PLG Expert Elena Verna Breaks Down the New B2B Growth Standard

Elena Verna drew from her experience at Dropbox, Miro, Amplitude, SurveyMonkey and more in this product-led growth presentation to BCV portfolio companies.

3 min read December 7, 2023
Business Building Early Seed

When we asked our portfolio companies for webinar guest ideas, one of the most requested was product-led growth master Elena Verna — and so we made that happen!

Elena is the interim head of growth and data at Dropbox and a partner at 20VC, and her career also includes experience at Miro, Amplitude, SurveyMonkey and many more startups. She’s also a program creator and partner at Reforge, and she drew from those learning materials for her webinar on her perspective on what she considers the B2B growth standard, based on PLG.

You can find her step-by-step guidance for hockey-stick growth in the full presentation video linked here.

We’ve also collected some key takeaways below.

PLG is the emerging standard

Historically B2B companies relied on sales and marketing to drive growth. In today’s landscape, however, where marketing channels are highly competitive and saturated with redundant messaging, and enterprise buyers want to see value before purchasing, this strategy is becoming less and less effective. PLG pushes product teams to take accountability over growth levers in acquisition, activation, engagement and monetization, delivering customer-centric, self-serve end-user experiences that sell themselves. Marketing and Sales still play critical roles in the growth model accountability, but so does the Product team.

“Our goal of growth is not to do a growth hack, it’s not to create one blip in our performance in our metrics. It is to build predictable, sustainable and competitively defensible growth models which will come down to us answering the best way possible to acquire, monetize and retain our customers.”

Growth loops are more sustainable than funnels

A growth loop is a closed system designed to ensure every input goes through a series of predefined steps to generate an output that can be reinvested into input. A flywheel of sorts. A funnel, on the other hand, is a linear process that starts with acquiring customers and ends with them making a purchase. The fastest growing companies implement loops and drive growth to build predictable and sustainable businesses. Funnels at best are a fuel to ignite the loops, but not as the primary method of growing.

Credit: Reforge

Companies must play in all aspects of the ‘Motions x Levers’ growth model to be successful

The three motions of what Elena calls the “Motions x Levers” growth model are product-led, marketing-led and sales-led.

The three levers of this model are:

  • Acquisition – getting new customers
  • Monetization – converting prospects to paid customers
  • Retention – activating and keeping those customers over time

To be successful, your growth model should evolve across all three motions by three levers.

Credit: Elena Verna

Your growth model should evolve across all three motions and all three levers. You should play in every single square on that menu or you will be disrupted by somebody who will. … So it’s not the question of if you should do PLG or marketing-led or sales-led growth, it’s the question of when.”

You can find more of Elena’s writing and work on her website.

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