Workshop: Make Product-led Growth Work For Your SaaS
In this workshop, we took a look at how to make product-led growth work for your SaaS. We explore the PLG motions you can use to enhance the self-serve nature of your product. We shared real examples of product interactions that made a real difference for users. Attendees learned more about PLG, how to optimise your acquisition model, how to adapt for self-serve onboarding, how to deliver value as early as possible, and more. This workshop focussed on Product-led Growth and how you can implement PLG in your SaaS. If you’re interested to see how PLG can benefit your SaaS, this workshop is for you.
[00:00:02] – Peter
Okay, so here we go. Making product-led growth work for your SaaS. I think we’re going to start off with just a few introductions. So can you all right. Into the chat. Let us know where you’re joining the call from and what your SaaS is, where you’re working, whether it’s your SaaS or you’re working at a SaaS company, just let us know in the chat where you’re from and your SaaS, and then we’ll get just a bit of an idea of who’s on the call and what kind of businesses you’re working in. That would be great. And while you’re doing that, I’m going to introduce myself.
So I’m Peter. I think I’ve met some of you, and I’m familiar with some of you, but I haven’t met everybody. I’m looking forward to learning a bit more about you. I work with user Active. So we are a product design agency. We do product design for software companies. We essentially become their product design arm. So we do design Sprints interface designs and UX, working on figuring it out. So a lot of the workshops that we do are based around product design and great practices and user patterns to make your product the best possible experience that it can be.
[00:01:15] – Peter
So, hey, there’s some brilliant chats here. So, John, welcome. John. I know you already. John’s from StatsDrone. Great platform that they’re building for affiliates. Adele from HR Tech from the UK. That sounds good. I’m seeing a lot of HR products lately, and they’re really, really interesting. Tanya? Yes. Barcelona. You’re in Barcelona, too? Tanya, I didn’t know. Okay. Awesome. And StatsDrone Darrell. Okay. Esteban from Toronto, Blue Camera Business Management platform. That sounds good. Marta from Barcelona, digital product studio. Great. Sounds like you do something similar to us. Is that right? Marta? Yeah. Great.
[00:02:00] – Peter
Garrett, head of sales at Rent Systems. Justin and Malaysia, customer engagement SaaS. And Mass, head of growth from office.io in Kuala Lumpur. Also, Garrett from Portland. Okay. What a brilliant array of people and locations. Formal people joining, so we’ve got to keep letting them in. Okay, as go through this session, I’m going to talk about some, essentially, some flows, some interactions that you can implement directly into your product. Going to look at some examples, and we’ve also got a worksheet that you can take away and think about and work on whilst you’re working on your own products.
So as we do this, I might ask you for examples or questions or challenges that you’re currently having with your product at the moment. I’d love to hear your current product legislative challenges, and maybe we can just talk about them and see if there’s anything that we can do to help. During this session, one thing that we do is we offer a brief call to resolve any issues you have or discuss any challenges that you have. So if there’s anything you want to talk about with product-led growth, feel free to use this link.
[00:03:17] – Peter
Sarah is going to put this link in the chat so you can book a 15 minutes call with us. It’s user active IO 15 min. So that’s our 15 minutes call and we can talk about any product issues again or challenges that you have. Okay.
[00:03:40] – Peter
One of the main protections these days, product-led growth doesn’t work for you. So SaaS founders often say this to me, “Our product can’t be product-led because we sell to Enterprise or we have a really high ACV. We have a steep learning curve. So our product needs a lot more onboarding, a lot more customer support and training. So we can’t really use product-led growth”. But the thing that I often respond to is that even if that’s true of your product, there’s always something that you can take away from product-led growth to implement directly into your product.
Even if it’s making your product more self-service or just making it more intuitive, it means that your users are able to self-serve and have a better experience with your product, which definitely makes your product a bit more powerful and a bit more valuable. So even if it’s that, just remember there’s always something you can take away from product-led growth. So let’s look at the classic product-led framework. Is everyone familiar with product-led? If you’re super familiar with product-led already and you know the basis of it, just put a yes into the chat for us to get a good idea.
[00:04:54] – Peter
If you’re not familiar with product-led, you could let us know. Or also just say you’re new to product-led Growth, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. Andrew’s here. Great to see you, Andrew. Thanks for joining. I’ve actually got an example of a prospect here, so you’ll be happy to see that. Okay. John is not as familiar. Okay. A few people, the basics.
[00:05:16] – Peter
Okay. A little bit. Okay. It’s a bit of a mixed response. So product led is really popular. It’s really trending at the moment. And the model looks a bit like this. It is where you basically have what we call a bottom-up sales approach. So traditionally for SaaS, it was a top-down sales approach. You’re selling to Enterprise, you’re doing demos with executives, and you’re convincing them that the product will work for their business and solve their problems. And then they subscribe or pay for maybe an annual contract, which they then roll out across their team. So that goes down to the employees.
