Ten tips for the successful product manager

Ten tips for the successful product manager

成功产品经理的 十大法则

Your company is instituting product management as a strategy to gain a competitive advantage in the market place. Management selected you, from a pool of very qualified engineers and technical sales representatives, as the first Product Manager (PM) to launch the new PM program because you’re an achiever, with a strong track record. The assignment starts in the morning, your mind is racing as you try to fall off to sleep, wondering what it takes to be a successful PM. Jim Carlton, an international Consultant and Trainer in marketing strategies and sales techniques and a regular speaker on Management Centre Europe’s programme ‘Product management for the newly promoted product manager’provides ten tips that will help.

你的公司正在建立产品管理体系作为在市场中获得竞争优势的一种战略。 让你从一大群非常合格的工程师和技术销售代表中选择,并作为第一个产品经理去发布新产品经理计划,因为你是合格的,有着不错的业绩记录。早上得到任务,你就辗转反侧,不知道如何才能成为一个合格的产品经理。Jim Carlton,一个营销战略和销售方法的国际咨询和培训师,在MCE项目中发表的“新产品经理在产品管理中的提升”演讲中有十个提示对你是有帮助的。

  1. Know thy customer


The best PMs always know more about their customers than they know about the products or services that they manage. I’m not saying product knowledge isn’t necessary or important, that’s a given. As a rule of thumb, research the customer first, then the product. Customer “learnings” will better define the product and/or service. PMs need to know: What do customers value and why? What’s the decision making process & timeline? What are their goals & cost structures? What new technologies are they exploring? And more.


  1. Understand the territory or country


No two customers are exactly alike, let alone two cultures or countries. No PM ever heard a customer say, “Just give me the same thing you give everybody else”! PMs must think globally, but act locally. This requires a clear understanding of the company, and of cultural and national differences. Visiting and working in the local territory helps the PM differentiate products/services more accurately to fit the local needs and values. The development of a differentiated “marketing mix” for each company, area, culture and/or country will help the PM focus and hit the target.


  1. Set clear and focused goals


Goals are “dreams” with numbers attached; if there’s no way to measure the goal, it’s just a dream. Professional PMs establish “SMART” goals, three or four at most. SMART is an acronym for; Simple (sales revenue, market share, pre-tax profit, return on net assets, etc.), Measurable (expressed in numbers, percentages or monetary units like Euro or Dollars), Attainable (resources are available to attain the goal), Realistic (goals are linked to an external index and/or research) and Time framed (near term or long term).


  1. Have a plan


The PM is responsible for developing strategic (long term) and annual plans. These are the “road map” that will be followed to reach the “SMART” goals mentioned in tip 3. Plans include a positioning statement defining customer values and a competitive comparison of other market offerings. Additionally, the objectives, strategies and tactics are operationally defined and detailed for all support staff.


  1. Learn how to access the resources available to you


It’s the PM’s responsibility to know exactly what resources are required to get the job done, and more importantly, how to access and negotiate for those resources (people, time and money). The PM must sell senior management and departmental staff on the benefits they and the corporation could gain by supporting the PM’s product and/or service efforts. Clearly linking requests to goals and objectives increases the resources the PM can capture.


  1. Develop excellent “soft skills”


“Soft skills” (people skills) are a measure of the PM’s ability to work with and through others to deliver product/service goals. Product knowledge won’t help here, the PM must be able to lead and convince others not reporting directly to the PM, to support his/her efforts. Asking, rather than telling, others what you need will improve your success. Also, a PM must know exactly what they’re requesting of others in terms of a time, people and/or money commitment.


  1. Avoid surprises (keep management informed)


Give senior management a “heads up” in advance. This should take the form of regular reports, for example: monthly report, field trip report, project report, tech team report and forecast report. Also, be prepared for surprise enquiries from management by having a fact book. This is a portable information source for the product/service with all current “top line” data available for immediate access.

给高层一个“预警”。这可以表现为定期的报告,例如:月度报告,实地考察报告,项目报告,技术团队报告和预测报告。还有,通过对fact book的管理为意外做好准备。这是一种针对所有当前可用于立即访问的top line数据的产品/服务的便携信息来源。

  1. Learn to sell your ideas to senior management


Management will approve programmes and projects that they agree with, especially those that deliver corporate goals and objectives. PMs must be very specific when requesting support for their ideas. State objectives up front; don’t assume they know what’s needed. Communicate current and future needs, imparting the full impact of the request. If your request requires a group decision, lobby in advance to identify the supporters, detractors and “fence sitters”. Detractors objections must be uncovered, do not assume you know what they are, ask and address them. Also, use supporters to help pull “fence sitters” onto your side.


  1. Accelerate up the learning curve


New product development is vital to long term survival. PMs must leverage existing resources (people, plant and facilities) to accelerate development and speed development. Products that require little or no fixed cost investment reach “break even” quicker and pay back faster. Simply put, you must get to market NOW! Tomorrow is too late.


  1. Say “thank you”


Learn to say “thank you” to people for their support. No one enjoys working without recognition. A “thank you” is a small but powerful tool, if used correctly. For example, a manufacturing engineer supports your efforts and delivers ahead of schedule. The PM immediately sends a “thank you” note, something like: “As a direct result of your efforts, we’ve beaten the competition and hit the market early. It looks like the product will exceed projected profit goals for Q1! Thanks, we couldn’t have done it without your help”. Send copies to your manager and the managers of those who supported you. Why? It reinforces “team” effort and increases chances for support on future projects.


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