Product management is an elusive craft. The difference between a good and great product manager is vague. However, their efforts highly affect the bottom line of a company.

We talked earlier how product managers can turn customer feedback and wisely use to develop product roadmap. And key metrics every SaaS company has to track... Those are vital tasks performed by PMs. Let's talk about something we tend to overlook – soft skills.

Developing ideas, managing teams, understanding customer needs is not rocket science and as anything not very technical requires strong softs skills nobody talks about.

“At the heart of every product person, there’s a desire to make someone’s life easier or simpler. If we listen to the customer and give them what they need, they’ll reciprocate with love and loyalty to your brand.” – Francis Brown, Product Development Manager at Alaska Airlines

Core competencies

To get a full picture of a great product manager, let's talk briefly about core competencies:

  • Conducting user interviews and testing
  • Roadmap planning and feature prioritization
  • Budgeting and resource (both human and financial) allocation
  • Market research
  • Pricing and revenue modeling
  • Defining key metrics and tracking them
  • Announce product updates and new features

Obviously, these core competencies serve as a baseline, and responsibilities vary from one organization to another. However, those skills contribute to the success or failure of their products and help to continuously work on directing a product based on feedback they receive.

High Emotional intelligence

A great Product manager has not only technical skills and knowledge to perform the job, but also high emotional intelligence, which is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

Product Managers have a stressful job, where each decision can lead to a disastrous domino effect. So qualitative part of the job requires them to have high emotional intelligence.

Their tasks include leading and motivating the team as well as dealing with customers complains. Each of us is a human being with tendencies to get angry, stressed, and make bad decisions. But PMs need to have superior interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.  Because at the end of the day, the success or failure of the product lies on their shoulders.

"PMs must understand customers’ emotions and concerns about their product as much as they understand the concerns of the sales team on how to sell that product, or the support team on how to support it, or the engineering team on how to build it. PMs have to have a deep understanding of how the organization operates and must build social capital to influence the success of their product, from obtaining budget and staffing to securing a top engineer to work on their product. " – Julia Austin from Harvard University.

The craft of collecting customer insights

All parties involved in product management and development realize the significance of feedback coming from consumers. Product managers apply persuasive methods to generate high-quality customer feedback and make customers feel that their opinion is heard.

It is an art in its pure form to understand customers' needs.

Customer Insight can be discovered by evaluating how customers behave and interact with your product and how they feel about it. Insights are when you look at your product through the lens of the customer removing personal biases and being empathetic to their needs. It is about asking the right questions and carefully listening to what they say.

Related article: 3 Unconventional channels to communicate with new clients

Ability to consume insane amounts of information

Nowadays, the world is going through an unprecedented amount of data daily. To be specific, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data and it’s only growing. Product managers get to immerse themselves in the market world which is bombarded with new information. They gain and acquire information like no other in order to have a competitive edge and place the company in a better, competitive position.

The ability to predict future competitive product introductions

Product Managers ability to predict new products and act on it is one of the important factors that go under the radar. This skill involves finding a spot for a new product to be introduced at the right time and place. As well as adding new features that will boost the product's sales if needs be.

Their methods include good market research by gathering extensive knowledge of their customers and their competitors. Afterward, they commit to deliver the information gathered into a product that hopefully satisfies the consumer’s wants or the consumer’s unknown wants.

The Ability to keep your Product development exciting

The start of building a product is usually met with excitement and enthusiasm. The team is looking forward to working with the product manager to create the product into existence. It’s all looking well until the inevitable happens. The team shows signs of weariness and their energy is seemingly going down, thus impacting product development. As a product manager, they are tasked to keep this from happening and keep it as exciting as it started out. This Product manager’s skill of keeping the product development exciting is a hidden trait.

To wrap it all up,

Product managers carry a responsibility to guide product roadmap, manage product and make sure that customer's needs and wants are satisfied. It is a great challenge, that requires working on developing both soft and technical skills.