What Does a Product Manager Do? (With Skills and How To Become)
Updated 15 August 2023
A product manager is a liaison between business and technical requirements teams, often working with the different individuals responsible to develop a product. There is a high demand for product managers in the market to identify the customer's needs and align them with business objectives that a product needs to fulfil. Learning about what a product manager does can help you decide if you want to choose this career path. In this article, we answer what does a product manager do, how you can become a product manager and what skills you may need.
What Does A Product Manager Do?
What does a product manager do, can be explained as someone in charge of the process of developing a product from conception through execution, including brainstorming new ideas, marketing to target audience members and distributing. Depending on the size of the organisation, the product manager may report to the marketing director, vice president of marketing, chief marketing officer or the chief executive officer.
Also referred to as the product officer, product marketing manager, project manager or program manager, they use in-depth knowledge of sales statistics and trends to identify potential opportunities. Other duties of a product manager are:
Hiring, managing and supervising the sales staff, including delegating responsibilities and completing staff performance reviews
Setting sales goals and objectives to meet consumer demand that drives the growth of sales
Overseeing the marketing activities and developing marketing campaigns and initiatives
Reporting status updates to the executive team and applying feedback to strategies
Analysing costs and expenditures, creating budgets with the finance executives and preparing financial performance reports
Making strategic decisions to meet the product's vision
Creating a plan to execute the work, defining what to produce and when to launch in the market
Evaluating and discussing product ideas shared by the team members to deliver value to the customer
How To Become A Product Manager?
A career as a product manager can be both exciting and challenging. If you want to become a product manager, follow these steps:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
You are required to attain a basic qualification to become eligible to be a product manager. Consider earning a bachelor's degree in business or any related field like business administration or business management. Alternatively, you could secure a degree in marketing, sales, finance, public relations or communication.
2. Consider an advanced degree
Although some employers may not require a master's degree, earning one can help further distinguish you from other candidates. If your first degree was in a subject that is not business related, a master's in business or a related field can provide you with the foundational principles you may require to succeed in the role. After attaining a master's degree, you may get a job either as a product manager or in a related field where you can enter a management role with experience.
3. Pursue certifications
Having a certification in your field of work may help you differentiate yourself from the competition in the market. You can attain a Certified Product Management (CPM) credential or can pursue other certifications in the product management area. Earning industry-specific certifications can show your commitment to the role and how important it is to you to adhere to superior standards.
4. Gain relevant experience
Many product manager positions require a few years of experience in marketing, sales or a relevant industry. You may secure an internship while you are earning a degree. You can also gain experience through entry-level positions, working your way into management positions.
5. Apply for product manager roles
Use your resume to highlight your relevant work history and show potential employers that you are qualified for the role. You can customise your resume as per the job description for the job you are applying for. Also, write a cover letter that further explains your skills, experience and dedication to the role and the specific company you are applying for.
A Day Of A Product Manager
On a day-to-day basis, a product manager works on these tasks and responsibilities:
Communicating and connecting
The product manager constantly needs to connect with different teams and perform these tasks in relation to communication:
Conduct daily core meetings
Meet with sales team to ensure they have the resources they require to sell products and receive reports on customer feedback
Participate in regular meetings with the development team to review the progress, take demos, answer if they have any queries or help them improve user stories
Meet with the marketing team to check progress on marketing campaigns, review marketing strategies and review the marketing team's performance
Learning and analysing
After taking the regular updates from the different teams, the project manager needs to analyse the numbers and also plan if any improvement or modification needs to be done to meet the business objectives. They often perform the below activities:
Analyse product sales and revenue numbers to ensure they are aligning with business objectives
Review key performance indicators (KPIs) of each department or team
Improve sales training material of the products
Study your market by regularly reading analyst's reports, news related to your market and influential blogs
Studying and analysing product usage data
Conduct customer surveys to understand the need of the customers
After conducting meetings, analysing all the data and deciding the next steps to be taken, the product manager may:
Create a document with all the key points from meetings and share it with relevant stakeholders
Write a problem statement with hypothesis and distribute to the key stakeholders for them to complete or approve the necessary action
What Skills Do You Require To Be A Product Manager?
A product manager is required to use their marketing experience to increase product sales, which means they are required to remain aware of current and upcoming market trends and understand their industry thoroughly to be effective. As the sales leader, you are required to have the skills and abilities to manage the team and motivate them toward increasing sales across all markets. In addition to several years of experience and qualifications, a product manager may benefit from having the following skills:
Project managers require to have excellent written and verbal communication skills. They communicate with different stakeholders like customers, team members and higher management personnel to receive, understand and share the right business and technical requirements of the product. They also create process documents or presentations to discuss the development plan to meet the client's needs.
The product manager's role manages a team responsible for marketing and selling a product. These professionals work to motivate others, set realistic goals and provide additional guidance and training when necessary. They also give constructive feedback to their team members to improve the collective output of the group.
Product managers may be required to make strategic decisions. They use market research and evaluate customers' needs to develop strategies for introducing their products into current and new markets. They also use these skills to prioritise potential ideas and create plans that allow their team to reach goals while staying within budget and scope.
Product managers are required to have strong financial skills. They create estimated budgets for new projects. They also often evaluate profit and loss and forecast expenses to establish the profit of their products. An in-depth understanding of the financial side of business enables them to plan and execute strategies.
The product managers are required to explore a variety of solutions and decide on which might be the best suitable option. While making decisions, they also require to anticipate outcomes and make alternate plans if their decision does not work as planned. They are responsible for making decisions that can positively impact their team and organisation, often within strict time frames.
Product managers require to have great marketing skills to market the products. They are required to be able to understand their audience and develop marketing strategies accordingly. Some important marketing skills required by product managers are the ability to understand and respond to the changing demand of consumers, develop promotional activities for product launches and make pricing frameworks.
Delegation skills are one of the most important skills a product manager is required to have. The development of a new product involves working with multi-functional teams to whom the project manager needs to delegate the tasks. They are required to know the strength and abilities of each team member to delegate the tasks to the right person. Good delegation skills include the ability to communicate the expectations in each task, resist micro-management and review the progress of the tasks as per the timelines.
Product managers are required to have basic technical knowledge of their industry, especially those whose area of work includes virtual products like software and applications. They are required to be able to understand the customer's technical requirements and share these expectations with the team of developers. They are required to have enough technical knowledge to meet the customer requirements.
Product managers may handle more than one project at a time. They are required to be able to understand and prioritise which task to complete first to meet established deadlines. Also, they typically require to ensure the entire team understands the criticality of the task and is working on the most important task at a time.
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