The age of CIOs making sweeping, solo buying decisions for their entire org is over, and we’ve entered a new defining era of B2B software: The best products must sell themselves to the users first.
“Product-led growth,” a term coined by Blake Bartlett of OpenView Partners, has gained traction for demonstrating the potential of user-focused products as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion. Delivering a great end-user experience is no doubt transformative, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of delivering value to executives, too.
In fact, at Elsewhere Partners, we think it’s possible (and preferable) to design products that bring value to a client’s entire organization—from individual users all the way up to the C-Suite. And it’s possible to accomplish this without necessarily having a Silicon Valley-sized balance sheet. We call this approach pragmatic product-led growth.
In our new e-book, A Guide to Pragmatic Product-Led Growth for B2B SaaS Companies, we provide a framework for building on a stellar end-user product experience to create a strong return on investment for all stakeholders.
The benefit of this approach is that it’s never too late, or too costly, to implement this strategy: Founders can use this guide to implement a pragmatic product-led growth mindset at any stage in their entrepreneurial journey, from bootstrap to IPO.
Here’s a sneak-peek of some of the tips included in our e-book on showcasing value throughout the product experience—from a user’s first interaction with your brand to renewal periods and beyond.
Delighting an individual end user with great product experience often begins with a freemium option (offering a limited feature set for free) or a timeboxed free trial. If you utilize the latter, you may want to consider offering a top-tier version of the product, so that users clearly understand how much value they would receive from an ongoing paid subscription—compared to a more basic freemium configuration.
Dan Schoenbaum—an Elsewhere Operating Advisor (OA) who is a go-to-market strategist for ActivTrak and OpsCompass, among other SaaS companies—emphasizes that “generosity” is core to the success of this approach. “Be really generous in solving a problem for customers for free so they’ll fall in love with you and the product,” he says. (Dan is a panelist on our webinar next week, so be sure to register to hear him dive deeper on this concept of generosity.)
You don’t need to limit your generosity for your paid products either: Many startups choose to introduce free tools that solve their prospects’ problems, but don’t necessarily directly relate to their main offering.
For example, Atlassian offers Trello as a completely free collaboration tool, independent of its paid products, like Jira and Confluence. However, the latter products can be seamlessly layered on by clients to accomplish more in-depth project management tasks, issue tracking, code management and more. The ultimate goal is to create an easy-to-use, adjacent product that would lead a prospect to explore paid products for more complex use cases.
Many organizations have deeply entrenched tools they already know and love, so offering a product that easily integrates with—and even improves—your client’s existing product set can immediately demonstrate value throughout the organization.
One company that has successfully used this strategy is enterprise digital experience platform Acquia. Thanks to an open platform and a suite of API integrations with other popular marketing and development tools, the company now works with 40% of all Fortune 100 companies. By taking a collaborative approach, Acquia has quickly expanded from simple website hosting deployments to far more complex development and marketing operations that impact the entire digital business ecosystem.
While providing an engaging standalone user experience is core to your product’s success, everyone ultimately benefits when valuable products play nicely together. With simple integrations, your product will reshape workflows beyond your primary user—making your customer’s entire company more empowered and efficient.
Designing products solely for an individual might overlook the fact that end-users need to prove the use case of your tool to higher-ups when it comes time for budgeting conversations. Pragmatic product-led growth prompts you to demonstrate your worth across the entire organization from the outset.
You can take the burden off of individual users or buyers by building a product that highlights value through automatic reporting and easy-to-use return-on-investment calculations.
In a security or monitoring product, this could include how many of compliance issues that were identified or solved or the number of security vulnerabilities remediated by your product. For a marketing product, results should be directly tied to revenue as much as possible, while an infrastructure product would likely want to demonstrate cost savings or improved uptime.
The bottom line is that building value demonstration into the product itself (or the product’s website) will make it easy for end-users to offer high-level, qualitative proof of your product’s impact on their day-to-day work—making it a no-brainer for businesses to expand and renew with you.
Pragmatic product-led growth isn’t an all-or-nothing strategy: While it’s easily adopted by companies with products downloadable for individuals, you can still incorporate elements of a product-led approach into your business if you have more complex security- or compliance-oriented products.
As a relatively new framework, the most exciting thing about pragmatic product-led growth is that it’s constantly evolving. B2B SaaS founders are still building the playbook, which means you have room to develop your own pragmatic product-led growth solutions, too.
Whether you’re hearing this term for the first time or striving to deepen your product-led approach, check out our e-book to learn more strategies for showcasing product value to all stakeholders, as well as how to implement them and measure success. As more people recognize the impact of your product, you’ll begin to establish a coveted network effect that both increases growth and decreases customer acquisition costs.
Ready to take the product-led leap? Download our e-book: “A Guide to Pragmatic Product-Led Growth for B2B SaaS Companies” as your first step.