5 Mistakes Product Managers Make & How To Avoid Them

Knowledge 5 min read, July 20, 2020
Product manager building valuable products
Building the wrong thing costs money. Building the right thing looks like this!

Product Managers lose their company revenue by building features that customers never use.

Product Managers often make the grave mistake of not actually validating those feature ideas with their customers before investing in them.

In the same way, you validate a startup idea, features, and product iterations should be treated in the same way and validated prior to dedicating resources in bringing them to market.

Product managers who fail to validate an idea run the risk of decreasing profitability through misapplied labor hours to build the feature, higher marketing costs to promote the release, and, in the longer term, increased workforce turnover as your product team loses motivation if their work doesn’t matter.

Your product teams will feel the frustration of developing and shipping features that simply don’t get used.

This is because your customers never asked for them.

Below, we’ve summarised the top 5 mistakes we’ve seen product managers make when deciding what to build next so you can avoid them:

#1. Product Managers Often Build in a Vacuum

Product managers often fall victim to building in a vacuum.

This is a phenomenon that plagues both Product Managers and even the founders themselves.

With the amount of software that makes iteration and testing ideas really easy, it can become a bad habit to immediately start building a product or new features based on your internal ideas, without actually asking your customers or prospects if they would pay for it.

This is called building in a vacuum.

According to the report “Challenges in Product Management”, 56% of respondents stated their product manager’s left a lot to be desired, including the ability to strategize alongside the needs of their customers.

In fact, every year large SaaS companies alone lose approximately $1MM per quarter developing features that their users don’t use, and don’t want which end up getting silently phased out of production.

This could easily be avoided if customers were involved in the development cycle and asked if the idea is worth investing in.

In fact, Product Managers who collect feedback and feature suggestions from customers and build the right thing every time could increase company profits by 34.2%.

If product managers want their team to be a winning team, they must be able to help their team specialize in what is most important.

Always ask for feedback from customers
Thinking you know what your customers want is a bad idea. You don’t. Simple as that!

#2. Product Managers Ignore Customer Requests

1 in 5 products being delivered fails to meet customer needs. Product Managers should always take into account the needs and problems of their customers when designing new features for their products.

This isn’t guesswork.

To build something truly amazing, it’s crucial to involve your customers in every step of a feature’s development cycle, from inception to launch and then iteration.

Understanding the exact problem must always come before trying to build a solution.

Customers hesitate to buy into that which is not functioning the way they would like.

If they do buy, it takes a long time for them to pull out their billfold because they are unsure if they will be satisfied with the functionality of their purchase.

If product managers want the software to be a success, product teams must develop products that engender the functionality that is most desired by their customers.

Product Managers must build the right products for their customers
Think about it.

#3. Failing To Notify Customers When You Ship What They Asked For

Customers are less inclined to buy into software or product that neglects its customers.

Capturing feedback and feature suggestions is not only beneficial for your product team's understanding of their responsibilities but also builds trust with customers and potential customers by indicating you really care what they want.

When companies use product management software they can poll their users to get feedback on the features they want.

This means that product management tools help you sell to more people.

Product Managers must learn to take feedback
Make your customers look like this.

#4. Product Managers Not Offering a Frictionless Feedback System To Customers

Product teams don't provide a frictionless system for their users or customers to submit feedback and feature suggestions.

Traditionally, customers sign up for an external account to send feedback.

This additional process takes customers off-platform to perform yet another task for the product team.

That extra step makes it less likely for them to send feedback because it adds more work for them to do.

Product managers should use ProductFlare as the product management tool of choice
Your customers don’t have time to waste signing up for your feedback tool or messing around with ugly spreadsheets. You as the product manager need to make it easy for them to contribute.

#5. Thinking Everyone Will Steal Your Ideas If You Have A Roadmap

As a Product Manager, it is your responsibility to ensure your team ships the right product every time.

But, we see more and more Product Managers failing to achieve this, not because of a lack of desire, but because of a fear to make their ideas public on a roadmap and gather feedback from their customers.

More specifically, products that only do common things, making the product features are not differentiated from every other product in the marketplace.

When a product speaks to everyone, it speaks to exactly no one.

This means companies are not able to attract the attention of their niche target user.

This costs businesses lots of money in lost sales because product teams are unable to make something truly dazzling for their customers.

Read the post titled “Why You Should Include Your Customers In Your Product Roadmap

Using a roadmap is a great way to collect feature ideas from customers
This is our reaction to this excuse. Every time.

Come on product managers, let’s be realistic.

Living in fear of people stealing our ideas will always keep us stuck and unprofitable, every single time.


Conclusion

There you have it. Think of everything ahead of time, implement it correctly, and you will win every time. Avoiding these blunders will not only help you build a solid foundation for developing amazing products, but it will strengthen your relationships with your higher-ups, it will also help you move the product teams' projects in a more positive direction.

In the meantime, read more of our amazing blogs:

What To Do When Starting a New Product Manager Role

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