As a product manager, you need to have many skills at your disposal. Product strategy, design-oriented thinking, engineering processes, documentation, execution, and feedback are some of the most critical tools you need to possess. Without these skills, it is tough for you to keep the team motivated and focused on the vision for the product. Any lack of these also means you’ll struggle to keep deliveries rolling.
It might be one of the reasons why that the internet is bombarded with a massive number of quality resources that assist product managers. It is also no wonder that people are crazy about becoming a product manager. People with excellent experience as product managers are climbing up the ladder by taking on the roles of prominent executive positions in tech companies.
Most product management resources are geared heavily towards consumer technology. Uber, Etsy, Amazon, Twitter and even Google are all focusing on consumer technology. There are many consumer product managers in the market because of the many consumer web companies. Though these roles are pretty impressive, as an enterprise product manager, you should probably do things differently.
Business Models Determine the Flow
The difference between consumer and enterprise software is apparent. But the impact these differences have on a product management function can vary. There are many flavors that come with consumer technology. Marketplaces, affiliate models, ad-supported and direct sales are some of them.
Most of them are businesses based on a model of scale. The goal is to reach the largest audience possible. The number of customers in a scale business is massive, and you need to keep them in mind when you make the product, pricing, support, technology, and other vital business decisions.
But in the enterprise world, you operate almost entirely on direct sales or subscription model. And here the scale matters but is not the most important factor. The products that enterprise-level business-to-business marketers sell are more sophisticated, and sellers target only a small group of paying customers who are often big and complex. It is pretty cumbersome and painful for most of the companies to purchase, implement and then begin to use new software.
Firstly, a resource discussion needs to take place internally. After which there needs to be an allocation of the budget. Once these steps are complete, they make sales calls and negotiate the prices before the contract is signed. Training the staff is mandatory before the team begins to use the product. This whole process is called the implementation process.
As an enterprise product manager, it is essential for you to work closely with sales and marketing teams. It requires you to go with them to a client’s or prospective client’s offices to close the deal. In some cases just to get some feedback. Since in sales at this level you only have a few customers, you need to work with them to ensure that they are willing to invest a significant amount in your product.
Though sales support is part of the job, it should not become the main focus of the product manager. The priority of the product manager should be on long-term product development.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Since most of the big companies invest a significant amount in your product, they do not expect unannounced and unexpected changes to the product. It is good to upgrade the system promptly but ensure that there are no bugs in the software. It is true especially if your product is business critical like digital analytics, marketing intelligence, and e-commerce platforms. If these systems go down, it is not only annoying but will cause loss of business. Customers mostly expect the product always to be available especially when it is a cloud-based application.
Product delivery for the enterprise customers requires you to plan a lot. There should be coordination and hard work put in by various teams which also need a product manager to lead the show. Though it is quite stressful, the work can be gratifying.
Understanding Minimum Viable Product
Create something that is basic and iterates until it becomes an excellent product. This conceptual model is best and provides intuitive sense. It is one of the good frameworks that you need to embrace if you are creating a mobile app or a consumer service. This model, however, does not work for enterprise software.
Land and expand strategy works well for enterprise platforms. Using this framework, you will first try to solve a set of problems for the user. Once you are comfortable resolving some issues, you may expand the features to address other significant issues. These days, many major companies dislike buying widgets as they expect well-baked solutions to the business problems that they are facing.
Thorough understanding of use cases and business problems is a must to know users’ business problems. Solving simple business problems is just not enough to set you apart in a large field of business-to-business sellers aimed at enterprise companies. You need to solve the tougher challenges that your customers are facing. To create a product like this requires you to do proper research and focus on the details.