Product managers work with sales, marketing, engineering and various other departments to oversee products throughout their lifecycle. From the development of the product itself to the launch of the product into the market, product managers are there every step of the way. As companies grow and diversify their product lines or as products reach a plateau in their success, the need for a well-trained product manager increases exponentially. Markets change quickly and the ability of a product manager to not only identify but stay ahead of the market, is invaluable. Use this job description to recruit and hire an outstanding product manager, or see if you want to be a product manager yourself!
A B2B Product Manager:
- Has to consider the dynamics of the customer organization from the top down, their strategic goals and priorities, and the impact those goals and priorities have on the jobs of the people in the trenches – the users.
- Has to consider the impact of other products in the portfolio and their complementary value in forming higher-value solutions for the customer. In other words, the whole (portfolio) is more valuable than the sum of the parts (each product). The best thing for each product isn’t always the most valuable for the customer organization.
Given that the product manager role runs the gamut from one organization to another, this product manager job description is written in the broader context of the B2B product management function versus the individual contributor.
Product Manager Job Description
The B2B product management function has two ultimate goals:
- Create products and solutions that make users “quantifiably” better at job tasks that have strategic value to the customer organization.
- Make sure those products and solutions can be delivered, marketed and sold in a manner that supports [our_company_name] strategic goals and financial targets.
Product Management Responsibilities
- Performs basic vertical and horizontal market segmentation for a portfolio of products that serves common markets and customers.
- Quantifies and prioritizes each market segment for the portfolio as a whole based on the strength of the portfolio in each market segment.
- Writes pure unfiltered business requirements that reflect how target customers see themselves from the top of the organization down (business goals and priorities), without any reference or bias to a product.
- Understands the relationship between vertical industry business requirements that are unique to each market segment and horizontal product solutions, i.e., customers in completely different businesses do the same things for different reasons.
- Educates the organization on the dynamics of each market segment such that all disciplines see the same markets through a common lens.
- Educates marketing, sales, engineering, account managers, client services, etc. on the operational priorities and initiatives of target customers in each market segment.
- Performs scenario-based competitive analysis (not a competitive feature matrix) that identifies customer circumstances in which your product is superior/inferior to the competition and the subsequent value narrative that should accompany marketing/sales positioning and future product plans.
- Analyzes the performance of the product portfolio in each target market segment to identify opportunities and trends that impact product strategy, marketing initiatives and sales priorities.
- Creates/contributes to a strategic value-based portfolio roadmap that aligns the focus of all products in the portfolio to the most critical business goals and operational priorities of target customers.
- Creates value-based product roadmaps that align the focus of each product to the user job tasks with the biggest impact on the collective business goals and operational priorities of target customers.
- Creates (non-product) value-based user stories that explain WHAT users are doing and WHY to ensure that proper business context drives product design and engineering teams.
- Creates (non-product) workflow diagrams for user job tasks so that the obstacles to successfully completing those job tasks are clearly identified before product features and specs are defined.
- Defines product requirements to support value-based user stories and workflows.
- Creates prioritized product plans and backlogs with scope that mirrors customer business goals and operational priorities.
- Able to communicate the market/business value of a portfolio strategy, product roadmap and release plan without mentioning product features.
- Works closely with product design and engineering teams to ensure new products and features deliver the expected (quantifiable) business value to the customer as defined in the business requirements.
- Provides business requirements and supporting product requirements to other business functions as necessary to successfully rollout, launch, market, sell, implement, and support products and solutions.
- Provides escalation support to marketing, sales and other customer-facing functions where deeper product and/or market knowledge is required.
- Leads product rollout and company readiness efforts to ensure all back office, market and customer-facing functions are self-sufficient and don’t rely on product management to complete routine daily job tasks.
- Routinely spends quality time with customers and prospects to gain a more thorough understanding of how they see their business so that portfolio strategies and product plans are consistently aimed at their top business goals and priorities.
- Responsible for maintaining the regulatory and legal compliance requirements of all products.
Beneficial Personality Traits
- A people-person that’s more curious about the business of the customers than he/she is about the technical aspects of the product.
- Prides oneself on having deeper and more well-rounded knowledge on the markets and customers than all other disciplines.
- Positive, “glass-is-always half-full” attitude.
- A charismatic public speaker/presenter.
- Strong written and verbal communication skills (gives you the time without explaining how the watch was built).
- Articulate and persuasive.
- Opportunistic and resourceful mindset that rarely accepts NO for an answer.
- Others find them enjoyable to work with.
- Excellent at multi-tasking.
- No bothered by constant chaos and doesn’t expect everything to be perfect or completely logical in order to succeed.
- Comfortable in a leadership role and enjoys high visibility among peers.
- A strong desire to be the respected authority on markets and customer business practices.
- Bachelor’s degree in business administration, MBA preferred.
- X years prior experience in a product management role.
- X years prior experience in (business domain) role.
- Willing to travel up to 35% of the time.
Although not part of the formal product manager job description, the following may be helpful to hiring managers during the interview and selection process.
Easiest Roles to Transition From
- Customer-facing roles (that possess many of the personality traits above) such as:
- Pre-sales consultant (demo specialist)
- Account manager
- Client services/implementation consultant
- Industry consultants with strong business domain expertise in functional areas that are relevant to your products.
Most Difficult Roles to Transition From
- Non-customer facing roles (that don’t possess many of the personality traits above) such as:
- Project manager
- Software developer
- System architect
- UX designer
Want to learn more about the uniqueness of the product management role in B2B?
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Related Article: The Rise of the Market Owner Role in B2B Product Management