Key Takeaways from Analyzing 500+ PLG Companies

Akhil G
November 24, 2021

In October, we hosted Blastoff! 2021, a product-led growth conference in our ProductLed.Marketing community and it was a huge success. In the conference, Adam Schoenfeld, a 3-times SaaS startup founder and a thought leader in the PLG space presented his findings from analyzing 500+ PLG companies. 

Goes without saying, Adam’s session was really insightful and a great resource for anyone in the PLG world. You can watch the on-demand video of Adam’s session here. 

Adam developed an index of over 500 (and counting) PLG companies and analyzed them to understand the common trends and facts around these companies.  

He deep dived into the key insights surrounding these companies and shared his learnings around 

1) PLG is not a single playbook for go-to-market 

2) PLG is not rep-free

3) It’s still the early days of PLG

I decided to note down the key takeaways from his session for the above-mentioned themes. 

1) PLG is not a single playbook for go-to-market

From the analysis, it is clear that not all PLG-based companies are following the same strategies for go-to-market. If you look at the graph below, the number of sales and marketing employees is not similarly distributed for all companies. 

Sales and marketing in PLG orgs

Starting from the positioning of products on the website to the top of the funnel marketing strategies, companies use different approaches. It’s not at all possible to follow a single playbook for every type of product. 

As explained by Adam, when you are building your GTM playbook for PLG, you need to make sure you are building it specifically for your product rather than following some other company’s methods, even if it is your competition. 

2) PLG is not rep-free

There’s still a good number of people who believe that PLG is a rep-free growth model. People are often confused that you don’t need to have sales reps and a sales team in PLG. 

Of course, people are leaning towards the self-serving method and not interested in interacting with sales reps. However, as per the data, most of these PLG companies involve the sales team at some point in the buying journey, but it is clear that they are doing that in different ways. 

Even though the number is not high as a typical software company, PLG companies still maintain a good percentage of sales employees in their teams. 

Also, it is worth noting that many of the giants in the PLG space have a great number of employees in enterprise solution roles. These companies employ salespeople to facilitate enterprise sales and growth and this trend is not going anywhere soon. 

Some companies employ salespeople as product specialists and some others as success managers. The roles and titles of salespeople vary in PLG companies based on the strategy they adopt. So, it is evident that the sales will look different in product-led growth, but it won’t disappear.  

3) It’s still the early days of PLG

PLG is now getting a lot of hype in the B2B world as more and more PLG companies are successfully announcing IPOs and attracting investors in the very early stages. It’s still the early days of product-led growth, but that doesn’t mean people are not welcoming the trend.

According to the insights, there’s a dramatic growth in the number of employees in product-led growth companies. Most of the PLG companies have employee growth ranging from 60% to 90%. It’s mainly because more investors are coming forward to invest in PLG companies nowadays. 

As you can see in the above poll results, the interest in PLG is growing dramatically among the sales and marketing people and they are interested in learning PLG strategies. It’s always a good thing that everyone is welcoming product-led growth and showing interest in learning it. Hopefully, we will see many successful PLG startups in the coming years. 

These are just three key takeaways from Adam’s session in Blastoff!, but there’s plenty more content where that came from. To view the whole session, as well as all the other interesting sessions, check out Blastoff! 2021.

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