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What is a Product Manager?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

A product manager is responsible for the design, launch and management of the sales campaign for a specific product or product line. The product manager has oversight across many channels of the business. They are required to ensure that products are well positioned for maximum sales volume.

A product manager typically has a degree or diploma from a business school or has extensive sales experience. This type of position is found in a manufacturing or software development company. It is the role of the product manager to coordinate marketing, direct and indirect selling activities, promotion and perform sales analysis.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Every product has a life cycle, which all products move through, regardless of the product type. The product manager is responsible for understanding and defining the target market. Product managers are evaluated based on the success of the strategies used and the volume of sales throughout the product life cycle.

The skill set of a product manager includes strategic thinking, coordination, communication, project management and creativity. There is no specific education or professional designation or association for product managers. Most product managers stay within the same industry for their careers, to take advantage of all the historical knowledge and contacts.

The product life cycle is comprised of four stages; market introduction, growth, maturity and saturation. At the beginning point of market introduction, the costs are high, relative to the low sales volume. Demand is created through the efforts of the product manager.

In the growth stage, the product manager is still focused on increasing sales, but needs to shift attention from creating demand to increasing public awareness. The pricing model is adjusted to maximize market share. By this point, competition in the marketplace has usually increased.

When the maturation stage occurs, the product manager needs to start brand differentiation and keep a close eye on the market and competition. The product price drops, along with the profit margin. Once the saturation phase occurs, the product manager needs to correctly identify the decline in sales volume and determine when to stop production of the model.

The speed of the different stages is completely dependent on the response of the customers. The product manager is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate steps are taken to increase product awareness and generate sales. An unpopular product will still move through all the same stages as a popular product, just much faster.

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