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Influence Building Tips to Transition into Product Management and Leadership Roles

By SaiSatish Vedam – Ex- Senior Director of Product Management, Oracle

In today’s blog, we will discuss the importance of building influence in organizations. Influencing others and gaining their support is a crucial skill that can help you succeed in various roles within your workplace. Whether you are in customer support, sales, project management, program management, testing, or any other position, you can make a significant impact by understanding the voice of the customer and becoming their advocate.

Key Takeaways:

  • Building influence is a crucial skill for success in various workplace roles, enabling individuals to make a significant impact by understanding the voice of the customer and advocating for their needs.
  • To build influence, establish rapport with individuals closest to customers, such as customer support managers or sales directors, gaining insights into customer feedback, challenges, and preferences.
  • Building relationships with the sales team allows access to valuable perspectives on customer purchasing behavior, budget constraints, and key decision-makers, enhancing understanding of customer needs.
  • Viewing stakeholder management as an essential skill, understanding organizational dynamics, identifying key influencers, and aligning efforts with their interests enhances the ability to drive change and achieve goals.
  • Stakeholder management extends beyond formal settings; requesting brief meetings with colleagues, even initially declined, can provide valuable perspectives and insights, contributing to building influence.
  • Building influence contributes to professional growth by positioning individuals as trusted advisors and advocates for customers, emphasizing continuous learning, broadening perspectives, and making a positive impact within the organization.
In this article
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    Understanding the Voice of the Customer

    One of the first steps in building influence is to connect with the person who is closest to the customers. This could be the customer support manager, sales director, or anyone else who interacts with customers regularly. By building rapport with them, you can gain insights into what the customers are saying about the product, the challenges they face, and the problems they encounter. This knowledge allows you to be the voice of the customer within your team without necessarily having to hold the title of a product manager.

    Making Friends with the Customer-Facing Team

    Another important aspect of building influence is establishing relationships with individuals who have direct contact with customers, such as the sales team. Salespeople often possess valuable perspectives on customers, including information about purchasing complexity, budget constraints, and key decision-makers within the customer’s organization. By making friends with these individuals, you can tap into their insights and broaden your understanding of the customer’s needs and preferences.

    Mastering Stakeholder Management

    While some people may view stakeholder management as being political, it is an essential skill for anyone looking to build influence. Understanding the dynamics within your organization and identifying the key influencers can greatly enhance your ability to drive change and achieve your goals. Take the time to learn what your stakeholders value, appreciate, and dislike. This knowledge will help you navigate organizational politics and align your efforts with the interests of key decision-makers.

    Stakeholder management doesn’t have to be limited to formal meetings or company-wide gatherings. You can request a 10-minute meeting with anyone in your organization to discuss their perspectives and gather insights. While they may initially decline your request, persistence and a compelling case can often persuade them to provide you with the time you need.

    Building influence within an organization is a valuable skill that can contribute to your professional growth and success. By understanding the voice of the customer, making connections with the customer-facing team, and mastering stakeholder management, you can position yourself as a trusted advisor and advocate for the customer. Remember, you don’t need a specific job title to start building influence today. Embrace the opportunity to learn from others, broaden your perspectives, and make a positive impact within your organization.

    Summary

    In this blog, we explore the paramount importance of cultivating influence within organizations to achieve professional success. Regardless of your role, understanding the voice of the customer is a foundational step. Connecting with customer-facing teams, such as sales, provides valuable insights into customer needs and preferences. Additionally, mastering stakeholder management, despite its political connotations, is crucial for navigating organizational dynamics and aligning efforts with key decision-makers. The key takeaway is that influence can be built by anyone, irrespective of job title, through a proactive approach to learning, relationship-building, and advocating for the customer.

    About the Author:

    SaiSatish VedamEx-Senior Director of Product Management, Oracle

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Transitioning to product leadership involves gaining experience in product management, honing leadership skills, and showcasing a track record of successful product outcomes. Start by excelling in product management roles, taking on leadership responsibilities, and seeking mentorship from established product leaders.

    To transition to a product management role, focus on acquiring relevant skills such as market research, user experience design, and strategic thinking. Tailor your resume to highlight transferable skills and consider obtaining certifications in product management. Networking with professionals in the field and seeking informational interviews can also open doors to opportunities.

    Moving into product leadership involves demonstrating a deep understanding of product management, showcasing leadership qualities, and taking on roles with increasing responsibilities. Seek out leadership opportunities within your current organization, mentor junior team members, and stay updated on industry trends to position yourself as a valuable asset for leadership roles.

    Yes, product management is inherently a leadership role. Product managers are responsible for guiding the development and success of a product, which involves making strategic decisions, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and aligning efforts towards a common vision. Effective product managers exhibit strong leadership skills to drive innovation and achieve business objectives.

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