Evolve Beyond Product-Led to Value-Led

Category: Delta CX Models
Published on: April 10, 2023

Will we be a product-led, engineering-led, or sales-led organization? Will we be values-led, as in led by our company values?

We will be value-led: how much value we can frequently create for potential and current customers.

Wouldn’t that be a product-led organization? Being product-led is supposed to be about attracting and retaining customers through high-value PSE. Some “product-led” companies decide on features based on guesses, assumptions, or things they want to push people to do. That might be product-led, but it wouldn’t qualify as value-led. How to execute on being value-led is throughout the book.

A highly qualified and experienced UX Researcher from my community was recently laid off after his company announced internally that they would be “product-led.” Some companies define “product-led” as allowing anybody to do research, no matter their skill level or experience, and no matter the quality of the research or its outcomes. We’ll cover this in detail in the “Common Research Mistakes” chapter. But being product-led should inspire us to grow research teams, not lay off our best Researchers.

We might say we are a sales-led organization, but ultimately, we are selling PSE (products, services, and experiences), which must be an excellent PSE-market fit. Sales will struggle with turning trial customers into paid, turning leads into conversions, and retaining and growing existing customers when our PSE are low value and fail to meet target audiences’ standards.

I have also seen customer-led, but our teams are pushed to move fast and create what we hope is “good enough” for customers. Could we call this speed over quality approach “customer-led”? We might be led by what we want to build for users and customers, absent of research or reliable evidence on customers’ problems or needs.


We will have to choose which is more important to us: speed of getting projects done, or the quality of getting them done well and having good outcomes.

Guessing what customers want isn’t value-led. Aiming to improve business metrics and assuming that whatever the customer gets out of that is “good enough” isn’t value-led. Neither is “the least we can do,” the fastest we can go, or something we know is minimally viable.

Trying to do each other’s job isn’t value-led since value is most likely to be created by people good at that task. A Marketing expert is more likely to create quality and value for customers than a non-Marketer trying to do some Marketing work.

Pretending AI bots represent our customers and can speak for them isn’t value-led. Observing humans will always be the best method for researching potential and current customers.

Once you prioritize quality and outcomes over speed, moving fast, shipping fast, breaking things fast, etc., then you are headed toward being value-led. While your teams prioritize speed over quality, you are more likely to still be led by Engineering, Product, Sales, or executives.