This article is based on Spencer’s brilliant talk at our once-in-a-lifetime Product Marketing Misunderstood Event. PMA members can watch the recording in its full glory here and check out hundreds of other exclusive product marketing talks OnDemand.

Hey there, I'm Spencer Grover, a PMM at Salesforce, and I’m here to let you in on a little secret: Product marketing looks totally different depending on your startup's size and stage. What works for three employees in a garage won't fly in an 80,000-employee enterprise. I should know – I've worked in both!

Today I'll decode how high-growth PMMs evolve by sharing:

  • Who to collaborate with at each stage,
  • What deliverables to focus on,
  • Tactics to set your startup up for the next level, and
  • Key metrics to track.

Whether you're in a scrappy startup or a global enterprise, my goal is to provide actionable advice that will help you thrive. 

Sound good? Let's do this!

Early-stage startups

Let's kick off with early-stage startups – those with just a handful of customers, a very small team, and maybe a recently hired VP of sales. Your customer acquisition is likely sporadic at this point, to say the least.

The product marketer's key goal here is to find and document product-market fit. Forget about the total addressable market (TAM) for now – it's irrelevant. Instead, figure out who truly cares about your product and why. Who will be an evangelist for you? Why did early adopters purchase from you versus competitors? Identify and analyze your first cluster of ideal customers to pinpoint your product-market fit.


As a PMM at this stage, you should aim to deliver:

  • A serviceable obtainable market (SOM): Who should you realistically pursue as customers?
  • An ideal customer profile (ICP): What types of businesses with what problems should you focus on?
  • A primary persona: Who is the one key decision-maker you need to win over? What pains do they have? Why are you uniquely positioned to address them?

Work closely with your founder, sales, product, and customer success teams to gather insights that will shape these deliverables.


Let's look at some key tactics PMMs should leverage at early-stage startups. These tactics are going to help you nail those key deliverables we just talked about.

  • Talk to customers: You have incredible access to customers when you're in a small company. Plus, they know you'll need their help and are often excited to provide feedback to fuel your personas, customer pain points, and product differentiators. Ask about their challenges, why they bought from you, and what they tried before. These conversations will uncover foundational insights.
  • Tap subject matter experts: Founders or other team members likely have deep market expertise. Extract those insights to inform your ICP and SOM.
  • Validate hypotheses rapidly: Form hypotheses then test and iterate quickly via trials. For example, if you believe your SOM is X type of customer in Y location, call those prospects and gauge their interest. Try different messaging and positioning, and pivot based on feedback – you can move fast at this stage of growth. This validation will build confidence in your product-market fit.

The combination of customer conversations, internal expertise, and rapid validation help you crystallize who cares most about your product and why. With these lean tactics, you can fuel foundational deliverables in a really cost-effective way.


Rather than focusing on a single metric, here are helpful ways to analyze data to optimize product-market fit:

  • Win rate by [variable]: Depending on your market, you could analyze your win rate by industry, company size, use case, and so on. The aim is to uncover where you're winning more deals. Double down on those areas.
  • Churn rate by [variable]: Do the same analysis on churn rate. Even if you’re winning a lot of deals in a certain segment, if those customers are then churning, they’re probably not the right customers for you.
  • Percentage of deals with key personas: Which deals with your target persona attached are progressing furthest? Are they able to get deals done? Is this persona actually the one you should be targeting?
  • Aha moments: Find the point in your product, sales cycle, and messaging customers where your vision suddenly clicks for customers. When do they start to get excited? Once you’ve identified that moment, you can help customers get there faster.  

At an early-stage startup, these metrics indicate where you're gaining traction with the right customers, allowing you to rapidly refine your ICP and personas and sharpen your product-market fit. 

Growing businesses

Let's move on to companies that have achieved product-market fit and are starting to scale. At this stage, the sales team is expanding with additions like SDRs (sales development reps) and BDRs (business development reps). Marketing resources are also growing – you may have a demand gen specialist, a content writer, and a social media manager, for instance.

As a PMM, your goal here is to evangelize the messaging and positioning you've worked so hard to develop. You likely have a solid understanding of your SOM, ICP, personas, and differentiators – whether it's formally documented or in your and the founder's heads. 

Now’s the time to distribute that knowledge across the org so everyone is aligned. Without this, messaging will start to wander.


My top recommendation for evangelizing positioning is through content. This includes internal enablement content like battlecards, messaging documents, positioning presentations, first-call decks, product guides, objection handling, and more.

To educate the market, you’ll need to make sure that all your messaging, whether it’s on your website or coming straight from your reps’ mouths, is consistent. That means ensuring that your case studies, call scripts, email templates, ads, blogs, white papers, and all that good stuff have the same thread of messaging running through them.


At this stage, sales and go-to-market teams are your core stakeholders. Work closely with them to provide the enablement resources they need while adhering to your tried-and-tested messaging and positioning.


Here are two key tactics that are going to help you evangelize and reinforce your positioning across the organization: 

  • Keep talking to customers: Validate that your positioning and messaging documents accurately reflect their needs, pains, and reasons for buying. You might even want to get feedback from the customers you’re closest to – you could show them an early draft and ask, "Do you see yourself in this?" and "Does this resonate?"
  • Document everything: With growth comes less time for one-on-one support. Your aim should be to design yourself out of the enablement process by arming your sellers and marketers with the assets they need to understand your messaging so deeply they can pitch it in their sleep. Make sure they can self-serve instead of relying on you.


When it comes to metrics, there are a few key things you'll want to track at this stage. These will give you insight into whether your product-market fit and messaging are scaling as expected with growth.

  • Deal velocity: Track the number of deals multiplied by win rate, multiplied by average deal size, divided by sales cycle length. This aggregates key sales metrics into one number that is a great indicator of your product-market fit. If your deal velocity remains stable over time, product-market fit is likely strong.
  • Deal fit: Analyze if closed deals align with your ideal customer profile. If not, it’s time to revisit your ICP. Perhaps there’s a major opportunity out there that you haven’t explored yet. 
  • Message delivery: Record sales conversations and audit narratives. Do reps deliver your ideal messaging? Is their language converting? If so, incorporate it into your enablement materials. Remember to keep monitoring what resonates for continuous optimization.