Dispelling the Myths of Product Led Growth (PLG), Interview With Sam Levan, CEO MadKudu

Levan discusses the myths of PLG and how to effectively implement it across your product, marketing and sales teams.


  • Guest: Sam Levan, CEO & Cofounder, MadKudu, a lead scoring platform that helps you optimize your marketing by predicting expected revenue
  • Host: Anil Hemrajani, Founder of Startup Sidekick


  1. Be very clear on the type of PLG motion you want and just pick one (e.g. sales-assisted, self-service, land & expand); it’s difficult enough implementing just one.
  2. Redefine the role of sales in the PLG motion, ensuring they are not adding friction.
  3. Leverage the concept of a Product Qualified Lead (PQL) as a way to align sales, marketing, and product.


  • 01:09 – Can you provide us an overview of MadKudu? Our goal is to make every startup and marketer successful. Many CEOs don’t trust their marketing team, often because the leads aren’t qualified. The problem is marketers today don’t have enough visibility into where the quality leads are in the funnel. We mostly help B2B SaaS startups.
  • 02:35 – What is Product Led Growth (PLG)? It’s somewhat opposite of sales led growth, which makes the product available after you buy it. With PLG, you need a product as the main driver of revenue.
  • 03:22 – Why is PLG hot right now, even though the concepts have been around for sometime? For the past decade, we’ve seen freemium, free trials and so on. What’s changed are financial successes (e.g. Zoom, Slack, Notion, InVision). Investors now see this as a fantastic, financial machine, growing from nothing to a billion dollar valuation.
  • 05:20 – What are some myths about PLG? PLG sounds great but it’s a lot harder to make it work. It’s not all self-service; there three sales models: low-touch credit card sale, land & expand (e.g. Slack) and more traditional models (e.g. content is for inbound leads with follow-up sales) — companies must be clear on the sales model.
  • 07:15 – Does this mean you don’t need sales people anymore? Absolutely not; you do need sales people if you’re selling to the enterprise. Even companies that claim they don’t have sales people, actually do (e.g. masked as product specialists). 
  • 08:20 – How do you achieve the virality that companies such as Slack and Zoom have? One of the mistakes product-led companies make is forgetting their customers. They have great analytics/dashboards (e.g. retention). When companies claim they are not getting the growth (e.g. activations), you have to remove the noise in all the signups by segmenting your leads (e.g. students versus buyers).
  • 10:30 – What are some of the metrics that you look at? You have to pick your metrics carefully, since they become your northstar. PQL and PQA (product qualified leads and accounts) are two we look at. These matter because generating revenue is a team effort. For example, when leads come in, sales people start calling the leads even if the leads aren’t any good — you have to identify the qualified leads to see which prospects are ready to begin having a conversation. It’s important to have that agreement between product, marketing & sales on when a lead is qualified — essentially a SLA between these teams. 
  • 13:55 – What are your thoughts on funnels versus flywheel charts? It’s understanding the customer journey, different personas (buyers, users, stakeholders). The flywheel should include buyers and users, not just users.
  • 15:00 – Takeaways (see above)