The Technical Product Managers Guide to Go-to-Market

*Note- in this article, I talk about Product Managers. Those terms can easily be switched out for technical and non-technical founders.

Its uncommon for a product manager to be well-versed in both technical and go-to-market (GTM) skills.

That doesn’t mean that unicorns don’t exist.

I have a few people on my team who are good at both.

But more often than not, Product Managers (PMs) favor one discipline over the other.

My team is made up of both TPMs and GTM PMs. Our Technical Product Managers (TPMs) focus on the technical aspects of building products and are usually heavily embedded with engineering teams, while GTM PMs are more customer-facing or are customer-facing through sales and support enablement.

Go-to-Market activities can feel a bit foreign to a TPM. To be fair, the inverse is also true.

The good news is that there are only three things a TPM needs to understand about GTM.

  1. Focus on Why before How

Some TPMs have a habit of jumping straight into solution planning. That should be delayed for as long as possible. Instead, focus on Why a customer is experiencing a pain point in the first place. Ask questions like:

  • Is this is a known pain point?
  • Is this pain point a big enough issue that solving it is a priority?
  • Who is creating the pain? An outside force or maybe even the customer themselves?

Being able to answer these types of questions BEFORE you solution plan will only improve your adoption efforts when it is time to go-to-market. These aren’t questions you want to be pressing on right as a product nears market launch.

  1. Focus on Who before How

In the words of Kristin Bell from the Carvana Value Tracker Superbowl commercial - HOLD!. After honing in on your Why we need to focus on Who. As in, who is the absolutely perfect target user persona for your product? You should be able to describe them down to the color of their eyes.

Many products are pushed into the market before the Who is well-defined. That leads to overspending on Marketing because there is no targeted point of attack and unhappy customers because the wrong customer bought from you.

By the way, if you struggle with user personas you can get the template I use hereover.

  1. Focus on When before How

Keep HOLLLLLLDing.

When you’d like to release your product also needs to be considered before you jump to How.

Why?

If you only have three months, versus a year, to build the product before it needs to be in the market then the How will be answered differently. You might favor one solution path over another.

If you do those things and focus on Why, Who, and When then you are setting up your product for far better adoption results than a TPM who is constantly jumping into solutions.


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