Building Products is More Than Just Features

Building products is more than just features. In this article, I share some of my learnings and experiences building products.

First, here’s a quick definition of what a product roadmap is so we’re all aligned. A product roadmap is a shared source of truth that outlines the vision, direction, and progress of a product over time. It’s a plan of action that aligns the organization around short and long-term goals for the product, and how they will be achieved.

Before we jump in, let me introduce myself, my name is Jonathan Poor and I’m a Product Manager with experience in Strategy and Innovation consulting for the past 5 years.

I have launched three client-facing products at Quesnay and Tunity. Over my career, I have drafted multiple product roadmaps, designed wireframes, and led customer interviews.

Starting your product career

Picture this situation: it’s your first day on the job (woo!). Your boss approaches you mid-day to start working on your first product roadmap. Excited and full of enthusiasm, you dive right in. However, where should you start?

Your boss gives you a list of features the team and upper management want to develop ASAP. Logically should these come first? After digging in, you discover the feature list includes ad-hoc requests from various managers in sales and customer success.

You realize no one talked to the users to understand their needs, what problems they are looking to solve with your product, or how these features align with your company’s overall strategy.

A situation like this smells like a recipe for disaster to me. If you decide to execute the current roadmap, you’ll probably find yourself reacting to requests. Which is different from what your role as a Product Manager is. As a Product Manager, you need to understand the user’s needs and together with the team to build solutions that solve their problems, create value for them, and drive business value.

Building products is more than just features

So what should you do? How can you create a solution that is aligned with your strategy and solves real problems your users are experiencing?

Here is a list of recommendations based on my experience.

Strategy first

The first thing you need to do is align the product with your company’s overall strategy and mission. At Quesnay, we wanted to help different participants of our innovation competitions connect post-competition. We aligned on this strategy because it fits our company’s mission of connecting startup founders with corporate executives and VCs for investment, proof of concept, and partnership opportunities. With this understanding, we were ready for the next step. But don’t forget – talk with all relevant internal stakeholders to understand if they are aligned with the strategy before moving forward!

Define your users and the job they want to get done

You’ll need to understand who will use your product and why they need it. Luckily for us, we already knew who our users were. Using this information we knew that post-competition our users were interested in keeping in touch and interacting with others before the next competition. We, therefore, needed to discover various ways how to help them do this.

Talk to your potential users

Now you have an understanding of who your users are and have an understanding of the job they want to get done. Let’s not assume anything. It is important to talk with the users to understand how you can help achieve their jobs to be done.

Use user interviews to understand how your users currently get this job done and why it isn’t working for them. Notice at this time, you should not have written one line of code. Nor any features are committed. We are still in the discovery process and are trying to lock-in on the problem we want to solve.

Another benefit of talking with potential users at this stage is to acquire a curated group willing to help with prototype testing once you are ready. My suggestion is to aim for 5 user interviews per user profile. This number will allow you to start seeing patterns and move quickly. More than 5 is okay, but the ROI on time invested is diminishing from that point forward.

Wireframes and mockups

Using the information you collected you now have some pretty solid data to start thinking about building your product. Based on the user interviews and the data you collected, you can prioritize features and create mockups.

For each feature: create a user-journey, a storyboard, and a wireframe. Using your wireframes, you can build a fully functioning mockup using Sketch and InVision. If you don’t have access to these tools, Keynote is a quick and dirty way to build a very reliable mockup. Note: Some companies may have a dedicated designer (or team) to create your wireframes.

Test, iterate, build and launch

With the mockups created, set up additional user interviews to see if the mockup you’ve built functions properly and if it solves the problem you identified. This gives you an opportunity to let early adopters access and you gain vital information around the user experience.

If you need additional users, feel free to contact people from your target audience and include them. Again the magic number of user tests in my opinion is 5, so conduct 5 tests, analyze the data, make changes, and test again as necessary. Once you feel comfortable with your mockup, it is time to build your product.

Continue iterating

After you build and launch your product, you should continue talking with your customers, testing, and iterating. By doing this, you can continuously update your roadmap with impactful features that align with your strategy and answer your users’ unmet needs. It is recommended to have a cadence of check-ins with all relevant stakeholders to keep them informed and establish clear communication channels.

That’s it from me for now, but if you would like to connect to talk about product strategy and creating impactful product roadmaps shoot me a message. Best of luck on your Product Management journey.

10 Product Management Skills to practice in 2021

Over the last few years, Product Management has exploded. From startups up to fortune 100, companies are seeing the positive value a product manager can bring. As a result, more people are choosing to become a product manager. In this article, I look at 10 product management skills to practice in 2021.

What is a Product Manager?

The reality is that the role of the product manager varies based on a couple of factors. For example, the size and maturity of the organization and the industry. A product manager working at a health insurance company or at a financial institution such as a bank will have similarities and differences between a product manager working at a software streaming service or at a data center software company.

We recently chatted with two product managers and compared and contrasted the different aspects of their roles in an episode of The Product Angle Show. Watch the episode here.

However, having said that, I think the product manager needs to be able to:

  1. Discover and communicate the product
  2. Collaborate with the team to execute
  3. Repeat step 1

In addition, we often hear phrases such as “build products people love” and “build products people need” which are fantastic. However, we have to also remember that to be sustainable the product needs to bring in revenue and meet business goals.

Therefore, my take is to “build products that people buy and use.”

Build products that people buy and use Click To Tweet

10 Product Management Skills to practice in 2021

The skills below are listed in no particular order. However, you’ll notice from the graphic that I make the distinction between people skills and technical skills. Both complement each other, although I am biased towards people skills. Much literature, courses, and focus is placed on technical abilities. However, in my opinion, in reality, people skills are what takes your product and your career to the next level.

1. Lead by influence

As a product manager, you’ll have a tremendous amount of responsibility. However, zero authority. You’ll need to be able to persuade, influence, and negotiate effectively internally and externally.

You’ll be saying no frequently. Saying no to the sales team can be difficult especially since the sales team can provide:

  • Visibility into the context of lost deals (features, pricing, or competition).
  • Information around customer questions and issues.
  • Access and warm introductions to prospects and customers.

Sometimes these conversations can become heated and therefore you’ll need to manage conflicts and difficult conversations.

2. Build Trust

Without authority, you need to get your team and potential customers excited about your product. Trust is something very easy to lose yet, very hard to earn.

Trust takes time and consistent showing up to build. However, Trust, like love and happiness, is difficult to explain in clear, rational terms. Two of my authors around building trust are Guy Kawasaki and Robert F. Hurley. Both authors talk about trust in their books, I’ve summarized here and here.

3. Customer Research

As Katelyn Bourgoin says “Companies that invest in ongoing customer research grow 2-3X faster. Yet, studies show that only 3 out of 10 teams do it regularly — crazy, right?”

The biggest pushback I’ve heard is that “we don’t want to bother our customers, they are paying and we don’t want to give them a reason to look elsewhere.”

I was at a loss for words when I was told that. After recomposing myself, I asked how do we determine the direction of the product if we don’t talk to the customers?

Another push back I’ve seen (and this is generally from first-time founders) “Customers don’t know what they want if they did the iPhone would never have been invented. Nobody wanted an iPhone.”

To be clear I’m not saying you should listen to and do everything a customer says. However, I am saying:

  • Understand what they are trying to accomplish.
  • Know what success looks like to them.
  • Understand their thought process before they bought your product.
  • What are their Jobs to be done.
  • If they bought or tried a competiting product, ask why, what worked and what could be improved and why.

As a product manager, you need to be talking to users/ customers/ and potential customers as much as possible.

4. Ability to look at the bigger picture

Does every decision made for your product in some way help achieve two things: 1) add value for the customer and 2) Drive business value?

This becomes possible if you have a clear product vision, strategy, and roadmap to execute.

As new information is available you may need to adapt and make new decisions that might take the product in a different direction.

However, you’ll need to take into account the available data and make decisions that drive the product within the constraints.

5. Sales

Let me be very clear here, as a product manager you do not need to sell. However, as a product manager, you need to understand the buying process of your user/ customer. As someone who has spent years selling, the skills you’ll learn are invaluable. Julian Osterwalder agrees with me.

At an enterprise level, the sales cycle can take anywhere from six months to twelve months. Whereas at a consumer product where switching costs are relatively lower, the sales cycle is much lower. The selling skills and how customers buy will be different.

Retention at an enterprise is higher possibly because of the high initial switching costs. Hence, the longer the sales cycle.

Retention at a consumer might be lower possibly because of the low switching costs. Hence, the shorter the sales cycle.

In addition, product managers need to learn to sell internally as well. As product managers, you’ll need to sell your vision and strategy internally. Especially to engineers.

6. Communications Skills

Communication, collaboration, and negotiation is the cornerstone of the role of product managers, in my opinion. We need to communicate with internal and external team members.

Communicating effectively will facilitate a better understanding of people. Helping build trust, find solutions for conflicts, and create a healthy working environment.

Every team member will have their preference of how they want to be communicated with. However, at a basic level, you’ll need to:

  • Write emails
  • Document various product learnings and documentation
  • Create presentations
  • Prepare and run meetings
  • Slack style communications

7. Storytelling

Since I’ve mentioned communication as one of the 10 Product Management Skills to practice in 2021, to take communication further. Communication can create noise, if not done appropriately. Think about that one person who sends you an email for nearly everything. I once worked with a colleague who would reply to every email with the word “noted”.

Storytelling can help you cut through the noise and connect with your audience, internally and externally. For example, a presentation becomes more engaging if it tells a story versus 2 facts on every slide.

While facts are important for example, monthly active users. However, knowing why they use the product or what they’ve achieved using the product connects at an emotional level. It puts the users at the center.

Finally, stories are easier to remember.

8. Understand Tradeoff’s

As Jeroen De Flander’s quote appears in April Dunford’s Obviously Awesome book. You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.

Product Tradeoff needs to be made to serve your target user. As a product manager, you’ll have access to quantitative and qualitative data. You’ll need to be able to go through the data and make decisions that shape the direction of the product.

9. Prioritization and Sequencing

As a product manager, feature requests will come at you from multiple directions. Externally from customers, and internally from multiple stakeholders including sales. Each will require you to go in different directions.

Prioritization techniques help you evaluate different ideas and the amount of work needed to ship those ideas. Therefore, hopefully reducing waste and working towards a product that creates the most impact for your users.

Expect priorities to shift, as budgets are cut, resources leave, and even consumer tastes and preferences change. However, based on the constraints prioritization can help you answer:

  • What has the biggest impact on the users.
  • How does this impact our business goals?
  • Are we continue to add value while keeping within our strategy/ vision?

Intercom has written about Prioritization:
RICE: Simple prioritization for product managers,
The first rule of prioritization: No snacking, and
Prioritizing Features: Who’ll Use It & How Often?

Prioritization is something that gets a lot of attention. Sequencing, in my opinion, is more about reprioritizing based on how fast the user can get to the desired outcome, and therefore, the product is adding value to the customer (as fast as possible).

10. Ship that Product

Finally, every product manager needs to be able to get shi*t done and ship that product. To be clear we need to ship products that people want to buy and use. Products that add value to the user and solve a challenge in their lives.

Practice not read

Product managers are active learners and as such, you can read about any of the above-mentioned skills. However, to really understand the skill you in my opinion need to take a three-step approach to learn and learning by doing.

  1. Absorb the information (read, listen, and watch) materials
  2. Practice those skills in a safe environment
  3. Talk about the nuances with your peers and experienced product managers

Now, I am not suggesting you go and spend a large sum of money on courses and coaches. Read If not Courses and Coaches, how else do I learn Product Management? I like Sugandha’s take. Certain skills cannot be taught by reading books. As a product manager, you need to develop curiosity. Be aware of product trade-offs and decisions made.

For example, Instagram recently changed the position of reels in their app. Find out why, talk to other product managers, understand the experience and tradeoffs. This curiosity is going to take you further than any course.

