GM Chronicles Part 2: Does a product background give you an edge?

So you are a product person turned GM. What advantages do you bring to the table? What’s your edge in this role? Some of my thoughts below

Credit: Scott Adams

Structured and systems-level thinking

Great product folks have a structured thinking approach to solving problems. Thinking in systems is a critical skill. This mode of thinking is immensely valuable and has broad applications in other areas like sales and marketing. As described in the last post, sales and marketing have a very quick rhythm, everything resets at the quota end period. This dynamic has a natural pull towards tactics that yield quick outcomes. You can easily slide into just executing on tactics without a reliable and predictable system of making progress. As a PM your strength is in building a solution/system of components that can scale – which can be leveraged in building a structured sales and marketing strategy. It’s just like a product roadmap except now it’s applied to your sales and marketing efforts. This is very natural to PM’s and gives you an edge!

Organizational influence skills

Stakeholder management and influence is an immensely underrated skill in Product teams. It isn’t the sexy part of PM, but super essential. As a GM – stakeholder management and influence are the meat and potatoes. You are responsible for a reasonably large and critical business outcome that you cannot individually accomplish. You need to align and influence a diverse set of functional teams. You have to adapt and communicate in various languages (sales/marketing/product/engineering/customer success) and get everybody on the same page. Every stakeholder interaction and communication tactic used as a PM crosses over!

Analytical and Metrics-driven

Everyone has to be analytical and metrics-driven – this is table stakes for every business in the modern age. Good PM’s live and die by the numbers. Metrics and Analytics become even more important as GM – you are trying to hit a commercial outcome – you need to metric your path to get there!

Obviously I’m biased, but ex-Product folks make the best GMs! 🙂

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