That’s why it’s called top-down. But with product-led, it’s employees that are able to test products. The people actually using the products are able to take free trials, try them out, see if they solve their problem, and if they start experiencing Value, then they go up the chain and they ask their managers for sign-off to use the product or a budget to purchase the product from their workflow. So the product-led approach looks a bit like this. Visitors come to your website, they identify the value in your product, and they sign up themselves.
[00:06:28] – Peter
The third step is that they become a product-qualified lead. But what is actually happening here is that they’re qualifying that your product works and delivers value for them. So once they qualify that your product delivers value, you get a conversion. Here, this might be an upgrade. They go into a premium plan or they start using the product in their DayToday workflow. And that’s where the fifth step comes in. They become engaged. And if they become engaged and really adopt your product and build positive habits where they’re getting value from their product, they become an advocate. And this is quite a large part of the product-led approach too because advocates share your product.
They collaborate with other users, and they add additional users to work with, but they also talk about how great your product is. So that just lends itself to the product doing more of the selling. It doesn’t always mean that it eliminates selling completely, but it can do more of the selling. And that’s basically the traditional product-led approach that we’re looking at today. So one of the things I’d like you to have in mind when you think about this is that a lot of the product work that we do is the practise of taking manual workflows and automating them.
[00:07:45] – Peter
And that’s really what most of SaaS actually is. If you think of it, we’ve got a few good examples in the group. Here is an HR platform. A lot of the HR platforms that we’re seeing that are successful today, like Personio, they’re taking workflows that are traditionally done offline or within teams, and they’re automating those processes and making them available to a wider user base within the team. And if you can do this in your product consistently across different workflows and features, then you’re really making your product more self-service and you’re eliminating the effort required to get value from the product.
So that’s a good way to think about making your product more intuitive is by automating manual workflows. Okay, we’re going to look at four examples of product interactions. Now, these are four companies that for the most part, they’re not really big Silicon Valley tech companies, a lot of these are bootstrapped companies. So they’ve had some funding, so they’re quite relatable. I find it’s quite good to use relatable examples in SaaS because a lot of times we’re looking at the outliers your slack kind of for product-led. We’re looking at slack. I’m giving businesses like this, and oftentimes some of the learnings don’t apply to your everyday sales founders.
[00:09:15] – Peter
So we’re going to take a look at four examples here. But before we do that, can I just hear from the group? What kind of issues are you having with your products that relate to the product-led grid? Is there anything that’s stopping users of your product right now from being able to completely self-serve, trial your product, sign up and then become an adopted user of your product? Anyone having any problems with that? Are there any issues in your product? You want to put that into the chat and we’ll just get an idea. If you have something in mind and you’re writing it down, feel free to come on the mic as well.
[00:10:06] – Andrew
Yeah, I was just going to say, I think there are sort of two scenarios that people think about in product growth. One is you’ve just got a normal kind of free trial process and can people self-serve through that free trial process and sign up? I guess you can kind of iteratively get there if you make your products seamless enough. But the really successful product-led growth businesses seem to have a very clear free tier that you can use forever and kind of when you’re getting enough value, then you tip over into being paid. So they’re so easy to use that literally millions of users can get up and running.
Tens of thousands of users can get up and running without any help. And then you’ve got this massive pool of people that the product is then turning into customers. And one of your slides definitely has sort of growth somewhere in the middle trial and then put on their growth lead or lead. But what happens to people who don’t convert, I think is an interesting question. Does their trial just expire or do they stick with some ongoing value that is just like perfectly positioned on that knife rage that they stay engaged with the product but don’t get enough value and so keep wanting, you know, do eventually they want to pay?
[00:11:53] – Peter
Yeah, that’s a great point. We’re going to touch on that. This first example actually, but raises a really good issue about the model that you go with. So I know you’re operating a free trial. Andrew we’re actually going to take a look at an example from Andrew’s credit prospect on this call. But a lot of times I see a combination of free trials and a premium plan in the same product. So you don’t have to just be committed to one model. It’s about finding a blend that works for your product and also the users.
So a really good example that we use a lot when we’re thinking about this is Canva because Canva has the ability to upgrade, but the freemium offering has got so much value in it that we consistently see a lot of regular users who’ve adopted the product and is still on the freemium plan. They’ve never upgraded. So if you have a product that works with a model like that, then it’s great because a lot of those users that don’t become a product qualified leads can become advocates and they can still get value from the product and essentially it can operate as marketing for the product.
[00:13:06] – Peter
So that’s an interesting point. There’s a couple more. There’s a few comments here I love to touch on. So Marta says, in my case and other products I’ve been working with during the past year include a free trial or something to trial. They need to be users in order to access all features. Marta, do you want to explain anything about this? Because it might depend on how the product is set up or the complexity of the product because it doesn’t need to be a barrier. The free trial should be frictionless and product-led. So I know there are some things.