However, if you are someone who needs structure and access to peers and experienced product managers, we are offering a 4-week online cohort-based course where you’ll learn step-by-step strategies and tools to build alignment in your team.

Accelerate your career by learning to influence, communicate, coach effectively. Confidently say no, give & receive feedback, learn how to have those difficult conversations, and manage conflict while building trust within your team.

We Are All Designers

We are all designers. Designers are the most equipped to create meaningful change through our craft. In this article:

  • I am going to share some light on what it means to be a designer.
  • How we are all designers in our own way.
  • How we can use our collective powers in creating for the good of humanity and our planet.

A designer is commonly known as someone who creates beautiful things. However, design spans far beyond creating beautiful things. Many fail to recognize the science, compassion, collaboration, and thoughtful work behind the finished product.

Design is creative problem-solving

The most innovative minds will solve the most complex problems. What is innovation but a product of creative problem-solving.

Designing isn’t limited to the person who has “designer” in their title. As Jared Spool said in a recent episode of the User Defenders Podcast, “Anybody who influences the design is, in fact, a designer”. That includes developers, architects, engineers, product managers, and everyone else involved in the creation of a product.

Design is a collaborative effort. The UX and UI designers might take charge of the experience and aesthetic of a product, however, there is also a team of engineers designing the implementation of that product. A product manager designing the roadmap to create and shipping that product, as well as a team from marketing and sales designing a strategy to advertise and sell that product.

The Interaction Design Foundation recently held a master class on 21st Century Design with Don Norman. In it, Norman stated that designers in the 21st Century are the most equipped for creating impactful change.

Our responsibility

As designers, we have a duty to create things that will nurture, improve, and protect our planet and humanity. Now more than ever, we need to stay vigilant and consider the consequences of our design to the environment and to society.

However, as designers, we must:

  • Learn to keep an open mind.
  • Be open to learning from other disciplines.
  • Bring them all together in our creative process.
  • Learn to focus on people and to solve the core issue.
  • Also, we must also learn to respect and value everyone’s point of view.

Finally, we are all designers. We all need to aspire to become good designers in order to create things for the good of our planet and humanity.

Justine will be on The Product Angle Show on December 02, 2020 at 12 noon ET to watch live register for your free ticket here.

Founder Stories: Getting Ready to Launch Taggg

Hi there, I’m Trevor 👋 I’m one of the founders of Taggg. In this article, founder stories Q&A getting ready to launch Taggg we go behind the scenes. We’ll share how we are building and thinking about a go-to-market strategy for Taggg.

What is Taggg and who are the founders?

Who are the founders of Taggg?
Nichole, Aaron, and I are the three co-founders.

How did you all meet?
We met organically through working together on different SaaS projects and growing our client’s products together.

What are the roles you all play in creating Taggg?
We each wear many hats as you can imagine, however, we could group our primary roles as:

  • Aaron takes on user onboarding and customer engagement.
  • Nichole takes on the acquisition and getting the word out right now.
  • Trevor is the product manager and technical advisor and works directly with the development team.

What is Taggg?
Taggg is a software specifically designed to make scheduling group meetings easy.

The Ideation Phase

Who came up with the idea for Taggg?
It is my concept and was born out of the constant issue of scheduling meetings with clients, the Inturact team, and 3rd party contractors that each have different calendars and oftentimes use different calendar software.

Walk us through the thinking behind the problem/ creating value for users?
We leveraged the JTBD framework to uncover unmet needs within the space and come up with the top 3 needs in the space to concentrate our initial product development around:

  1. Minimize the effort when deciding what meeting times to suggest to multiple people
  2. Reducing the time it takes to reschedule canceled meetings
  3. Minimizing the effort to schedule meetings from your mobile device

As of now, we are concentrating wholly on #1 we will work on #2 and #3 after finalizing the core of the product with #1. We are solving this problem by leveraging what we call “calendar overlays” and letting multiple users see availability overlaid against their calendar to find times to meet that work for all parties.

What does customer discovery look like?
The biggest effort went into the initial JTBD research, but we also will be leveraging for collecting feedback and to make data-driven growth decisions within our customer data.


How much emphasis/ thinking went behind competitor analysis (who are the competitors)
Believe it or not, we tried to ignore most of the competition. There are a ton of competitors in this space such as Calendly or Doodle. We think everyone has looked at scheduling in the same way and that is why so many tools function alike.

However, we have completely rethought what it looks like to schedule meetings from the top down. Meaning, we want to solve being able to schedule group meetings with multiple people first, and then solving for 1:1 meetings becomes simple. When you first frame solving for scheduling meetings in this way you begin to realize how many gaps there is that need filled in this space.


What is a roadmap to you as founders (purpose and goals)?
At a high level, our roadmap aligns directly with our unmet needs:

  1. Minimize the effort when deciding what meeting times to suggest to multiple people.
  2. Reduce the time it takes to reschedule canceled meetings
  3. Minimizing the effort to schedule meetings from your mobile

We will be working through numbers #2 and #3 as soon as we prove value with #1.

How do you go about getting alignment and buy-in for roadmaps?
Again this is primarily based on talking to our ideal customers and understanding their unmet needs at this early stage. However, once we have customers it will be driven by new customer research still, but we will also look heavily into our user data to start to make data-driven growth decisions and build our roadmap based on customer engagement analytics within the product.

The Build – Founder Stories: Getting Ready to Launch Taggg

This has lived in my head for a while. We this something that people need from the start, however, we still backed up the hypotheses with research and actually uncovered insights that changed the direction of the product in regards to prioritization of features.

Talk us through what Alpha, Beta, and MVP mean to you?
We look at Alpha as our very close private network giving us feedback on our product. Then we look at Private Beta as a slightly more extended network of ours and from our private network.

Next, we will then move into a Public Beta stage as the first iteration that anyone can join the product. An MVP comes prior to all of these stages and we look at it in two parts. The first part is a clickable prototype. This is a low-cost way to make sure the concept is worth pursuing. From there you create the actual MVP which to us is a bare-bones product that concentrates on functionality over UX or UI

Founder Stories: Getting Ready to Launch Taggg

Walk us through the go-to-market strategy
W have a waitlist of 150+ people right now and have not been pushing this too hard as we have a very large network between the 3 of us. It is somewhat of an unfair advantage. We wanted to make sure we had a way for people truly interested in solving this problem to get early access as well though.

As of now, we will be in Alpha within our close network in November or December and private beta to our waitlist is looking like the beginning of 2021 at the moment.


Check out Taggg.
We were recently on The Product Angle Show listen to our episode here.

3 Tips To Make “Anywhere” Your Productive Workplace

Just because you’re not sitting in an office doesn’t mean you can’t have a productive workplace. It simply requires a little thoughtfulness.

Imagine this.

You’re sitting at home. On your couch. The TV is on, you have a bowl of cereal going, and your laptop is open but off to the side. You haven’t looked at it in a while yet have a feeling that your inbox is growing fuller by the minute.

You know that you should get back to work, but… Family Feud reruns are on and you need to see if your guess for “Name Something You Fill With Air” is the number one answer (it’s “balloons,” by the way).

Oh and plus your roommate is sitting next to you and is also not working, so you’re in good company. And on top of everything else, she yells out her Feud answers so loud that you know you won’t be able to concentrate anyways.

So what’s the point?

Your baseline work productivity

Look, working from home or really anywhere that’s not in an office setting can be a challenge. It can upset your normal workplace efficiency and derail your focus. But the office is plenty full of distractions as well. And the sooner you learn to make anywhere you are a productive workplace, the sooner you will be able to make meaningful progress forward.

Yes, it’s good to take breaks.

Yes, it’s good to enjoy yourself and have fun.

When you find yourself enjoying a six-hour hiatus though, you have a problem. Because sure, your job probably doesn’t really need a full 12-hour day from you. In fact, you probably only need two or three hours max of focused attention.

But that’s the baseline. To maintain your current existence, that’s the only effort you need to make.

Is that your aim though? Mediocrity?

How’s average sound?

My guess is that you’re driven, determined, persistent. Average doesn’t really sound all that appealing to you. And yet average is what you are destined to be if you don’t treat your time intentionally. Now, you can define whatever you view average to mean for yourself. Same goes for success.

But for me, success means living a fulfilled life. One in which I have a career that fills me with meaning, relationships that I enjoy taking part in, a home that I love, and more.

And I know that I won’t be able to either attain or maintain that vision of success by squandering my time.

You won’t either.

So instead, you need to use your time productively. Thoughtfully. You can make anywhere you are a productive workplace. It’s actually quite simple. At the most, it will require a little effort on your end. At the least, you’ll just have to get up off the couch.

With that, here are three factors that will increase productivity; three things that you can do to make anywhere you are a productive workplace.

If you want to create a productive workplace, you need to utilize your headphones.

Image by Alex Gruber

Productive workplace – Control the noise

At the time of this writing, I’ve worked from home for over three years. Most of that time was spent under an employer, although presently I work for myself. Regardless of who’s assigning the workload though, there is one thing that you can control – what you put in your ears.

That sounds weird… but I’m not changing it.

Obviously I’m talking about music, but more than that I’m also talking about your headphones.

Your headphones

My wife and daughter are eating breakfast nearby as I write this to you. My daughter, less than a year old, is screaming and enjoying bland oatmeal. She is yelling and giggling and playing all over that oatmeal.

And so from a life perspective, it’s a lot of fun to be part of that moment (one of the many benefits of working from home). From a writing perspective though, it’s a distraction. It’s certainly one I welcome, but nevertheless, it interferes with my putting words on the screen in front of you.

I’m sure you have distracting moments in your life just the same.

You’re working on a client design when your husband comes in, talking loudly on the phone. You’re sitting in a coffee shop trying to focus, but the blender hasn’t stopped screeching since you arrived. Or like I mentioned earlier, you have emails to respond to but the TV is on and your roommate is loudly sharing her answers for the Feud.

It’s too easy not to do it (especially in regards to your productive workplace)

No matter the distraction, there’s one incredibly easy thing that you can do to counter the noise. Put in headphones.

Simple, right?

When distractions abound, put in your headphones. Personally, I have a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones that I love and use nearly every single day. Regardless of the setting, I know I can throw them in and get back to the task at hand.

Once your headphones are in though, what do you listen to from there?

The music matters

It may not seem important, but the music you listen to matters. If you listen to something with a fast beat, you will feel excited. If you listen to something aggressive, you will feel combative.

It’s going to seep into your brain and impact how you feel.

So pair your music with the kind of work you need to do. If you’re the type that regularly needs to write scathing emails, feel free to put on heavy metal. But for most, you need something a little more relaxed. In fact, your best bet is to go with something that:

  • Is wordless (words will distract you)
  • Has a consistent beat (to keep you in the zone)
  • And has a somewhat fast tempo (to keep your energy levels high)

If you’re a Spotify user, here are two playlists that I often listen to:

You can just as easily find something like this on YouTube as well.

A poorly lit coffee shop

Image by Petr Sevcovic

Productive workplace – Have a set workstation

It’s great that you have the right music playing, but… it still probably won’t help you if the TV is flashing in front of your eyes. At least… it wouldn’t for me.

Whenever the TV’s on, even if I don’t care what it’s showing, I am drawn to it.

Like… well… a bird catching a glimpse of something shiny. Most of the time it’s just a gum wrapper. But who knows. One of these days it could be a piece of foil, so keep your fingers crossed. Anyways, whether or not TV has the same effect on you doesn’t matter.

Because we all have some version of TV (ex. Instagram, text notifications, etc.) that distracts us and keeps us from doing what we want.

But good news.

Just like with the headphones tip above, there is an easy solution to this problem.

Create a dedicated workstation for yourself.

It’s about consistency

Know where you are going to work every day. For instance, in the morning, I sit at my couch. The TV is off. The curtains are closed. It is quiet and around 6:30 AM. As late morning progresses, I make my way to the other room and work from my desk for the remainder of the day.

I have two set workstations and I know that, when I’m sitting at either, work is what I will do.

