Interested in becoming a B2B Product Manager? Well you’re in the right place? This career guide offers a detailed overview of the best B2B product management training options. It also describes valuable skills you need to learn and career paths within product management, among other things.
There is no shortcut to becoming a B2B product manager. These professionals come from various backgrounds, such as communications, engineering, and marketing, to name a few. Business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) product managers (PMs) have mastered various hard skills.
B2B PMs focus on the professional buyer persona, and their customer data relies on industry news, site visits, and industry trends. Both require hard and soft skills to become an adept product manager.
These skills include recognizing market opportunities, customer research, product road mapping, and modeling. Product managers also have essential soft skills such as communication, leadership, empathy, collaboration, and strategic thinking.
If you’re aiming to become a B2B product manager, hard skills are important. However, hard skills are straightforward to learn. It is soft skills that set the most successful product managers apart from their peers. On the flip side, PMs have the opportunity to learn these skills by working in a variety of fields.
How to become a B2B Product Manager in five steps:
- Know the basics of product management
- Understand the B2B product management process
- Get familiar with the business and industry
- Develop a side hustle or project to build product skills
- Compile and showcase your work in a portfolio
Step 1: Know the Basics of Product Management
As a B2B Product Manager, you must work at the nexus of business, technology, and user experience. This position carries tremendous responsibility because the product’s entire lifecycle rests on the product manager’s shoulders, from ideation to launch. That said, this position demands proficiency in both technical and social areas within the role.
By enrolling in a product manager course, you have the opportunity to learn fundamental technical skills. This allows you to gain practice in using essential social skills. In a structured learning environment, you avoid misspent time and cover all the basics. An instructor may help keep you on track with continuous feedback.
While being a product manager is one of the most lucrative jobs in tech, it is still a difficult position to fill. The difficulty lies in finding an up-to-date and seasoned candidate in the latest tech. Most product managers start working in other fields to gain continuous training. They then transition into product management mid-career.
The B2B product manager has many tasks to handle. These include a thorough understanding of your marketplace and business user base, the know-how of usability testing, and spotting new opportunities. The position requires them to manage the business’s strategic goals, technical limitations, and resources. A product manager certification assists you in mastering those skills and allows you to feel confident when overseeing the process.
A product management certification course also allows you to gain specific technical skills that product managers need. These include developing a go-to-market strategy, defining the minimum viable product, positioning and pricing the product, and creating status reports and competitive analyses.
Other skills include product launch metrics, version control, A/B testing, standard measurement platforms, UX design, familiarity with wireframing, and software development lifecycle methodologies like Scrum. An adept product manager must be confident when overseeing these tasks.
But it’s difficult to distinguish between hard and soft product management skills. With this in mind, you must facilitate collaboration with other people to achieve technical goals. In the end, a product’s success depends on how well the development team operates.
Step 2: Understand the B2B Product Management Process
A B2B product manager must be proficient at identifying problems within the product they are developing and the broader marketplace. They need to be knowledgeable of the products their target customers may buy. They must also learn to test and ideate a minimum viable product to ensure that the product idea meets customer needs.
Product managers must have the ability to run an efficient meeting and assess how best to use their team members’ skills and time. Based on an iterative approach, Agile methodology is one of the most common processes for software development.
A B2B product manager’s attention switches from one focus to another. But to attain success, they need a clear purpose. That’s why they must follow the product development framework at all times.
The product management process starts with strategy and developing the product roadmap. It then builds the product’s features, user stories, backlog, and post-launch product analytics. After learning about these steps, you gain an in-depth understanding of how the different actions create a greater whole. This shows how the B2B product manager’s decisions affect how new steps unfold in the future.
An effective product management certification course helps you to develop your technical skills. In addition, you gain high-level thinking that enables you to identify market opportunities and user needs. Once you finish your training, you gain experience managing diverse teams, simulating the product life cycle, and creating distribution plans.
Step 3: Get Familiar With the Business and Industry
B2B product management is much more than knowing how to create a product. All products must fit into a market niche. Product managers need to know their market in a detailed and intimate way to find the right niche.
Thus, product manager positions are not entry-level jobs. That said, most professional product managers began their careers in different fields. These fields will help you gain digital knowledge of the digital landscape before you transition to product management.
