Top 10 Product Manager Skills and How To Develop Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Product managers are professionals who perform several duties to guide a product's development process from inception to completion. Their duties may require a combination of hard and soft skills. If you are interested in this job role, it may be beneficial to understand what these skills are and how to develop them. In this article, we outline the top 10 product manager skills and discuss how to develop them.

What is a product manager?

A product manager is a professional who oversees the development of products for a company or brand. They are responsible for guiding a cross-functional team that develops and rolls out a product. The term product may refer to a service or item sold to consumers and can be virtual, physical or a combination of both.

Related: What Does a Product Manager Do? (With Skills and How To Become)

Top 10 product manager skills

These are the top skills that are beneficial for product managers to develop:

1. Communication skills

From product meetings to presentations, product managers may be in constant communication with a number of people like clients, stakeholders and team members. They regularly have to convey their plans and objectives, either in written or spoken form. Product managers must also communicate with their teams to provide direction and guidance. This ensures that product development is on the right track and progressing according to schedule.

How to develop: Invite inputs from your colleagues or superiors and make sure you give them ample time to communicate before you respond. Practising your communication and public speaking skills frequently can help you improve them. Try to maintain eye contact when you speak to people and take time to think before you respond.

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Technical expertise

Product managers often handle technical aspects of a project, such as making detailed requirements and outlining product features. They work with the engineers on their team to identify performance issues and ensure that products meet requirements related to function, design and user experience. Therefore, good technical know-how is fundamental to a product manager's role.

How to develop: Although product managers need not be engineers, they can have a good understanding of basic manufacturing and production concepts. You can gain knowledge in the field in an entry-level position. If not, you can pursue diploma and certification courses to gain a deeper understanding of the involved subjects. You can also attend product management conferences or read blogs to update your technical knowledge.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

3. Business intelligence

Product managers require basic business intelligence to effectively do their jobs. For example, when developing a product roll-out strategy, a product manager benefits from knowing how profits, sales projections, budgets and cash flow play a part in the product development process. They may also have to justify product development budgets with factual data.

How to develop: Business intelligence can be developed in a theoretical and practical sense. Entry-level jobs in domains like sales, marketing and business administration may allow you to develop business intelligence on the job. You may consider pursuing formal education to expand your theoretical understanding of business.

4. Research skills

Market research is a key factor that determines a product's success. Product managers perform extensive market research to understand consumer needs and competitor performance. Good research skills can keep product managers updated about marketing opportunities and threats. This gives them foundational knowledge for envisioning and developing a successful product.

How to develop: If you have an analytical mindset, conducting market research may come easily to you. You can structure your research process to start with broader data volumes and then identify areas for closer examination. Always verify the reliability of your sources. Keep your research organised to avoid getting overwhelmed by large volumes of data.

5. Analytical skills

Analytical skills and research skills go hand-in-hand for product managers. Once market research is over, the product manager is then responsible for analysing data to make informed decisions about the feasibility of products. A product manager with good analytical skills can use available data to create plans for strategic development, business growth and pricing.

How to develop: This is a data-driven skill that may require practice to master. To improve your analytical skills, train yourself to ask relevant questions about products and their market performance. Break down complex problems into smaller segments and work systematically to generate useful inferences.

Read more: Analytical Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

6. Interpersonal skills

In addition to solid communication skills, product managers must also possess excellent interpersonal skills. They may be responsible for influencing and leading a variety of professionals they work with. They may have to nurture professional relationships and stay in constant touch with individuals from various departments, like sales, marketing, finance and engineering.

How to develop: Try to maintain a positive outlook towards your work and colleagues. Build meaningful relationships and put in consistent efforts to maintain them. Show genuine interest in other people and their work. Appreciate the success of your coworkers and be assertive when it is required of you.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

7. Marketing skills

The most vital marketing skills for a product manager include the ability to promote and deliver products and services. You can also try to develop the ability to respond to changing demands, develop marketing strategies for product launches and create pricing frameworks.

How to develop: To improve your marketing skills, try to understand the latest marketing trends and tricks. You can brush up on your data analysis skills to improve your marketing strategies. Try to improve your skills by observing other marketers who may be successful.

Related: Top 20 Marketing Skills To Include on Your Resume

8. Management skills

Product managers require excellent management skills to oversee the work of a product development team. A development team is often made up of multi-functional team members, all of whom are responsible for one or more aspects of the development of a product. Product managers must be able to identify each team member's strengths and delegate tasks based on their abilities and skills.

How to develop: You can improve your delegation skills by clearly communicating expectations regarding tasks, responsibilities and productivity. Avoid micromanaging team members so that they develop a sense of personal responsibility and commitment to the project. Try to ensure that you give clear instructions to avoid ambiguity and confusion.

Read more: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

9. Strategic thinking

From understanding the market to deciding how to launch and roll out a new product, many product management duties require strategic thinking to be successfully executed. Product managers should have a solid understanding of the product's life cycle, its target audience, the project management process and sales forecasts.

How to develop: You can train yourself to think strategically by analysing all aspects of a problem statement objectively. Additional strategic thinking skills include risk management and goal orientation. Thinking in terms of strategy, a product manager can find solutions to eliminate errors without compromising time or productivity.

10. Prioritisation skills

Product managers must be able to objectively enforce prioritisation to successfully complete tasks and meet goals and deadlines. Good prioritisation skills ensure that all team members are always working on what is most important at the time to keep the project moving smoothly within a specified timeline.

How to develop: You can improve your prioritisation skills by making a list of important tasks and reviewing them periodically. Identify the most important parts of a project and try to tackle them early on. It is important to set realistic deadlines for your tasks and complete them systematically. Otherwise, you and the production team may have to regularly work in stressful environments.

What is the most important skill for a product manager?

Product managers supervise the entire product development cycle, from the inception of a product to its launch. They may develop a balance of soft skills like interpersonal skills and hard skills, like technical awareness and management skills. However, the most important skill for a product manager may be the ability to think strategically. This allows them to manage a variety of tasks effectively. While every product manager may be different, you can find a methodology that works for you and develop the appropriate skills to support it.

What kind of knowledge should a project manager have?

Product managers need not be experts in finance, business or engineering. However, they may require a good understanding of all aspects of production from start to finish. They benefit from having sound technical knowledge and good computer literacy. Knowledge of marketing principles may allow them to understand aspects like sales projections, market dynamics and brand identity. By being aware of relevant trends in the market, products managers can create accurate forecasts and devise strategies accordingly.

Related: 24 Product Manager Interview Questions (And Example Answers)

What makes a strong product manager?

A strong product manager is required to handle a variety of duties effectively. They may maintain a fine balance between their responsibilities and strategise proactively to get the work completed within time and budget limitations. Along with their technical and management tasks, they also ensure that there is healthy communication and understanding between team members, departments and clients.

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