In your own life, you have the ability to create your ideal workstation as well.

It can be the same procedure you follow each day at the local coffee shop – get a small green tea, sit at the same table in the back corner, put in your headphones, and put on the same playlist – or it can be the same setup that you have at home – like what I described for myself above.

Regardless of where you choose to create your workstation, make sure it screams work.

In other words, don’t have your Switch sitting on the desk in front of you. Don’t have your favorite book within arms reach.

When you’re at your workstation, know that it’s time to work. And then, get to it.

A map of the US and Canada

Image by Revolt

Productive workplace – Know what you are going to do

Most importantly, when it comes to making anywhere a productive workplace, you need to have a plan. You need to know exactly what you are going to do and when.

You don’t want to waste your time trying to decide which project to tackle first.

Or whether you should check your email now or later. Or what your priorities are.

You need to know that well beforehand. In fact, I recommend planning out your day the night before. For example, each evening I spend around 15-20 minutes scheduling out my next day. So if tomorrow is Tuesday, I create my plan for it Monday night.

And I do that for all my days (except for the weekends where I’m generally less rigid).

Take the initiative

Why is planning so important? Because it forces you to be intentional with your time. Doing so will make you:

  • Organized
  • Prioritized
  • And more productive each day

Things that someone with aspirations, like you, will benefit from.

It’s the difference between a ship sailing without a map and a ship sailing with one. The one with the map will fare much, much better than the one without.

If you want to know how to increase productivity in the workplace, wherever you decide your workplace to be, you need to make a plan. So take the initiative and create a schedule for how you will spend your time each day.

Your productive workplace moving forward

As you navigate away from this post and drift back to work, keep these tips in mind.

Utilize your headphones and be thoughtful about the music you play. Create a workstation for yourself that encourages focus. And, most importantly, create a plan for your time. You can’t always predict how productive you will be, but by applying these tips, you give yourself a chance.

And a chance is all you need to do something amazing.


Corey Fradin

Founder of QuickBooost

A blog that helps you do more with your time (productivity, goal setting, that kind of thing). His passion for goal setting has led to him helping countless individuals finally achieve their goals.

How to Negotiate Your Product Manager Salary Offer

Are you changing jobs or re-entering the workforce? Use these 10 steps and learn how to negotiate your product manager salary offer.

If you’re looking for that next promotion, stay tuned; an article on how to get your next product manager promotion coming soon.

Let’s back up one level

Do you *need* or *want* a new job?

What is your why? (the entry criteria)
The interview process
The exit (offer or not)
Your decision to be made

How to Negotiate Your Product Manager Salary Offer

The background

What is a salary negotiation?
Should you negotiate your salary?
Why people don’t negotiate salary?
Who should you negotiate with?
Should you work with [external] recruiters?

10 Steps How to Negotiate Your Product Manager Salary Offer

1. Know what you want
2. What other options do you have?
3. Determine your walk away point
4. Build leverage before you need it
5. Do some research
6. Understand the company
7. The success plan
8. Negotiate
9. Maintain relationships
10. What’s your start date?

Additional Information

What not to do
Frequently asked questions
Want to practice your negotiation skills?

Let’s back up one level

What is your why? (the entry criteria)

During your career, there is usually an event that makes you want to look for another job, think of this as your why. Each individual will have their own story and why, however here is what I mean, you:

  • Were let go
  • Are no longer happy in your current position
  • Hit a glass ceiling at your current company
  • Priorities change and you’d like to spend more time with the family, on hobbies, retrain in a new skill, etc.
  • Make more money

Think of this as your entry criteria or the trigger that compels you to look for another job. Based on your story you will likely have a list of things that you are looking for in your next role.

Are you in the job market because you want to be or because you have to be? this will impact how you negotiate.

For example, if:

  • You were laid off, you *have* to be in the job market
  • you’re looking for a position that pays you more. You *want* to be in the job market

Remember: Salary is only one element of the total package on offer.

The interview process

Every company will have its own interview style and process. Some companies will specifically ask you how you can and would improve the actual product you will be working on if you get hired. On the other hand, some companies will ask you hypothetical questions to see how you think.

The exit (offer or not)

By the end of the interview process (the exit point), there are only two definite outcomes, you:

  1. Get an offer
  2. Do not get an offer.

Your decision to be made

If you did get an offer

Great now, go back to your initial why. Does the offer you received match up with the why?

It may be possible that some things align and some don’t. Understand the trade-offs. For example, if your why is to make more money, you may be given additional responsibilities which in turn may take more of your time.

If you accept the loop is closed for now (until your why changes.)

If you did not get an offer

Figure out what happened. If the company you are interviewing with is open to sharing feedback, great, listen to what they say.

If the feedback you receive is constructive, for example, the team’s feedback is the team wanted a little more in the product execution phase.

Then I’d go back and improve my skills in that area.

Learn from it and loop back to your entry criteria.

How to Negotiate Your Product Manager Salary Offer

what is a salary negotiation?

If you have not yet read What is negotiation for product managers, i’d suggest reading that first.

There I described what a negotiation is:

Negotiation is a discussion between two or more people to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Click To Tweet

A salary negotiation or discussion *usually* occurs before an offer is made. Depending on your level and experience there are obvious exceptions to the rule, however, for the purposes of this article let’s say that the negotiation lasts around 20 – 30 mins.

However, leading up to that discussion you’ll need to do a lot of work to be effective during those 20-30 mins.

You’ll need to draw on other skills such as communications, building trust, ability to be persuasive, and closing the offer.

Should you negotiate your salary?

It depends.

At the time of writing this article, we are in an international pandemic. Many friends, families, and neighbors are losing their jobs. If you have a good BATNA then maybe. However, if you are laid off due to COVID-19 or let go under a workforce reduction program and have bills to pay you may not have sufficient leverage. In that situation, it might be better to be employed and have some money coming in to help with living expenses.

However, if you have a good financial cushion and do not need money for living expenses, good job-saving. That will give you a good BATNA and sufficient leverage. However, market conditions mean that more people are looking for work than job available and too much negotiation may do more harm than good.

It’s a tough fine line that cannot be answered in one paragraph and without understanding your specific situation.

The Pro’s

If you don’t ask you don’t get. By negotiating you may get additional compensation directly (or indirectly through benefits).

The Con’s

If you decide to negotiate too much and are not flexible, a possibility exists that the offer may not come or worse the company decides to withdraw the offer.

What’s your situation?

It’s a fine line sometimes and will depend on a number of factors that we will through in this article.

product people

Photo by Emily Morter

Why people don’t negotiate salary?

Do you negotiate?

In my opinion, salary negotiation is very difficult. There are so many different schools of thought here. Typically when I look back at my own personal situation the following reasons come to mind why I didn’t negotiate when I first started my career.

  • Fear of losing the offer.
  • Appearing to be money-driven. Negotiation is tough and you may feel that negotiating shows that you are money-driven and you think that creates a bad impression.
  • Not know what your self-worth is
  • Lack of comparables or not enough information out there to compare similar positions.

I think the last one: “lack of comparables…” now should not be as much of an issue as say 20 years ago. There is so much information online. There really is no excuse not to do your research.

Who should you negotiate with?

Generally speaking, you may interview with different people and functions. However, there probably is a person who has an internal recruiter (or HR business partner) type role who explains the process and gives you feedback. Secondly, there is likely a hiring manager who will be from the business.

The hiring manager will likely interview you and possibly introduce you to the team or have you interview with members of the team.

Again, generally speaking, there are exceptions to any rule. The internal recruiter generally prohibits the hiring manager from talking about salary. Because the hiring manager may not be trained in salary negotiations. Usually, the internal recruiter or HR business partner will handle the salary conversation.

I would go to say that some internal recruiters (or HR business partners) tell the hiring manager before the interview with you that the hiring manager has no authority to negotiate salary.

Therefore, you’re probably likely going to negotiate with the internal recruiter (or HR business partner). However, in my opinion, if the hiring manager is open to having a conversation about salary then why not?

Should you work with [external] recruiters?

When I say recruiters in this context I mean external recruiters. External recruiters are not employed by the company you’d be interviewing with. However, depending on the relationship the external recruiter is paid a fee to find a candidate.

My answer, again, it depends.

Sometimes external recruiters have access to opportunities that may not be publically available. Smaller and mid-size companies may not have a sufficient need to hire an internal recruiter and therefore hire external recruitment companies to help with the search.

Things to consider

If you are considering using an external recruiter here are a few things to consider:

    1. Are you locked in with the external recruiter’s firm? You should be able to search and apply for jobs on your own. Your goal is to find a job not to become an exclusive client.
    1. Can the external recruiter submit your resume to a company without your approval? In that case, I’d say run. If the external recruiter can submit your resume without your approval this basically means you cannot apply directly to the company. In which case the external recruitment firm may claim that the firm advised you to submit the application, thus ensuring they still get paid.
    1. What is the relationship between the external recruiter and the company looking to hire? If you don’t just ask when you are being employed by someone from the company.
    1. How and when the external recruiter communicates with you.

As with everything know what you are getting yourself into. Good recruiters can help open doors. Bad recruiters can really mess the job search up for you. Or just not communicate with you.

For the purposes of this article, we will refer to internal recruiters, HR business partners, and external recruiters as “recruiters.”

10 Steps How to Negotiate Your Product Manager Salary Offer

To start off with let’s set up some house rules. Negotiating your salary is a very personal thing. While I can tell you about my experiences, what I think are best practices, things to think about when negotiating your salary, etc. The actual act of negotiation is a skill that YOU need to develop. Negotiation is not something you can memorize and regurgitate. It’s a skill, a muscle that you build with practice.

Product Managers

Photo by Ian Schneider

1. Know what you want

This is a very important topic. Be very clear as to what you are looking for. In the long run, this can save you time and money joining a company that is not a good fit. Similarly, a “bad hire” or a hire that isn’t into the company costs the company money as well. Which is the reason why some companies hire very slowly.

Typically it’s very easy to get focused on one aspect of the job offer the salary. I get it, we have bills to pay and money is a very big part of why we work.

As a side note: Do not feel bad for wanting more money or specific benefits. If you are happy and financially things are taken care of you’ll want to do well in your careers. Not focus on worrying about paying rent.

While the title of this article is called “how to negotiate your product manager salary offer.” You need to keep in mind that finding your next role is more than salary. Like I mentioned in the previous sentence don’t get me wrong money is important, however, don’t forget the other potential benefits:

Potential benefits to consider

Stock Commissions
Bonus (yearly/ sign on) Profit sharing
Gym membership 401K/ retirement
Expense account Training budget
Health benefits Vacation/ sick pay
Flexible working hours Childcare
Relocation Start date

Clearly the above list is not comprehensive, however, its a good starting point. While you are negotiating your salary and the total package make a list of other benefits that in a list of least attractive to most attractive.

Therefore, the first benefit on your list will be the one that you can trade first for another benefit that is more attractive to you.

2. What other options do you have?

In negotiation terms, this is referred to as BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). In other words what other options do you have if you do not get a job offer in the current interview process?

Typically this could be:

  • Staying in the job that you already have
  • The other offer you received
  • Continue looking for a job
  • Filing for unemployment since you are currently unemployed

The better the BATNA you have the more confident you will be and create leverage for yourself. However, if you are facing the possibility of filing for unemployment since you are currently unemployed. You have a poor BATNA and you need to not appear desperate.

If the internal recruiter asks (and they typically do) where are you in the process of your job hunt. They are fishing to see what other options you have. If you are unemployed my suggestion is to say something like “you are talking with other companies.” Which you should be if you are unemployed. Do not, I repeat outright lie.

Why not tell the recruiter that you are unemployed?

What to do if you don’t have another offer and are unemployed?

During this time of COVID-19 if you feel comfortable to let the internal recruiter know you were laid off fine. That is understandable, maybe the internal recruiter will be empathetic to the situation.