Experience in different tech areas is a great benefit to aspiring product managers. Consider a role involving technology, business, and customer experience. It provides optimal ways to intersect the areas, allowing you to execute the product manager role all the better. A background in UI or UX design, development, sales and marketing, business, and data is a great way to start.
This is the perfect choice for people looking to switch careers. The product manager role provides a wide variety of transferable skills. This allows people to switch to a related field, which enables them to do cross-functional work with the more relevant areas.
Step 4: Develop a Side Hustle or Project to Build Product Skills
After learning the basic skills you need to carry out the product development cycle, you should develop your own practice projects. This allows you to continue strengthening your skills while increasing your experience.
It might not be possible to complete a whole product cycle yourself. However, it does allow you to demonstrate your abilities through individual steps. These include writing scenarios, building prototypes, or performing analytics and user testing.
Working on the individual steps of the product cycle in isolation is not guaranteed to result in a completed product. But it does allow you to practice strategic thinking and brainstorming.
It also allows you to showcase your clear writing and ability to catch and recover from mistakes. Your projects should prove that you have the ability to achieve the outcome you planned to achieve.
Product development is a collaborative process for the most part. If you’re looking to impress your recruiter, you must collaborate with others looking to exhibit their skills too.
Pairing with coders, UI designers, or test users helps you create ambitious projects and develop critical product management skills. These include collaboration, communication, and empathy.
For example, let’s say you already have the necessary soft skills from your experience in related fields. This means you are ready to apply those skills to the product manager role. However, it’s challenging to practice using these skills by yourself.
Product management thrives on making connections with departments tackling different tasks and bringing them together to achieve a common goal. While the role holds tremendous responsibility, supporting the team is most important, not telling them what to do.
Step 5: Compile and Showcase Your Work in a Portfolio
Your portfolio is the essential tool that enables you to showcase your talent to potential employers. This includes coursework from a product manager course and relevant work from a previous job in another field. It also contains products you created with a team or steps of the Agile methodology that you practiced by yourself.
A B2B product manager’s work varies depending on the type of company and product to which they contributed. That said, there is no singular template for compiling a portfolio. There are two principles you may follow instead.
The first is to highlight your product manager’s strengths through the use of your portfolio instead of including everything. This allows you to focus on your best projects and use them to emphasize all your strongest attributes.
This has your ability to code using multiple programming languages or a background in UX design. It may even include a successful history of managing a large team of people.
The second principle is to ensure that you present each piece in your portfolio. Consider how it communicates the contributions you have made and the obstacles you have faced.
Make sure it conveys the solutions you innovated to overcome them. Brainstorm different ways to display your many strengths as a narrative. Walk the employer through your process to exhibit how you approach your work.
The next step is to get your portfolio in front of potential recruiters. You may find product management positions on online job boards.
However, networking inside or around your company is more attractive than applying to a job posting. With networking, there’s a high chance that you may find solid opportunities to meet other people working within the field.
In the end, by diversifying your skill set and making industry connections, you set yourself apart from other B2B product managers. While there’s no single way to land a job, you will benefit from knowing more people in many areas.
What is the Salary of a B2B Product Manager?
According to Glassdoor, the total salary for the average B2B product manager is $162,042 per year in the United States. It has average pay of $125,823 per year. The additional average wage is $36,219 per year. Extra compensation may include commission, cash bonus, profit sharing, and tips.
How To Become a B2B Product Manager With no Experience?
The vast majority of product managers start without any experience working in the product management field. Most product managers began working in a related field before transitioning to mid-career. So, you have the ability to become a product manager, even without any product manager work experience yet.
To make this transition, you must grow your soft skills while working in a related field. You may do the same to gain the specific technical skills a product manager needs. These soft skills include communication, leadership, collaboration, problem-solving, marketplace familiarity, organization, and empathy.
Many often practice these skills in fields related to product development. This includes project management, design, or even unrelated fields such as communications or engineering.
Due to product management centering around how well you work with other people, you have the opportunity to gain relevant experience in most industries. However, you have a lower chance of getting a product manager job without experience in any field. The recruiter still requires you to demonstrate related job skills, education, or career path, even when most of the necessary skills are transferable.
