3 Strategies to Avoid the B2B Pitfalls of PLG and Strengthen Your GTM Motion

Sam Wortman Avatar photo

With tech startups transforming into billion-dollar unicorns seemingly overnight, people are trying to capture the “special sauce” that is the catalyst for the exponential success of these companies. 

For B2B enterprises like Slack, Asana, Dropbox, and Snowflake, professionals quickly turn to Product-Led Growth (PLG) as an explanation for the wild expansion of these organizations. PLG is a go-to-market (GTM) strategy that is end user-focused and relies on the product itself as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion, and expansion. It is employed by many of the fastest-growing global software companies. 

However, PLG doesn’t fully capture all there is at play. While creating a killer product is central to the success of any company and certainly helps to fill the pipeline, PLG by itself isn’t a revenue-generating engine to drive annual recurring revenue (ARR). With the proliferation of freemium models, test drives, and self-service free trials, more buyers than ever have access to products, filling pipeline, but just because your pipeline is robust and overflowing doesn’t mean these buyers are quality potential business and will convert to paying users. Companies still need experts like PreSales to sell the products and establish use cases, especially when the product is complex and layered.

Let’s dive into 3 strategies to avoid the pitfalls of B2B PLG and how to jump-start your GTM motion.

Strategy #1: A two-prong GTM motion 

PLG is great for getting buyers in the door, stoking their interest, showing off a product’s capabilities; however, once buyers are in, you need PreSales to convert their initial curiosity into ARR. 

Incorporating a PLG approach in the first motion of your GTM strategy is a tried and true method of filling pipeline for big-name companies like Datadog, Zoom, SurveyMonkey, and Shopify. PLG builds this incredible base of buyers, but to convert these prospects into paying customers another GTM strategy must take over.

The second prong of this GTM strategy is still led by the buyers themselves, but with the addition of product and sales experts. To build ARR, PreSales must work with these buyers to navigate and qualify a product to make sure that the product at the most fundamental level makes sense for the buyer. If PreSales and the buyer decide the product is something that can revolutionize the way the buyer does business, they can move on to the demo phase and eventually implementation. It is during this phase of PreSales attachment that buyers are met with what they desire—expertise. 

PLG alone cannot meet the needs of buyers, but when combined in this two-prong strategy, where buyers are met with PreSales experts to guide them through the entire journey, companies can convert their pipeline into ARR. 

Strategy #2: Achieve the elusive product-market fit

Before PLG can even work in the first prong of your GTM motion, companies need a home-run kind of product, and these days everyone wants to find the winning product-market fit. The success of PLG billion-dollar enterprises may make it sound like the product sells itself, but that simply isn’t true. Thinking a company can just create a product in a vacuum and it will become wildly successful is unrealistic. It’s a pitfall of B2B PLG.

Products need to be constantly iterated at lightning speed to stay relevant and useful. To do that properly and seamlessly requires having PreSales, who have a credible and constant ear to the field, form a feedback loop that gets valuable information from the buyer’s experience back to other important channels like Sales, Product, and Engineering. By pitching and giving demos, listening to buyers’ concerns, delivering practical feedback to engineers, and then pitching again, PreSales is in a unique and powerful position to achieve the elusive product-market fit.

Product-market fit is not a fixed concept. It’s ever-changing and fluctuating in response to the markets and essentially what companies need and want. And since the dynamics have changed in B2B tech and buyers often have the chance to investigate a product well before the point of purchase, the buyers have become highly well educated and expect nothing less from the vendor. 

Strategy #3: Deliver a new buying experience

The quality of the buying experience a company creates for its buyers is key to winning business and establishing a quality and professional relationship between vendor and buyer. As the B2B world has changed, so have the expectations of one’s buying experience. 

Buyers want purchases to be built on a foundation of transparency and accountability while measuring, proving, and communicating a product’s value. Offering them a shiny new product and letting them tinker on their own with it, relying on PLG for the product to sell itself—doesn’t work. Old-school sales relationships between buyers and vendors don’t either. These relationships must move away from the behaviors and customs of a traditional transaction. Sales departments—from SDRs to Account Executives to PreSales—must look at the buying process as an opportunity to build trust, partner, and collaborate with buyers. 

This means conducting proper, in-depth discoveries to identify buyer needs, delivering effective, interactive demos that address use cases, meeting buyers when and how they work, offering expert guidance at all times, crossing the finish line with the buyer, and being a constant source of support during implementation and beyond. 

Quality, transparent, and synergistic buyer and vendor relationships are the future of B2B tech sales. 

The modern B2B tech landscape

As Vivun sees it, B2B buying has changed forever. Today’s B2B buyers have become experience-first buyers. They expect to get expert support and guidance during their entire evaluation, from trial to pilot to purchase. They demand a sure thing; transparency and high confidence in the expected value delivery. 

In response B2B providers are increasing their investments in their PreSales organizations, recognizing that they are the key to influencing and enabling this new buying behavior to successful outcomes. They understand that delivering PreSales success at scale can not only help short-term revenue attainment but can accelerate a new era of growth. 

To be successful in the modern B2B landscape, every GTM motion should consider the 3 strategies discussed: 

  1. The two-prong GTM motion of PLG and PreSales
  2. Achieving the elusive product-market fit via PreSales feedback from the field
  3. Delivering a new, collaborative, and transparent buying experience

Once companies understand these shifting market dynamics and proactively react to them, they can better future-proof their strategies and game plans and unlock their potential. 

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Sam Wortman Avatar photo October 26, 2021