However, in a “regular environment,” we’d like to think recruiters are understanding. However, some recruiters may use this information as leverage and offer you a lower salary because they know you’ll likely accept whatever they offer because you need a job.

which is unfortunately sad as you may take that offer but start looking for a higher paid job.

You may be asked what are the other companies you are talking to. This is highly likely. My suggestion here is to not disclose any company names or individual people. You don’t know who knows who. I suggest you say something like “you don’t feel comfortable disclosing any specifics since you are still in talks with the company.”

Again, do not lie.

What to do if you have another offer for $10k more?

That is fantastic. First, consider would you prefer to take that job with $10k more? (meaning would you rather work at that company?)

If the answer is yes, then why are you trying to negotiate for an offer here?

Maybe you’re trying to see if you can get a better offer (if both companies are relatively equal).

Be careful to not unknowingly make a threat.

Bad way to disclose your alternate job offer: [company] is offering me 10k more, if you don’t raise your offer I’ll join [company].

Good way to disclose your alternate job offer: I am very interested in working for [company name] there could be a mutually good fit. However, I am struggling to reconcile the $10k difference between your offer and another offer I have. What can we do about this?”

Remember, once you’ve asked this question. There will likely be quiet. Do not be the first to speak, you’ll likely lose any leverage you’ve built up by asking this question.

Wait for a response. Be ok with that uncomfortable silence.

3. Determine your walk-away point

Before you start negotiating take some time and 1. Know what you want. This will help you be aware during the negotiation as salary negotiations can get emotional.

Walking away seems difficult. However in the long run if you cannot agree on specifics walking away will prevent you from accepting a job that you will later regret.

If you need time to think about it, tell that to the recruiter. Many times they will understand. There are times the company will give you 24 hours or even tell you that if you are in two minds maybe it won’t work out and withdraw the offer.

Honestly, if you are in that situation, in my opinion, you’ve dodged a bullet.

Above all, remember that your salary expectations need to be realistic.

Write down when an offer starts to look unattractive to you and doesn’t fit in with your why. Writing it down will help you solidify your walk-away point and serve as a reminder.


Photo by Raychan

4. Build leverage before you need it

Getting a product manager position right now is difficult. It’s one of those coveted positions that many people are looking to grab. According to Glassdoor the product manager role is #9 on their list of The 50 Best Jobs in America for 2018.

Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to get an interview why should the company hire you? What can you bring to the table that is better than the other applicants?

Are you active in product communities? if not, why not? consider joining a product community, there are many free and paid options available.

Why because you need to start developing your product thinking. In my opinion, you need to start thinking about products.

Writing online, interacting with other product people might not be the reason why you get the job. However, it helps you develop your product skills.

Not sure where to start just write about a product you like or are interested in. For example, HEY is a new email service from Basecamp. It took Basecamp 15 days to slowly invite users into their platform. During these 15 days, social media was full of people asking for invites and what people thought of HEY.

I wrote a piece as well: Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?. It’s a simple article about my thoughts on using HEY.

Since I knew that HEY will be making the service available to everyone very soon I did not have much time to use and think about it through a product lens, therefore, it became an article about my initial thoughts after a few days of use.

But you get the point.

Other forms of leverage could be as simple as finding an internal champion who is willing to make a warm intro to the hiring manager or fight for you as you go through the application process.

Think: What can you bring to the table that someone else cannot? for example, experience.

Types of leverage

In G. Richard Shell’s book Bargaining for advantage there are three different types of leverage:

  1. Positive leverage. You have something that someone wants.
  2. Negative leverage. What can I do to make someone do something for me.
  3. Normative leverage. Appeal to the values of the person you are negotiating with.

Richard also talks about the power of coalitions whereby using relationships and shared interests help create effective coalitions to gain all three types of leverage.

When considering leverage remember:

  • Leverage is based on perception not facts.
  • The amount of leverage can change quickly.
  • People will listen to you if you have authority. Authority is not leverage

In my opinion building trust and rapport early on is also a form of leverage. This is why in studies experienced negotiators spend some time on small talk or also known as the icebreaker.

So it’s not a bad thing to talk about something other than the intended purpose for a few mins at the beginning.

5. Do some research

I cannot stress how important this is. The more research you are able to do beforehand the better for you during the interview and negotiation process. Things to research include:

Industry statistics on salary

If you Google “product management salary” you’ll get an idea of what product managers get paid based on experience. To further refine Google, “product management salary [NYC]” where you replace [NYC] with the name of your city.

Sites such as Glassdoor, and Built in NYC are on the front page of Google.

Salary range the company pays for the position

Further, refine this search to “[name of company] product management salary [your city]” to get an idea of what the company pays.

Talk to people

This should go without saying, however, don’t believe everything you read online. Try and find people who currently work there or people who worked at the company in the past.

Talking salary is very personal and please be careful to not directly ask someone what they make. Reframe the question to be neutral.

For example, what range should I expect product managers at [name of company] make in [your city]?

You’re more likely to get a response to that question than “How much do you make at Netflix?”

What is the interview process

Larger companies such as FAANG companies share a lot of information online from the company itself but also from people who went through the process. Understand what the process is for the company.

Single point of contact

Find out who your single point of contact is. You’ll likely speak with multiple internal stakeholders who only know so much information. Find out who is the one person that will be with you throughout the entire process. Typically this is the internal recruiter or HR business partner if you are working with the company directly. If you are working with an external recruiter than typically the external recruiter is your single point of contact.

During your first call ask this question and confirm. It will save you a lot of time trying to chase people up when they may not have all the information.

How to obtain feedback

This is particularly important if you did not get the job. I’d like to think that it’s common sense to tell a candidate that the company appreciates the time the candidate spent however, the company has chosen to move forward with another candidate.

It’s closure, right?

Yet, many times there is radio silent.

The solution, in my opinion, is when you are asking the question above about who is the single point of contact. Also, ask what the process is for feedback in the event you are not selected.

Something like:

Hey [recruiter], after the interviews with [x] and [y], I am assuming they cannot give me any feedback do they feed this information to you?

If so can what is the process to pass this information on to me?

Would it be ok to contact you again if I don’t hear from you>

Or if you are not the right person who is?

I’d appreciate it if you could let me know even if its a no that way I can cross out this opportunity from my tracker.

Asking questions along those lines, give you information on the process and actionable steps to take.

6. Understand the company

When I used to interview candidates do you know the number of people who have not been to the company website and do not know what we do?

Don’t be that person.

Understand the company and how they make money

The least, in my opinion, is to understand how the company makes money. What are some of the popular products and how they provide value to their users?

I often get asked what if I don’t know anyone from the company. Here’s what you do:

Example 1:

Let’s say the company you are looking to interview with is Facebook. This is very easy by googling search terms like:

  • Facebook product manager interview process
  • How much does Facebook make?
  • What are some of Facebook’s products?

You get the point.

However, you are smart. Don’t believe everything you read online. Go to the Facebook’s 10-k filing with the securities and exchange commission. Read the latest one, you’ll find some very useful information. There is so much research and information written about public companies, you don’t really have an excuse not to do smart research.

Example 2:

However, I hear you say what if the company I work for it not a publically traded company then what?

It definitely is harder, but not impossible. In which case the company website is a great place to start.

You’ll find what they are selling and their main source(s) of income. You probably won’t get stats unless it’s an open open startup.

Next, with caution, you may be able to find current or former employees on social media who are willing to help.

Please note: I am not advocating spam people with emails, DMs, and carrier pigeons until you get a response. Many people are open to helping some are not.

Understand the interview process

Different companies will have different processes. Understand what that is. For example, it could be a series of calls then a in person interview:

  • 1: Intro and fit call with the recruiter
  • 2: Video or call interview 1
  • 3: Video or call interview 2
  • 4: In person interview
  • 5: Go/ no go call

Or some variation of the above. By the time you get to call 4 with the internal recruiter, they will know if they want to negotiate with you or you’ll know if they don’t.

Where is the company in the recruitment process?

Similar to your BATNA, the company you are interviewing with also has a BATNA – typically other candidates.

Once an internal recruiter asked me “where are you in the process of your job hunt” and I told the internal recruiter my response. I asked “how about you? how is the search going?”

The response shocked me a little. Although, this was early in my career.

The response was “we are planning to make an offer next week to the leading candidate, we are interviewing you in case the offer is rejected”

My heart sank, all the hours of interview research and prep for this company gone. I mean really what chance do I have.

In the end, I never heard back from the internal recruiter. I sent two emails nothing. I assume the leading candidate accepted.


As with everything, there will be exceptions some internal (and external) recruiters are awesome and will keep you informed of the progress and process. Some won’t. If you’re working with one that won’t chances are they won’t because they don’t want to hire you (or the hiring manager doesn’t).

I know it’s hard, however, stop looking for closure and just move on.

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7. The success plan

All the prep work and research you’ve done up until this point starts to come into play. The success plan is broken down into two sections:

Succes plan for what will be working on

Depending on the company you are interviewing with you may need to go through hypothetical exercises. For example, for Facebook, there are two 45 Min Video Conference Interviews: 1. Product Sense: Here you are building a product from scratch. 2. Execution.

If you pass those two stages you’ll be invited for leadership and drive session.

Then at some point, you’ll talk to someone from the team you’ll be working with. This is where you need to understand why you are being hired. What aspect of the product will you be working and will be responsible for?

What skills or experience can you bring that is above and beyond the next best candidate?

Success plan to negotiate the job offer

As mentioned earlier, the negotiation for the purposes of this article is expected to be 20-30 minutes. You have so many different elements to think about and communicate your value. Create a plan for how you’d like to proceed.

Write it down before the negotiation.

Make notes during the negotiation.

Coming soon

Salary negotiation checklist.

8. Negotiate

I don’t think this needs to be said, however, here goes. During the interview process, you’ll be asked many questions. Be honest be truthful.

Some of the areas where I think it’s easy to bend the truth include:

  • What your BATNA is
  • Your current salary/ benefits
  • What you did in your previous role(s)
  • Why the current role you are applying for excites you

By the time you get to this discussion, if you’ve followed the previous 6 steps you should have some topics you’d like to discuss.

Who makes the first offer

Depending on the size of the company it could go a couple of ways:

    1. A number or range was mentioned. During your first call with the recruiter, you or the recruiter may have spoken about a number or range. If this is the case, the discussion will start there.
  1. No number or range was mentioned. If this is the case then the recruiter will start asking questions to get an understanding of where you’d like to land

Generally speaking (again there are exceptions), the company will make the first offer. However, again depending on the experience of the recruiter they make not make an offer until they have some comfort in knowing that you’ll accept.

In which case the question they’ll ask is: If we made an offer for $xx, xxx would you accept it?

This is getting an informal buy-in from you. If the number is acceptable then I do not see any reason in responding: If you were to make an offer for $xx, xxx I’d be interested in accepting.

In both cases remember the if.

Should you negotiate before you get an offer in writing?

Again, it depends on your specific case.

In the above example, the recruiter asked If we made an offer for $xx, xxx would you accept it?

This is gauging if you are going to accept or negotiate.

If you say as in the example: If you were to make an offer for $xx, xxx I’d be interested in accepting and then upon getting an offer start to negotiate.

At this point, you have leverage since you have an offer. However, the recruiter will want to know what changed from when they asked you if we made an offer for $xx, xxx would you accept it? and now?

Some recruiters may see that as being dishonest and may not want to continue the conversation.

Is the first offer always low?

Depending on your school of thought. You may be thinking well the recruiter expects some sort of negotiation and therefore the first offer will be lower. Now to clarify always is a strong word.

This is where your preparation and research comes in.

Your ability to communicate and effectively sell your skills and what you can do comes into play.

Remember, salary is only a portion of the entire package.

Remember, if you get a job offer make sure it is in writing.

9. Maintain relationships

Interviews are all about people.

During the interview process you are likely to meet a number of people; hiring manager, internal recruiter, HR, individuals who interview you, etc.

Your goal is to work with them more often.

Even if you don’t get the job you don’t know when and where you may run into them again.

Keep your emotions in check

This is especially true if you have a poor BATNA like facing the possibility of filing for unemployment insurance.

