Product Management: What is Product Management Part 2

In my previous post, I covered marketing, engineering, and business skills that a product manager will need. In this post, I will finish up the overview of product management with a look at customer support skills, general support skills, and what is termed soft skills.

Without customers who use your products, there is no need for you. Customer support and interaction is a primary part of a product manager’s role. In my opinion, it all starts here. You have to understand and know your customers. You have to learn to listen to your customers, and you have to be their voice, inside the company. The voice of the customer is a term you will encounter. You will be interacting with customers in person, via email, on the phone, or even through video conferencing and webinars. This is your chance to understand them, understand how the product is used, and understand their needs and wants. This is information that you will then take and research to create business cases for new products or new features. It starts and ends with the customer.

General support duties are those that include interfacing with sales or distributors. Take advantage of this time to glean more information. These are the people in the field with customers on a daily basis. They hear and see things that are relevant to you and your role. Get to know them, let them know you are the single best resource they have for questions and answers, to report concerns and problems, and to give feedback to about the customer experience.

You may also be expected to write and maintain user manuals, app notes, white papers, and blog post. As a subject matter expert, you will also be providing training or training materials to sales and customers, or at least to the corporate trainer.

Of all the skills you need, communication and organization are extremely important. You will be required to maintain data you receive from customers, or data you research on your own, then present that data in either marketing or technical papers and presentations. Another key aspect is cross divisional communication. You must be able to effectively communicate with other divisions, such as sales, engineering, and the executive team. This is key to being an effective manager. If you cannot communicate your ideas, or build business cases, or learn from engineering, you will not be successful as a Product Manager.

Organization is extremely key, and however you choose to do it, you need to be able to handle ideas, communications, designs, and timelines. If you are unorganized, you will not succeed for long as a Product Manager.

Search engine skills are used to effectively research industry trends, and to help keep an eye on the competitors. You don’t need to spend all day trying to find a tidbit of information, due to not understanding how to effectively search.
Computer skills are a given, as most of your work is performed on a computer. Having skills in MS Office is nearly required at any position, and as a Product Manager you will be using Word, Powerpoint and Excel extensively. Adobe Creative cloud is effective to use as well if you are more on the marketing side, as knowing how to use illustrator will save time and money in the long run.

Finally, being flexible and wearing many hats is a requirement. Most days you never perform the same function, and due to coordinating time and resources across divisions, you must be able to shift focus at a moment’s notice, to avoid delays, and to circumvent roadblocks.

As a product manager, much is expected of you, and you need to be prepared to give much in return. I hope you enjoyed this post, be sure to share and follow me, check out my YouTube channel, and leave comments. My next post will be up Friday, and my next video will be up on Monday.

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