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Intro.to product manager

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Intro.to product manager

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  6. 6. Article 2 Product Strategy
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  9. 9. Article 3 Product RoadMap  
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  14. 14. How to Build a Brilliant Visual Product Roadmap?? Building roadmaps is a crucial part of a product manager’s job. Yet most product managers still use outdated tools for roadmapping—Excel, PowerPoint, wikis, etc. It’s painful. The good news is that there’s a better way. Executives have a vision of the future. Sales and marketing teams want to be heard. And engineering is waiting for those detailed requirements and user stories. Great product managers must walk a fine line between managing inputs and distilling a plan.
  15. 15. The best product managers start with a ―goal first‖ approach and work to build consensus before building and sharing their roadmap. To accomplish this and get to a plan of record, you need a collaborative roadmap that offers ongoing visibility. Here are a few easy steps to help you create a brilliant visual roadmap. 1. Define your product strategy. To start, you must clearly define your strategy by setting product vision, goals and initiatives for each product. Since major initiatives drive your goals, link them together. When this step is complete, you can see the relationships between your product lines, products, goals, initiatives and releases all on one screen. This helps you find orphan goals or initiatives that can’t be linked to high-level objectives. 2. Customize your roadmap based on who will view it. Select which features to highlight and choose whether to present internal or external data. The external release date can be different than your internal release dates. It can also be rounded to a broader timeframe to be less precise (e.g. show releases by quarter). For customer views, you can show the theme of the release and key features in which they will be interested. Internal stakeholders will want to understand the strategic importance, conveyed through goals and initiatives. You can also create views for specific customers, allowing your audience to see roadmaps that are relevant to their specific business objectives.
  16. 16. Roadmap to Revenue Shifting your organization from company-centered (marketing and selling) to customer-centric (supporting the customers’ buying process) makes perfect sense. Your customers are driving the buying process. They are in charge of the interaction. They know what they want and how they want to buy it. They hold all the cards. They can walk away at any moment. If what you say and do supports the way they want to buy, they will stick with you through the process. You will make the sale. If you don’t support their process, they will simply take their money elsewhere. Making the shift from company-centered to customer-centric is a journey. After you make the shift, you won’t be marketing and selling anymore. You’ll be supporting the customers’ buying process, systematically removing barriers to the sale and selling more. The Work Ahead You can’t make the shift from company-centered to customer-centric without interviewing your customers. But there is more to it than just finding out what they want to buy from you and how they want to buy it. You have to analyze that knowledge, turn it into an action plan and get everyone in your company involved. If you don’t, you won’t really be making the shift. You’ll still be marketing and selling, while trying to make the shift. You’ll still have all the same problems, plus the complication of everyone thinking, ―The Boss wants us to do this shift thing, but I’m not clear what I should do, and I have a deadline to meet right now.‖ You’ll be confusing matters instead of bringing new clarity to your revenue-generating activities. The entire roadmap to revenue process includes three basic steps. Step 1: Discover. Find out what they want and how they want to go about buying it. You will interview customers to find out what they need and how they want to buy. During the interviews, customers will also give you additional critical information, such as their perceptions of your company, products, services and website; trends they see; how they’re using technology to make purchases; and what they think of your competition.
