More and more, we've been engaging with business leaders whose business models are referred to as Product-Led Growth.
A Product-Led Growth (PLG) business model is one where the product itself drives the acquisition, conversion, and retention of customers. Basically, these organizations don't rely on sales teams to sell their software; instead, it all happens digitally through a simple flow that invites a customer to sign up and/or enter a credit card number.
Often these business models begin with a freemium or a low barrier to entry version. The conversion to a 12-month subscription then unlocks additional features or provides a discount. Examples of some famous products that apply this model include Dropbox, Vimeo, Zoom, WW, and SquareSpace.
Our experience recruiting for Product Management leaders with PLG experience has shown us that Founders/CEOs need to be ready to talk openly with candidates about these 3 areas:
The State of the Business as it Relates to PLG
Be prepared to answer the following questions to help your potential hire understand where the business is currently. Working through these questions, before commencing the hiring process, will also help you to solidify your vision for this hire and the future direction of the product/organization.
- At what stage of the business are you in adopting PLG?
- Is PLG the entire business?
- Do you still employ a sales org for enterprise accounts?
- Was PLG a pivot from a traditional model?
- What lessons has the business learned from launching a PLG model?
- What is the outcome desired of this new VP Product role?
- Metrics: be ready to discuss and share
Alignment with Customer Success
Bottom line is, for a product-led growth model to be successful, the users need to feel successful. They need outcomes for their investment in order to fully use and renew it. Before launching into or continuing down the path of a PLG model, make sure there is understanding and alignment on the following:
- Is there a CS leader in place who owns both the onboarding and Customer Care function?
- What is the current feedback loop between Product and CS and is there willingness to reimagine that process with the incoming VP Product?
- What is the state of advocates and adorers?
Willingness to be "Disrupted"
Is everyone ready and okay with possible disruption? The moment a Founder/CEO decides to hire a Product Management leader, they are deciding to usher in a new way of operating and looking at the business.
This is even more true when the business wants to onboard an experienced PLG product leader. Unlike a more "traditional" product leader, the responsibility for revenue, user acquisition and growth will now rest on this person. They will need to be more interconnected and cross-functionally wired into the business and all the departments more so than anyone else, perhaps other than the Founder/CEO.
So the question is, "Are you ready for that?" both the Senior Leadership team and the new VP Product need to be okay and bought into moving forward with this new reality.
The Biggest Tip for Hiring Success
One of the most effective and successful approaches we have seen clients take to successfully attract someone, at this level, is by having the senior-most stakeholder be the first interview.
Why? With so much riding on this one position, the best foot needs to be put forward to make sure the alignment is strong from day one. Whether this person is the Founder or CEO, casting the vision and generating buy-in early on goes a long way in capturing and holding the interest of a strong candidate.