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“Product-Led” and the Subscriber Experience 2 Levers for B2B Growth

Kevin Stoll & Lex Hallenberger
Senior Manager & Managing Director, Accenture

In the B2C space, sales, renewals, and adoption are often driven by the product itself, and the subscriber experience with the product/service. But how does this trend play out in the B2B space? Leaders from Accenture explores the benefits of pursuing product-led growth (PLG) in the B2B space and how to leverage the lessons learned from B2C.

As consumers, the products we use in our daily lives guide us to buy more, upgrade services, refer friends, and engage in meaningful ways to drive adoption.

Products that lead growth are changing the way we consume and engage with companies.

According to a 2020 Gartner report, analog sales efforts are increasingly more expensive and product-led growth is conventionally focused on simple offerings, not complex and configurable products. However, the next generation of buyers and customers are expecting purchasing journeys that include digital in addition to seamless user experiences in technologies — not just as individual consumers, but in a business context. Consumers want the freedom to self-manage their own buyers’ journey. The 2019 Gartner Buyer Survey reports that 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience, which increases to 44% for millennials. COVID-19 has further disrupted traditional sales processes and uncovered the need for transformative digital go-to-market strategies. Buyers are also increasingly seeking to be in control of the purchasing process, preferring to start on digital channels and then work with a company representative when they want to. New technology makes it easier for consumers to visualize and customize offerings, even for complex needs. Cross-selling, up-selling, and renewal sales motions must also incorporate these changing consumer sentiments. In other words, consumers expect the ability to self-manage their accounts and how, when, and how much they interact with a business’s offerings. To deliver the kind of seamless subscriber experience — from consideration to purchase, through adoption and ongoing engagement — organizations must examine their strategies to ensure that they offer an interactive, multi-experience customer journey.

What is Product-Led Growth?

Currently Product-Led Growth (PLG) is most often seen in B2C instances, but there is great potential to bring similar GTM strategies to B2B offerings. PLG is set into motion when organizations take into consideration the sales journey and infuse that into every aspect of their product(s). Go-to-market strategies are shifting from sales and marketing focused to product-led — an approach that enables users to jump right into using a product and therefore quickly understand value, and become loyal advocates. PLG is characterized by customer obsession: having a 360-degree view of the customer that provides essential insights into customer journey behavior. To attract and retain customers, first and foremost, the value of any offering must be highlighted. Free trials, self-service onboarding, and referral programs enable customers to experience and champion a product before being expected to pay. Artificial Intelligence also drives unique and compound sales and marketing efforts. AI is crucial for customizing products for customers such that they can clearly understand the value of the product. B2B businesses have opportunities for PLG that go beyond B2C. For example, An area of massive potential that doesn’t apply to B2C products involves App Marketplaces. According to a recent Gartner report, at least 70% of B2B transactions will be through enterprise marketplaces, led by consumers’ self-led discovery of relevant related offerings.

Product-Led Growth is important because customers want to see that their needs and wants are addressed by the products they choose to invest in.

PLG empowers customers with control. During demos and the onboarding process, customers are given the ability to understand the product for themselves. This leads to quicker time-to-value realization and shorter sales cycles. By reducing barriers to entry, customer adoption is easier and faster. PLG also creates customer stickiness, building a relationship that becomes the foundation to introduce other features and enhancements. Building this pipeline of satisfied customers who champion the product is crucial to cross-sell and upsell.

Salesforce AppExchange: A Winning PLG Example

As previously noted, marketplaces such as Salesforce AppExchange, create stickiness (i.e. loyalty) and drive adoption. This marketplace has a variety of productivity integrations and other applications that push users to rely more heavily on Salesforce. For example, a user who integrates DocuSign via the Salesforce Marketplace will not only embed Salesforce more in their daily workflow, but also increase consumption of CRM space through using more document storage space. As the user spends more time on Salesforce, adoption notifications are used to further engage and unleash value. Other features are used to cross-sell users, such as supporting suggestions, importing contacts, automation of tasks, getting access to ready-made content, and many others.

To get started with product-led growth, organizations need to first understand and refine their GTM strategy for each customer type.

From there, building an optimal subscriber experience and seamless customer journey will be key to growing a B2B Product-Led Growth GTM strategy to acquire more customers. And this pipeline of satisfied customers, of course, becomes a base for B2B growth – scalable and durable recurring revenue for the long term.

Sources: 1. “Leverage B2B Digital Commerce for Cost Optimization, Improved CX and Revenue Growth” Gartner report by Jason Daigler. Published 6 July 2020. 2. “The Future of Sales in 2025: A Gartner Trend Insight Report” Gartner report by Tad Travis, Cristina Gomez, Michele Buckley. Published 8 September 2020. 3. “Create Enterprise Marketplaces to Accelerate Digital Business” Gartner report by Sandy Shen, Jason Daigler. Published 7 January 2019 / Refreshed 7 January 2021.

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