  17. 17. The information gathered in the initial interviews will be turned into two reports: a conversation report and a summary/recommendations report. The conversation report will contain the customers’ comments, categorized by subject. The summary/recommendations report will contain summaries of what your customers said and recommendations on how the company can solve the problems raised by customers. These reports will reveal what is broken and what is working. You will know what customers want to buy from you, how they want to buy and which aspects of your product or service they find most appealing. It is never what you assume; customers will say things that surprise you and make you realize you’ve been moving in the wrong direction in some areas of your business. Step 2: Debate. Resolve the differences between what they want versus what you have to sell, and how they buy versus how you sell. Once your brain trust has read these reports, it’s time to hold a brainstorming and planning meeting. On the first day, you will:  Analyze, discuss and prioritize what customers have said. The findings of your customer research will be presented to the people in the room (usually consisting of top management, sales, marketing, product management and web folks). List the issues most important to customers and all of the other issues, trends, perceptions, needs and buying-process data uncovered in the interviews. Everyone in the room will now be aware of what customers want, the problems that need to be solved, your strengths and weaknesses, and barriers to the sale.  Agree on the essence of your promise to customers. Customers are attracted to companies and their products or services because they expect to find a solution there. Promises are made by the company, to the customer, about the company and its products. The customer expects those promises to be kept. This is where you will identify and articulate the promises customers want you to keep—and ones that you can keep. Step 3: Deploy. Document your customers’ buying process so you can support them every step of the way, then build an action plan. On the second day of your brainstorming and planning meeting, you will:  Build a buying-process roadmap. Using the information gathered in interviews, and the experience of your salespeople, marketing people and web people, you will build a buying-process roadmap for each of your products and services. The roadmaps will show the different stages of the customers’ buying process. For each stage, you will list who is involved in the buying decision, the concerns they have and the actions they take, as well as the tools you will
  18. 18. use to address those concerns, answer their questions and make it easy for them to take the next step. The buying-process roadmap will align your sales, marketing and web teams. Everyone in the room will understand their role in supporting your customers’ buying process.  Build your revenue-growth action plan. You’ll want to fix what is broken and improve what needs improving. You will create a master to-do list. Each item on the list will have a description of the issue, the recommended solution, the steps involved, the owner, the due date and the status. As you go forward, with the buying-process roadmap as your guide, you will build, implement and then fine-tune your lead-acquisition and lead-conversion activities. You will institute methods for obtaining customer needs and preferences data. After the initial meeting, you’ll have weekly meetings where everyone can report on their progress (or completion). If anything is falling behind schedule, you’ll figure out how to get it moving again. The action plan must include the processes and systems for continuing to interview customers and gather data from customers when they interact with your customer-facing people. Processes must then be set up so the data leads to action. The revenue-killing momentum caused by insider mentality is like a boulder that must be pushed up a hill. Stop pushing, and it will roll over you. Over time, as you make the shift from a company-centered mentality to a customer-centric mentality, the boulder will decrease in size. Don’t be surprised if it takes a year for the shift to take place. Don’t relax even then. There will always be negative forces at work trying to separate you from your customers’ realities. You can’t afford for that to happen. Customer realities drive your revenue. Of course, even the small, immediate changes you start to make will make it easier for people to find you, understand what you are selling and buy from you—even before you have fully instituted the shift. Their questions will be answered in a way that satisfies them and takes them comfortably to the next step in their buying process. One by one, their concerns will be addressed and eliminated, and they will gladly make a purchase. The initial, incremental changes in the way you market and sell will move your revenue needle in the positive direction.
  19. 19. Article 4 Ten Things that Product Managers Need to Know About Sales. This article discusses how Product Managers can better support the sales process and sales reps. 'The sales team is one of the most critical success factors for a product. The sales team touches the customer directly, and the product manager must take responsibility to provide the sales tools and attitude needed to ensure success. Smart companies know that the information that comes back from the field is often just as important as what you send out. Best practices that encourage active participation between sales and product management and marketing can give your products the necessary edge in highly competitive technology markets.' David Hickman ActivePortal Product Line Manager, TIBCO Product Managers Are Not Sales Engineers Product Managers (PMs) are at the epicenter of driving the product and therefore the hub of product knowledge. However, direct product support of the sales process is the sales engineer's (SE) job, not the PM's. If a PM is constantly dragged into sales cycles, he will become an SE. One of the consequences of this is losing the necessary perspective for managing the product. Yes, PMs need to work with and support the sales force but more as consultants than full time participants. One may point out that in many companies, PMs are called in to help with specific sales cycles. While this is the case and many times necessary, PMs rarely have the training for this. It's the PM's job to support the sales group, not to support individual sales processes. The above withstanding, make sure that your reluctance to be dragged into an SE role is not seen as arrogance or unwillingness to help drive the bottom line.
