What Makes a Successful Product Manager
A successful product manager is essential for managing the localization process from start to finish. When you have a skilled product manager on board, they’ll deliver value and help you reach your business goals. That means achieving the best version of your website, software, or app possible by encouraging your team to work more efficiently.
Product managers regularly work with designers, localization engineers, data scientists, marketing experts, and salespeople. That’s why they need some technical knowledge to be able to understand how all departments work. They also need strong people skills to gauge what unifies a team and delivers an outstanding product.
An ambitious product manager aiming for success often possesses extra abilities from other business areas – from product development to marketing. These are skills and know-how that allow them to develop localized products that reflect the company’s core values and are appealing to local audiences at the same time.
Putting customers first
Product managers work closely with the sales department, but their top priority is never closing deals. The main thing that should motivate product managers is satisfying users, regardless of the language they speak.
A successful product manager puts customers and their needs first. Any new or improved product should build more value for clients and the company as a whole, rather than boosting sales temporarily.
As a product manager, you’ll need to collect data about your customers and what makes them tick. Quantitative data, such as the number of tickets your customer support staff receives every month, can help you to identify the types of problems your customers have.
Once you have a clear image of their pain points, talk to local users to gain some qualitative data. You’ll need this to understand what causes their problems and which methods work better to fix them. Launching websites, apps or software in foreign countries requires a lot of research. Feedback from local experts is essential.
Stay curious about the market and step into your customers’ shoes to understand how your product influences them. This way, you’ll be able to create a product with your customer in mind. It may not generate sales overnight but it will pay off in the long run, with satisfied clients.
Improve core competencies
Julia Austin, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, believes that a successful product manager has core competencies that help build the solid foundation of effective product management.
These competencies range from performing a market assessment and having design skills to conducting customer interviews. Product managers should also be skilled at allocating resources and modelling prices and revenues.
They should be able to define and track the right metrics to measure and analyze team and product performance.
These core competencies help product managers to use customer feedback to plan and implement local growth strategies in line with market trends and the company’s global goals.
Learn to prioritize tasks
From ideation to launch of the localized product, product managers work with multiple teams inside the company. Technology and software localization tools reduce many repetitive tasks and improve workflows. But they still need a clear mind to keep things moving in the right direction.
Besides excellent communication skills, a successful product manager should learn the dynamics of each department and find a way to integrate new business operations into existing workflows—without disturbing other teams.
Top management, for example, often has clear business objectives, but your localization engineers may speak a different language. It’s your job as a product manager to help them agree on the best option. Ideally, this will be the one that satisfies customers and generates long-term sales.
Prioritizing is crucial in product management. Without a clear idea of what needs to be done first, product managers risk putting too much on their plates and disrupting the company’s operations without achieving the desired result.
Consolidate Business Relationships
Great product managers need excellent business relationship management skills. PMs need to build well-balanced relationships with customers and providers on one hand, but they also need to manage their internal stakeholders on the other. This includes the departments involved directly in the localization project, as well as top management and possibly legal, finance and more, depending on your company and the project.
You need to bring all players to the same table and help them understand your vision. This way, you’ll get the support you need when looking to experiment with localized versions of your product. Having a good relationship with your customers can help you obtain valuable feedback on your ideas and how they impact the end-user.
Keep up to date with product manager blogs
Innovation can lead to better products, as it allows product managers to understand customer requirements better and find out-of-the-box ways of improving the user experience. With more companies ready to invest in global strategies, innovation could be what differentiates you from local and global competitors.
You need to stay informed about the latest trends and technologies to be able to keep up with the market and buyers’ expectations. One easy way is to read product manager blogs. It’s a cost-effective trick for staying relevant in every market, regardless of the language you localize for.
Become a successful product manager over time
There are many factors to consider when defining what makes a successful product manager. There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe. You need to work hard and improve on all the elements above to increase your chances of success.
The more you invest in self-education and self-management, the more likely you are to develop your technical skills and master your core competencies to become a successful product manager over time.
If you look to learn more about product management or level up as a product manager, we recommend Building Digital Products, which is filled with lessons (including ones on localization!) from Alex Mitchell, a product management leader.
Last updated on March 21, 2023.