To find out how to be a better Product Manager we interviewed Pamela Schure, co-author of Product Management for Dummies.
Pam has been a Product Manager and has been teaching Product Management for over two decades, and she provided us with some insights about three things she has seen effective Product Managers do that others don’t.
First, become a master of using data.
Have at least half a dozen (and preferably 2-3 times that many) data points about your customers, market and competitors.
Inject these data points into your conversation while you are talking to your engineers, sales people and executives, and this will further establish you as the defacto customer and market expert. It will also dramatically strengthen your arguments and ability to influence.
For example, if there is a feature that you believe needs to be added you could communicate this to your team in several ways. One might be to tell them “I believe that feature XYZ is important, and that our customers will get a lot of benefit from it.” With this approach you might or might not get the team’s attention and support.
But what if you said it like this instead “from my recent customer visits, 68% of the customers I spoke with told me that if we add feature XYZ they are likely to pay for the next version of the product”? If you take this approach you have added data and facts. And as they say, facts are stubborn things – it’s hard to argue with them!
The second way to become a better Product Manager is to learn how to get your team on your side.
In our training courses we teach both the “Hard” skills (writing requirements, developing business cases, running a launch, etc.) and the “Soft” skills (influencing, leading, negotiating).
Getting your team on your side is a soft skill that is incredibly important. If you don’t spend time building relationships with your team and establishing yourself as the expert and authority on customers and the market then when you need the team’s help you may have a hard time getting them to support you.
Being a better Product Manager means identifying who the key people on your team are that you need on your side and getting to know them both personally and professionally. The better you know them and what motivates them, the more effectively you can influence.
Optimal Product Management and Product Marketing™ teaches the “hard skills” and People Skills for Product Managers and Product Marketing™ teaches the “soft” skills for being a better product manager.
The third way to be a better Product Manager is to ALWAYS include the customer’s perspective in your conversations and decisions.
Many times Product Managers and teams spend too much time debating their own internal perspectives. They may think they understand who the customer is and what the customer wants and yet be way off base.
Make sure that for every product and strategy decision that you make you consider it from the customer’s point of view. And make sure that you talk to customers often and validate your thinking.
Apply these three techniques in your role as a Product Manager and you’ll become more effective very quickly. Use data, get your team on your side and always include the customer’s perspective. It will pay off.