There are no strict rules for that as the whole PMF concept is somewhat abstract and vague. But there are (semi)objective ways to assess it. What exactly works is depending on the context so you need to identify the relevant criteria for your case. However at the end it boils down to this (by Eric Ries)
“If you have to ask if you have found it, you haven’t.”
Some things to monitor/measure that are indicators of PMF (more precisely, the “customer love” or “market pull” part of PMF):
- A widely used measure is provided by Sean Ellis, who coined the term Growth Hacking. He states you’ve reached Product/Market-Fit when at least 40% of the respondents answer the question “How disappointed would you be if this product no longer existed tomorrow?” with “Very Disappointed”.
- Is Word of Mouth happening? Are your customers telling about you to 3rd parties, with no involvement from you, which results in winning new business?
- Do you get inbound leads that you can not track back to your own activity?
- Are customers trying to buy before you even tried to sell?
- Are your sales cycles getting shorter?
- Do customer requests generate so much workload that you have no time to pursue your own development ideas?
Our own formulation of a litmus test to determine whether there might be PMF:
Provide evidence of 3 separate measured tests of your customer behaviour that demonstrate your product/service is significantly (=order of magnitude) better than the existing solution.
“Product Market Fit is when customers sell for you”.
“Glimmers of false hope is not the same as customers wanting to rip it out of your hands. Product Market fit feels like a landmine going off.” Peter Reinhardt
“The number one problem I’ve seen for startups, is they don’t actually have product/market fit when they think they do.”Alex Schultz
“80% of SaaS companies never make product market fit.” Peter Reinhardt
“Startups need 2–3 times longer to validate their market than most founders expect. This underestimation creates the pressure to scale prematurely.” (Startup Genome Study)
“You are able to articulate your different problem/solution fit(s) in detail”.
Before you can achieve product/market fit, you need to understand and be able to articulate your problem/solution fit(s) in detail - not in “generic” level or in generic terms (https://gorillacapital.fi/problem-solution-fit/).