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In a PLG world, user experience is everything

John Bussiere
August 08, 2022

To truly understand the ways User Experience (UX) affects your company, you first should understand your company’s growth model.Growth

First off, what IS PLG?

One of the more popular growth models in recent years is called Product Lead Growth, or PLG. This is where the product ITSELF drives customer acquisition and customer expansion.


One showcase example of PLG is Slack. As you likely know, Slack now dominates the workplace messaging market they helped create.Slack

Slack forged their market dominance by using a freemium user model. They made it easy for everyone to enjoy a frictionless, amazing user experience. This is true whether you use their Free tier or their Enterprise tier.


It’s quite common for someone to become a new Slack user through word of mouth. It’s also common for someone to start in their Free tier and then become a paid subscriber as their needs grow. Both customer paths are fueled by an amazing user experience.


So, we can easily see how a superior user experience has driven their sales.

UX is the cornerstone of PLG

As Advertising Week puts it, “in a PLG approach, the buyer journey happens inside the product”. With this model, every barrier to entry, every friction point becomes a drag on your sales pitch.


Conversely, making it easy for your potential customers to try the product and see the value prop firsthand can increase your conversion. But you need to make sure this experience is delivering true value.


Sometimes companies put value-add or “core” features behind a paywall. This approach works against a freemium model. Because when a user tries the free version, it feels underbaked and lackluster.


Essentially, at the heart of a good user experience is value. If you’re not providing value, it’s difficult for the user to walk away with a good experience.Value

That said, once you’ve nailed making it easy for your users to experience value, you’ll find yourself on a rocket ship.


That’s because the self-serve nature of this approach creates the possibility for all this to happen at scale. So, this ends up a win-win for both customers and the business.

UX, PLG, and Strategy

By now you’ve likely picked up on the idea that PLG is a GTM strategy. This is something that can’t be taken on lightly, or even half-assed.


It’s also important to recognize that if PLG is the strategy, UX is how that strategy is executed. It’s impossible to be successful with the PLG strategy if a carefully crafted, elevated user experience isn’t delivered.

The impact of PLG on Enterprise SaaS

Okay, got it.


But maybe you’re not a PLG company. Or at least you’re not one yet. What does all this mean for you? There are still some lessons to be gleamed from the PLG approach…Aha

It is increasingly common to see a hybrid PLG/Sales-led in the enterprise space. This usually involves making a product test drive very accessible to prospects while still employing a high-touch sales team.


So, it’s possible to play with the PLG model without being fully committed to PLG. There are actually quite a few benefits to this approach.


First, this approach provides the ability to tailor different GTM motions to different market segments. And this translates to higher profitability across each segment.


Another benefit to the hybrid approach is a shorter sales cycle. Given uncertain market conditions, a multi-month prolonged sales cycle is no longer tenable. As stated, the PLG approach provides more immediate value, pulling in that contract close date for your sales team.


Finally, providing a better user experience—in the context of any strategy—has almost always positively affected revenue. Nothing wrong with that either. 💰 😉

Take your UX to the next level

Given all this, maybe it’s time to consider your UX to be your “newest sales hire” and see if “they” are up to the task. To get moving on this, you can fairly easily do the following three things straight away:

  1. Explicitly connect your GTM strategy to the user experience you are delivering.

  2. Reevaluate your user experience to make sure you’re providing value to your prospects.

  3. Test a demo or freemium model to evaluate the impact on your pipeline, pipeline conversion, and sales cycle length.

Whether you fully embrace PLG, pursue a hybrid approach, or choose to continue with a sales-led model, I wish you the best in creating an elevated user experience!