avoid friction and pain down the line.
1 interesting listen:
April Dunford with yet more positioning goodness on ProducTea with Leah
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