  20. 20. Help, Don't Preach--Your Sales Rep is on the Front Line and They Need Help Now! The sales rep is in many ways is similar to a frontline soldier. Just as on the battlefield where soldiers need air cover, sales reps need product, marketing and other types of support. The analogy goes further. When a sales rep calls for urgent help to save a sale, the PM needs to do anything they can to help. While in theory, PMs are not supposed to support specific sales cycles, no one cares less about theory when a sale is at risk. Help the rep first, examine and fix the process that got him to need urgent support later. Coming to the rescue of a sales rep when he's under fire, doesn't mean becoming their SE.  Create effective communication channels with the sales force. Set up a Sales Support SWAT Team. Hand pick your members from the various groups that include, Product Management, Product Marketing, Engineering, Customer Support and QA. Make sure to have representatives from the field such as Sales Engineers.  Hold weekly conference calls to keep everyone up to date and keep everyone informed about the latest developments in the field as well as with the product. Use the forum to share new leads, opportunities and outstanding issues.  Other effective communication tools are email aliases and archived discussion groups. David Hickman ActivePortal Product Line Manager, TIBCO Know the Difference Between Demoing and Training Too frequently, product managers turn product demos into training sessions. A demo is a presentation of the benefits the product will deliver. A demo becomes a training session when the presenter describes how the promise of the benefits is realized, what the user needs to do to achieve these benefits and how the product behaves. Understanding the difference between these two presentations of the product is critical issue when in front of decision makers. Decision makers are interested in the benefits, not about how the product works. Or as the Chinese say: 'It doesn't matter if the cat is black or white as long as it kills mice.' Rule #1 of Demos: Know thy Audience
  21. 21. Sometimes, Feigning Ignorance is a Good Thing 'About 30 minutes into my presentation, one of the programmers in the back of the room raises their hand. I called on him. I knew the answer and shot it back at him with my very impressive answer. This happened several times and the result was the same. My confidence was building... I noticed however that my sales manager didn't appear as happy as I thought he should be under the circumstances. 'At the half-way mark, we took a break and my sales manager pulled me aside and asked me what I thought was going on with the questions. With full confidence, I told him the guy in the back just wanted to test to see if I really knew my stuff. He said 'No, that's not it. He's trying to show the chief that he's worth the money he's paying him by stumping the sales guy. The next time he asks you a question, instead of giving it to him, why don't you try saying 'good question. I'm not sure... let me make a note of it and get back to you.'' 'When I began the second half, it wasn't long before a hand shot up in the back of the room. I knew the answer. This time however, I answered with, 'good question. I'm not sure... let me make a note of that and I'll get back to you.' What surprised me was the fact that I saw this programmer, who had been asking all those tough questions, look over at the chief, and the chief nodded in recognition! This guy never asked me another question during the remainder of the presentation. My sales manager was right! He was just trying to prove his value to his boss.' Don France, Principal SalesNavigation Some prospects' behaviors are motivated by concerns that are foreign to advancing the buying process. As in the example above, the programmer was out to prove his worth to his manager by stumping the sales rep, not to learn more about the product. By not answering the programmer's question, the narrator was able to end his stream of disruptive questions and make himself look better to his manager. By feigning ignorance, the sales rep was able to move on with the presentation and increase the chances of closing the sale. Other times you should consider feigning ignorance:  When the prospect asks about the product roadmap and you don't feel comfortable sharing it with them due to confidentiality concerns or that you know that the prospect's wish list is not part of the roadmap.  If the prospect asks about pricing. Pricing should always be left to the sales rep.
