Product manager’s role nowadays is not limited to just a single aspect. The different roles these days for a product manager is a marketer, analyst, strategist, etc. So it’s pretty much evident that a product manager has to balance the business objectives with customer needs to create innovative products that users can relate to and use with ease. For this, a product manager always has to constantly learn new ways to improve his work.

There are many practices that a product manager needs to adopt in order to make sure he is right on track. Following are the top 7 ways which I personally think defines the role and can make a product manager better in his professional career.

1. Goals of the Company

Understanding the main objective of the company what it wants to achieve and how its top management measures success are key questions for a product manager. A product may not be mature enough so that he will have to wait a considerable amount of time. Thinking about what matters most for the executives and stakeholders and align with them whenever possible.

2. Dialogue with Customers

Current customers and users are the greatest resource for a product manager. After all, there’s no point of developing a product that is not wanted by anyone. Many of the active customers will be happy to tell you which features they use and enjoy the most and which are thorns in their sides. Dealing with the customers can sometimes turn unpleasant because of various reasons.

The insights a product manager can get after discussing with customer about the product’s true value is priceless. In this way, he can develop a proper product management roadmap. Conduct user testing or run a short survey to learn how customers interact with your product, try heat mapping software to see how users are interacting with your site and gather feedback whenever possible.

3. Knowledge of the Sales and Supports Team

Sales team in any company is in constant communication with current and potential customers and has valuable insights into market landscape. The expertise of a smart person handling the sales team and what tactics/strategies he has in mind to lure the prospective customers is very important in the success of a campaign. Very often than not, the sales team face overwhelming workload from the management and then there’s the product manager we are talking about.

Product’s specific strengths and weaknesses and the problems customers are trying to solve they encounter with a product are usually known by the sales team. This support team is also the people who know firsthand how the current customers are actually using the product. The job of the product manager is to educate the sales team to give information about how the customers should be using a product to their advantage.

The product manager also needs to answer the questions of the sales team regarding issues and complaints of the customers and their exact and precise answers to satisfy them completely.

4. Use the Product

While this aspect is quite obvious, you will be amazed to find out that this is a major issue the project team faces as the product manager himself do not know how to use the product completely or use it sparingly. For example, a product manager who don’t have a complete idea about a task management software will find it pretty difficult to explain the features to the support team and in turn will affect the performance of that team too in addition to his own performance.

There can be many differences in the beta version of a product/software and in the final version. The product manager should know in explicit terms about the major features added in the final version like UI features, functioning on different platforms, etc.

5. Analyze other Products

Checking out the competitors’ products and the features they offer is one sure-shot way to enhance not only your product but gaining insights into your rival’s working. The product manager needs to think about features or offers which makes a rival product great. He then have to think about ways how to incorporate a particular feature in his product to make it work well and at par with other products in the market.

6. Plan and Execute

Using the data and insights from the above mentioned 5 steps, a product manager should be able to apply some drastic changes in his own product. But first, the need to define a long-term vision for the product is necessary. To take on board all the relevant departments like developers, designers, sales, marketing, etc. is required. This is also important as the feedback the product manager gets helps him in determining which features and capabilities to prioritize in the next release.

7. Connect with Peers in the Industry

The use of latest information, industry news and trends are only possible if a product manager interacts with the peers. There are many groups available online and forums available on many social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook. Even a professional with lots of experience about any industry needs to learn new things in order to keep up with the pace of industry.

The above mentioned tips can be helpful for any product manager. How would you rate the above mentioned blog? Need any clarification in this regard? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.