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Elena Verna on sustaining growth, going freemium, and B2B's shift to users
Product State Q&A
Elena Verna is Interim Head of Growth at Amplitude. Growth Advisor. Reforge partner & course creator. Former exec at Miro, Netlify, SurveyMonkey.
EC: ‘Product-led growth' has continuously gained traction in SaaS since OpenView framed it a few years ago. What thinking has best prevailed since then, and what does this mean for Sales?
EV: Product-led is just one of the growth motions to solve for acquisition, retention, and/or monetization growth levers. Other growth motions include marketing and sales-led.
PLG became a hot topic in B2B due to a shift in decision-making power from enterprise buyer to end user. Enterprise top-down buying process introduced under-utilized software choices with end users whose problems still needed to be solved (even though enterprise buyer checklists were all squared away).
End users took matters into their own hands, and B2B products followed suit, developing consumer-like experiences.
We are now in the era of B2B software with a laser focus on user efficiency and effectiveness, not enterprise buyers. I say... Finally!
But let's not kid ourselves…
PLG is a new concept for B2B, whereas B2C has been doing PLG for decades. So let's learn how PLG can co-exist with Sales but adopt B2C tactics elsewhere.
EC: With the end of ‘growth at all costs,’ what role should PMs play in solidifying business fundamentals for the long-term?
EV: Is it truly the end of 'growth at all costs?' Or are we taking a much-needed break but will get back to it once capital becomes cheap again?
Regardless, it is bringing the concept of — gasp — monetization to growth. PMs, and I, love it. To create a growth model sustainability, the growth team should be accountable for the monetization model of the company, just like sales and marketing.
Start by understanding if
The product can sell itself — or do you need sales and marketing?
Core monetization use cases.
Feature and usage pressure points that trigger monetization.
The current state of monetization model awareness across the customer base (Surprising fact: most customers have no idea what you are monetizing on!)
If monetization intercepts customers in the optimal part of their journey to maximize on price (Price < Perceived Value)
And, of course, cost.
Highly recommend my monetization course at www.reforge.com!
EC: Growth teams are experimenting with B2B self-serve monetization and packaging. What’s your take on tradeoffs and switching across models — freemium, trials, reverse trials, and ad-supported?
EV: Freemium is a business strategy where a free plan is one of the monetization model packages with a $0 price tag. The trial is a free-to-paid conversion tool for paid plans. The reverse trial combines the freemium strategy's benefits with the trial's conversion pressure.
Do trials to increase perceived value to optimize for price.
Consider implementing freemium to:
Land users early in their journey before they fit your core monetization model, then growing with them to reach monetization potential.
Engage customers in viral or user-generated content flows, driving indirect monetization by monetizing users they acquire for you.
Capture adjacent use cases to inform future monetization models and use case expansion.
Build network effects, where free usage increases the value prop for paid users.
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