Notorious PLG 6.22.22: PLG + Sales Need to Hug it Out
Weekly update email on the most important product-led growth ("PLG") companies and strategies
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PLG + Sales Need to Hug it Out
We are fortunate today to have a special edition guest blog post from Jeff Hardison, Head of Product Marketing at Calendly. Calendly is a posterchild of PLG success. Jeff has played an important role in many PLG businesses including InVision, Clearbit and Grain (a former NPLG featured startup). I’ve read Jeff’s writing, have followed his career and have great admiration for him. I hope you enjoy!
“Yes, you can build a healthy product-led growth business with just credit-card sales.
But one of the most popular PLG topics of 2021 was how adding a sales team can help you unlock additional – and sticky – revenue upmarket with larger companies.
You’ve likely heard the saying – “actually, almost all PLG companies add a sales team eventually” – so I won’t belabor the point that PLG marketers have been making since at least 2020.
What I do want to share are three tips I’ve learned working in hybrid PLG+Sales environments at Calendly, InVision, and Clearbit.
1. Don’t fight each other.
Just as you conduct qualitative interviews in a PLG company to understand a customer, why not interview your colleagues in Product and Sales to get at why they care about what they care about?
Question: How are sellers compensated?
Realization: “Oh, that’s why that one Enterprise rep cares so much about that feature request to close a million-dollar deal. They’re compensated on only a couple big deals a year because they’re so difficult to close.”
Question: Why does Product not listen to me when I bring them feature requests?
Realization: “Oh, that’s why they don’t listen to me! When they need to make a case to engineering they have to use data – for example, several customer requests – and not just one customer.”
2. Don’t fight the data religion.
Speaking of research, it’s not worth fighting the need to back up your claims with some kind of data. Everyone should have been doing that for the last 20 years in software anyway.
No, “show me the data” need not mean 10 Mode reports that took you months to build for everything you want to do – as us growth marketers wish we could have.
But you should at least have some voice-of-the-customer tidbits in every proposal you make.
Product managers know this hack better than any of us, so it’s time we all embrace “show me the data” whether we’re a marketer or an account exec.
3. Don’t fight human help.
At the same time, PLG colleagues, there’s no use in fighting the need for humans.
Product-led growth never meant no humans.
PLG just meant: Let’s try to automate as much as we can with the product itself.
Last time I checked, software isn’t as good yet at:
Interviewing an IT decision-maker about why they don’t want to allow the VP of Recruiting to buy more seats with their credit card.
Convincing the IT pro that your product is worth all of the security testing they’ll need to do.
Negotiating with purchasing and legal to close the deal – months later.
But humans are!
As we often say in early-stage startups, sometimes you have to do things that don’t scale.
PLG companies can go upmarket, and co-exist peacefully, but you need people on your team that have been there and done that. Fortunately, more and more of those PLG+Sales pros exist today.”
I would love to hear your feedback. Please email me at email@example.com
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Recent PLG Financings (Private Companies):
Jit, a developer of security software designed to empower developers to own security for the product they are building, has raised $38.5M. The round was led by Boldstart Ventures, with participation from Insight Partners and Tiger Global Management.
Tango, a workflow intelligence and training platform designed to help teams elevate their performance, has raised $14M. The round led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Slack Fund, Atlassian Ventures, Wing VC, General Catalyst, GSV Ventures, Red Sea Ventures and Outsiders Fund.
TestGorilla, a startup that has built an assessment platform that can be used to screen for a wide range of job categories, verticals and skills, has raised $70M. The round was co-led by Atomico and Balderton Capital.
Lightning AI, the startup behind the open source PyTorch Lightning framework, has raised $40M. The round was led by Coatue, with participation from Index Ventures, Bain, the Chainsmokers’ Mantis VC and First Minute Capital.
Tabnine, a company creating AI to autocomplete code, has raised $15.5M. The round was co-led by Qualcomm Ventures, OurCrowd and Samsung NEXT Ventures, with participation from Khosla Ventures and Headline Ventures.
AirSlate, which provides no-code tools for automating business processes, has raised $51.5M in a funding round that values the startup at $1.25B. G Squared led the equity round, with participation from UiPath.
PayCargo, a fintech company for the freight industry, has raised $130M. The round was funded by Blackstone Growth.
Postscript, an SMS marketing company, has raised $65M. 01 Advisors led the round, with participation from Twilio Ventures, Expanding Capital, m]x[v Capital, Greylock and Accomplice.
AlphaSense, an analysis and business intel search engine, has raised $225M at a $1.7B valuation. The round was led by Goldman Sachs and Viking Global Investors, with Blackrock also joining.
Recent PLG Performance (Public Companies):
Financial data as of previous business day market close.
15 Biggest Stock Gainers (1 month):
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Complete Notorious PLG Dataset (click to zoom):
Note: TTM = Trailing Twelve Months; NTM = Next Twelve Months. Rule of 40 = TTM Revenue Growth % + FCF Margin %. GM-Adjusted CAC Payback = Change in Quarterly Revenue / (Gross Margin % * Prior Quarter Sales & Marketing Expense) * 12. Recent IPOs will have temporary “N/A”s as Wall Street Research has to wait to initiate converge.