Product management is a tough field for a new product manager to move into as there is not a well defined academic path into the vertical nor is there any established certifications or organizations that drive the product management approaches to ramp up on and master. As a result, young professionals trying to move into the product management field often look for tips to become a new product manager and find out what they can do to become one. What are the qualifications, what is the training, what is the experience, what is the education and so on to move into the field is a constant search because there is no real solid answer to the questions. Product Management is a vertical that anyone with the right soft skills can move into regardless of the answers to those questions.
With that said let’s say you recently were hired to be a new product manager and find yourself wondering what should I do from here to dig into your new role. The first thing you should do as a new product manager is simple, talk with customers. Remember, all products exist for one reason, someone at some point identified a pain point a user experienced and identified a solution to that problem. In order to manage the product, you need to ramp up on the user persona’s that are your customers and there pain points that you solve to ensure you are prioritizing features for your product that stay focused on this solution. There is no better way as a new product manager to ramp up on customer needs and pain points than to do user interviews and directly engaging with customers of your product to find out how things are going. What would they change about the product? Your understanding of the customer needs, pain points and goals within your product need to come first because this will be the basis for how you review the features that are available for your product and begin the prioritization process to see which feedback and features make it to your product roadmap.
As a new product manager, you need to start out by identifying a few key segments of your customer base. Who are your product champions that love your product and you can learn from them about what is working really well for them. What is your sales process to on board new users to your product and interview your leads trying to ramp up on your product to understand the flow and there experience. Who are your really unhappy customers or recently churned customers and interview them about what went wrong to make them leave your product. You need to hear from all sides of your customer base to really get a full view of your product. If all you listen to are your happy customers, you will not improve your product. You need to hear from your unhappy customers, those that are about to give up and figure out why they are feeling that way. Product teams live and die by sales conversions and customer churn so learning what drives those metrics is critical and the only way to improve them is to find out what is broken with them today or can be improved.
When you make the move into a new product manager role it is exciting time to be able to drive the vision and future of a product. When trying to identify your first steps always just remember that your product is there to solve a pain point and only your customer knows if your solution is doing the job they need it to do and keeping up with your competition and changing industry needs. Reach out early and often to your customers to really know the pain point and solution to drive the product roadmap forward.