How to be An Effective Product Manager

How to be An Effective Product Manager

Product Managers play a pivotal role in the product management lifecycle.

Product Management is all about delivering innovative products that challenge the status quo, change the way certain things are done and most importantly solves problems of your customers.

Whatsapp, Slack, Viber changed the way people communicate.

Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin paved the way for social collaboration from both personal and professional standpoints increasing global connectivity.

IPhone, iPods and Smartphone’s changed telecommunication & the way music is consumed forever.

You get the drift!

Innovation and disruption in a good way is at the heart of all these technological wonders backed with a breakthrough vision, robust product roadmap and go-to-market strategy.

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And Product Managers are right at the centre of converting these ideas into “massy reality”.

Do not get sucked into the idea that Product Manager is just one role. That is far from true.

Product Managers HAVE far ranging responsibilities and wear multiple critical hats throughout the journey. Namely:

  • Product vision and strategy
  • Product Development
  • Product Marketing
  • Sales & Support
  • Profit & Loss ownership
  • Customer acquisition and success

Frightening isn’t it!

So what do all of these responsibilities entail? Let’s dive in!

Product Vision and Strategy

The product vision and strategy must be driven by the big “WHY?”

  • Why is the product needed?
  • What problem will the product solve?
  • Who will benefit the most?
  • Is the product something people are looking for?
  • Will the product power organization growth?
  • Is it aligned with the organization vision, market and customer base?

Product Managers have the huge task of formalizing the roadmap and product execution strategy by taking into account the answers to the above questions. And also validating them with the business stakeholders.

Clarity of the product vision across the board is a must before the planning can even begin.

The value proposition of the solution must be very pronounced and if possible vetted by some existing or prospective customers.

Constant customer feedback is also critical and a major input to the product vision for not only assessing the product market-fit but also the go-to-market strategy, pricing models etc.

Once you are able to cover all these aspects you are well sorted with the product roadmap that can be further refined as your progress with planning and execution.

Note, full well that as a product manager absolute clarity of the product vision and strategy is a must for you. And this clarity needs to be reflected throughout all the decisions, even the smallest ones.

Product Development

This one looks the easiest of all the hats the product manager has to wear.

Technical prowess is one thing, but executing a vision is quite different. True, you can help with some major troubleshooting and guide the development efforts well. But it doesn’t take you so far!

Deep understanding and knowhow of the product is a must. You must know the product like the back of your hand.

You must use the product yourself to its full strength and so must the dev teams.

Building an understanding around which features bring your customers in, retain your customers or are used the most by your customers is key.

This paves the way for the future feature developments.

Along with development the delivery schedule and diligence is crucial as well.

All teams must be a part of the planned deliveries right from – customer support, sales, marketing etc. so that go-live is as smooth and successful as possible.

Building the buzz across the organization and maintaining seamless collaboration with all cross-functional teams is a must to ensure that the product vision realization is a constant practice.

Product Marketing and Sales

There is a myth that “you build and they will come!”

And you can make it come true only when you have understood your market, competition, target audience and existing customers well.

As an exceptional product manager you must park product decisions until you have identified and have the full view of:

  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or personas
  • Competitors, available products in the market
  • Customer feedback
  • Feedback channels – customer support, community, forums etc.

Building what you like or you feel your customers will like is not a wise idea always. I am not asking to not think out of the box. Do it by all means, but do validate thoroughly as well.

Paying attention to what your existing & prospective customers are saying as they are your most important source of new ideas.

Communicate and respond to those ideas with urgency. Show them that they are being heard and cared for. Not all ideas will be great and nor do your customers expect all their ideas to be implemented.

Moreover, being mindful of the

  • market you operate in
  • industry you cater to
  • type of users who will use your product

Will prove helpful in deciding what to build and when.

So, taking it to one level deeper you must understand the roles of your actual users. Their true pain points, goals and what they would like to accomplish with your product will add to the overall clarity.

Armed with these inputs you can define your go-to-market timing and strategy as well as the sales approach.

The more you consolidate your efforts to your key customer segment, geography or market the easier it will be to drive revenue and growth.

Customer Acquisition, Support and Success

Acquiring customers is the first step towards generating revenue but to sustain and drive future revenue growth customer retention is a must.

Robust support, timely resolution of issues and prompt customer responses are integral to customer success.

Also, ensuring that the customers derive the expected value from the product must be a top priority for product managers.

Constant monitoring of how the customers perceive and use specific product features and guiding them through the entire process smoothly is a hallmark of an exceptional customer success strategy.

Unless customers get the benefits that drove them to you, they will churn and lead to loss of revenue. Increasing stickiness and ensuring customers achieve their “aha moment” as quick as possible must be one of the key focus items.

Hence customer retention strategy is also a great input to the product roadmap.

To achieve this the product manager must see to the below aspects:

  • product training for the customer support and success teams
  • build easy to follow user manuals
  • training videos
  • friction-less product on-boarding
  • detailed helpdesk content
  • scenario based educational content (blogs, eBooks, courses)

Summary

It is quite evident that the product manager has to take care of the full life-cycle of the product as well as the customers’ journey with the product.

I.e. the beginning of what will bring the customers, how they will use it, why they will continue using the product and to the end where prospects turn into promoters!

And in the middle goes all the internal stuff i.e.

  • Identifying features
  • Aligning with the company’s vision
  • Development
  • Marketing and Sales
  • On-boarding and training (internal and external)
  • Customer success and retention

Product Managers have to be great salesmen too. They need to get first the internal buy-in as why building a new product, extending an existing product line or offering is a good idea and tying them all into specific business and revenue goals.

 

And they have to do all of it with great empathy towards the development teams, cross functional teams, customers and business stakeholders.

All ideas and inputs matter. Hence, having absolute clarity of the product, its objective and desired outcomes is a must to identify great ideas and must haves from the clutter.

So, basically it is a constant unlearn and learn approach complemented with excellent listening, visualizing and negotiating skills.

It is just too much and just about that much fun too!

Orangescrum is trusted by product managers to plan their product roadmap, groom the backlogs, run feature sprints and ship quality products with in-depth agile project management skills.

Get started with your product management journey today with a free sign-up.

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