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Are Your Product Managers Doing The Right Thing?

20 Signs of Success
20 Signs of Trouble
They smile when they talk about their product or their customers They don’t look you in the eye when they talk about their product or their customers
They talk about their accomplishments in terms of the product, not themselves They tout their own accomplishments instead of highlighting product successes
They are on the phone before the sun comes up tackling problems or addressing opportunities Their first response to a problem is to blame someone else
When the account is at risk, you want them on the customer call Sales avoids them at all costs when things aren’t going well
They can explain their product in a way that everyone understands They can’t explain the product in a way even you can understand
They hear of problems first because customers know and trust them They come up with reasons not to get on a plane to get to know customers
They are late to the meeting because they were on the phone with a customer They can’t come up with customer anecdotes to prove any of their points
They prefer phone calls and face-to-face meetings over email and text They spend more time on their slide deck than thinking about the right questions to ask
They are shoulder to shoulder with technical support, taking calls from users They are confident a “bug-free” product is perceived by users as a quality product
The most successful salespeople are always in touch with them The sales pipeline consists of a bunch of “one-off’ projects
They don’t roll their eyes when someone calls with a question They roll their eyes when you ask a question and somehow manage not to answer it
They always have one more question for the customer or user about their own products or their competitors’ Their understanding of their competitors’ products is limited to rows and columns in a competitive matrix
They have little to learn from industry analysts; analysts learn from them Their answer to a question about market segmentation is “small, medium and large” size companies
They not only use their product but can take it apart and put it back together When asked to give a demo of their product they always have someone else do it
They eat lunch with the developers when they are not on the road Their primary career goal is to have more people working for them
They know the product financials off the top of their head They head to finance when asked to calculate gross margin
Everyone returns their calls, from the CEO on down They are too busy with meetings to do what is really important
They know that small teams move mountains, committees make meetings Their days are consumed with analyzing requirements and jumping gates
Their meetings are short, and result in a task list for each participant They would rather take notes than lead the discussion
The buck stops with them They can’t tell you how they’ll make the numbers this year

Successful product managers have a common list of attributes that apply across industries and market sectors. Look for Energy, Enthusiasm, Intelligence, Organization fit and Understanding of the domain when you hire. You’ll find these qualities matter more than industry expertise or years of experience.