Product-led growth starts with making individual contributors (often developers) want your software so they campaign to get their manager to purchase it. I mean, there’s a lot of nuance to it, but that’s the basics.

Sales-led growth is when you convince someone with a lot of corporate power that your product can solve their problems, and they buy it and roll it out to their organization.

But what’s the middle ground?

Team-led growth.

Three people-icons with a gear floating between them
team by MUHTADIN from Noun Project (CC BY 3.0)

There are some products that don’t make sense for an individual to use, but may not have the very large amount of money it takes to go after and convince executives. They are things that require team-level use or data, but may not be right for a whole organization. A wiki is a great example. It will work best if the entire team is writing and referencing it, but it may be too specific or small to be worth trying to impose across the entire organization. Sure, you can demo a wiki to one person, just like you can turn on provisional security, or context mapping, or feature management for one user. It just won’t actually show off what the product is meant to do.

These products are hard to demo, because you need a lot of team-shaped data, and they’re hard to place, exactly, in a world where we only have the two poles of PLG and SLG. But I’m seeing more of them try to stand up and be their own thing, and I think it’s going to pay off. I’m not saying individual productivity is a solved problem, but team productivity, interaction, and value are the new frontier, and just asking everyone to sit next to each other is not going to solve the problem of communication.

As a marketer, how do you do team-led growth?

  • Identify what the smallest unit of value you offer is. Is it five people? Two teams?
  • Figure out who is having pain around the problem you’re solving. At this size, it may be a lead developer, an engineering manager, or a product manager. It’s probably not a VP or anyone in the C-suite.
  • Put together a demo that allows your target persona to touch and use the software as if there were other people in the system with them, so they can see the value.
  • Record and offer mini-trainings, so the time to stand up a trial or proof-of-concept does not depend on a bunch of busy people doing self-education.
  • Listen really hard to your users. That’s always true, but remember that because you’re dealing with the team as a whole, you need to listen beyond just the assertive talkers, to the entire team experience.

Good luck, and let me know if that changes any of your thinking around how you demo or market your product!