Long before Wes Bush immersed himself into the world of product-led growth, he was teaching kids how to swim.
Little did he know that his past and future would collide, as the lessons he learned from the four years of serving as the aquatic team leader for YMCA Canada have proven to be invaluable in shaping how he views the ideal customer experience.
“If you’re going to help someone, you really have to become a great teacher,” Wes explains in the video below.
And this is exactly what Wes has dedicated himself to doing – providing his vast knowledge on the product-led growth model to help other businesses succeed and ensure their customers are receiving a valuable experience not only from them, but also from their product.
On today’s episode of The Customer Experience Podcast, we dive into product-led growth with Wes. We discuss how this method measures up to the traditional sales-led way, driving factors in the shift to the product-led business model, and how to get it off the ground in your business.
Wes has spent the past five years really focusing on product. He’s the founder of the Product Led Institute, author of “Product-Led Growth,” and host of the Product Led Summit, which aims to democratize everything product-led growth encompasses.
So, it’s no surprise that he views customer experience through a product-driven lens. He says there are two things you need to keep into account to achieve the optimal experience:
- the perceived value of your product
- the experienced value of your product
And he details this in the clip below …
By perceived value, he means what the company is promising to accomplish with their product. The experienced value is determined once the customer actually has the product on hand and is using it.
To Wes, a good customer experience is achieved when the perceived value and experienced value line up, “and it’s just exactly what you expect – if not better.”
Keep reading, watching, and listening as he walks us through product-led growth through the following topics:
• Product-led vs sales-led growth
• Factors driving the shift to a product-led growth model
• Challenges and hurdles to overcome
• The idea that not all customers are created equal
• The UCD Framework to understand, communicate, and deliver your value
• How to implement a product-led growth model
The Modern Buying Process and Product-Led Growth
Highlights and video clips for every episode of The Customer Experience Podcast are available here on the blog, but you can also hear this episode – and many others – on your preferred podcast player.
You can also listen right here in the post. Hear my entire conversation with Wes about product-led growth right here…
Product-Led vs Sales-Led
The traditional way of selling products is still adopted by many businesses (maybe even yours) – especially software companies. It consists of having a demo process in place and salespeople hired to sell your product. Wes explains that the whole goal of this is to guide prospects through the sales cycle until they become customers.
But when you’re dealing with product-led companies, they’re all about letting the product speak for itself and showcase its own value as early on in the buying cycle as possible.
In the video below, Wes further explains the differences between both models, and why the product-led way often has an upper hand in providing a better overall customer experience …
So, rather than telling people what the perceived value of a company is, the product-led growth method allows companies to instead prove their worth to customers by giving them the product to try for free. This is done via a free trial or using a freemium model, and then helping them experience impact from the product. This will, in turn, allow them to see and experience the value of the product (and therefore the company) for themselves.
“The value prop is experience. It’s not something we’re just telling people,” Wes elaborates. “The best way to show and build trust is to really just show people, ‘Here’s our product. Here’s how we help you. Try it for yourself.’”
Factors Driving Shift to Product-Led Focus
“Software isn’t as novel as it used to be,” Wes says. “Customers are not as willing to pay as much for a lot of the same solutions as they were.”
This leaves you in a tough spot, and you have to figure out a cost-effective way to get them on board. But the sales-led way doesn’t allow you to do this because you are hiring an inside sales team and it’s expensive. And while this model can work for some, its effectivity is wearing down.
Wes points out that if a free trial or freemium model can help the onboarding and upgrading of customers alone, and those same people thrive with the product, then sales and customer success team members can step in to help them along their journey with the product.
The results from allowing the product to do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to onboarding speak for themselves. Wes elaborates on the marketing dynamics that come from doing this in the video below …
While the movement towards product-led growth is just beginning to take root, Wes says that its implementation is essential for the long-term viability of your business. Doing this will require much more than just slapping a free trial on your website.
It will require change on a grand scale in everything from team dynamics to your whole sales approach. It will require internal alignment throughout the entire organization, from the C-suite to the front lines, and across marketing, sales, and customer success.
