In a small startup, product managers may find themselves wearing multiple hats. In this ProductTank Vienna talk, Nikolaus Horn and Sebastian Ratcliffe, product managers at Riskine, dispel some of the myths about what it means to be a product manager working in a smaller B2B business and explain how they needed to think outside the box to solve problems.
Watch the video to see their talk in full or read on for an overview of their key points:
- Business strategy
- Product strategy
- Product design
- Sales and marketing
Myth: Business strategy drives product development
The reality is there can be some tension between business strategy and product development. Sebastian explains that product managers need to create a baseline for how much product development needs to happen. Then product development needs to be measurable to ensure that it aligns with the business strategy.
Myth: To succeed, your product needs to be the best in the market.
Sebastian highlights his experience in strategic consulting as he explains how in many larger companies, the goal is to create the best possible product on the market. For startups, however, competitor analysis and trying to outdo them isn’t the best approach. The key is to understand the customer and then make the best possible recommendation to meet their needs. Each new feature added should provide customers with some value.
Myth: You need to validate all of your design decisions through end-users
Effective product design requires that product managers do research and get help from their end-users. However, as Nikolaus points out, some customers may be in the habit of complaining about products and how difficult they may be to use, but not great at explaining the specifics and what they wish the product could do instead. By ignoring those users, product managers can instead co-design products with those end-users who could find creative workarounds and provide them with the features they need.
Product sales and marketing
Myth: Sales is not a technical role
Sales is, in fact, a strategic role that can get technical. Product managers need to align on the client’s strategic goals and participate in sales calls allowing sales teams to participate in product testing. This will make it easier to meet the right technical requirements and design products that everyone can use.
The key takeaways from this talk are that product managers need to bring new ideas to the table in a small startup but let organizations digest them gradually. They must also seek to provide value for the customers but be on the lookout for requirements that could cause tension within the organization.
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