PLG False Starts with Sara Archer, ChartMogul

Learning from ChartMogul's False Starts in expanding their product's core use cases

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We ventured into uncharted territory, only to realize it diluted our focus and expertise." - Sara Archer

And here we are again on or mission to normalize failure. This time with Sara Archer from ChartMogul. They’re journey has been nothing but linear and has been full of pivots and false starts. Sara Archer and I go through an honest exploration of their false starts and valuable lessons on the importance of expanding a product’s use cases.

False Start 1: Diving into Non-Subscription Revenue Analytics

"We listened to demand... and went heavily on that enough that it became a distraction." - Sara Archer

ChartMogul eyed expansion into non-subscription revenue analytics, motivated by the lure of additional growth and responding to demand from e-commerce sectors seeking insights beyond Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).

This pivot, however, stretched the team thin and attracted a customer base that ChartMogul was not fully prepared to serve, deviating from their SaaS expertise.

Lesson Learned: Expansion requires a careful balance. Diversifying too far from core competencies can dilute focus and effectiveness, highlighting the importance of serving customers with the level of expertise and service they expect.

False Start 2: Launching a Revenue Recognition Solution

"It was a real pain from a support perspective... We were not really experts in the domain." - Sara Archer

ChartMogul ventured into revenue recognition, a complex domain that promised to address their own needs and perceived market gaps. Despite the initial rationale, the product became a support burden, revealing a misalignment with ChartMogul's domain expertise.

If you’ve ever interacted with the ChartMogul customer success team, you know how knowledgable and committed they are. They don’t just offer support, they offer guidance in the context of your business. They were not able to do this for this revenue recognition solution, which meant they were unable to get their customers to value.

Lesson Learned: Deep domain knowledge is crucial. Entering areas without thorough expertise can lead to products that are challenging to support and fail to meet customer needs effectively.

False Start 3 (or maybe not yet): Developing a CRM for Recurring Revenue

"Very much focused on adoption and feedback." - Sara Archer

They did not give up, and are currently launching and developing a CRM solution as part of ChartMogul. One that is intended to help their customers manage recurring revenue. So far so good - this initiative, unlike the others, caters to their ICP, differentiates them from other more complex CRM solutions and is solving for something their customers were already hacking into their ChartMogul instances.

Conclusion: Focus

"The key to growth in B2B SaaS isn't just innovation; it's about ensuring every product aligns with your core mission and the market's needs." - Sara Archer

Sara’s navigational recalibrations underscore a critical insight: Growth and expansion must be carefully aligned with a company's core strengths, competencies, and the genuine needs of its customer base.

"Interrogating your ICPs...is essential to ensuring we can serve them to the level we aspire." - Sara Archer

Sara’s learnings as for expanding your product’s core use cases can be summarised into this simple framework:

  • Step 1 - Ask yourself why you’re adding this new core use case. Is it for demand generation, expansion, or something else?

  • Step 2 - Interrogate your ICPs in order to understand if you actually serve them with the level of service you aspire to.

  • Step 3 - Make sure you cater to your buyer persona’s expectations - you could start by learning how they make decisions and what’s important to them.

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PLG False Starts
Hey there, it's your host here, welcoming you to the "Product Led False Starts" podcast by productled.com. We've got a real treat for you – it's a raw, unfiltered look at the roller coaster ride that is embarking on a Product Led Growth (PLG) journey. We get up close and personal with a slew of incredible folks – savvy entrepreneurs, product whizzes, and trailblazers – who've had their share of stumbles and soaring successes in the PLG realm.
They've had their battles with setbacks and false starts, but they turned them into breakthroughs, and now they're here to spill the beans. We talk about:
1️⃣ The strategies that soared and the ones that sunk.
2️⃣ The tough lessons learned from their early PLG iterations.
3️⃣ The perseverance that led to their eventual successes.
So, let's get real, get inspired, and get a hearty dose of truth about what it really takes to succeed in the product-centric world. Remember, every stumble, every pivot, every iteration is a stepping stone towards success.
Join us as we chart the undulating terrain of PLG, where we'll laugh, learn, and leap forward together.
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Appears in episode
Mario Araujo
Sara Archer