Don’t sound desperate, recruiters are trained to smell desperation. This could lead to a lower offer or no offer at all.

Understand your style

Are you someone who feels uncomfortable? if so you might find it difficult to talk about salary, money, and benefits. In which case we recommend getting some practice.

Why exit plan?

Sometimes things just don’t work out during the interview and negotiation process. It could be for a number of reasons. However, let’s say one of the interviewers liked you and wanted to hire you. For some reason, (let’s say in this case the company was about to make someone else an offer but your interview was already scheduled).

If the interviewer who liked you moves to a different company they may still remember you. Don’t burn the bridge.

10. What’s your start date?

At this time you’ll have either received an offer or been nicely told no thank you (yes I know some recruiters will ghost you. Let’s not go there).

You did NOT receive an offer

Figure out what happened. If the company you are interviewing with is open to sharing feedback, great, listen to what they say.

If the feedback you receive is constructive, for example, the team’s feedback is you didn’t fare well in the product execution phase.

Then I’d go back and improve my skills in that area.

Learn from it and loop back to your entry point.

You received an offer

Go back to your initial why.

Ask yourself some questions:

  • Does the offer you received match up with the why?
  • Can you live with any tradeoffs you have to make?
  • Can you see yourself working in this space, product, and team for the foreseeable future?

Next steps

During the negotiation, the start date will most likely come up. However, remember the process set in place by the company. Here’s what I mean the offer will most likely be contingent on something (or a number of somethings).

For example, successful completion of a medical (especially in healthcare), satisfactory references, or approval from the internal head of the product.

Therefore, during the latter stages of the negotiation make sure you understand if the company is asking you questions or making an offer and what if anything is the offer contingent upon.


Photo by Roman Bozhko

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how to negotiate product manager salary – Additional Information

What not to do?

Every negotiation is different. Below are a few things that we think you should not do.

Issue an ultimatum

Most likely you are not the only candidate. With the unemployment rate so high there are plenty of other candidates. Do not issue an ultimatum.

To be clear if you say something like; unless you give me $xx, xxx I will not accept your offer is an example of an ultimatum.

If the employer does accept this, it probably doesn’t save the relationship and may come with consequences down the road.


No explanation needed period.

Ask for one last thing

Don’t push your luck, if your fortunate to get something you asked for. Don’t push your luck and ask for one more thing. This is where being prepared helps.

Make decisions based on artificial deadlines

If you hear the words “we need an answer within 24 hours” run. Some companies may give you limited time to consider the offer because they know you may get other offers and may use it as leverage to get another offer.

If you are being forced to make a decision based on an artificial deadline, my suggestion is run. You’ll likely face other issues down the road as the company may not value employee health as well as other things.


Below are a few questions that you should be expected to prepare for before negotiating your salary.

What if I get asked what my current salary is?

Firstly, Salary History Questions During the Hiring Process are Illegal in NYC. I would check first if it’s legal where you are to ask such questions.

The danger of these questions is that the internal recruiter will anchor your offer based on your current salary + a small bump to entice you to make the move.

This doesn’t take into consideration what you can do the new company only what you’ve done previously.

What if I get asked what my salary expectations are?

A very likely question, usually very early on in my experience. This should get you thinking:

  • The company values your time as well as theirs. They don’t want to continue if the salary expectations are not aligned.
  • The company is looking for you to undervalue yourself

The first thing you should do is to clarify if they are asking because they are making an offer or collecting information. If you are in the first call with the internal recruiter most likely they are collecting information. In which case you should consider responding by

    1. Stating you need to further understand the role, expectations, culture, etc.
    1. Asking what in their opinion is the industry average for such a role
    1. If the above 1, and 2 do not work and the internal recruiter pushes for a response (in many cases they do). You may be tempted to give a range. If you do share a range, make sure the lower number fit’s into their range with a higher range which is where you want to be. Typically, if they do make you an offer it is likely to be on the lower end. Your job is to negotiate objectively to reach the higher end.
  1. Finally, you might ask the internal recruiter what is the budgeted about for this position. This can go one of two ways. First, they can say we’ve budgeted $xx, xxx for this position and there is no movement. Or secondly, the internal recruiter might say the range is $xx, xxx to $xx, xxx. In both cases, the salary has been anchored to a number.

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What is your relationship with email?
What is HEY?
How HEY works?
How much does it cost?
Onboarding into HEY
Demo of HEY
HEY vs. Apple
Interesting tweets
Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

What is your relationship with email?

Do you remember your first email address? Way back when dial-up was a thing. My first email address was a Freeserve (I think) email. My memory is a little hazy. However, I needed Freeserve to access the internet and it came with an email address.

Later I changed my email to an AOL address and kept that for many years, even after Gmail became the standard. However, I finally gave in and jumped to Gmail when I was spending more time cleaning my spam emails than actually reading emails.

Changing email addresses takes a lot of work. Exporting, saving, or forwarding while modern tools have made it easier. However, you still need to spend some time in the process.

Also, shout out and credit to Ziyad who helped source an invite through James Hill-Khurana who kindly shared 1 of his invites with me to write this article now. 🙏

What is Hey?

What’s interesting here is that HEY is not an email client. That’s why HEY isn’t an app that sits on top of Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, Yahoo, etc. HEY is a full email service provider. You don’t use HEY to check your Gmail account, you use HEY to check your HEY account. It’s its own platform, and it’s all you’ll need.

Currently, invite codes are required until their public launch in July 2020. To get a code, email and tell us how you feel about email. It could be a love story or a hate story. It could be long, could be short. It’s your story, so it’s up to you.

Email, in my opinion, is a very boring product. Somewhat functional if you will. Will HEY change that?

The last time anyone got excited about email was when Google launched Gmail back around 2005. Over 15 years ago, we’ve adapted to doing email in the status quo Gmail and Outlook way. Therefore, we have not seen any exciting developments recently.

However, if you are a Superhuman user, you might disagree. I’m not a Superhuman user, for me, I don’t have a big enough email problem that I need to spend $30 a month on. Although, some people I’ve spoken to love the Superhuman experience.

Back to Hey.

95,000 people signed up to be on a waitlist

As per the CEO of HEY Jason, the waitlist for Hey passed 95,000 people. Clearly, email is a problem people are interested in exploring to solve.

To be on the waitlist you need to email and tell them what email means to you. So this was not a box where you type in your email and hit submit. A little more effort is needed.

Will HEY become the defacto standard in email going forward?

Only time will tell.

HEY is a completely redesigned rethink on email and this is clear from their love letter on the homepage of HEY.

Hey everyone—

It’s 2020, we need to talk about email.

Email gets a bad rap, but it shouldn’t. Email’s a treasure.

It feels great to get an email from someone you care about. Or a newsletter you enjoy. Or an update from a service you like. That’s how email used to feel all the time.

But things changed.

You started getting stuff you didn’t want from people you didn’t know. You lost control over who could reach you. An avalanche of automated emails cluttered everything up.

Read the full love letter to email on HEY’s homepage.

How HEY works?

Since HEY is a complete rethink on email it is very opinionated on how email *should* be. I don’t plan to go through all the features of HEY. If you’re interested in all the feature HEY has to offer read the Tour Features page on HEY’s site.

A few things that come to mind:

There is no INBOX

Well now it’s renamed to iMbox ok just Imbox

Hey the new email from Basecamp

The Imbox screener

Before emails can get to your Imbox they are screened. This means the first time someone sends an email they land in the screener. You then decide if you want to “accept” the email or not (note: HEY refers to this as “where you decide if you want to hear from them or not.”)

Click yes and you’ll continue receiving their emails. Click no and you’ll never hear from them again.

Hey new email from Basecamp

Privacy focused

Maybe I should have started here. In my opinion, this is the game-changer. Regardless of if you agree with it or not as more and more people adopt HEY you’ll likely start seeing more tweets of marketers using open tracking pixels.

The bigger question is does HEY have the chops to effectuate change or will marketers simply find ways around it?

hey new email from basecamp

Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

How much does it cost?

Currently as far as I know, HEY has three tiers:

  1. $99 per year for a username that has more than two characters e.g
  2. $349 per year for a username that has three characters e.g.
  3. $999 per year for a user that is two characters e.g.

Which got me thinking what would cost? (or does HEY even allow a one character email address?).

Guess I’ll never know now that been onboarded onto the system. If you are someone just receiving your invite let me know on Twitter.

[Update: James informed me that single character emails do not seem to be supported, he tried.] 🙏

Onboarding into HEY

Demo of HEY

Not going to duplicate efforts here, and honestly Jason does a fantastic job here anyway.


I haven’t been excited about email for a long time. It’s a form of communication that allows me to communicate with people asynchronously.

Earlier this year when the founders started “picking twitter fights” it became entertainment, however, clearly, the intent was around releasing HEY. Am I a big fan of picking fights? no. Did it work? I think so. It created so much attention that when HEY was eventually released it seemed to create FOMO.

My timelines were filled with HEY content, it became the new flex. I become a part of it.

While I’m not a fan of FOMO techniques, I do not believe HEY is intended to be a private club. I don’t know Jason or David and I do not have any inside information. These are purely my views.

Anyone who creates software knows when something new is released onboarding new (and early) users is vital. If users love the experience they will share with others (as currently being shared on Twitter).

However, more importantly, the stuff the users don’t see. The hours, and months (or years) behind creating this product. If the platform was to crash, the user experience will stink. People will write and share this. The negativity that comes with it has the potential to kill the product even before it gets off the ground.

Jason and David have made it clear that HEY is not an exclusive club and all invites will go out by July and then HEY will be made publically available in July. That I can respect.

Using HEY

To be very clear here, I’ve only used HEY for two days and I feel excited about using email again. Will it last? time will tell.

A couple of things that I’m excited to try out include the Send massive files without using other apps, Add private “notes to self” to any email thread, combined with Stick it to an email (could this turn into a simple CRM, or maybe I’m overthinking it), and Bundle dominating senders into one line.

This rethink of email is exciting and I can’t wait to dig into it deeper.

For me, the bigger question is can I unlearn the current way of thinking with Gmail?

Meaning, I am attached to my calendar and important emails are filed out using labels that somewhat represent a folder.

Email is the gateway to productivity – the bigger strategy

Above I mentioned that “Email, in my opinion, is a very boring product. Somewhat functional” however, that doesn’t describe the bigger picture.

Gmail and Outlook have a productivity eco-system around email. Think about it, email has become central to *nearly* everything we do.

Email ties into a number of things we do; sharing files, creating documents, spreadsheets, slides, Single Sign-On, sending and receiving meeting invites. The list continues, saving important confirmation numbers, think about all the other apps that have access to your email.

Email facilitates communication and collaboration.

Email is a fantastic place to start a productivity ecosystem. I’m excited to see where the team takes this next. I agree with what Hiten said:

What is the Hey Postal Service?

Though I am very curious as to what Hey Postal Service is.

Hey - new email from Basecamp

Can’t help but think about Slack

I can’t help but think about Slack right now. Slack at one point in time marketed itself as the email killer. HEY is clearly marketing email as a “treasure.”

Under the current iteration, HEY feels very much comparable to Slack, yet its positioned as email. I know it’s email with the Basecamp flavor.

For some reason which I cannot pinpoint exactly. Maybe I’m thinking of Campfire. In 2006, we [Basecamp] built Campfire to help businesses communicate better. It’s a simple, real-time web-based group chat tool that lets people set up password-protected chat rooms super quickly. Source Basecamp product history.

Could Campfire have become a billion-dollar business?

Was it a missed opportunity?

When I use HEY (for the limited two day’s I’ve been using it), my mind wonders into the Slack territory. It might be because I am customed to thinking email and a calendar go together.

Is it time to change that thinking?


If you choose to pay the $99 (or whichever tier you choose based on the number of characters in your email) after successful payment you’ll be taken to a page to set up 2FA. Nice touch. I’d be interested in learning how HEY has implemented this feature.