  22. 22. Know When Not to Speak PMs are brought into meetings with prospects as product experts to collect input and to learn about their needs. Before a PM joins a sales call, it must be very clear to all those involved exactly what the PM can and cannot say. One example of counter productive enthusiasm is to tell the prospect about great new features on the roadmap only to have them defer their purchase until these features are available. When talking about the product, if you get to a point where a prospect says 'this is perfect' or 'this is great', that's a signal to stop talking. From the prospect's perspective, you can only go down from here. Describing additional features and functionalities cannot improve upon this statement and they risk generating objections. Overselling the product can wear the prospect down and dampen their enthusiasm. There is a basic difference between knowing the product and knowing how to explain it to advance the sales process. KISS (Keep it Simple...) Sales reps are very selective in how they apply their intelligence. If they don't see how the information you are presenting them as having a direct bearing on their sales efforts, they will tend to forget it. So... whatever you train them with, keep it simple and relevant. The same goes for communicating with them. Keep it simple and straightforward. Always make sure that it is clear to the reps what benefits they are getting out of your communication to them. Just as with prospects, presenting sales reps with more information will tend to dilute the message. How to test your message for complexity--If the sales reps understand what you are saying, great. But that's not good enough. They have to be able to explain it in their own words to a prospect that is even less knowledgeable then they are. That's the criteria that matters. Don't Put Lipstick on the Pig Marketing should understand better than anyone what the competitors are doing and help the reps sort out the product's strengths and weaknesses vs. the competition. PMs should provide the wording for the 'spin' but start by letting the reps know the whole truth. Reps hate getting blindsided by something the competition really does better that they didn't know about. Getting blindsided at a prospect looks extremely unprofessional and blows any credibility a rep might have for a consultative sale.
  23. 23. Keep the Sales Materials Timely and Accessible Sales materials get outdated very quickly. Continuous effort must be made to ensure that the reps have the most up to date materials. Don't rely on reps to 'pull' this material from a central repository. If you can push materials to their desktops, great. But if not, use a portal server with a notification feature to update the sales reps when new sales materials are posted. 'Keeping sales tools up-to-date is always a challenge, especially when you deal with as many products as we do in Higher Ed. Therefore our marketing Intranet site (for internal use) is synched with our electronic sales manual. Consolidating information in a database format that can be presented in a browser is huge for us, especially now that we are carrying laptops or Tablet PCs on campus.' Chad Douglas, Pacific Regional Manager McGraw-Hill Higher Education I Need This Feature to Close the Deal? Sales reps tend to see everything from the perspective of their current sales cycle. As a PM, you must recognize that the sales rep is passing on his understanding of what the prospect wants. The problem is that most sales reps do not have the tools to understand what the prospect needs vs. what the prospect claims she wants. Nor do they have the ability to accurately explain it the pain to you. It's your job to contact the prospect, via the rep, and get a better understanding of her needs. A common problem is that the feature the rep 'needs' to close a deal may be forgotten by the customer the day after its delivered and it is the PM's job to investigate, understand and add the correct perspective to their request. It's the sales rep's responsibility to avoid getting to a point late in the process where a prospect raises an objection about a missing critical feature. Critical features in this context are either environmental features such as the OS required to run the product, font support etc. or cultural features such that accommodate local cultures such as localization. Without support for these features, the rep will not be able to sell in a specific market. Re. other, less critical features, when a prospect raises an objection because of a missing feature, this is usually a cover for another point of discomfort that the prospect is not verbalizing. A good sales rep will identify these objections and diffuse them.