[00:13:49] – Marta
In my case, the product sorry, go ahead. Sorry, my WiFi is not working properly and in this case, clients need to be and have a banking account in order to enjoy all the features. So it’s not exactly the same situation and I don’t know how to transform that onto a product-led approach organisation.
[00:14:25] – Peter
What I would ask you is what’s preventing them from being able to use the free trial and for it to be self-service. Is it the way the product is configured or are there some complaints?
[00:14:40] – Marta
Yeah, basically. Well, I mean, I guess they could use more like the free demo, but in order to access the real app you need. So it’s kind of like another customer journey that they’re going through.
[00:15:01] – Peter
Yeah, I see. It could just be the way the product and product experience is designed and configured and then it would help to know more or see the product that you might be referring to. But usually, in the free trial, there isn’t really a restriction on access to features. You might offer different free trials for different plans so that there are different feature sets on each of those plans. And the free trial is associated with a plan, but usually, it would be unrestricted and just for a period of time. Then they would upgrade at the end of that free trial period, which is typically 14 or seven days, but most commonly 14.
And if you were to restrict features, that would be almost more like the freemium model so that they can come on, but they can’t try all the features, they don’t get full access until they upgrade. It sounds more like freemium, but it sounds like these products don’t have that here, so it’ll be interesting. Hopefully, we’ll get some examples in this session that we can talk about that shed a bit more light on this for you. And if you need to talk more about it, we can always do that after this session.
[00:16:18] – Peter
So, John. John says for our users, if data isn’t accurate, they don’t know if that is on us or them. And the system for relaying this to the Dev team is too manual, all done via chat. It’s a big bottleneck for us. First, educate affiliates that there are multiple reasons why data isn’t accurate and inform them we can fix this if they give us that feedback. Yeah, that’s a little bit tricky. One of the big obstacles is often an integration.
So at StatsDrone, John’s platform helps affiliates get insights into the data of affiliate sales and affiliate campaigns. So then StatsDrone, as a platform, needs to essentially import all of this data, right? It’s an integration that happens. So you’re looking at data visualisation and it sounds like there’s a lot of friction around this, especially regarding accuracy. John, what are the different methods that they do? It sounds like this is quite a manual process at the moment. Do you sometimes have to get on a call and then help them with an import of data or connection for your integration?
[00:17:40] – John
Sometimes that’s the case, but there’s just so many reasons why data won’t connect. Like, if they’re very confident they’re using the right password even though they’re actually wrong, sometimes we’re able to say that’s the wrong password. Sometimes these affiliates, because they’re so powerful, have a customised plan that we’re not able to see for the first time. So we have to work with the devs to kind of figure out that it is customised. They have an extra column there that we’ve never seen before.
We update our scraper and voila. So what we’ve noticed is that for a lot of our users that have come in, when they don’t connect any programmes at all and they leave us, we’re like, well, there’s two issues. One, it’s like we don’t know if they’ve tried to connect. And two, I think we’ve not made it easier for them to connect and onboard them saying this is pretty much you can’t really do anything unless you connect. Like this is the ultimate first step.
[00:18:30] – Peter
Yeah, interesting. The good thing about doing it the way you’re doing it and seeing all of the problems that can occur is that you get all of the insights to eventually build a flow that accounts for every different eventuality that might occur. And then by doing that, you reduce the amount of customer support time to help them do that.
[00:18:52] – Andrew
One thing that is quite similar to the journey we’ve been on with our integration. And to be fair, I think it’s taken us quite a while to get to the point where we’re confident that some of our integrations just literally work every single time. But whenever we do a new one, that’s not true anymore. And so one of the things that we have specifically done is targeted salespeople at those new integrations. So we do have salespeople.
I think we’re trying quite hard, Peter, to make our onboarding so simple that people can sign themselves up, but we haven’t really got that. But we now route the salespeople based on what integration they’re doing. So the more senior sales will pick up the customers who do an integration is not perfect, and the junior salespeople are picking up those customers. We know they’re not going to need any help because it doesn’t work. We don’t need to contact those people.
[00:20:09] – Peter
I’m not sure where the noise is coming from. Apologies. How do you iterate through that? To get them to be smooth and seamless in a sales context, documenting as they go and building up a knowledge base to then resolve the issue for each integration that you do?
[00:20:35] – Andrew
No, actually, we have been really, I mean, it’s taken a lot of effort, but we’ve been really determined that we won’t build that documentation, we would just make the integration work and we’ll just make it handle scenarios. With all of our integrations, we find mental things where there just are some customers that have no name and our system requires all to have a name, so we just write something in that gives them a name if they haven’t got one. Yeah, and silly things like that.
I mean, that’s a silly couple, but it’s illustrative of the problems we’ve had and when we were developing that integration and using their demo data, they all had names, so it worked perfectly and then the fourth customer signs up and it breaks and you just code around those until you’re not getting them anymore. As I say, I think one of the things that we have realised is that when we do new integrations, we then need to reach those customers to an experienced salesperson who can go to handle the objection, reassure the customer and give good feedback to the dev team about what’s actually happened.