Challenges and Hurdles to Overcome in Implementation
When your organization understands that a product-led model is a good fit for your product or service and decides to move forward with its implementation, there will be inevitable challenges that come up in the transition, especially from a sales standpoint.
“The way you sell really has to change,” Wes says. “Depending on how big the business is, that can be absolutely petrifying because you’re used to a certain sales motion in your business.”
The ultimate obstacle to overcome is the friction between the pro product-led and pro sales-led people on your team.
And Wes explains where this disagreement stems from in the clip below …
But the main takeaway here is that everyone on your team – especially leadership – needs to be on board with the new product focus in order for it to work. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to pull off.
Another important thing to keep in mind while adopting the product-led growth method for your business is the idea that not all customers are created equal. Because efforts and resources need to be used on a customer who is a good fit and likely to convert.
“If someone comes along who is the perfect fit customer, why are we giving them the same experience as everyone else?” Wes asks. He answers this and further discusses this concept in the following video …
He makes this point because many companies have adopted a one-size-fits-all onboarding mindset that diminishes the customer experience. When a perfect customer comes along, taking the risk with this mentality is not a great decision for the future of your business.
We also have modern tools and resources at our disposal to find out early on if the prospective customer is a good match for your business. And there’s so much that can be done on the CX side to personalize and speed things up for these ideal prospects and ensure an optimal experience for them.
The UCD Framework
The UCD (Understand, Communicate, Deliver) framework is critical to providing customers with the best experience possible in the product-led model.
Wes further explains the framework in the following clip …
–Understand your users and the value you are ready to provide for them to prosper.
“If you’re not focusing on that piece, you’re going to be creating the wrong product,” Wes says. “You’re not going to know what to communicate with them or how to really personalize that experience.”
–Communicate your value to others. This can be accomplished through various means, including the content on your website and your pricing. For this communication to be most effective, Wes says there has to be a solid connection between your pricing and customer acquisition model.
Unfortunately, if you just give all the features of your product away for free, your customer acquisition skyrockets, but your pricing and revenue plunges. There has to be a balance and alignment between your pricing and the value customers are receiving from your product.
–Deliver on that defined value that you have already communicated to your customers. The value gap between perceived and experienced value has to be eliminated.
Otherwise, the greater that value gap is, the more challenging conversion will be. Your value has to match up to their expectations in order to diminish the possibility of a value gap plaguing your business.
Therefore, it’s time to start looking at your product as your marketing focus. “The product is your marketing,” Wes says. “The more and the sooner you realize that, the more you can look at the product as your marketer.”
Wes further explains this in the video below …
For marketers, product teams, and entire companies to make this change, they really need to take a deep look at the product and see how it can help them attract, convert, and retain customers.
How to Implement a Product-Led Growth Model
It’s important to note that the product-led growth model isn’t for everyone. In fact, Wes explains that the first few chapters of his book are meant to explain the model to readers so they can decide whether or not it’s a good fit for their business.
If it is, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Wes discusses this in the following video …
So, in order for this model to really work for you and your company, everyone needs to be on board, and everyone needs to be involved in its implementation to create a great product experience – and therefore, an amazing customer experience.
Get More From The Customer Experience Podcast
Listen to episodes like this one right now:
- “Why Customer Experience Is The Only Differentiator Left” with David Cancel (CEO and Founder, Drift)
- “The Biggest Transformation in Prospecting in 30 Years” with Dan Tyre (Sales executive, HubSpot)
- “Training and Certifying Your Sales Team to Speak Your Customer’s Language” with Alex Rosemblat (VP of Marketing, Datadog)
Hear from our upcoming guests, including:
- Scott Barker, Head of Partnerships at Sales Hacker and Sales Engagement Evangelist at Outreach
- Kristin Messerli – Founder and CEO at Cultural Outreach
- Brian Robinson, Author of The Selling Formula & VP of Strategic Partnerships at Works24
Places to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast:
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