  24. 24. Summary To be as effective as possible, PMs need to understand the sales process and how to effectively support sales reps and the sales process. Good hunting! Article 5 The Exceptional Product Manager: What is the Right Stuff? What makes an exceptional product manager? I was struck by this very question many years ago when I first became a manager. When it came time for the company’s annual performance review process, it seemed that managers could agree most of the time on who the top performers were, but when asked to articulate the reasons why, the answers invariably were phrases like ―high output, high-quality work,‖ ―displayed leadership,‖ and so on, with an example or two given. While true, these reasons were too ambiguous and did little to guide people. Intuitively, we all know a star performer when we see one, but we are often at a loss to succinctly say why. Hence, I asked myself: ―Why is so-and-so a star and what makes him/her stand out?‖ What emerged was a list of attributes that were essential to not merely fulfilling, but exceeding, the requirements of the job. Star performer s invariably scored well on virtually all of them, while others scored lower. I use the list of attributes as a complement to the standard company performance review forms to both assess an individual’s performance and to coach them. In so doing, keeping the list to a single page ensures maintaining focus on the key attributes. Employee feedback has been consistently positive because it provides
  25. 25. specific goals in performing the job, practical assessments and tangible improvement ideas. I found that about a third of the list is common across all jobs, not just that of product manager: for example, exhibiting a good attitude is universal. Other attributes, such as good communication skills, are also universal but their importance and the degree to which they are used varies by job function. Still, other attributes are unique to the product manager job itself. So, what is the ―right stuff‖ for product managers? Here is my list of exceptional product manager attributes, forged and honed from 15 years in high-tech product management. Attitude: Foundation for success Attitude is the first attribute on the list because it is what drives individuals to achieve results and improve their performance. This is especially important for product managers because they must be self-starters and leaders who must constantly move their products and organizations forward. ATT1 Is enthusiastic, sees problems as opportunities, and proactively develops knowledge and skills needed. ATT2 Perseveres through any and all situations with indomitable spirit and professionalism, keeping perspective and displaying a good sense of humor. I remember being told as a young engineer fresh out of school that if the boss said, ―I have an opportunity for you,‖ to run for cover because it was probably an undesirable problem. With many ―opportunities‖ under my belt since then, I have learned that problems—while admittedly sometimes painful to have to deal with—truly offer opportunities to improve. For example, customer objections to purchasing a product often require sharpening the value proposition and/or competitive positioning. Or, by clarifying the objection, an alternative solution may emerge that is much easier to deal with. In a world that is increasingly global, competitive, and perhaps uncertain, how we handle adversity can determine the winners. In short, product managers are highly- visible role models: they are looked to by other members of the company for direction and, when times are tough, for how they respond and for assurance that the right things are being done to ensure success. Humor is an especially effective tool. After a particularly difficult call with a customer, I recall my manager slowly shaking his head,
  26. 26. and saying with a resigned smile, ―In the next life, I want to be the customer!‖ That instantly broke the tension we all felt and allowed us to get on with addressing the customer’s issues. Knowledge: Applying what is learned Knowledge provides a groundwork for most of the other attributes and its application helps product managers excel at them. KNOW1 For each product managed, intimately understands its features and capabilities, how they relate to customer benefits and uses, and how the product compares to competitive or substitute products and solutions. KNOW2 Understands key applicable market, customer, industry, competitive, environmental, regulatory and technological forces and trends. KNOW3 Is well-versed in market requirements and product definition using best current practices, and the end-to-end product realization process from conception through discontinuation. As a product manager, I spend a lot of time being an ―Information Broker‖ since I am constantly called upon to provide information to engineers, the sales department, and customers. Engineers want to know: Why is this feature or requirement important? Why must this be developed by such-and-such date? What is happening in the market or with a particular customer? Sales and customers want to know: Why is your product superior to competitive solutions? When will this feature be available? How does this feature work? And, so on. The fact is, knowledge inspires confidence and confidence breeds success. Knowledge is the source of a product manager’s ability to influence and lead: engineers will be confident in the decisions we make, Sales will be confident in the ability to sell the product, and customers will be confident in both the product and the company. Communication: Engaging others All jobs require some communication, but effective, proactive communication is especially important for product managers, who must engage a wide variety of co- workers, partners, customers and industry colleagues. Product Management is about communicating with others to both learn and convey what is—and is not—important, and what should be done, and why. COMM1 Superb, empathetic, open-minded, active listener; asks good questions.
