Understanding customers is at the core of what product marketers (PMMs) do. It's foundational to their work in developing a product's positioning and messaging. 

While PMMs often turn to familiar sources of data to understand users, a wealth of valuable information resides in the company's internal systems and across the internet.

Let’s look at four such sources that PMMs shouldn’t overlook:

  1. Sales demos
  2. Customer support interactions
  3. Reviews on independent websites
  4. Online forum discussions

1. Sales demos 

Usually, sales demos help you showcase product features to potential customers and generate leads. But they are often much more than that. As a product marketer, you can learn first-hand how prospective customers react to a specific feature or what intrigues them the most about the product.

For instance, by reviewing recordings of internal demos, I was able to identify that our sales reps never spoke about how old and established a certain product was, leading to customers thinking that the product was newly launched. It was a point of concern for customers that needed to be identified and addressed.

Now let’s take a look at how you can leverage sales demos to your benefit. 

Feature interest heatmap

You can build a heatmap of features by carefully analyzing the reactions of prospective customers on sales demos – what features interest them, what features they don’t care about, features they mention that a competitor has, etc. 

In my own case, I was able to identify a critical feature that a lot of customers from a particular sector said were critical before they would adopt our product. This helped me influence our product managers to prioritize this feature and to position our product to this sector accordingly (before that feature could be launched). 

Use case discovery

As a PMM, you play a critical role in identifying use cases and sales demos offer a great opportunity in that respect. During demos, prospects usually tend to describe how the product or feature that is being demoed will fit into their workflows. Once validated with more customers, a use case can form a part of your marketing toolkit. 

Competitive intelligence

A third context in which sales demos help is in gathering information about your competitors. Prospects usually speak openly about what product they are comparing your product to. This will help you gather first-hand intelligence on your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses as perceived by the market. 

This information can then be used to inform your competitive positioning, what features you wish to spotlight in your marketing collaterals and what feature gaps, if any, need to be prioritized. 


You should collaborate closely with sales teams to establish processes for capturing, sharing and analyzing information from sales-led customer interactions. This could include structured debriefs and using CRM tools to log insights.

2. Customer support interactions 

Customer support interactions offer a wealth of insights as they reflect what customers feel and think, helping you unearth needs, preferences and pain-points. You can leverage them to not just refine your messaging strategies but also to influence the product roadmap. 

Let’s dive into how to use customer support interactions to improve your customer experience. 

Assessing the learning curve

I have worked on a product that was positioned and sold as something that is easy to learn and use, but our customer support interactions indicated otherwise; this was important to spot and act on as it has big implications for how we were going to market with our product. 

We ended up changing our positioning and working towards making the product easier to use. In general, you can leverage the feedback that customers give to either validate or modify your strategies for a product. 

Feedback on new features

The first thing customers do if they don’t like a product or feature is complain about it, and they often turn to customer support to vent their frustration.

These interactions are usually rich in detail and give invaluable insights into what it is that they don’t like about the product, how the product can be improved and, sometimes even ideas for new features that they wish they had. 

You can turn customer support into a continuous feedback loop that informs your messaging. 


You could possibly leverage your existing CRM and support ticketing systems to categorize and tag interactions, thus setting you up for success when it comes to analyzing such customer feedback. You could also set up a regular cadence with customer support teams to identify important recurring themes and trends. 

3. Reviews on independent websites 

Besides letting you know what they think about your product through their interactions with customer support, users also turn to review websites on the internet to let others know exactly how they feel about your product.

These reviews can be very informative. The other important thing to do here is to also analyze reviews users might have left for your competing products.

How can you use reviews on independent websites to help your product marketing efforts?

Competitive analysis

Analyzing what customers have to say in reviews of competitors’ products will help reveal, amongst other things, what users really like about such competing tools. I like reading reviews on websites like G2 for this purpose. 

This will significantly aid you when you position your product as you can now emphasize features or aspects where your product excels compared to competing ones. 

Identifying gaps and benchmarking

This analysis will help reveal what unmet needs, pain points or features users wish existed. This can be used to inform the product roadmap as well as messaging. Also, understanding the bar set by competitors in terms of features and the quality of user experience can be invaluable in benchmarking your own product offerings. 


You will need to systematically monitor online reviews to be able to take advantage of this resource. While identifying a tool for such continuous monitoring of internet reviews, you need to check whether the tool integrates with your existing CRM and analytics platforms.

4. Online forum discussions 

Online forums offer a rich source of insights for PMMs. Professionals, enthusiasts, casual users and prospects can often be found engaging on forums, discussing products that cater to them. For instance, if you sell a 3D design software product, there are forums for gamers and other 3D professionals that can offer unrivaled information. 

Here’s how you can use online forum discussions for your benefit as a product marketer:

Identifying unmet needs

Forum discussions are a wonderful avenue for discovering what your users truly want, what problems and pain-points they face and what they wish your product could do. By monitoring such discussions, you could guide the prioritization of features and improvements that make a big difference to your product development.  

Discovering usage scenarios

Where and how exactly do users use a product and its features? This is a critical question for you to answer. This significantly influences messaging and marketing strategies. 

Additionally, users might leave comments and feedback on features, usability and reliability too. Discovering that a segment of users employs your product in a professional context that you hadn’t targeted could open up new marketing and product development opportunities. 


Social listening tools could help monitor online forums on a continuous basis and they could analyze discussions and gather insights too. Once again, tools that integrate into your existing CRM and analytics platforms might work best.


Overall, PMMs in tech companies can take advantage of a number of avenues to be better informed about their products, users and competitors. Utilizing the above-mentioned ways will help you unlock new insights and drive real competitive advantage.