Question: How can I move from sales to product management?
I’ve been a sales manager and then director of operations for a small web based software company for about 5 years. For the last two years I have been an independent consultant for creating and implementing sales strategies and processes. Since my work has been around small companies, we never had a formal “product management” role, but I have always been intrigued by the work that is involved in bringing a product to life.
I have now decided to pursue this passion, and am currently looking for a job in product management. How can I best position myself considering my experience in sales? How can I best persuade a fellow product manager to consider me as a candidate for the job?
Answer from Adrienne Tan of brainmates: Your best tactic for persuading a Product Manager that you are interested in Product Management is talking about the customer and the needs of the customer. Sales people have the added benefit of being at the forefront of organisations and have the opportunity to interact with customers. Having a solid understanding of customers will stand you in good stead in the realm of Product Management.
One of the key roles of a Product Manager is to understand and solve customer problems, and ultimately create products that customers love. Without a clear understanding of the customer problem, the products you develop may be solutions that “miss the mark.”
It’s important to distinguish that Product Managers do not create product solutions for individual customers or individual groups of customers. Product Managers look at the aggregate view of the customer and target a particular segment, a segment that will hopefully derive a return to the business.
You will also want to highlight your work as a Director of Operations when persuading a Product Manager that you are interested in Product Management. Good processes are fundamental to delivering a product. Product Managers that create great core products without the supporting operational processes will not be successful in the market place. Customers will tend to a find a substition to avoid the frustrations of poor processes.
You may want to review your work in small companies to determine the steps you took to “bring a product to life.” You may find that you’ve acted as the Product Manager in parts or throughout the whole development process. This information demonstrates that you’ve had hands on experience as a Product Manager even if you didn’t have the formal title.
Your passion for Product Management should also be noted.
I would hire a Product Manager based on passion because Product Management methodology can be learnt and experience can be gained. Passion however is inherent!