What does an early GTM hire look like at a PLG company? The SaaS startup landscape has long grappled with this question, but the emergence of product-led growth (PLG) and the recent surge in enthusiasm for product-led sales (PLS) have elevated this conversation to a new level of complexity.
Many PLG founders instinctively turn to the idea of hiring a Head of Growth—a skilled individual capable of constructing a data-driven understanding of the customer journey and formulating strategies to enhance it. However, it is essential to recognize that a Head of Growth tends to shine when it comes to scaling a PLG company that already possesses product-market fit rather than kickstarting one from scratch. Moreover, it is no secret that talent in the realm of growth is a rare and highly sought-after commodity.
For a fledgling PLG venture, we propose the following two initial hires: a GTM lead (with a sales background) or a growth marketer (with a marketing/product marketing background).
1. GTM Lead (Sales):
Picture this individual as a versatile, all-encompassing expert who engages with customers across sales, customer success, and support. They effectively become the voice of the customer within the product organization and actively seek ways to “automate” their role by translating insights into videos, FAQs, guides, and more. Ideally, they bring four to ten years of diverse experience, including stints as an individual contributor.
2. Growth Marketer (Marketing):
PLG enterprises must discover scalable avenues for connecting with users, ideally through referrals, viral loops, and organic exploration. Without a substantial user base, amassing consistent product data or conducting meaningful experiments becomes exceedingly challenging. This professional possesses an intimate understanding of both the product and the target user, leveraging this knowledge to generate an initial stream of potential users.
Advantages of bringing a PLG Sales hire on board during the early stages:
PLG Account Executives (AEs) possess a unique blend of qualities that set them apart. They are driven by data, deeply attuned to the users’ needs, and excel at crafting tailored outreach strategies. This skill set empowers them to spot the most promising sales opportunities and initiate contact with high-value decision-makers precisely when it matters most—whether it involves securing new customers, driving upsells, or facilitating expansions. This dynamic synergy paves the way for what we call the ‘product-led sales trifecta’.
- Accelerated time to revenue.
- Decreased CAC
- Improved customer experience
The impact of the PLG AE extends beyond enhancing the sales process; it’s also a boon for the overall customer experience.
Why, you may ask?
Well, it all comes down to users’ strong preference for continuity. Customers who embrace product-led growth products are seeking the same seamless, friction-free experience that initially drew them in. Multiple hand-offs to different team members within the PLG company introduce unnecessary bumps in the road for the end-user, far from the frictionless journey they desire.
So, what does an early GTM hire look like at a PLG company?
You may hire a GTM lead, with versatile expertise spanning sales, customer success, and support, who becomes the customer’s voice within the organization and seeks to automate their role through various means.
On the other hand, a Growth Marketer focuses on discovering scalable avenues to connect with users, which is crucial for gathering initial user data.
Bringing a PLG Sales hire on board during the early stages offers distinct advantages, including accelerated time to revenue, reduced customer acquisition costs, and an improved overall customer experience.
Ultimately, the early hiring decisions in a PLG company carry significant weight in shaping its future trajectory.