  27. 27. COMM2 Demonstrates clear, articulate, and well-organized oral and written communications style. COMM3 Proactively interacts and establishes rapport with people of diverse styles, backgrounds and job positions/levels. The previous section on knowledge discussed examples of communicating information. However, effective communication begins with listening: ―Seek understanding before seeking to be understood.‖ In communicating, nothing is worse than conveying information that the other party is either not interested in or cannot understand. When called upon to make presentations to customers, for example, I always try to find out as much as I can about the audience and what they want to know, as well as what we, as the vendor, want to accomplish. At the meeting itself, I also seek to have the customer talk first and I ask clarifying questions. All of this allows me to target what I present and how I present it to the customer’s specific needs. Customers: Being the customer advocate ―It’s the customers who pay our bills‖ is an old and very true saying. The product manager’s fundamental role is to ensure the bills keep getting paid by identifying the intersection between what customers value—and are willing to pay for—and the organization’s distinctive capabilities to satisfy them better than anyone else. CUST1 Understands, empathizes with, and can articulate customers’ viewpoints and perspectives. Understands what problems, challenges and opportunities customers face in their businesses and how customers use, or could use, the product(s) to address them. CUST2 Translates customer wants and needs into concise technical marketing requirements. CUST3 Synthesizes and prioritizes across customers’ wants and needs, balancing them with company capabilities. Having an engineering background, I have seen first-hand how easy it is to become enamored with technology and the tendency to add ―bells and whistles‖ because it’s fun and because it can be done. As product managers, however, we must realize that the limited resources available to us must be laser-focused on solving customer problems and opportunities. Simply put, to be successful, help make your customers successful. At the same time, customers sometimes want the world and it is up to the product manager to qualify this, make the necessary tradeoffs to fit within company
  28. 28. capabilities and timeframes, and drive ambiguity out of what needs to be done via articulate technical marketing requirements. Managing: Passion for results Exceptional product managers are extremely results-oriented, doing whatever it takes to achieve the desired objectives. MANG1 Establishes appropriate goals. Plans and manages toward achieving goals, anticipates problems and issues and proactively drives their resolution. MANG2 Handles many tasks at one time and prioritizes among them. MANG3 Able to lead a team and be a team member. Instills a winning, ―can-do‖ spirit among co-workers and team members, bringing out the best in them and lifting their level of play. The first two attributes, here, are important yet basic ―Management 101‖ concepts. The third attribute is less obvious and crucial. As a product manager, you are, by definition, the Chief Cheerleader for your product. You must believe passionately that your product is a winner and be able to communicate crisply why it is. You count on your teammates in engineering to build the product (to your specifications) and you count on your teammates in Sales to sell the product (using materials you have developed). As a result, you have a great ability—and responsibility —to enable others to do their jobs well. Decision-Making: The essence of product management The best, most succinct definition I ever heard as to what my job as a product manager entailed was: ―Your job is to make decisions.‖ Product managers face a never-ending progression of decisions that range from the very specific and tactical, such as, ―What words or letters should go on a label?‖ to the highly strategic, ―What markets do we want to go after two years from now?‖ DEC1 Understands the problem to be solved, the issue to be addressed and/or the need to be satisfied. DEC2 Determines the criteria (business, technical, economic, customer impact, etc.) to be used in making the decision and formulates the path leading to the decision.
