Every company that sells products must have a product manager to manage the strategic and tactical aspects of what is being sold. Products aren’t necessarily always tangible—they can also be services. The product manager’s job is to make sure their product lines are fulfilling the needs of and delivering the value promise to their audience.
The difference between a great product manager and an average one is sometimes obvious. Average product managers tend to remain stagnant. They look at data and get caught flatfooted in the marketplace as their product or service line gets overtaken by a competitor, or they just can’t seem to manage their lines to gain market share.
Great product managers, on the other hand, seem to know where the market is going, and they take measures to make sure they are ahead of the curve. In a worst-case scenario, average product managers fail to react even in the face of overwhelming data.
There are other traits that top-performing product managers possess that seem to separate them from their peers.
Product managers are responsible for researching, identifying, understanding, and reacting to evolving audience needs and expectations. They conduct extensive research to determine what their company’s target audience is looking for both now and possibly in the future.
Using this research, they circle back to the company’s core objectives and determine how to meet those audience needs, deliver the value that they promise, and optimize profit whether—it’s in the short or long term. They gather intelligence through both primary and secondary research sources to gain the intelligence they need to make smarter decisions.
Excellent product management requires strong tech, business, and UX insight and skills. Utilizing this understanding, product managers define the vision for a product and are already thinking about the next iterations to make it more relevant. In the end, they never cite a feature without fully understanding how it makes or will make their customers’ lives better.
They are also always monitoring and analyzing their competitors to understand the arena where their product is doing battle and devise strategies to counter the moves (if necessary) that their competition is making.
Product managers have excellent interpersonal skills because they need to communicate with stakeholders ranging from customers, wholesalers, and distributors to suppliers and investors in the product management process. They work with executives, sales and marketing professionals, operations and support staff, and product development experts.
They help the company’s executives understand how a specific product aligns with the goals of the company and can “sell” their ideas. This requirement includes the ability to communicate and persuade both verbally and through the written word.
Moving forward, product managers work with sales and marketing professionals to determine the best ways to position the product to their audiences. They also collaborate with operations, marketing, and support staff, discussing how the product should be manufactured, packaged, and delivered.
Lastly, they work with the product development team to breathe life into the idea and discuss its execution. By carefully consulting important stakeholders, they help ideas crystallize and become a reality.
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