It’s Time track TTV, Time to Value in PLG SAAS products

90s Love
Advent of PLG era
Time to Value
in phases
Conclusion and Metrics

I used to romanticise the 1990s as a time when everything was slow and steady and there were fewer options available. Back then, people treasured and cherished all of their possessions, including inexpensive Game Boys, CDs, and movie Tapes, because there were less possibilities available and products where part of growing up. Being a product manager, I wish that my products were more than just transactional pieces of code, but also be appreciated in the style of the 90s pop culture, I even fantasise the product i built recently used by audience back then, it would be a magic.

World of 90s

However, I recently had to alter my viewpoint following a conversation with Scott Biller over coffee and zoom. He explained to me the life in 80s, 90s & 2000 within 4 walls of corporate office, he held top position as head of technology in various software organizations helping small & big firms with software buying decision.

Imagine purchasing specialized software just a few decades ago, you couldn’t go online there weren’t any search results in Google. There weren’t many options in the Yellow Pages besides software consultants, so you called a consultant, who arrived at your office after his busy schedule let him and handed over a physical Boucher with a list of products he was selling. You then realized all the list items on his list were his partners and that none of the descriptions fit the problem your boss is trying to solve, so you called him for assistance again.

This is where you need to wait for an eternity for the product consultant to get your requirements, see if any such software or service solutions in the market fits the capabilities, sends you a quote which is priced nearly your companies annual revenue, so the negotiation begin you go back and forth …. You check with your boss on the budgets, negotiations again, negotiations on requirements, and more compromise. Then you want to see how things work in realistic environment, back then ther term “Free demo” was not that popular and the reaction you get is …

Really you want to see the software fro free ?

Request for plan of action, next steps, never ending repetitive MOM and finally all stakeholders decided to a common agreement, but there is one small problem again….

By the time you end the process, the companies priorities would have changed… end of agreements. These scenarios in part or whole were common among most of the software buying process.

But there was a huge paradigm shift post the 2000s cloud era and birth of AWS, building software has never been easier and cheaper.

Welcome to 2010s, ear where Power shifted to the Customers

If I am a user post 2010, and I have a problem, I only need to conduct a proper Google search, arrive at the appropriate product landing page, and use the product right away without even having to enter my credit card information. I then explore the features and determine whether it would solve my or my team’s problem, I then decide to invite others, and ask them to use it, the usage and experience drive my purchasing decision. Slow claps to the PLG movement, and to the 1990s awful software buying process.

Ideally, what has changed is the ability for users to realize the value of the solution without having to spend much in hard cash, but the cash here is your time. That time spent on the product research evaluation is ideally called “Time to Value” and that’s one hell of a metric in Product Lead World.

Amount of time it takes your new user / buyer to reach “ahaha moment” from your product experience

Time to value flow in PLG products

The ability of the user to realize the solution the product provides, with minor or without any effort, is the “Aha moment”. The term “value” referred here is a very objective term; it should refer to the key metrics that matter to users. It can be any of the following.
1.Time it saved or going to save
2.Save the cost i am spending
3. Increase revenue

Assumed Value
You don’t have any genuine value at all if it’s none of the above. As we have seen, many startups fail even after they built great products, but the assumed value from the product team is unable to match the customer’s priority problem or expected experience in terms of the solution.

We also see a lot of time when the customer experience“aha moments” that are initially appealing but do not have lasting value in the longer run. So be critical about the value you deliver to your customer.

Perceived value
Now let’s assume that you have a valuable proposition for the customer, now what matters is how much is the same value in the eye of your customer’s eye: That’s a perceived value. A customer’s assessment of the product’s merit is very critical here, particularly in light of a competitor’s landscape and offers. The cost that customers are prepared to pay for a product is a key indicator of perceived value. More importantly, is he willing to pay for it? Then next is then does the perceived value match your pricing model?
How is the customer seeing the problem
1 Very urgent i need to pay money
2 Very urgent i need a free solution
3 I can take time to solve this problem
4 I can take time and effort to solve this problem for free

There are so many product in the market where the majority of customer would like to not pay money for the software.

Time taken for Ahaha moment
The very first “Aha” moment is going to make your product sell itself, so it better be a thunderbolt impression. Product with thunderbolt experience, no upfront fee, yet with so many layers to get to that experience have failed. Let’s assume no up upfront money or credit card involved cost, now the measuring unit is in terms of time spent, information given and click efforts invested to get that point. If the reward did not match the time & effort the user has put, you can expect him/ her to be another on the churn list.

The more the TTV that can be reduced, the better for Product conversion to happen — the closer to zero, the best. Naturally, if this takes too long, users leave and never come back, which is what 40–60% of first-time users do, as per Intercom.