[00:21:52] – Peter
Right, so in the early days of an integration, it can be fairly case-by-case when you come up.
[00:21:59] – Andrew
Yeah, I think we were naive initially that we do an integration, we test it and it would work. We just got over that naivety and now we write a new integration and we know it won’t work. So we then route those customers on the assumption it won’t work, to a salesperson who is capable of handling that problem and capable of giving good feedback to the developers so that you just iteratively move that integration to the point where it does automatically work. I know, Peter, we haven’t been brave enough to leave any of the customers without a salesperson contacting them, but.
[00:22:40] – Andrew
A lack of bravery and also because our market is probably fairly national, so we’re not getting the volume that forces us into doing that. But definitely, we have I think there’s an iterative stage if you’re starting from not Product Edge, you can ask yourself, well, what percentage of my sales could I throw a junior salesperson at? I don’t know very much. Like that’s nearly product-led, isn’t it? The product gets most of it and then a junior salesperson is just finishing the job off versus because it’s easy to have this black and white.
You either put it there or you’re not. And if you’re not getting there is a massive journey. But I think if you can break it down and go, well, today all of our customers need the founder to talk to them or will never make a sale. Well, then you’re not very productive. Growth. If you move from that to everybody needing a good salesperson, talk to them, well, then you’re a bit more product. The product is clearly selling it up a bit more. If you move to the point where a really junior salesperson can just engage with the customer, and deal with a few objections to be done with that, then you’re probably nearly there.
[00:23:52] – Peter
Yeah. That’s so interesting that it’s not really a black-and-white thing. And that’s kind of what I was alluding to earlier, where there’s always something you can take away from productive growth. So John Andy’s cases. It might be quite interesting for you. Andy’s customers have a wholesale inventory. A wholesale and distribution stock. So they connect with Andy’s platform to get an insight into customer health and then manage their product sales business.
[00:24:22] – Andrew
And John. I was interested because you said no. It doesn’t work unless you sell the integration work. Maybe it does. Nobody will buy our product unless they get it integrated.
[00:24:31] – Peter
Yes. It’s this big obstacle. And I think what’s interesting about what you’ve been saying, Andy, is that you go through that process every time with an integration. It’s a combination of sales and development. Team fixing it. And then you get to this point where I know that you’ve been doing this in the product down, is that once you get to this point where the problem is resolved and you know the journey and the kind of workflow inside out, you can almost design a flow within the product that accommodates that flow and almost replaces the customer support process or the sales process that you had to go through every time before that integration was completely seamless.
[00:25:12] – Andrew
Yeah, I think the way to think about it is like the product list growth is the most junior salesperson. The product isn’t applying any humanity or empathy to the sale. The product that Growth Sale is literally taking it step by step by step without any empathy. And one step back from that is a not-very-good salesperson. Another step back from that is a really great salesperson. Another step back from that is the founder, in terms of the founder can add all sorts of empathy and get over all sorts of problems. So if you haven’t got to the point where a relatively junior salesperson can follow some instructions and get a sale, then product-led growth. To think that you could just put some steps into the product and It Would Work is Poorly Naive.
[00:26:12] – Peter
Yeah. One of the things that you’re aiming for is to reduce your customer acquisition cost. Right. So this is where those touch points with a junior, it’s costing a lot less. And It also means that there’s a Lot Less Requirement for what you’re referring to is empathy there isn’t really interesting because it’s almost a sales handling exercise, isn’t it? Whereas a senior salesperson who will have to do a lot of handling, understanding and handling objections and then relaying back and solving a problem with the Dev team is a very high-cost example. So across that whole spectrum, you’re working more towards the self-service approach, which obviously is a lower customer acquisition cost.
[00:27:02] – Andrew
The other angle, of course, is the number of sales engagements you need to have. So John, if your salespeople are or you’re on boarders are having to just get the integrations done and then everything is fine after that, well, at least that’s only one, do you know what I mean? That’s only one bit of the problem. If the product then sells itself after that, then you’ve kind of got product-led growth apart from this bit. Do you know what I mean? And I think that if a salesperson has to talk to a customer five times, a senior salesperson talks to a customer five times, that’s a very expensive sale. A senior salesperson talks to a customer once, that’s less expensive. A junior salesperson talks to a customer once, that’s even less expensive.
[00:27:42] – Peter
So the more you can automate it, the more able you are to have a high scale going through your product, increasing the scale of people going through because the touch points are reduced. John, you had your hand up there. Did you have something you wanted to add to that?
[00:27:58] – John
It’s just a quick comment so that we don’t interrupt the users. They get to kind of test the app out on their own so we don’t have that, like, come talk to sales or any of us first. We were thinking about doing that and our competitors, the ones that actually have a premium price, that’s exactly what they do. You sign up and once you’re registered it’s, you basically have to talk to them. And I think the thing that’s actually hurting us is because we’re not doing that interruption phase where we get to walk them through.
