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Hiring that PLG Leader

Today all the craze is Product Led Growth (PLG). I hear it all the time. Board meetings or coffee talk, how do we create a Zoom like experience with our product. Safe to say it is not easy. In conversations where those who have not been involved or lived building a PLG motion - it may seem easier said than done.

In enterprise software historically, you will find very few companies that built their business from the ground up with PLG. The ones that have done so successfully (Datadog, DigitalOcean, Githib and others) all started with a relentless drive around user experience and self service.

Companies not starting from that point and premise, which is most today, it becomes very challenging to change or morph into a true PLG led model. Not impossible but harder and will take LONGER. It is an organizational shift in talent and mindset. The people cross functionally in the organization today, need to adapt and change.

Some important criteria and tips for consideration when hiring for a PLG leader:

  • Focus on more of the "P". Product. Does the person have deep roots or ability to think through a Product led user experience. How deep are they in the UX, designs, flows, customer journeys. If they are more centered on growth marketing, be very wary.

  • How deeply can they articulate the life and pain of their prior users and buyers?

  • Understand how they would optimize user onboarding

  • How do they think about user acquisition?

  • How do they measure time to value and other key metrics? How aligned are they to northstar?

  • What type of experience do they have with pricing and packaging?

  • Examples of working across Sales/Marketing/Customer Success. It is a common misconception PLG companies do not need Sales people. Often quite the contrary, understand in your business how the model will evolve and get different teams bought into the mission.

  • What support do they need from the rest of the Company cross functionally to succeed?

  • Patience - this takes TIME. Obsess on acquisition, onboarding, overall user experience and metrics (northstar) but ARR building takes patience.


Beyond the obvious needs of the "P" persona in PLG leadership role, remember that all the product changes you make to drive more of a PLG led motion build off of each other. Like building a house, the foundation and each floor at a time. Product is lasting. Anything you do from a growth marketing standpoint, while valuable, you have to repeat next month or quarter. Harder, more expensive, less leverage.

Stella Search has advised, consulted and placed leading executives in PLG roles as they are deeply integrated with an overall GTM strategy. For operators, by operators.

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