3 Product-Led Growth Secrets Revealed

Jessica Cody

We recently chatted with product and growth leaders at Airtable, Chartio, and Coda about what they’ve learned from growing their organizations through a product-led motion. To kickstart your 2021 with fresh new perspectives on PLG, we’ve rounded up 3 of our key takeaways from the event.

To watch the complete on-demand recording and get even more insights, click here

1. How do you decide which product features to gate?

Darrius Contractor, Head of Growth at Airtable, shared a great analogy to answer this question. He compared the freemium experience to going to Costco. You want to give away enough free samples (product features) that make people want to buy more, but you don’t want to give away enough that they feel like they’ve just had lunch (and don’t need to upgrade). It’s all about making the free trial or freemium enticing but not fully satisfying. 

Another way to gate your product is through usage limits. You can set self-qualifying actions to determine the point at which the product should prompt someone to upgrade. For example, you might want to allow a certain number of messages or tasks before requiring the user to upgrade. Once a user has reached the message or task limit, it’s likely that they understand the value of the product and are ready to upgrade.

2. How do you identify activation challenges and make it easier for people to get started? 

Dave Fowler, CEO and Founder at Chartio, and his team found an issue in their activation flow. 80% of people who connected a database didn’t have foreign keys set up in their data, which led to a negative first experience with the product. To make the experience smoother, Chartio now detects foreign keys automatically. The real takeaway from this experience was how Dave and his team were able to uncover and solve this issue. They used a combination of historical data and user testing to find this bottleneck.  While data provides valuable insights, Dave shared the importance of user testing as a way to uncover additional findings that may not be as obvious from the data. Additionally, user testing often gives internal teams more of an emotional connection to the problems their users are having, providing them with the motivation to seek valuable solutions.  

Matt Hudson, Head of Growth at Coda, had another great learning to share. He suggested that companies should provide an example or template for users to try to make their onboarding process smoother whenever possible. At Coda, they discovered that when they started sharing templates and examples for new users to utilize it made it a lot easier for people to get started. Rather than staring at a blank template and facing analysis paralysis, users were now able to take inspiration from what others had created.

3. How do you decide where to involve sales in the process? 

Francis, CRO and Co-Founder at MadKudu, compared the PLG experience to a retail store. In a retail store, there are employees stationed strategically throughout. For example, there are employees at the cash register, fitting room, and roaming the aisles available to help customers as they are shopping. Your PLG experience is not all that different. You want to think strategically about where to insert your sales team in the process. 


If users seem to have a clear focus and know what they’re looking for in your product, then keep sales engagement to a minimum. If users seem lost or haven’t been active in the product, then it’s probably a good time to let a sales rep jump in and help point them in the right direction.  Much like buying jeans when there are tons of options, getting started with a product can be overwhelming, and directing users to take the correct actions can be extremely valuable. It is important to understand behavioral patterns so your team can help when prospects are feeling stuck. And, when people are ready to check out, now is the time for the team to check-in and ensure that the user got value from the product and potentially even up-sell (much like employees working the cash register do). Understanding where your buyer is in the journey will enable your sales team to work efficiently and effectively. 

Listen to the on-demand webinar for even more PLG insights!

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