I believe we’re actually losing out on our ability to communicate with them because we can ask them to register their info. But if they don’t use Skype. Then it’s like we’re relying on email and after they verify their email. It’s like we’re seeing with a lot of customers that have signed up. They’re making it easier just to go if they didn’t like what they saw. The reply rates after are minimal, like no matter what we try. Whereas as soon as we get a chance to talk to them, it’s almost like they’re stuck to us.
[00:28:53] – John
It’s like we have a chance to win them over if they tell us like, hey, I don’t like this or that, it’s as soon as I can get them on Skype in a chat, it’s a totally different ballgame.
[00:29:03] – Peter
Yes, interesting. So it’s worth interrupting them to make that happen every time while you’re at the stage that you’re at? I would imagine so. I’m quite conscious of time, so I’m going to move through. There were a few more comments here, so we’ll go through these fairly quickly and then get back onto the slides. Garrett mentioned that my initial challenge will be learning to foster PLG as London and expand within existing enterprise deals. I think that’s always tricky, isn’t it? Andy, you’ve probably got some experience on that too. John, we got your point here.
Darryl says how do we get quality, qualified leads for a free trial? Provide payment details at time of sign-up or at the end of the trial. Yeah, there’s a lot I’ve seen so many conversations and debates about this and I think that every product is unique to some degree, but I’ve generally seen the preference being to not take payment details at the beginning of a free trial to be more effective. But I mean, it really does depend on the type of product, the user profiles that you have, I would say, and the kind of friction you have.
[00:30:25] – Peter
There’s so many factors. Darrell, did you want to touch on anything specific about that? Not sure if Darrell is around.
[00:30:38] – Darrell
Basically, what you’re seeing there, the way we look at it is we get a lot of fake or not real accounts. People just want to come in and play, which is fine. But on the other hand, if we don’t, at least, even if they are coming in to look at it, at least there’s an interest and there’s still a potential for us to convert them. If we are forcing them for pay details, then we may lose that opportunity. So that’s what it is. It’s a balancing out between the two.
[00:31:15] – Andrew
I also think it’s sort of if you’re really going to go for product-led growth. You can’t answer the credit card upfront because of one of the things. If you’re putting salespeople in the call like we have done. Your salespeople can learn what the customer’s interested in. What they like. What they’re struggling with. Whether or not for the fairly low volume of customers. If you’re trying to keep the sales.
If you’re not involving any salespeople in the sale. Then you have to have a high volume of trialists in order to be able to do that sort of experimentation and iteration. Because it’s only the experimentation iteration and the results that will tell you whether you’ve made the product better or not, more likely to pay or not. And I think if you’re putting a gate at the beginning, you’re just not going to get the volume that’s required to do product-led experimentation.
[00:32:08] – Darrell
Yeah, very true.
[00:32:11] – Peter
Yes. Jacob has an interesting point here that he mentioned that we’ve had a product that performed much better with a money-back guarantee instead of freemium or free trial simply because the value could be gained on the first day. Of usage. It has to do with giving data and analytics based on ecommerce products. It goes to show that you can go towards product-led and then it’s a case of seeing what works and converts better for you. And that sounds just like what Jakub has done. Jakub, and feel free to share a bit more about this.
[00:32:48] – Jakub
Okay, I’ll let you continue because I know it was short on time, but I was just going to say that exactly in my industry, or at least within the space that we’re in, we mainly deal with a soft product that gives data analysis to help sellers make better decisions on product sourcing. What that means, as soon as you sign up to our platform, you get access to thousands of products we tracked over the past years. So that means that very quickly we’ve seen moments where, let’s say, even if our product was good, we’d have freemium users use it.
Or with premium, it takes a little bit of product maturity to know exactly what features to extract, to have people have an incentive to upgrade. But in terms of a free trial, when they got full access to one thing they would be able to do, we see an increase in the amount of usage in those seven days as people would try to kind of get as much value as possible before the free trial ran out and then cancel. And that’s simply because a lot of our customers are also very small SMEs people that are selling on ecommerce that are happy paying $49 a month, but are also happy kind of finding the value layout, which is to try the free trial and get out before they have to pay.
[00:33:49] – Jakub
So the one thing we’ve noticed that worked a lot better for us is the money-back guarantee simply because it almost was a psychological thing of the user having the same kind of freedom of a free trial, but they’re already like, okay, I’ve got the value from two, I’ve already paid, let me stay on for the next few months. So that’s kind of one of the case studies. We’re still trying to implement product growth via, as you can see, my last comment, which was trying to give access to the kind of free features that we know, or complementary features that those same sellers need to then have them have the incentive, okay, I’ve now discovered them through that free feature. I have an incentive to now convert to the core product because that free feature is pretty good. But that’s all for me.
