Top Skills for a Product Manager: A Comprehensive List

Updated June 9, 2023

If you're interested in advancing to a leadership position in business, you may want to consider a role as a product manager. Product managers perform several duties, including overseeing teams of engineers and developers and guiding a product's development from inception to completion. Understanding the strengths and technical knowledge required for this role can help you determine if it's the right career for you.

In this article, we discuss the definition of a product manager and the skills they typically require to succeed in their role.

What is a product manager?

A product manager oversees the development of products for a company or brand. They're responsible for guiding a cross-functional team to create, develop and implement a product. The term product most often refers to a service or item being sold to consumers and can be either virtual, physical or both. Common duties of a product manager include:

  • Performing research to determine customer requirements and preferences

  • Creating and communicating a strategy for the development of a product

  • Defining the product vision and roadmap

  • Overseeing a product development team for the duration of a project

  • Setting sales objectives that align with consumer demand to reach sales goals

  • Developing and implementing marketing campaigns related to the product

  • Delegating tasks to team members

  • Collaborating with different departments to solve development and operational issues

  • Communicating with stakeholders and upper management to satisfy goals

Related: Learn About Being a Product Manager

10 skills for product managers

To successfully complete their duties, it's important for product managers to possess a variety of both soft and hard skills. These competencies contribute to the product manager's ability to lead, make decisions and be more successful in their role. Here are some skills product managers typically possess:

1. Communication skills

Product managers may use written and verbal communication skills for a variety of their job duties. From product meetings to presentations to communicating with clients on their goals and expectations, they regularly share ideas and convey their objectives and priorities in an easy-to-understand manner. Product managers also communicate with their teams to provide direction and guidance and ensure product development is operating effectively.

Related: Essential Business Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Technical expertise

Product managers who work with virtual products, such as software and apps, often require some degree of technical knowledge. It's important for them to feel comfortable collaborating with an engineering team to identify performance bugs and ensure the product meets end-user expectations regarding its function, design and user experience.

3. Business skills

Many product managers may use their understanding of basic business competencies to handle their job duties effectively. For example, when developing a product strategy, it's important for a product manager to know how profits, budgeting, cash flow and profit-and-loss all play a part in the product development project. Product managers may also communicate with clients on current and projected revenues and make a case for a product development budget.

Related: Business Acumen Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Research skills

Project managers regularly perform extensive market research to determine what type of products their consumers want and how well their organization compares to its competitors. Good research skills and data analysis can keep product managers informed about marketing opportunities and threats and give them a solid foundation for creating a successful product.

Related: What Are Research Skills? Definition, Examples and Tips

5. Analytical skills

Product managers typically use analytical skills and research skills simultaneously. After completing marketing research, product managers then analyze and use this data to make educated product decisions. Good product managers know how to use the data they've found to address issues and develop solutions that ultimately lead to a successful product. This typically requires product managers to have critical thinking and a data-driven approach.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Analytical Skills

6. Public speaking

Besides strong communication skills, it's also essential for product managers to possess public speaking skills to influence and lead their teams. From customers to stakeholders to team members, product managers are regularly trying to inform others about their product vision. Strong public speaking skills can benefit product managers in a variety of professional settings, including presentations and meetings.

Related: 7 Tips for Public Speaking That Can Expand Your Skill Set

7. Marketing skills

Marketing skills are essential for product managers who focus on creating campaigns since they often develop ways to make their products as marketable as possible to consumers. Marketing skills include the ability to promote and deliver products and services in the most successful way possible. Product managers may use a variety of marketing skills, including the ability to respond to changing demands, develop marketing strategies for product launches and create pricing frameworks. Some individuals in this field, like product development and marketing project managers, may use these skills more than others.

8. Agile project management and Scrum

It's essential for project managers to possess an in-depth understanding of Agile project management, a framework that takes an iterative approach to the completion of a project throughout its life cycle. Iterative approaches can help managers and their teams integrate new ideas and resources throughout a project's completion, rather than a standard, linear approach. Scrum is a project management framework within Agile project management that leaders can use to focus on accountability, teamwork and pursuing progress to meet a shared goal. 

Related: What Is Agile Project Management? Values, Principles and Steps

9. Strategic thinking

Product managers think strategically throughout every phase of a product's development. They may use this skill to understand the market and decide how to launch a new product. It's important for product managers to have an in-depth understanding of the product life cycle, audience segmentation, the project management process and forecasting sales. Additional strategic thinking skills include problem-solving skills, mind-map software, risk management and goal orientation.

Related: What Is Strategic Thinking? Plus Jobs for Strategic Thinkers

10. Prioritization skills

Product managers help teams understand which tasks and duties to prioritize to meet goals and deadlines successfully. Strong prioritization skills ensure that all team members are always contributing to the most important tasks and using their time appropriately. These competencies can help product managers ensure they keep the project development process efficient and meet the timeline requirements.

Related Articles

How To Write a Plant Manager Resume (With Example)

Explore more articles

  • 14 Careers in Retailing
  • How To Become a Tenured Professor in 9 Steps (Plus FAQ)
  • What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Salesperson?
  • 26 Jobs for Theatre Majors To Pursue
  • 12 Common Types of Human Resources Jobs
  • 15 of the Best Self-Employed Jobs in 2023
  • 20 Jobs You Can Do With an English Literature Degree
  • 18 Jobs With Average Salaries Over $200,000 Per Year
  • Blue-Collar vs. White-Collar Jobs: Here’s the Difference
  • 23 Jobs You Can Do From Anywhere in the World
  • Top 10 Alternative Jobs for Restaurant Managers
  • 30 of the Highest Paying Online Degrees