Even so, at some point, you must attain the technical competencies relating to the product development process. One of the most efficient and effective ways to achieve this is by enrolling in a product manager course. The curriculum creates a solid foundation and gives you a clear understanding of the entire industry and up-to-date information.
The product management course aims to teach you pricing and revenue modeling skills. It also teaches you how to conduct testing and customer research interviews, rank the features list, design sprints, and perform product road mapping.
For example, let’s say you have pre-existing experience and the instructions you attained while working towards a product management certification. This puts you in a position to work on the highest-level product manager challenges. These include identifying opportunities, assessing market conditions, and balancing business plan requirements. It also includes the product users’ interests, technological limitations, and possibilities.
What Does it Take to Become a Great B2B Product Manager?
It’s one thing to get a product manager job, but another to be a great product manager. To develop interpersonal skills, one must look past the core competencies. Doing so may affect the success of individual projects and your career prospects in the long term.
Here are eight characteristics that all great product managers have:
To become a great human, you need empathy. If you don’t have the ability to be a great human, you do not have the ability to become a great product manager.
You must be a people person to fulfill this role. This requires high social awareness or emotional quotient, as empathy must not be forsaken.
Whether interviewing your customers, creating a long-term relationship with team members, or improving user experience, you must always have empathy.
Product managers must be visionaries to create a disruptive product. However, they have a more significant task to fulfill. They are responsible for communicating their vision to the internal teams and motivating them to accomplish it. These teams include not only the product team but also the development and sales teams as well.
Communicating with teams and developers must be frequent in your day-to-day operations. This is because it is cross-functional since it involves tech, sales, and marketing. Product managers don’t have influence or authority over the other teams, so this does become an arduous task.
They must be as persuasive, charismatic, and sophisticated as they see fit to make everyone confident in their guidance.
Curiosity brings together all things a product manager may need to know. This includes their marketplace’s changing landscape and technical aspects of the product management field. It provides constant learning so that the PM stays up to date.
Curiosity also drives their interactions with users during the early phases of development when they discuss open questions.
The product manager should have a curiosity similar to a scientist’s love of learning. Their interest must fuel their motivation to do market research, A/B testing, in-depth analysis, and experiment with new ideas.
The critical focus of product management is to develop a new product that the teams have tested for suitable product-market fit and improve existing products. In addition, product managers must master their problem-solving skills for businesses and customers alike.
The PMs who have excellent problem-solving skills are often the ones who have successful product manager careers. You must view the product from different perspectives to experience growth. For example, looking at the product using an end-user perspective helps you become a better problem solver.
This helps you to build a better product. The improved product also includes more suitable UX and bugs to fix usability problems.
No product manager has unlimited resources and time. Even if they did find themselves in this position, they must weigh the zero-sum options that the product consists of.
In this case, the product manager is not only responsible for prioritizing which problems the team is working towards solving. They are also responsible for prioritizing the new features of the product as well.
First, they must consider product flowcharting and their ability to make the appropriate business decisions. They must have the ability to allocate resources wherever the product needs them most.
The second includes understanding end-user needs. The product manager needs to have a thorough understanding of how the features of the product function in reality. In both of these cases, the manager is responsible for facing tradeoffs. It is up to the PM to decide which course leads to the best results.
B2B product management consists of multiple projects running at the same time. They follow a given process to see the project through – such as using the Agile approach for feature rollouts. The product manager has the ability to build these processes.
They know how to devise and administer the systems that guide the many stages of development. These tasks need a high level of organization from the B2B product manager. They must be familiar with the individual steps of the process.
A product manager must remember that collaboration is the essence of the product manager role. The PM leads the team, sometimes several teams at a time, and liaises with company leadership. They present to stakeholders and investors. They even sit down with clients and test users to gain an in-depth understanding of their needs.
Product managers connect everything the company does, from marketing and sales to product implementation. They act as the hub between the business, market, and development teams and route information between the three. That said, the PM’s ability to convey, listen, and understand when communicating with others is paramount.
As you manage your product’s journey, it is also important to manage your own. This is important while you’re on the job and during your free time. A product manager keeps a cool head at all times.
They have the ability to work under pressure. Both their priorities and the company’s priorities are clear. Self-management helps PMs practice short-term performance and self-care. It guides the course of a career.
If you desire growth and skills development, you must be a self-starter inside and outside the office. This is especially important if you plan to lead your team members.