[00:34:26] – Peter
Great, I love that. Thanks for sharing that example because there are so many unique situations that I see with products and that’s kind of what I meant about the nature of your product and your users, your ideal customer profile. Sometimes you’re kind of making a hybrid model or something that fits and you’re testing or playing around. So that sounds like a pretty good example of that. Justin Tie asked how can we tell if our business can be product-led or whether it has to be sales lead?
Well, first of all, one of the things is how quickly can users get value from the product and can they self realise that value? So are they able to sign up for the product, try something out and start getting value quickly and without any assistance, even if that’s not happening now, but you could perceive that it could work, then you’re half the way there? And then the other part is around the complexity and the nature of your customers and what problem they’re solving with your product. There’s a really good article that lists three things and goes into detail, Justin, so I might find that for you and send it to you after this.
[00:35:41] – Peter
Okay, so I really prefer spending time with talking about real issues and products that you have, than go through slides. So I’ve spent quite a bit more time on that and it means I’m going to go fairly quickly through the rest of this deck. But what I want to share is four examples of product-led interactions in a product just to show that there are interactions that you can build in that make your product more self-serve and you don’t have to adopt the entire world if you don’t think it’s a fit for you.
This is a worksheet that I created, which is a bit of a planner for just thinking through what areas you can enhance your product. So first of all, you think about the model that can work best for you, whether that’s free trial, freemium demo, or whether you have some other hybrid approach or something like Jacob’s approach which he just shared with us. And then AHA, moments we’re looking at what are the moments in the product where your users get the first tangible value that they experience? The next step is that as they’re going through trying out your product, what are the upgrades and add-ons where’s value that you can layer on top of?
[00:37:00] – Peter
These are my moments that they can get during their trial period. Is there any onboarding friction? Think about your onboarding friction. We’ve talked about that a lot with integrations and with John’s example of stats drone. And then the other area that I think is imperative to really focus on is user flows, user stories throughout the product. So what tasks do users perform on a regular basis within your product that are either unintuitive, confusing, difficult or just feel clunky? Thinking through the flows to make your product more intuitive and reduce the requirement for learning or customer support during the early days of a new user adopting your product.
On this worksheet, I’ve got a section here for just listing those out, thinking about them and then going into a bit more detail on those flows and coming up with some ideas of how you can improve those flows. And all in all, I think these are the key areas to think about within your product that will contribute to making it more product-led. We’ll send this worksheet over to you after the session. So there are four points that I’m going to look at here.
[00:38:11] – Peter
The first one is optimising your acquisition model. So this is the area where we’re looking for free trials, premium or demos. Now, this is a CRM that we work with quite a lot. They’re called text in church. Their audience are churches across the state. So a really focused audience. And it’s actually quite an amazing audience that they have because they’ve been able to capture a really big market. And I didn’t really appreciate just how big and valuable that market was until we started working for Text in church. So what they have is a freemium plan. And you’ll see just when you land on this dashboard here, they promote their upgrade.
They’re showing the free widgets. You can continue using free widgets on this product, but they promote the upgrade straight away on the dashboard, making it really clear. So the key thing is showing the value and communicating it clearly within your product. And it’s easy to miss that. I see a lot of freemium products that are not doing that effectively. The other thing that they do is offer free trials. So you can also trial one of the plans. And when you’re trialling a plan, you get the option to try some of the features and upgrade.
[00:39:28] – Peter
There are even add-ons as well. So they’ve got a number of revenue streams to their plans. So you can upgrade for certain features and then you can have add-ons to use phone lines, you can add phone numbers, you can have tariffs and things like that. One of the really cool things about this is that Tyler, the CEO of 16 Church, started operating by pre-selling features that they were releasing. So he’d get a focus group of customers. He’d pre-sell the idea when they’re about to release one of these features. And it gave them a good idea of how they are converted and how much they could convert within the product without any sales.
So kind of a self-service upgrade. So raise awareness of premium features within the product, communicate plans and pricing really clearly, and create frictionless upgrade flows. The second one that I want to talk with you about is self-service onboarding. So a great example of this, and I’ve shared this with John before because this is so similar to John’s product, but it’s in a slightly different space, a first promoter or an affiliate platform for actually targeting SaaS companies.
[00:40:46] – Peter
So to manage their network of affiliates and their campaigns. So they have a really complex integration process. I would say it’s maybe on a par with yours, Andy, if the prospect they actually have to do two or three because they have a billing platform, accounting platform, and they also have to integrate with the website. So what we did with First Promoter was to make their onboarding flow self-service for something that’s actually quite a complex onboarding flow. So what we did is give extensive notes and details about how to implement these integrations.
And just like we were talking about before we got to know this, or at least the founder of First Priority, we got to know this on a detailed basis because he actually went through this process and so many customers that he got to know inside out that we could create this workflow. We offer live chat, we offer knowledge base and support, we offer troubleshooting. But we also introduce this flow where you can invite a developer. So quite often their prospects have a developer in their team. And we’ve got this system where you can invite the developer by email and then the developer, when they come and join on boarding, they have their own flow that’s specifically designed for the developer and it gives them all of the code snippets, explains them where to put them, talks about the tech stack or the coding programming languages that they’re using.