A few of questions come to mind that I don’t quite know how to address.

Where’s the calendar?

I’m a calendar person. Right now I live and die by the calendar. HEY doesn’t have a calendar. How can I change my workflow or do I need to use a separate calendar app. It totally makes sense if I was using Basecamp as I believe it has some calendar features.

What is the impact on my newsletter?

As someone who has a small but growing newsletter, open rates have never been something I focus on. I’m more interested in people replying to my emails and conversations.

I use Mailchimp for my newsletter and every now and again I look at what stats are available in Mailchimp and one of the stats or options I have is the ability to trim the “inactive” readers. I am not a newsletter/ Mailchimp expert, however, from what I understand this is calculated using open rates. How will this feature work going forward?

As I mentioned earlier, I have no interest in the open rates, however, will I end up paying for contacts in my newsletter list that don’t actually open my emails and continue to receive my emails. Will this drive them to flag it as spam in Gmail?

Or will this impact my deliverability and my ability to land in the inbox or Imbox?

Newsletter advertising?

I don’t advertise on my newsletter however, many other people do. In a telegram group Paul Metcalfe and I are a part of. He discusses the above impact on his newsletter and also added advertisers want to estimate ROI based on how many people are going to see the ad and track conversions on who did see the ad (impressions > click > conversions).

Paul totally understands that people who receive emails might not want to be tracked so maybe it’s something newsletter owners need to be proactive about and find solutions to.

What’s on the roadmap?

While I did not find an “official” roadmap, I believe that custom domains are on their roadmap. Meaning in addition to sending an email from say you’ll also be able to send emails from something like I’m going to go on a limb here and say that to add a custom domain you are looking at additional costs.

Integration with Basecamp?

I’d love to see a deeper integration with Basecamp. I used Basecamp in the early days, however, when pricing moved to $99 per month. A fantastic deal for a small team, however, for just one person it was overkill. I recently tried Basecamp again as they launched a free tier. I really like basecamp.

Basecamp even has a “Hey” section in the header. Could we see a deeper integration? Could Basecamp and Hey be the *only* tools you need?

Hey - Is Hey worth it?

HEY vs. Apple

Upfront disclosure here, I’ve yet to download the HEY IOS app. I’m currently using an iPhone 8 Plus, it does the job and I’m running IOS version 12.1.2. The HEY IOS app requires IOS 13 and above.

Do I upgrade and risk slowing my iPhone down? Still thinking about it.

Hey New email from Basecamp

Recently Apple took issue with the HEY IOS app under its guidelines “Apple’s App Store policy, 3.1.1”. I don’t plan to go into it this issue in this article as its not the intent when I started writing this piece (and to be honest I have not had the time to follow the story).

However, it does deserve a mention and I hope both HEY and Apple can put this past them and do what’s right for users and customers.

Read Jason’s statement HEY CEO’s [Jason Fried] take on Apple’s App Store payment policies, and their impact on our relationship with our customers

Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

Interesting tweets

How many people will actually pay $99?

This will be one of the biggest questions.

Marketers thinking how to adjust

Hey – Is the new email service from Basecamp worth the hype?

From a product perspective, I am inspired by the way the team has rethought the email space. Full credit to Jason, David, and the rest of the team. If anyone has any connections to Jason or David, I would love to chat with them behind the HEY thinking on The Product Angle Show.

For me, the biggest plus point is the rethink of how we should be using our emails. Last year I had over 50K emails in my inbox and I used Leave Me Alone to unsubscribe from unwanted emails and then deleted most of the emails. I figured if it’s important the issue will surface back up.

At the time of releasing this, I’ve only used HEY for two days. Two days is not sufficient to fully make a decision as I’ve not had a chance to use all their features.

Would I pay $99 to keep my email? I’m very tempted, I have a great deal of respect for the team and I really want it to succeed. I’d love to follow along the journey at least from the perspective of a customer.

Right now I still have 12 days to decide.

Would I use it as my daily driver? It’s too early to tell right now. I would miss my calendar I have to research and read a little more on how the team intends to fill this void. (maybe a deeper integration with Basecamp? or an upcoming productivity suite?)

Question for you?

What are your thoughts on HEY? Is this something you’d pay for and keep? Let me know in the comments below. Or feel free to send me an email

Sample Product Manager Resume

Are you in the market for a new Product Management job? Before you apply update your resume with this sample Product Manager resume. However, if you are not sure where to start continue reading.

Elements of a sample product manager resume


Make sure your name, phone number, and email are clear at the top of the page.


Create a short paragraph of your career highlights. Make it easy to read and do not use bullet points. The aim of this summary is to highlight your achievements.

I am aware that some people do not think there is value in adding a summary and that’s ok. Though, remember a summary is not an objective statement.

Employment History

Besides the obvious, name of the company, the dates, and a meaningful title. After that, what you did/ your achievements at the company need to be specific and tailored to the job you are applying for.

Hence, we do not recommend having one resume that you blast out to many open positions.

Product Skills

List out the product skills you have. Separate each skill with a comma (not a vertical list). For example:
Discovery: Interviews, Market Research, Competitor Analysis, Surveys, Experiments, MVP, Success Metrics (AARRR), User personas and Storytelling, Messaging, User Journey, negotiation, process improvement, and feature optimization.

Editable template & review

The Product Angle

As a Live member, you’ll get access to the remaining elements, access to an editable Google document template, and feedback on your resume. To create your own copy:
1. Click File
2. Click Make a copy
3. Edit

Access the sample Product Manager resume here

Please read Statement on Summer of Product

Today Monday, June 01, 2020, was scheduled to be day 1 of 6. Please read our Statement on Summer of Product.

Please read Statement on Summer of Product.

Dear friends,

We are postponing Summer of Product. We don’t have a future date planned as of yet, but it will happen.

When we canceled Product Impact 2020, we all had a common enemy – the coronavirus. The coronavirus brought the world to a standstill, many people faced adversity, loss, and the fear of the unknown. Since then the world came together in support of each other. In a way, it brought us together.

This time it’s different. This time the country is divided.

The actions over the last few weeks are incomprehensible; the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

This past weekend I have seen firsthand friends, families, and neighbors in distress. To be honest, I don’t really know how to process this right now. Living in NYC I am minutes away from the streets that I know and love, seeing them in this light deeply upsets me.

When I first immigrated to the US, I was very excited. I considered myself very fortunate to have this opportunity.

Today things are different – mass shootings, racism, twitter feuds, lack of direction/leadership, etc.

I feel sick just writing this.

What does 2040 look like?

I received an email from my alma mater which quoted former President Obama:

“When incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their ‎skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us. This is not just a black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about. All fair-minded people should be concerned.”

And former President Obama is right. The problems that we must confront belong to all of us. Therefore, we need to own up to them. We have to own them. All of us. Their solutions also need to be owned by everyone, but especially by our leaders and those in positions of authority and influence.


Thank you,

Pradip Khakhar
Founder – The Product Angle

What is Negotiation for Product Managers?

Yes, Product Managers negotiate every day. However, you may not have thought about Product Management this way. In this article, my goal is to answer what is negotiation for Product Managers? and share 10 steps to influence without authority. Click right here to jump straight down to step #1 and start influencing.

Generally speaking when we think about negotiations we tend to think about one of the following three situations, negotiating:

  1. With a customer over price or contracts
  2. A legal settlement
  3. With vendors

As a result, when we think about the role of the Product Manager, negotiation is typically something we don’t see often.

If you’d ask me to sum up the role of the Product Manager in one tweet I’d say:

1. Discover & communicate the product. 2. Collaborate with the team to execute. 3. Repeat step 1. (learn & Iterate) Click To Tweet

Introduction to Negotiations

What is a negotiation
Types of negotiations
Do Product Managers negotiate?
Elements of an effective negotiation?
Habits of effective negotiators

Negotiation for Product Managers in 6 steps?

1. Become self-aware
2. Prepare
3. Ask questions
4. Focus on interests not positions
5. Leverage
6. Align the success plan

10 steps to influence without authority

1. Be influence-able
2. Be active
3. Know your stuff
4. What does success look like
5. Build relationships
6. Build alignment
7. Team Discovery (Understand the team dynamics)
8. Communicate with purpose
9. Minimize risk & reduce friction
10. Create a path to success

5 negotiation traps to be aware of

Reciprocity trap
Good Cop Bad Cop
The last-minute issue
The school yard bully
The alternative availability
What to do if you fall into a trap


Do founders negotiate?

Introduction to Negotiations

What is a negotiation?

Negotiation is a discussion between two or more people to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Click To Tweet

In Chris Voss’s book never split the difference, Chris says:

“Life is a negotiation. The majority of the interactions we have at work and at home are negotiations that boil down to the expression of a simple, animalistic urge: I want.”

In G. Richard Shell’s book bargaining for advantage – negotiation strategies for reasonable people, Richard says:

“A negotiation is an interactive communication process that may take place whenever we want something from someone else or another person wants something from us.”

In Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton’s book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, the authors define negotiation as a:

“Back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed.

Like it or not, you are a negotiator … Everyone negotiates something every day.”

In Leigh Thompson’s book Mind and Heart of the Negotiator Leigh refers to negotiation as an:

“Interpersonal decision-making process” that is “necessary whenever we cannot achieve our objectives single-handedly.”

Negotiation for Product Managers in 6 steps?

Photo by Jud Mackrill

Types of negotiations

You’re probably negotiating already and may not even know it. Or you may be calling it something else. Below are five different examples of negotiating.

1. Buying a new car. The dealer and buyer are likely negotiating the purchase price of the car. The dealer knows the fixed value and will negotiate to keep as much money as possible. This is an example of distributive negotiation or distributive bargaining.

2. Buying a used car is similar to what we described above. However, depending on the nature of the seller this might be viewed as a one time exchange. Think about seeing an ad online for a car and arranging to go see it and then making the decision to buy or not. In this situation, the seller is not expecting a relationship.

3. Negotiating your job offer. We hope when you negotiate your job offer you are looking at more than just the salary offer. For example, vacation, working conditions, benefits, etc. This is an example of an integrative negotiation or integrative bargaining. However, in this situation, you work with the employer to create a “win-win” agreement. You benefit from employment and the company benefits from an additional resource. Since multiple issues are at stake, depending on interests and values there is more opportunity for a give and take.

4. Negotiations can also be in teams. Think about when the sales team approaches the Product Management team about implementing new features the market is asking for.

5. Three friends deciding where to go out to eat is an example of a multi-party negotiation. Each of the three friends will have inputs. Similarly, for example, three countries negotiating a trade agreement is a multi-party negotiation.

Do Product Managers negotiate?

Yes, Yes, and a strong Yes


Does this sound familiar?

  • You’re looking for a new Product Manager role and one offer you receive is $20k lower than what you are looking for.
  • While working with the sales team they keep requesting new features to be added to bring in new sales. However, when we ask for details or ask to speak with the customer the features keep changing and cannot decide what to build.
  • The CEO of the company just informed us that he has seen competitor X launch two new features and has instructed us to have them built by the end of the month. We don’t know how these features will benefit our customers
  • The sales team is over sharing roadmap items to get new customers, however, they churn quickly.
  • We need some more time to do more effective customer discovery but the engineering team is expecting to start building tomorrow.

Product Managers negotiate every day and with multiple stakeholders across the company. However, almost no Product Management training program offers any negotiation training. This is why we created our Practical Negotiations for Product People workshop and Team Discovery for Product People Workshop.

Persuasion, Influencing, and Negotiation

In other words, as Product Managers, we often refer to the phrase “influence without authority” as a key tenant of our role. If we explore this a little further we arrive at the following:

  • Persuasion is the short term form of changing hearts and minds. In order to persuade words are used to encourage someone to take action in the direction you choose.
  • Influencing takes persuasion one level up where reputation and credibility are taken into consideration. Therefore being the ability to influence is a skill that builds over time.
  • Negotiation is (as we stated above) a discussion between two or more people to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. However, to expand a little, the people involved generally have constraints, priorities, needs, etc. that need to be taken into consideration.

