From 0 to Hero – Without a Sales Organization

Mikael Thuneberg
Photo: Pierre Ekman

PLG at its finest, is when the product does all the selling for you! Learn from one of the best PLG success stories in the Nordics as Mikael Thuneberg, CEO of Supermetrics tells us his learning of going from 0 to tens of millions of Euro ARR before building a sales organization.

Mikael says when he started Supermetrics, he never really planned to turn it into something big. In fact, he was more than happy having created a good product that brought people value and to be able to make a living from it. And in hindsight, he says, not having those huge goals actually played in his favor. 

“Initially, I didn’t have any ambition to build a great company. All I wanted was to build a really great product. Which meant I really focused on the product. There were no distractions, I didn’t put any effort into marketing, sales, or recruitment. I actually ran the company alone for the first five years. 95% of my time was spent on perfecting the product; working with the clients, listening to their feedback, and having a laser focus on improving the product. The result was that people loved the product. Then it spread virally, and I didn’t need to do any marketing or sales,” he says.

For the first five years, Mikael ran the whole company on his own. And looking back, he says that had a number of benefits too. 

“Since I was not looking to build a big company, I kept everything very streamlined. I wasn’t putting in place any complicated structures or preparing for scale. Everything was really efficient. Since I was running the company alone, I had to make it efficient. I didn’t have time to onboard every new client and explain everything to them, or even sell the product to them, so I just focused on removing all the friction. I needed it to be easy to buy the product, start using it and see the value.”

Mikael says the same factors that made Supermetrics successful, apply to other product-led companies as well. He lists four classic keys to PLG growth, that were all relevant for Supermetrics. 

4 PLG Success Factors

  1. Distribute your product where people live

“Distribution is so important. For Supermetrics, distribution was almost more of a competitive edge than the product itself. For us, the key was leveraging “other people’s traffic”. We did this by deeply embedding our product into existing products in the market, such as Google Sheets, Google Data Studio, and Google BigQuery We always tried to build everything inside those products. 

  1. Make it easy for potential customers to get started

“Reduce all hurdles and friction and allow people to discover, buy and use the product on their own. Make it easy to understand and implement without the help of a sales team. Being in the existing marketplace for Google sheets add-ons and Google data studio connectors and so on has been a great lead generation method for us. It’s been a great driver of our success.”

  1. Deliver value before the paywall

“Let people experience your product, and decide for themselves if it’s a good fit. A free trial will allow people to experience the value of your product beforehand, and is also great for generating leads. At Supermetrics we have hundreds of people signing up for a free trial every single day.”

  1. Hire sales last 

“Supermetrics went for eight years without hiring any salespeople. And we reached millions of ARR in Euros before we even started building a sales organization. For us, even putting structures like HR and Finance in place late, has enabled us to have really good profit margins which in turn gave us a really good position when we talked to investors.

Hiring Sales to Raise the ACV

However, today SUpermetrics does have a sales team and a pretty big one at that. So what was it that eventually made them take that step, and employ more than 70 salespeople?

“We saw that we had a lot of really big enterprise customers. They were getting a lot of value from our product but paid very little. And we realized we’d not be able to get the AVC up without a more hands-on approach with these clients. Now the expansion of our product to the existing user base is a big growth lever for us.”