[00:42:16] – Peter
So it got very detailed in order to reduce the touch points for this. And this is completely self-serve. Now for something that’s actually really complex, Virgil, he just mentioned that getting to know these integrations intimately helped him to create a fully self-service flow. So it reduces the cost of onboarding new customers. So what we did in that flow is troubleshoot for self-serve problems, offer support when it’s required, and then the fallback is to have a flow. This was almost a plan B, a flow for developers and even that self-service. So we got it a self-service as it could possibly be.
And then even then, if there’s a very specific problem, there’s still the provision for speaking with somebody. The next thing is to deliver value as early as possible. And this is where I’ve used the examples of the dashboards. One thing that had in his product, this is prospect CRM. So what Abby had in this product was this dashboard that once users have done their integration and they land in the product, they see key metrics. But up until a redesign of this dashboard, I don’t think there has been a detailed exercise to understand what each user profile needs and give them the information that would help them perform and succeed in their roles.
[00:43:49] – Peter
Andy decided to rethink this dashboard and consider each of the user profiles and designed this approach. So this is the dashboard that was released after thinking carefully about what the user profiles needed. So this is a dashboard for sales managers, and you’ll see it has performance metrics available of salespeople, sales issues, problems, lost opportunities. It gives them a really good overview. The sales manager gets a really good overview of what they need to see and as their first impression of the product, once they have some actual data to look at, it was a much more impactful experience.
So that’s just heightened the value that they receive early on. And if you can do something like this in your dashboard, as soon as they sign up, then you’re in a great position to start delivering value. It sounded like you had some analytics or data that you share with based on ecommerce or Shopify. So I imagine that when they land in the product and they integrate something, they can start to get value in a similar manner.
[00:44:56] – Jakub
Yeah. So could you just reiterate, did you say that the dashboard change from the previous one to this one helped increase?
[00:45:04] – Peter
Yeah, so this was the previous dashboard and it was just that, I guess it’s how detailed it is and the information it shows, it didn’t really provide the insights and the value for sales managers to really resonate with the dashboard and say, oh god, this will really help me with my role, you know? Yeah. So this was the previous design and this was what was implemented. So the impact is just a better experience. Just at the beginning of their free trial, I don’t know if you’re going to add anything. So there were three of these. They’re different user profiles, have a different dashboard that’s tailored for their needs.
So that’s another key thing in product-led growth, is personalising your product, you have different user profiles, and eventually, if you can provide each of those user profiles with the ideal flow and a product experience for them, then you’re really improving how product led your processes, essentially. So those new dashboards increased free trial to paid conversions by 26.5% is the metric for that. Andy, would you say that that was based on presenting more value earlier on in the lifecycle of the newcast new user sign-up?
[00:46:34] – Andrew
Yeah, it was an interesting experience, wasn’t it? Because I think by asking those questions, obviously we got to surface some of the value that we’d already got and make it much clearer. But it was also really interesting that we identified there were some areas in that where we actually didn’t have the feature that was valuable to that user or we didn’t have anything that was really compelling for that type of user. And so we did build a few bits fairly quickly to plug in a few of those gaps. Since the creation of dashboards, we’ve then gone to kind of think about those things a little bit more.
And it was an interesting site because I think we took the value that we had and made it much clearer and I think that had value, but also from the other angle, starting from just the design rather than code, it was much easier to go, what will be valuable to this personality? They go, well, they really want this, and go shit, we don’t have that. It’s no wonder those people are not depressed. If you’re in that role, you need A. And if we haven’t got A, then that’s the problem.
[00:47:57] – Andrew
I think it worked on both those two levels. Yeah. And what is interesting is that we didn’t just improve our close rate, we also shortened our free trial as well. So before this, we didn’t do it at the centre, we did a little bit afterwards, but before this, we had a 30-day free trial. Not long after this, we pulled it down to 21 days and we now run a 14-day free trial. So we’re not only improving our close rate, we’re shortening the sales process as well.
[00:48:33] – Peter
Fantastic. And then I guess it leads on to thinking more about these user profiles and that thinking code, it kind of builds momentum throughout the product. So I think the key things here, making a powerful first impression, personalising experiences where possible, and if you can’t deliver value, demonstrate it. That’s a really good point that I’ve often considered. If you’re working on a complex product, selling to enterprise, you can’t always have the user experience value on day one, like Jacob has been able to do. Sometimes it’s great to demonstrate value or demonstrate ROI, and at least the user can forecast value in the future of adopting a product that way.
So the last point I want to touch on is to design workflows that mirror user behaviour. So this is a really neat one about making the product more self-service. Remember I was talking about how a lot of SAF is automating workflows that used to be manual, and this is just taking it to the most advanced implementation as you possibly can, making it completely intuitive and self-service. So here’s an example that I like to give on this one. We worked with a virtual summit software and this product enables people to set up, host and run an entire virtual summit.
