Last year saw the continued boom of PLG strategies being adopted far and wide.

But that was last year. What about 2021, we hear you wonder?

Glad you asked. We’ve been asking the experts whether they see that upward trend continuing, and what else they’re expecting to see emerge across the landscape in the coming year.

Here’s what they had to say.

PLG will continue to boom

Openview reported that companies with a product-led approach have a 2x higher market cap than the public-market SaaS Index Fund.
Exploding Topics

The stats make it blindingly obvious, PLG is on the up-and-up. It’s no surprise seeing the success of companies such as Slack and Linktree who crushed it last year and aren’t showing any signs of slowing this year.

“Like every growth model, PLG will mature over time and become a standard for all product-focused companies. Metrics like Natural Rate of Growth (NRG) will be THE metric that companies use to measure growth and evaluate success. This shift in strategy has many implications on how businesses operate today, especially on the legacy sales and marketing strategies used in non-product-led organizations.”
Steve Aponte, VP Product and Strategy, Foundation Source

If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the exponentially rising product-led wave check out our 25 influencers to follow this year!

Investment in Product Operations will continue to increase

“Product Operations will continue to grow, as CPOs become more prevalent they are realizing that “how” a team does product is a role that needs to be filled.”
James Heimbuck, Senior PM, Verify, GitLab Inc.

Wise words from James and we completely agree. So much so that we’re kicking off our 2021 event series with the Product Operations Summit.

We also spoke with Senior Product Manager at Introhive, Jennifer Landry, who agreed with James that the rise of product ops is a necessary piece of the product-led puzzle.

“As we grow our customer and product base, and scale-out our Product Team, we are experiencing pains that are pushing us to rethink our approaches and product development processes.

“There are a number of recent blogs and thought pieces on the advantages of product-led methodologies, and they resonate with many companies. In our current state, we find we are a blend of sales, marketing, and product-led approaches that have been put into practice.

“Unfortunately, each product manager, each marketing professional, sales and executive leaders are not aligned - when there are no standard approaches/processes it becomes each to their own figure out the best way to do what they have to do.

“This is where I think Product Operations will become more recognized, when an organization reaches a certain point in their growth they need to research the various methodologies and best practices to find the right fit for their organization.

“I don't believe there is a one size fits all - otherwise, this would be easy and everyone could follow the same recipe. Product Operations will need to build awareness of the methodologies so they can design an approach that works best and an approach that can evolve over time.”

If you want to know more about product ops, check out our 5 W’s of Product Operations.

Product teams will get closer to the customer

The gap between the product team and the end-user is getting smaller, as customer feedback is more important than ever in the product development process.

“Continuing to get the product, design, and engineering teams closer to the customer/end-user to enable the product teams to become more empathetic towards our customers' pain points and desires. The old ways of leveraging other customer-facing roles to act as the “voice of the customer” are diminishing. My product teams sit “sidecar” with sales and customer service teams to actively participate in gathering feedback.

“Also, the goal of creating a frictionless onboarding experience and fast path to customer value will certainly continue. Product-led companies will continue to refine and perfect the onboarding experience that has minimal, if any, touch-points to a human in the organization. Additionally, they will look to get leads and potential customers to try their software faster, showing them value faster while asking for minimal info upfront. In other words, removing the traditional friction points like verifying your email.”
Steve Aponte, VP Product and Strategy, Foundation Source

Remote working will continue to change how product organizations work

“Remote is here to stay so building connective tissue with your engineering peers and finding new ways to get in touch with customers will be an edge for orgs and PMs who can do it.”
James Heimbuck, Senior PM, Verify, GitLab Inc.

Wise words again from James, and Steve agrees.

“More than ever, we are getting requests to implement enhanced communication tools within our product offering. I believe this is a direct result of the pandemic and people working remotely. Face-to-face collaboration is almost non-existent, so our customers are looking for ways to replicate that experience or get somewhere close to it. Instead of using multiple digital tools to collaborate, they want to be able to collaborate inside of one product.”
Steve Aponte, VP Product and Strategy, Foundation Source

B2C best practices are filtering into B2B SaaS strategies

“One trend is the B2C best practices that are showing up in B2B PLG SaaS. For example, I just recently noticed Slack delivering an in-app message offering a discount. As B2B PLG companies offer freemium, free-trial, and low dollar amount offerings the trend around these traditional B2C types of discounts will continue.”
Aaron Stillman, Director of Storytelling, AB Tasty

Aaron went on to say how PLG is altering the offerings of firms who haven’t built products with product-led growth in mind.

“Another trend is the challenges a company faces when implementing PLG with an existing tech stack that was not built or designed with PLG in mind. An example would be a CRM designed for that top down sales funnel or analytic tools that do not give a view into the individual user. This trend has also led to new companies and tools coming to the market specifically designed for PLG companies and others needing to decide if they will enhance their offerings to better fit the PLG model.”

This idea was echoed by Senior Consultant at UBS, Julia Kuo.

“What I see is that Product-led growth is becoming the standard GTM for software and infrastructure companies. More companies adopt the idea of qualifying buyers through a product embracing the benefits of product-led growth including faster sales cycles, greater ARR per employee, and quicker account expansion making PLG the dominant GTM strategy. Some examples include AutoDesk which makes AutoCAD software in the SaaS framework.”

If you want to keep up to date with all things PLG, be sure to join our Slack channel and check out our brand new podcast, For the Love of Product.