Most common mistakes that the VPs of product make
For a b2b eCommerce company, VP of product is a very unique and interesting role. You are a part of the whole team but also you are the person who is responsible for the product. You are the one who has to drive the product vision and strategy, but you have a lot of other responsibilities that put the pressure on your shoulders.
So, if you are trying to step into this position, you might want to check out this article. In it, I listed the most common mistakes that the VPs of product make. These mistakes are not necessarily bad. They can be good, because they can help you learn from the mistakes of others. But, if you make them, you might find yourself in a difficult situation.
So, let’s jump right into the list!
Not knowing who is your customer
It is very important to understand who your customers are. There is a saying, “You cannot build a great product for an audience that you do not understand.”
This is not only true for a VP of product, but for any product manager or team leader. The more you know about your customers and who they are, the easier it will be for you to build the right product and create the right experience for them.
But, it is especially important for a VP of product, because you are the one who has to translate the needs and desires of your customers into a concrete product vision and strategy. So, if you don’t know who your customers are, you cannot do this.
The good news is that you don’t have to know your customers by yourself. There are surveys, interviews, customer experience teams and many more ways to get to know your customers.
So, I would suggest that you start with the existing data and information. Find out who your customers are and what they want.
Not knowing who your competitors are
There are many people who think that they can work without knowing who their competitors are. Of course, this is not true.
You must know who your competitors are. I know some VPs of product who say, “I know who our competitors are, but I don’t want to spend my time on them.”
This is a mistake. You don’t have to spend your time on your competitors if you don’t want. But, you must know who they are. This is the only way to measure your progress and understand where you are on the market. This is the only way to understand what your customers want and what they don’t want.
Not knowing what metrics you should track
Once you know who your customers are and who your competitors are, you should start tracking the metrics that matter.
There are many different metrics that can be tracked and many different metrics that cannot be tracked. Some metrics have very little value, whereas some metrics are essential for the business.
So, the first thing you should do is to figure out which metrics are important. This is the only way to understand the current state of the business.
Not understanding the customer journey
Another thing you should do is to understand the customer journey. You have to understand what a customer goes through when they are trying to find a solution to their problem and once they find a solution.
If you know this, it will be a lot easier for you to understand the metrics that matter. The metrics that matter are related to the customer journey.
For example, if you know a customer journey, you will know that a customer might interact with your product or with your competitors many times before they make a purchase.
So, if you know this, you should try to track how many times the customer interacts with your product or with your competitors.
Not knowing what the customer wants
The most important thing that you should know is what the customer wants.
You should not assume that you know what the customer wants. This is the most common mistake that I see when I have conversations with VPs of product.
You cannot assume that you know what your customers want, You have to know! You have to find out what they want.
The best way to find out what your customers want is to talk to them. You should talk to them directly or you should talk to their representatives.
If you don’t want to talk to them directly, you can ask your customer success team, sales team or customer support team to talk to them.
Not setting a vision
It is very important to set a vision and a strategy. You should do this as soon as you understand who your customers are, who your competitors are, what metrics you should track and what the customer journey is.
Once you know this, it will be a lot easier for you to set a vision and a strategy.
And the very important thing is to communicate this vision and this strategy to the whole team. You will have to explain to them why they should work in this direction.
Not setting priorities
You can’t do everything at the same time. You should set priorities.
First, you should find out what are your most important customers. There might be multiple groups of customers and they might have different needs.
For example, there might be customers who are a part of your core business and there might be customers who are a part of your growth business. Or, there might be customers who are a part of your paid acquisition channels and customers who are a part of your organic acquisition channels.
So, it is very important to understand what your most important customers are, because you should focus on them first.
Then, you should set priorities for each of the features that you want to build.
For example, you might have more than 1 feature that you want to build. It is very important to set priorities between these features and to understand which one is a priority for the business.
It is very important to set priorities between new features and improvements of the existing features.
Sometimes, it is a lot easier to build a small improvement, but it might be more important to build a new feature.
So, you should set priorities between these two.
Not budgeting time and resources
Once you know what you want to do and where you want to go, you should budget your time and resources.
You should budget your time and resources in a way that allows you to achieve your goals. If you don’t, you will not be able to achieve your goals.
Not knowing what is going on
One of the most important things that you should do is to know what is going on.
If you don’t know what is going on, you can’t set a vision, you can’t set a strategy, you can’t set priorities and you can’t budget your time and resources.
So, I would suggest that you make it a habit to talk to the whole team regularly. The more you talk to the whole team, the more you will understand what is going on.
You should also make it a habit to talk to your customers, your sales team, engineering team and every other team that is related to your job.
There is a saying,
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”