[00:50:11] – Peter
They get a website, they can stream it on that website with logins, they can invite attendees, speakers, sponsors. It really enables you to manage the whole process. And it started as a fairly simple product with a kind of done-for-you model. So Mark, who started this business, was operating a bit like a hybrid between having a platform and he was operating as an agency. So, people who wanted to run their virtual summit, he’d helped them get set up. He sets up the platform for them and does a kind of concierge service where he gets it set up and then eventually they can run their summit.
And then over time, what Mark was able to do was to create a workflow that automated this entire process within the product. So he no longer has to do any of the work for you. He can still offer it as a service, as a revenue stream, but the product is now completely self-service. So this flow is a journey through setting up your Summit. The details, inviting speakers, managing speakers within the platform. You’ll see, one of the things I always advocate for is empty screen states, where you introduce a feature, explain how to do it, and then have a call to action for your user to get started with that.
[00:51:36] – Peter
Right? So here you introduce the speakers section and then explain it and ask them to start adding speakers. Once they do, they can start managing them, asking them to submit their talks, whether it’s a recording and there’s a whole load of settings around speakers. There’s a scheduler, a drag-and-drop scheduler for this as well. So it really enables the host to pretty much manage everything they need to do and then launch and publish their Summit. So Mark’s experience with this is that after launching the Summit build, his free trial to upgrade conversions increased by 127%.
There’s a whole load of metrics that are probably not tracked that were beneficial in this may be the time to do it, the ease, the product experiences, some of these things are hard to measure, but this was a metric that Mark was not able to share with me. So I’d really say that making your workflows as self-service as possible can really have some great benefits for your users and your product. The way to think about this is to migrate assisted tasks to product workflows. So if you’re currently assisting users to perform a task, think about how you can then migrate that into a new user flow within your product.
[00:52:57] – Peter
Another key thing is facilitating sharing and collaboration, so that builds advocacy for your product. And if you have a product like Virtual Summit software, where there are a lot of different stakeholders, you have sponsors, Summit, host, speakers, marketers, if you can get them all on your platform, inviting one another and collaborating, it’s a really great PLG motion for promoting the product and building a viral, essentially a viral loop within it. And then the other key thing is designing for empty states and uncertainty. So don’t leave any steps in a workflow where there’s uncertainty for the user. Guide them right through, right through the process.
So those are the examples I wanted to share and again, I just wanted to highlight this product planner one more time. It really just highlights all the things that we’ve touched on in these examples and a lot of things we’ve talked about in the session. Now, I think before we wrap up, we’re literally just an hour and a half, so amazed that we had quite a bit of talking time and still managed to fit all of that. So is there anyone that has any questions or challenges that relates to any user flow or any of the things we’ve discussed before we wrap up might be that we’ve touched on everything?
[00:54:28] – Peter
Yeah, it looks like we might have touched on everything. OK, so if you’d like to have any help.
[00:54:38] – Andrew
It was one thing I was going to add. Actually. Just something that we’ve become conscious of is that if you’ve got a multi-user application. That obviously a lot of this and we did the same as all focused on that kind of the first user who’s sort of signing up. Creating the account. Configuring it. But you probably need to go through exactly the same process for a new user to an existing system. So we’ve got maybe the sales manager sets up, takes the pretrial, sets it all up, thinks it’s brilliant. And then once you set it up, he then added salespeople to it. You need to onboard those users as well, even though they’re probably not configuring the system and they’re quite different. I saw a parallel with your sort of developer flow.
[00:55:32] – Peter
[00:55:34] – Andrew
But I think we’ve got a flow for new users, which we don’t have at all.
[00:55:41] – Peter
Right, that’s really interesting because we just.
[00:55:44] – Andrew
Hope that the customer trains their new users.
[00:55:46] – Peter
And I imagine for you that their onboarding would differ from the original user.
[00:55:53] – Andrew
Yes. So we do onboarding. We do an assisted onboarding for they don’t need.
[00:55:57] – Peter
The integration, for example.
[00:55:59] – Andrew
Yeah. And they don’t need to know how to configure the system, but they do need to learn how to use the configuration that’s there.
[00:56:08] – Peter
Right, yeah. So these differences I guess that could come down to personalising the onboarding flows for the different types of users. Yeah, you’ve got personalised onboarding, too. That’s a really good point because I think that relates to a lot of SaaS products. A lot of people would have that same issue in the product. Okay, cool. So I think we wrap up there. If anybody does want a call with us, I’ll put the link in the chat for you. But other than that, thanks for joining, I really appreciate the chat. I love hearing about all of your products and your challenges. So thanks for sharing, too. And yeah, we’ll catch up on the next one. We do one a month. So you’ll see us promoting another workshop soon. But thanks for joining us, everybody. Thanks to you, Peter. Thanks.
Final Words: How to Make Product-led Growth Work For Your SaaS
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