Elements of a effective negotiation?

Success is relative and will depend on what the outcome of the negotiation is. However, effective negotiations share the following elements:

  • A smart agreement that benefits all parties involved. In this scenario, all parties stand to gain something that they would not if it were not for this agreement and better than the alternatives.
  • It’s efficient. The agreement should take no longer than necessary. Creating a product vision generally will take longer than deciding what to eat with a co-worker. From a sales perspective, if it’s taking two years to sign a new customer, it would be safe to assume the customer doesn’t have a real interest in your product.
  • It doesn’t damage the relationship. Even if the agreement is for the purchase of a car or house which can be considered a one-time purchase. Maintaining relationships is important.

Negotiation for Product Managers in 6 steps?

Photo by Dan LeFebvre

Habits of effective negotiators

Negotiation is a practical skill that can only be taught so far by reading books. You have to get out there and negotiate. Keep a negotiations log of every negotiation you are involved in and as you practice more you’ll start getting better.

Some of the most effective negotiators have the following mindset:

  • They prepare a lot. I would go on to say some negotiators who I consider experts would go on to say know the negotiation better than the person you are negotiating with.
  • Personal Integrity. It’s not about getting what you want at all costs. Effective negotiators have no exceptions to personal integrity.
  • They know when you shut up. Staying quiet or knowing not to be the first to break that awkward silence. The first person to break that silence generally ends up losing leverage.
  • They hold high expectations for the outcome.

What is Negotiation for Product Managers?

1. Become self-aware

You are the root of every problem

Before you negotiate (persuade or influence for that matter) I would suggest you take a self-evaluation and be self-aware (if you are not already).

Who you are

As humans, we all have a background, culture, and upbring. No one subset is better than the other, however, during a negotiation, it is important to be aware of your limitations.

I was once sitting in a multi-million dollar contract negotiation, I would say there were about six people from the company I worked at and around the same for the company we were trying to reach an agreement with.

We started reviewing the financial section and our team started asking questions to their financial person. He was a bright professional and as he started answering our questions we realized that he was relatively new to the table. Meaning, he likely just got promoted and did not have much practice negotiating.

As we asked more specific questions, he started to offer concessions and discounts without us asking for them. A few minutes later a senior member of their team called a break. After we returned the finance person did not say a word. It seemed one of their senior members of the team had a few words with him.

what is negotiation for Product Managers?

Understand your strengths and weaknesses

Negotiations can be scary and maybe that’s why Product Managers have not really gotten used to the idea that Product Managers negotiate every day.

While we have defined negotiation as “Negotiation is a discussion between two or more people to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” discussion can occasionally get heated. Not often, but possible. How do you handle the heated exchange?

Your personality plays a big part in how you react or respond. If you are proactive or reactive. As you start to think about these things they become part of your style.

If you’re interested in learning more about your personality type take a look at the 16 personalities website. Please act with caution as in my opinion these types of tests can be used as a guide. However, you know you best.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses has two impacts:

  • How you negotiate.
  • How other people negotiate with you.

2. Prepare

Effective negotiators prepare a lot. Front-loading much of the work makes it easier to negotiate. Preparation is so important a topic that it needs to be broken further down.

Know what you want

Sounds relatively simple, however, you don’t want to be thinking about it during a negotiation. Kow what you want before going into a negotiation.

For example, let’s say you received a job offer for $20K less than what you wanted.

Would you refuse this opportunity purely based on a $20K amount?

I should hope not. Don’t get me wrong $20K is a lot of money, however, my point is the decision to accept or reject a job offer should not solely be based on a dollar amount. A job offer has other elements that should be taken into consideration.

Determine your BATNA

A BATNA is a Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. In other words, what happens if you cannot reach an agreement?

What’s the alternative?

For example, going back to our job offer where you received an offer for $20k less than what you wanted. In this situation, potential BATNA’s could be:

  • If you are currently employed. Staying at your current job is an alternative.
  • Or if you are not currently employed. Your alternative may be to remain unemployed and continue looking for another job.
  • Or if you have Competing offer. A competiting offer that is also a potential alternative.

Develop a list of alternatives before so in the back of your mind if the discussion fails you know the alternatives clearly. Rank them from most desirable to least desirable.

Determine your walk-away point

Before you start negotiating, think about a walk-away point (like a line in the proverbial sand). At some point when the discussion just doesn’t feel like it’s progressing, you already know where your bottom line is and can walk away.

What is negotiation for Product Managers

Photo by Jason Briscoe

Know what the person you are negotiating with wants better than they do

This is a tough one. When I mention this to students in our Practical Negotiations for Product People workshop the most asked question following is “where do I go to find out what the other person wants better than they do?”

It’s very hard, I 100% agree. However, depending on the stakes the level of preparation will vary. Here’s what I mean, a Product Manager working with the sales team to close a large deal will require more preparation and intelligence around the potential customer than say a Product Manager working with the engineering to create an MVP to test and iterate on.

Please note: I am not saying one is more important than the other. Only those stakeholders have different thought processes.

The first step, in my opinion, is to Google the name of the person you are negotiating with. You’ll find out where they hang out, the social platforms they are on. In many B2B cases, you’ll likely them on Linkedin and/ or Twitter. Use this information to find areas of similarities.

Once I was talking about hosting our Practical Negotiations for Product People workshop for a company’s internal team. Before the meeting, I checked out the profile of the two individuals I was due to chat with and found out that one of them attended the same college as me.

You bet I dropped that into the conversation. Did it work? who knows. But the company did hire me.

Many times you can make an educated guess or ask questions to understand what the person wants better than them. In the above workshop situation, through a series of questions, I found out that the company is starting to build out a training series, where they plan to periodically bring certain teams together for a lunch and learn series.

I focused on how the Practical Negotiations for Product People workshop will help the team after the workshop. They were interested in the mock negotiation and I believe that is what made the company move forward with me.

There’s more

However, there is a lot more to this process and there are nuances. However, the point you should take away from this section is to think like the person you are negotiating with. What are they hoping to accomplish and what obstacles can be foreseen.

A couple of things to remember:

  • Look for shared interests or common ground
  • Identify areas where you think the other person will say no and think about how you can address those concerns
  • Think of unique ways to create small wins while working to a bigger goal or outcome
  • Know the chain of command/ decision-makers from the team you are negotiating with

Understand the impact on the relationship

Negotiation is all about people and something they need or want. Creating a personal relationship builds a level of trust and therefore facilitates communications.

We all want to see our friends succeed and as humans, we are willing to help where we can. However, people are complex and emotional and therefore, may become unpredictable and therefore trust will need to be considered each time you negotiate.

Relationships allow you to gain credibility and access. Think about when you applied for your last Product Manager through a friend or referral versus applying cold.

Keep the focus on the shared interests/ outcome

Negotiations are between people and it can sometimes be easy to get carried away from the reason the negotiation is taking place. This is why I suggested being self-aware above.

People are unpredictable. This applies to all parties involved in the negotiation, someone may say something that triggers off an emotional response which then takes over and discussions move from interests into positions.

If the conversation isn’t moving, learn to either 1) Take a break, 2) guide the conversation back to interests, or 3) table that part and move on to the next topic that needs to be discussed.

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3. Ask questions

I cannot stress the importance of asking questions. A good well crafted question can yield many benefits:

  • Understand the interests. Especially helpful if you cannot move the conversation away from position based negotiation.
  • Test your understanding.

Ask questions does not mean you hijack the conversation and make it robotic. You cannot expect the conversation to be:

You: Question 1.
Them: Answer 1.
You: Question 2.
Them: Answer 2.
You: Question X.
Them: Answer X.

Rather learn to listen more than you talk. Listen to what’s being said but also what’s not being said. Test understanding for interests by asking questions that you’ve thought of before the negotiation.

Some recommendations for developing your asking questions skills:

On the flip side learn to also give good answers 😉

4. Focus on interests not positions

This is a very important element of negotiations.

An interest is: I want to make lemonade.

A position is: I need a lemon.

For example, let’s say we have two chefs in the restaurant kitchen. Both chefs are busy preparing their dishes and at the same time, they realize they need a lemon. Both rush over to the Pantry and see that only one lemon is left.

Who gets the last lemon?

What is negotiation for Product Managers?

The choices are:
A: Chef 1
B: Chef 2
C: 50/50
D: Other?

What do you think? Typically when I ask this question I get a mixture of responses. In reality based on the information provided it would be difficult to determine who should get the last lemon.

We just learned about asking questions, so the question that comes to mind is to ask both chefs what do they need the lemon for? (To complete their dishes yes, however, what is their dish?)

Let’s say:

  • Chef 1 says she needs the lemon for the rind to grate as a garnish for a cheesecake.
  • Chef 2 says she needs the lemon for the juice to make lemonade.

Problem solved right?

Both chefs get what they want and the correct response is Option D: Other.

Now if we focused on the positions, where both Chef 1 and 2 wanted the lemon and stayed firm we would not get anywhere. Consider it a stalemate.

By giving one chef the lemon and not the second chef will eventually lead to animosity between the two chefs and create an undesirable work environment.

Option C: a 50/50 split seems fair, however in this situation is not the best option as each chef will be wasting a portion of the lemon.

There’s usually more than one way

Understanding the interests behind the ask gives you further insight into the minds of the other person. You may need to think quickly on your feet and come up with creative solutions that creates a benefit to all people involved.

What’s the standard?

Negotiation has an element of conflict and as humans, we tend to think differently. When negotiating, agreeing on an objective standard can help. For example, if you are negotiating your Product Manager job offer an objective standard could be market rates for similar Product Managers with a similar experience.

Market rates are not set in stone. Depending on your experience and what you can bring to the table combined with other elements related to a job offer. You can negotiate a higher salary or the employer may try to negotiate a lower salary. The point here is that the starting point or agreed upon objective standard is the market rate.

Other examples of objective standard include; market value, precedent, and cost.

5. Leverage

Leverage gives you power to be confident and negotiate on your own terms. In the book getting to Yes, Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton about the better the BATNA the greater your power. We briefly touched on that in the 2. Prepare section above that talks about BATNA.

As per G. Richard Shell’s book Bargaining for advantage there are three different types of leverage:

  1. Positive leverage. You have something that someone wants.
  2. Negative leverage. What can I do to make someone do something for me.
  3. Normative leverage. Appeal to the values of the person you are negotiating with.

Richard also talks about the power of coalitions whereby using relationships and shared interests helps create effective coalitions to gain all three types of leverage.

When considering leverage remember:

  • Leverage is based on perception not facts
  • The amount of leverage can change quickly
  • People will listen to you if you have authority. Authority is not leverage

6. Align the success plan

In sales terms: Always be Closing. However, in Product terms what are the next steps to make this happen?

For example, if you’re a Product leader hiring your first Product Manager. Once the candidate has accepted the offer the negotiation portion is effectively completed. The next steps could include setting a start date, completing any necessary paperwork, pre-onboarding, etc.

what is negotiation for Product Managers?

Photo by Joshua Earle

10 steps to influence without Authority

In order to influence, trust plays an important role. Think about it, when you trust someone when they talk generally you’d listen to what they have to say. It’s easier to cooperate with them, easy to commit to things, and you have a sense of feeling comfortable.

On the other hand, if you don’t trust someone you’ll likely be suspicious, act with caution, and unable to commit without additional information or assurances.

what is negotiation for Product Managers?

1. Be influence-able

This may seem obvious, however, if you want to:

  • Influence other people you must be influence-able
  • Build trust, first you must trust others

Everyone can bring something to the table, you may not need them now but down the road, you may. Therefore, treat everyone equally and do not burn your bridges.

2. Be active

Interact with people you are trying to influence. The simplest way to do this is to answer your emails, text, tweets, voicemails, video chats, etc. However, that alone is not enough. Be proactive, reach out to people. Be a resource.