Non-self serve model vs PLG

As you can see, the more steps you add in the customer journey, you are going to increase the “time to realize the instant value”. There are Non-self serve model in PLG too where customer comes book a demo and get a free trial on sale representative qualifying the user’s requirement which still works in a lot of sectors until there is one massive disruptor.
If the sector you are catering to is data inventive like security tech or HR tech where the solution does not make sense without past data, customer onboarding agent model will work.

Time to instant value, basic, value, longer and short term vaLUE

The value the product delivers to the customer can also be in phases, you can tease the audience with an instant value, which may not be the entire product but one of its simple yet core value and keep the user hooked to make him use the other features. The Pareto principle applies to most of the SaaS players, as 80% of customers still use only 20% of product features.

Let’s examine how some of the top players who have achieved success & have pushed the envelope in creating a memorable Aha moment for their customers in a most elegant way.
Lusha guiding “Aha moment “ with Bumpers and Personalised onboarding

Lushas personalised onboarding

Not all products are identical and straightforward; when you move up to the enterprise grade to add more features, you should be aware that the product is huge and complex and determining the value is highly challenging. Lusha is a lead data and enterpriser prospecting tool catering to AE, SDRs , BDR other Sales roles, Lusha’s onboarding process is 7-16 steps which is quite high if you compare to PLG products catering to SMBs and individuals, but even with so many steps the product offers personalised onboarding based on the concurrent need or temporary motivation of the user, by the end of the onboarding process you get an amazing listing page with all email address of the leads the Sales person is looking for which ideally is an “mind blowing” first time experience for any Sales Rep.

Calendly simple yet power full instant Value

Calendly let you connect with your calendar within its onboarding flow

Look at calendly during onboarding, the app automatically connects your google signed-in calendar and the minute you enter the app you get your sharable calendar link which is ready to use. That’s an instant value, though the product has more short-term long-term benefits like automatic follow-ups, Meeting stats, Team scheduling & more integration, the app chooses to focus on what’s simple but effective solution.

You don’t need collect email or guided onboarding to show a basic Value

No email address required experience.

Crunchbase would show you all basic information about a company, when a user is searching for this information, it’s completely free. This is how a user would discover chrunchbase, one can use financial information for free until certain limit (10 or 15) without any email credentials, the minute user starts revisiting the site, thanks to cookies the site would ask you to sign-up for free limited trail with card information.

Lusha has a dedicated listing page for companies and its employee information based on department, if a user wants the email address of the lead he had to sign-up, this is one of the ways any end user discovers the brand as well as the value of the product.

Medium B2C Blog publishing platform lets its free reader read 5 articles per month for its premium content, post that users have to pay $5 per month.

A lot of independent micro SaaS players have done this effectively
Quillbot is a paraphrasing tool which helps you write better content, no email, no login, no onboarding question asked until 10 paraphrasing clicks. You experience it, you would explore other features you would realize the value, and you give email address later explore it more, finally you buy it. Usage based pricing

Remove BG is a simple tool which removes the background of any image you upload with humans and give you a semi-transparent png file, it never asks any email address or asks it user to go through any onboarding process.

Conclusion & Metrics to track

There has never been a better time to build SaaS products, it’s now easier and cheaper, but as you know cost of acquiring customer are increasing day by day and the competition is on each category is on the rise. So if you need to stay ahead of competition, you need to keep an eye on TTV, and keep optimizing it for better results, as there is no right or wrong answer. One cannot have the sales folks dial the customer, the product is the sale guy, the product ability to convince the users must be top-notch within it’s ticking time. For that, providing here are some of the key metrics that must be tracked.

1 No of clicks on sign-up & onboarding
2 No of input values tracked during sign-up & onboarding
3 Time taken to onboard a customer
4 Time taken for a customer to click on the prime activation CTA
5 No of clicks take for customer reach prime benefits
6 Customer churn during onboarding
7 Customer churn after activation
8 Onboarding questions

Hope you enjoyed the article, do share and spread the PLG love

Hi I am Gokul Rangarajan, Scouting for Google Ventures, Ex- Freshworks, Ex-Bigbasket, Keka KR. I am Senior Product Manager in SaaS for around 12+ years, Have built & scaled business from scratch to $50M ARR, worked with 50+ Founders on their Product & fundraising journey.

I am trying to put out content about PLG & Community lead growth on a regular basis, follow me on Medium
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Gokul Rangarajan

Gokul Rangarajan


GV, Product Manager | Ex- Freshworks, Bigbasket, Keka HR | I write about PLG, CLG