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Minute Monday 21: Complex use cases and PLG
I’m excited to be speaking at the upcoming Product Drive online conference on October 4th. My talk is titled The Beautiful Synergy of Product-Led and Sales-Led Growth and is all around the topic of Product-Led Sales.
It’s completely free, and I’d love for you to attend! Just register using this link.
Last week’s 13 reasons PLG will fail (or at least be much more difficult) post caused a bit of a stir. Here’s one reaction:
I want to reiterate and expand on the point I made in my last post.
If your product is solving for complex use cases, getting customers to succeed will require human intervention.
Things that make use cases more complex include when users don’t have the ability or permission to get to a point of value and habit.
In these situations, a zero-touch PLG motion won't work.
Instead go sales-led, or adopt a hybrid motion if you can find adjacent simpler use cases to solve as a self-serve onramp to the primary use case.
With a certain level of complexity, zero-touch PLG cannot succeed.
This isn't a myth.
I've lived it at Snyk.
Snyk is by all accounts a PLG success story, despite significant complexity.
Yet it’s zero-touch PLG motion has limitations.
Snyk’s PLG success is really attributed to the combination of its bottom up motion married to its enterprise sales motion.
Let's look at this more closely.
Call this pure-play PLG or zero-touch - it doesn’t matter.
It's the account going from signup to paying customer without ever interacting with a human via any channel.
The key here is the definition of complexity.
You cannot look at complexity solely through the narrow lens of functional complexity and product implementation.
That type of complexity can always be iterated on to simplify and automate.
But complexity comes in many other forms.
And complexity isn't uniform across all customers.
Complexity can be situational and come from the market itself.
Things that are entirely external to your product.
For example, does the user have the organisational permission to get through activation set-up steps, or even to sign up in the first place (a common situation in regulated industries)?
Another common complexity comes through the need for migration of data from incumbent systems.
And yes, while a lot can often be automated here, human assistance can greatly improve success.
And how do you go from adoption at the team level to adoption at the company level when the economic buyer is no longer the user?
These are all examples of situational complexity.
At Snyk, at a certain size of customer, app-sec ownership (and purchasing control) moved out of the engineering function and into centralised security teams under a CIO/CISO.
Security programs become standardised from the top down.
Developers and their teams are using Snyk because it helps secure the code they’re creating without slowing them down.
This is easy for them to experience and champion.
But the value to their companies is far bigger.
It’s about holistic improvement of their security posture, and preventing breaches that lead to severe financial and reputational damage.
Even if the CISO or CIO is using the product, it’s not going to effectively tell that story of business value.
There’s a breakdown in communication.
Finding buyers and building compelling narratives and business cases is necessary to progress from team-level adoption to something more widespread.
That's where relying on the product itself and zero-touch PLG fails.
The upcoming PLG program at Reforge will present the concept of the monetisation escalator that describes the need to support a transition from individual to team to company-level adoption and purchase.
At each step on the escalator, different blockers may exist, and sometimes, human intervention as part of a product-led sales approach is necessary to overcome those blockers and enable escalation.
This is a course I personally wish I’d had access to many years ago, and I’m glad to have contributed in a small way to its development as part of the program council and now to be participating in its inaugural cohort as a featured guest!
Until next time!
PS: Don’t forget to check out my talk at the upcoming Product Drive online conference titled The Beautiful Synergy of Product-Led and Sales-Led Growth.