PLG vs. Self Service
Jan 24, 2024

PLG vs. Self Service

PLG vs Self-Service

A side-by-side comparison to identify their similarities and differences, and how they impact the B2B SaaS sector.

We've consulted a range of sources to gather diverse viewpoints on the relationship between PLG and Self-Service.

A table showing different responses from PLG influencers, LinkedIn Poll, and Generative AI on whether PLG and Self-Service are the same or different, with percentage results.

According to Growth Loop, PLG and Self-Service are different; PLG is a component within the broader Self-Service.


Results from a LinkedIn poll provide industry insights into the perceived differences or similarities between PLG and Self-Service.

Elena Verna clarifies that while PLG always involves Self-Service, not all Self-Service strategies qualify as PLG.

“Nope. Although all PLG is self-serve, not all self-serve is PLG.” - Elena Verna


We turned to Generative AI for a different angle, asking if this relationship can be quantified or represented mathematically.

Chat interaction asking if PLG includes Self-Service and a response explaining the inclusion with key elements of PLG.

Generative AI attempts to frame PLG and Self-Service in a mathematical context, highlighting their interrelation.

Chat interaction highlighting a mathematical equation that represents the relationship between Product-Led Growth (PLG) and Self-Service.

Understanding that Product-Led Growth (PLG) is a function of Self-Service plus additional elements, let's examine the specific capabilities within your product that users expect to navigate independently, aligning with a PLG strategy.

Table categorizing various capabilities such as Acquisition, Activation, Engagement, and Monetization into PLG and Self-Service expectations.

In the intersection of Product-Led Growth (PLG) and Sales-Led Growth (SLG), Self-Service stands as a pivotal component. Let's dissect this overlap:

Self-Service: This is where the user independently interacts with the product, which includes:

  • Signup: Users initiate their journey with the product without sales intervention.
  • Try: Prospects explore the product's features and capabilities on their own.
  • Activate: Users reach a level of engagement where they realize the product's value.
  • Buy: The decision to purchase is made based on the product experience.

Pricing Plans: An area shared by both PLG and SLG, it allows users to select the best plan for their needs, sometimes leading to a sales interaction for more complex or enterprise-level packages.

PLS Signals: Product-led sales signals where user behavior indicates potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities, guiding the sales team on when to engage.

Venn diagram showing the relationship between Product-Led Growth (PLG), Self-Service, and Sales-Led Growth (SLG) with various elements listed under each category

We initiated our exploration with "PLG vs Self-Service: Is there a difference?" and now conclude with the equation "P = S + X," affirming that while Self-Service is integral to PLG, it's the strategic 'X' factors that amplify and differentiate the growth journey.

Graphic representation of the equation 'P = S + X' breaking down PLG into Self-Service and additional factors such as Marketing, Analytics, Growth Loops, and Experimentation.