Hiten sums it up very well:

3. Know your stuff

As a Product Manager, you are not expected to know everything. In fact, saying that you don’t know something, however, you’ll do some research tells more about your character than blindly lying to sound smart.

In practical terms:

  • Share your knowledge by teaching
  • Show your competence through social proof

Product Managers interact with the engineering team on a regular basis. Product Managers don’t need to be engineers, however, they do need to be able to have a conversation.

4. What does success look like

In order to influence someone their needs to be a common goal, vision, objective, or outcome. Something the team can be excited about and work towards. A shared interest of sorts.

When conflicts start to arise keep in the forefront of everyone’s mind the common goal, vision, objective, or outcome the team is working toward.

There may be times when the team needs to start prioritizing if multiple issues arise. For example, the sales team needs the Product team to assist with a customer demo, however, the Product team has been asked by the VP of Product to review the roadmap.

Both are important events, however, in my opinion the Product team should have a chat with the VP of Product if they can reschedule the review of the roadmap to assist with sales.

I doubt the VP of Product would say no, but involving other team members and discussing how to prioritize and then communicating the final decision keeps the team on the same page.

5. Build relationships

Do you remember that co-worker who reaches out only when they need something? well, don’t be that co-worker. Relationships are built over time.

Building relationships is hard. We all start as an acquaintance, then moving to co-worker status. Finally, if things go well that relationship may be called a friendship.

Being a friend is not a requirement to negotiate. You do not need everyone to be your friend. In fact, if you try to negotiate with your friends all the time, you may lose a few. Friends can ask for favors or concessions without giving anything in return. If they reciprocate it may not be even.

Gifts and favors go a long way (as long as they are legal 😉). It can as simple as buying someone a coffee or helping them export a document.

As per Forbes, Guanxi loosely translates as personal connections, relationships, or social networks. It implies trust and mutual obligations between parties, and it operates on personal, familial, social, business, and political levels. Having good, bad or no guanxi impacts one’s influence and ability to get things done.

Some recommendations for developing your relationship building skills:

6. Build alignment

Aligned teams make better decisions.
Working in cross-functional teams has its fair share of ups and downs. On one hand, cross-functional teams bring expertise to the table that you or your team do not have. Similarly, on the other hand, other teams may not share the same values or goals as you.

Without team alignment.
Have you worked on a team where it seems like things just don’t click?

You think they do, and as the company starts to scale or as team members change you start losing track of what’s going on.

Consequently, the communications are unstructured and mixed messages are received, the left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Hence, there is no clear sense of direction and team members are fast losing interest.

Furthermore, teams are arguing and escalating to management.

As a result, you end up working late to actually do the job you were hired to do and nothing seems to move in the right direction.

Benefits of working in an aligned team.
In contrast, imagine working in a team where things start to flow.

  • The team knows what they are working on individually, as a functional team, part of the larger team.
  • Consequently, communication is improved.
  • Everyone on the team is invested in the outcome and is working hard to succeed.
  • Decisions are made faster.
  • Team members want to come to work and work hard. They are engaged and motivated.
  • Finally, team productivity and performance increases reducing waste.

Some recommendations for developing your alignment building skills:

7. Team Discovery (Understand the team dynamics)

When communicating as part of a cross-functional team, don’t just talk shop. Get to know the team and its members. This is the essence of team discovery. You should aim to understand:

  • What/how they think
  • What motivates them
  • The biggest challenges they face
  • How they measure success

One of the first things I do when I’ve joined a new company is to set up some time to chat with co-workers. Think of it as an intro call, with some discovery elements.

You cannot know the team member in one day or one chat, however, it gives you the opportunity to start off the relationship on a positive note.

I like how Steph created a “user manual” when she joined a new team. It’s a fantastic starting point to get to know her.

8. Communicate with purpose

When the communication is clear it has a knock-on effect. Your cross-functional team understands information quickly but more importantly, the team understands the information accurately reducing misunderstandings.

Two of the common mistakes I have seen in communicating is:

  • Not tailoring the communication to your audience
  • Overloading people with unnecessary information

Here’s what I mean by this.

As Product Manager, we place a lot of importance on the user and customer. Rightfully so, as part of a Product manager’s job is to understand the user.

However, internally we work in cross-functional teams, yet many don’t understand the role of these different functions.

For example, do you know what motivates the:

  • Sales team?
  • Marketing team?
  • Customer support team?
  • Or even your team members?

What is the purpose of communication?

If we take a step back communication is the transfer of information from one person to another. Or another way to look at this is why should the person receiving the information care?

Before scheduling a meeting

Meetings can be a time suck. However, if done with some creativity they can be useful. Either way, meetings are something you’ll likely have to deal with.

Things to consider:

  • Communicate a clear agenda and outcome
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • How much time will people need to devote
  • Are there any materials attendees need to review prior to the meeting? if yes, why?
  • Notes/ next steps

negotiation for Product Managers?

Photo by Annie Spratt

Without know why invitees should come to the meeting, what’s in it for them, and why should they prepare. The engagement may not be what you want, (if at all they show up).

Communicate with leadership

As you go higher up the chain with leadership, they are less interested in the details and more interested in the strategic nature and how that ties in with their objectives.

You may only have five minutes to explain what is happening on that $100M project. You may have been asked by the leader’s admin to share one slide or two slides max.

How do you combine, for example, eight months of work and a $100M project into one or two slides?

How do you know it will be meaningful to the leader?

Find out what is meaningful to them. If asked to communicate with a sales leader they are numbers people. In good years when there are more deals then capacity they can pick and choose which companies to work with. In bad years they might be willing to accept a deal at a lower profit margin.

Connect what you are doing with the overall business goals, objectives, and/or outcomes. Understand what success looks like to leadership.

Some recommendations for developing your communication skills:

9. Minimize risk & reduce friction

There are risk-takers and risk avoiders. Generally speaking, it will be easier to influence a risk-taker as they will see the benefit of the upside with the tolerance to accept the consequences of the risk. Conversely, risk avoiders (or people who are risk-averse) may need more time and additional information before making a decision.

Therefore, try to position yourself with low hanging fruit. This will register some early wins which will boost confidence and trust.

Think about what the overall goal or objective is and aim to reduce friction to help achieve that success. Reducing friction makes it easier.

Some recommendations for reducing friction:

10. Create a path to success

You’ve done all this hard work influencing multiple stakeholders. Now you have to go and execute on it. What are the next steps, how do we implement?

If you’re someone who brings solutions (ideas) and can deliver (execute) on them timely you’ll be able to influence your team more effectively.

Don’t be the Product Manager that brings the energy and ideas to the table but doesn’t know how to actually make it happen.

5 negotiation traps to be aware of

Reciprocity trap

Times Square, NYC is a popular tourist attraction and during the summer months (before Covid-19) you generally see folks dressed up as popular children’s characters. One summer afternoon my son and I were exploring NYC. We went to the intrepid museum and my son wanted to check out Times Square.

We got to Times Square and soaked in the sight, my son saw someone dressed as Mario (the video game character) and one of his fav games was Mario.

Naturally, Mario was waving and being friendly and people were taking photos with him. My son asked if he could have his photo taken. I said sure. To set the scene this was parents taking out their phones and taking pictures. We waited for our turn and took the photo.

Then Mario approaches me and asks for money. I had already taken the photo, what was I going to do? I felt obligated to take out some money to give Mario.

This is an example of a reciprocity trap designed to trigger a donation exceeding the value of a 5-second photo taken on my phone.

To be clear, I understand that is how they make some money. For me, it took me by surprise.

To bring this to a negotiation, beware of people who make small concessions and then ask for a bigger concession in return.

Or beware of people who disclose little information and then ask you to disclose a lot more information.

Good Cop Bad Cop

You may have experienced something like this in the past. An example of this can happen when going through a job application process.

  • Good Cop: The business owner may say something along the lines of “officially I am not allowed to get into the salary aspect HR normally does that. However, we’d love to have you on board and will help fight for the salary you’ve asked for”. By saying this the business owner is attempting to get on your side and gain your trust.
  • Bad Cop: The HR team member may counter by saying that unfortunately, we don’t have what you’re asking for in our budget we can only offer this much.

The role of the bad cop is to make an outrageous offer which generally anchors to the lower end of the salary offer.

The role of the good cop is to be on your side and have “internal discussions” to break down the bad cop to come up a little and then work with you to make that offer attractive.

Not saying this happens all the time or the characters involved have bad intent. The goal here is to distract you into a conversation between the business owner and HR while throwing you off your interests.

The last-minute issue

Just as you’re about to agree on something, the last-minute issue is surfaced. Something so small that it doesn’t really need a discussion and you may be tempted to just give in and agree. This becomes a free trade for the other person.

To avoid this, simply say no or ask for something in return (remember how much I emphasized the importance of preparation?)

The school yard bully

During a negotiation you may come across someone who is over powering over bearing and you just cannot get a word in.

Yes, they still unfortunately exist. The key here is to remain calm and not get emotional or be intimidated.

The alternative availability

Good negotiators will likely try to ask questions about your BATNA (and you should also ask about their BATNA). If you have not prepared properly and done your research you may not know if an alternative exists.

Once I got to the second round interview for a position, I asked where the company was in their hiring, they responded they should be making an offer to the right candidate soon.

The choice of words “right candidate” set off an alarm so I decided to probe a little further by asking questions and I found out that the company had a #1 candidate choice (in their own words started the process before me) who they were planning to make an offer.

I was being interviewed to fill up the pipeline in case their first choice said no or did not meet the employment requirements.

What to do if you fall into a trap

If you realize that you are falling into one of the above-mentioned traps or in general feel that the negotiation is not going in the direction you had hoped for, think about the following:

  • Staying quiet. Don’t start pushing back or making accusations.
  • Focus on their interests. Does this trap help them in their interests or this is a school yard bully tactic to try and break you down?
  • Do not start defending yourself or your interests. At this stage do not let your guard down or become emotional.
  • Take a break. Take a five and come back if you feel progress can be made or consider your walk-away point.

Do founders negotiate?

I had a conversation with a founder that I’d like to share with you. He was a founder of a SaaS company and I introduced and showed him The Product Angle.

From looking at the homepage he immediately understood what we do and he immediately understood the line “become a better Product Person” and asked me what we offer.

After explaining how The Product Angle can help him become a better Product Person, the next question puzzled me.

Why do I need to negotiate?

After taking a second to re-group I asked the founder several questions about user acquisition.

He confidently told me that he has been sharing his SaaS with PH, IH, and HN. I asked how many paying customers he has gotten from these channels.

He spoke about the number of views, email captures, number of trials, etc. Meanwhile, I pushed a little more and found out that he had zero paying customers at that time. He told me only shared his SaaS with the world recently.

To be clear I have the utmost respect for this founder (and founders in general), creating a SaaS product alone shows great skills, talent, and determination.

Next, I explained to him that I would consider re-evaluating his user acquisition strategy. While, posting to PH, IH, HN, and other similar sites is a great way to get exposure. In short, these channels may not be the best way to acquire users or validate your idea. Others have written about this so I do not plan to go there.

Sales is a negotiation

I suggested that he reach out directly to his target user base and;

  • First of all, talk to them
  • Get them interested in your product
  • Communicate and help them understand the pain your product solves
  • Explain why your product or the story behind it
  • Getting them to use/ try your product
  • Help them with overcoming any learning barriers
  • Get them to the Ah-ha moment
  • Offer assistance along the way or check-in if they stopped using and understand why
  • Turn them into paying customer
  • Turn them into customers that love your product

What I explained there was effectively an example of a sales process. Furthermore, all of these things are things that don’t scale. In the beginning, founders need to do things that don’t scale for the first 10 – 20 – 50 – or even 100 customers.

The sales process is effectively a negotiation. Therefore, in our opinion Founders do need to negotiate, the above is just one example of when founders negotiate.

To take this a step further everyone negotiates every day.

Enjoy this article?

This is the first article since working with Ryan Robinson as a part of his Scholarship program.

🙏 Very grateful for the suggestions and knowledge Ryan has shared.