Venture Capitalist at Theory

About / Categories / Subscribe / Twitter

2 minute read / Oct 12, 2023 /

The PLG Trap : Lessons Learned from Oliver Jay, former CRO at Asana

Last week, Office Hours hosted Oliver Jay, former CRO at Asana to talk about Avoiding the PLG Trap. More than 900 people registered for the event.

The full recording is here or embedded below on the web.

Oliver shared some trenchant insights about his experience leading the GTM teams to success. These are three of the lessons that stood out to me espcially managing the transition from product to sales-led growth (PLG -> SLG).

First, revenue is fuel. In the last ten years, with capital nearly freely available, many companies have decreased the priority of generating revenue, especially those using product-led growth techniques. At Asana, the founding team viewed reveneue as fuel for the company, an essential ingredient at every stage.

Second, the PLG -> SLG (sales-led growth) transition has two parts. The first is the clear demand from customers seeking security & compliance features. Most businesses transitioning will feel this component of the evolution.

But more important, the sales pitch must also change (in addition to the pricing/packaging). PLG companies provide a value-based sale to an individual. At the company adds the SLG motion, the team must begin to sell the value to the organization - typically to a manager or VP.

Team & company leaders prize revenue growth & cost reduction. Enabling an engineering team to ship 1 more product this year with productivity gains is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The number of seats sold to achieve that isn’t the right benchmark of value.

Third, many PLG companies combine bottoms-up & top-down selling motion. Those motions target different buyers. It’s possible to achieve this with the same product.

But, it’s easier to achieve with two different products. Atlassian sells Jira to engineers to help them manage their features & bugs. Confluence, the internal communication tool, targets managers & leaders. To achieve this type of sale requires a long-term view or a willingness to acquire products to bolster a suite.

The session covers many other topics including pricing changes in the PLG -> SLG transition, how to manage a company if they’re in the PLG trap, & the best techniques for updating pricing & packaging.

Thank you, Oliver, for joining us at Office Hours!

Read More:

The Promise and Pitfalls of Chaining Large Language Models for Email