How to Manage Stakeholders as a Product Manager

Whether it’s in a pitch or one-on-one conversation, these tips about the preparation and execution of your talks will help you make your idea shine.

How to Manage Stakeholders as a Product Manager 1

As a Product Manager, you keep going back and forth between your customers, different teams in your organisation, and top management.

When you figure out what problems your customers may be facing, you have to get all expertise from your customer support teams, engineering teams and sales teams, to come up with a solution for your customer’s problem. You try to manage stakeholders, while trying to keep the overall business goal in mind. And if bundling all this expertise into a solution isn’t enough, you also have to make sure your idea gets accepted by top management. You need their approval to serve your customers the best.

To make this happen, you have to make your idea shine. So how can you showcase your idea in the best possible way? And how can you make those sceptical managers make a turn for what you think is best? Whether it’s in a pitch or one-on-one conversation, these tips about the preparation and execution of your talks will help you make your idea shine.

#1 Talk to the right person

Talking to the person who can give a green light on your idea; it might seem convenient, but it’s not. You want to deliver your message to the right person. Your time is scarce and so is time for most of the top-management functions. Make sure you know who to address. And when you’ve found the right person, that’s when the next tip comes in.

#2 Get in your boss’s head

As a Product Manager, you’re wondering all the time about what’s going on inside your customer’s head. What do they want? What do they need? You want to solve their problems.

When talking to top management, put these skills into practice. Try this philosophy on your management’s thoughts and needs. What problem is your management facing, and how is your idea an answer to that problem? Look at it from their perspective, and fit your idea into their set of solutions. Once you get into their heads, you will understand what you need to do to build a strong relationship with them. You want the other person to like you and be on your team. To create a bigger chance, analyse their behaviour. This is what Caldini describes as the ‘Mirror-and-match’ principle. Make sure they can relate to you and see themselves in you. You have to focus on your joint interests, instead of their position relative to yours.

#2 Make your product goals match the business goals

Explain how your product will increase the chances of getting to the business goal the top management team set out. To do this, you have to make sure you know what goals top management has set out for the entire organisation. After making this clear, explain how your product gets them there. Make individual goals for your product that eventually support the overall business goals and align with the strategy they wish to follow.   

#3 Fear of missing out

In the rushing society we live in today, some of us have developed a brand new fear: FOMO. You may have heard about it as ‘the Fear Of Missing Out’. We usually speak about it in terms of the fear of missing out on parties or diners, but it’s more than that. You can use Fear Of Missing Out to manage your top management by showing what their contestants do. If they believe their contestants to be more innovative and heading into a new, promising direction, they don’t want to stay behind. Don’t they always want to be ahead of their contestants, instead of behind them? Make sure you provide a solution to get them ahead.

#4 Conduct an experiment

Make a plan to try your idea on a small scale. Draw out the amount of time you would need to put in, and what resources you might need. Reduce this to a minimum. If the need for resources isn’t that high, they are more likely to be willing to let you try. Also, experimenting gives you the chance to test and innovate your own idea. Are you solving their problem? Win-win situation, right? Need to convince yourself or the stakeholders to execute this idea? You can use some of these reasons to justify conducting an experiment.

  1. You learn a lot about your own ideas and how the implementation works.
  2. Even if your initial idea fails, you can discover why it failed and how.
  3. You’ll save a lot of money if it fails, because it’s only on a small scale
  4. You can involve the customer by letting them test your product.

#5 Use data to tell a story

Why do you think your ideas serve the customer best? Analyzing your customer’s data gives you access to their customer’s journey. To help your management understand this journey as well, take them with you on your expedition. The data will provide a small insight into their customer’s head. This insight will be necessary for top management to understand where your idea fits to optimize their customer’s journey and user experience.

Google Data Studio

With Google Data Studio, you can transform your data into informative dashboards and reports that will help you tell your customer’s story. You can import data from for example Google Sheets, Google analytics, Adwords or Youtube-channels.You can visualize this in graphs, bar charts, heatmaps, geographical maps, scorecards and more. This will give you a quick and understandable overview of the gathered data.

Session replay tools

You can also use session replay tools to show the data gathered from your customers. There are multiple session replay tools available for desktop and mobile devices. Let’s introduce some of the options.

For desktops

If you want to show how people use our website in terms of their clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour, Hotjar can be applicable for you. It provides heatmaps and recordings, that gives you a visual presentation of the way people use our site. You can see which buttons get the most clicks, and which pages get the most attention.

This tool is similar to Hotjar and creates a database where it gateres data of how users are browsing your site

For mobile devices

Adobe Analytics
This tool can help you to easily build custom reports and histograms to present your data.  

UXCam generates actionable insights that are easy to use and visualize. It captures data for all IOS and Android users. It visualizes your data through heatmaps, session replays, usage statistics and more.  Advanced machine learning highlights user frustration. It surfaces problematic sessions that include crashes or rage taps. As you can see in the image below, one of the buttons didn’t respond as it should be, so the user got frustrated and started to tap it multiple times. You can easily show this problem to your stakeholders, to back up the invention you thought of to solve this problem.

How to Manage Stakeholders as a Product Manager 2

If you want to learn more about different analytic tools for android, take a look at the article we wrote about this topic.

#6 Take your moment

And finally, speak about your idea with pride and confidence. If you are confident it will work, let it show in your words. Be open, reasonable and understandable. Make sure you’re an absolute expert on your idea, who can answer the questions the different stakeholders might ask.

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