  29. 29. DEC3 Makes sound decisions in a timely manner knowing when to get more information and when to proceed with incomplete information, avoiding ―analysis paralysis.‖ Accepts responsibility and accountability for decisions made and their consequences. DEC4 Envisions possible future scenarios and outcomes and develops appropriate business and product strategies and contingencies. A typical decision product managers face is to decide which features—and which capabilities within a feature—to include in a software release for Development. That release may take 6-12 months to develop and another 6-12 months before it is deployed and used by customers. That means it could take 12-24 months before it is known whether the decision was a good one—a lifetime in most markets where much can change. Waiting to get more information to make the decision can help reduce risk, but it can also delay the release (and associated revenues), possibly missing the market window. Unlike the engineering world I started out in where things are ―black and white‖ and answers are ―right or wrong,‖ most decisions product managers face are in a world of ―gray.‖ One of the most important lessons I learned came from an ex- CEO professor in business school who said: ―There are no right answers, only intelligent choices.‖ Conclusion Product management is a demanding discipline because it requires making sense out of a changing and uncertain world in which, as we have seen, there are often no ―right‖ answers. It requires leadership, to relentlessly drive one’s organization and product forward in an increasingly challenging and competitive world. Yet, the joy and rewards of winning in the marketplace and seeing one’s product address a customer problem or need better than any competing solution are incomparable. By using the list of attributes, product managers can improve their effectiveness–and their managers can better coach them so they develop and have the ―right stuff,‖ and, in turn, more frequently experience those joys and rewards.
  30. 30. Article 6 5 Ways to Become a Respected Product Leader in the C-Suite What does it take for ambitious product leaders to become executives? Here are five things product team members can do to improve their odds of joining the C-suite. 1. Leave Your Comfort Zone Depending on your background, your comfort zone might be engineering, design or something else. But to be taken seriously, you must be able to speak the language of executives. When I was chief product officer at XING AG, I often felt uncomfortable when peers asked me to push business topics. I refused to talk about recruiting business or advertising because I believed I wouldn´t add enough value to the conversations. Every time the group of senior executives discussed those topics, I remained quiet. I only spoke up when the discussion focused on product and product strategy. Later, I realized that my thoughts about business weren’t so bad. By focusing solely on my function, I appeared less senior than I was and limited my sphere of influence. Avoid making the mistake I did; share your thoughts. 2. Care About Strategy Challenge your company to plan for the future. If there isn’t any planning yet, start working on it. Lead the process. Don’t let go. In one of my previous companies, I was too willing to accept what was available. I focused on driving my product and managing my 50-person team. I missed an opportunity to drive strategic thinking and set the agenda for the overall company. Only after a senior corporate director came on board did I realize the gaps in strategy that I had ignored. By then, I’d lost valuable time and my product strategy no longer fit into the larger context. It became impossible to explain how our product could serve the company’s needs. Find out your company’s plans and if none exist, create some. 3. Sell the Value that You Add You do yourself a disservice when you fail to understand the value you bring to your job. I sold myself short on a consultancy project because I thought I wasn’t mainstream enough. During the final presentation of my results, instead of talking about the points I truly believed in, I tried to translate my findings into business-speak. The result was a diluted message that left me disappointed in my delivery.
  31. 31. During the final feedback meeting, my client explained that his company had hired me because I wasn’t mainstream. He helped me realize that I’d made a mistake trying to act like other consultants instead of focusing on my unconventional thinking and personal background. The same is true in how we present ourselves at work. 4. Stay Focused on Your Customers A good CEO always appreciates hearing customer insights so it’s important to view everything you do as a service to your customers, and position yourself as the voice of your users. When I worked at Nokia we debated a lot around product, but without really any focus on our users. When a new product manager—who grounded her work in user interviews—shared her insights during a presentation, that’s who earned the vice president’s respect. You can do the same. 5. Deliver More than Data It’s important to do things that are tangible and experiential, not just talk in data points. For example, an employee wanted to reduce the number of different types of gloves in use at his company. He tried various methods and reports without success. But when he placed the different glove models on a boardroom table, he was able to break through to the executives. They saw the gloves pile up and immediately approved the cost-cutting proposal. Remember to share the story, not just the data. Entering the executive ranks requires you to shift your perspective, and not everyone is up for that. In fact, it’s more than okay to continue focusing on delivering great products. But if you are aiming for the C-suite, these five tips can help you get there.

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