7 Must-Have Technical Skills for Product Managers

Product managers are the backbone of digital software companies. They lead the planning, developing, and launching of products. 

This elite role involves gaining technical skills. So much so, that 27% of entry-level product managers report lack of technical degree as the top barrier to getting a product manager role.

To help you become a better product manager, we asked C-Suite executives and business leaders for the highest-ranking technical skills for this role. Here are 7 must-have technical skills for product managers.

What is Product Management?

Product management is the process of overseeing the development and lifecycle of a product, from idea to launch and beyond. It involves a range of activities, including market research, product development, pricing, and marketing.

The goal of product management is to ensure that the product meets the needs of the target market and is successful in the market. This process may involve working with cross-functional teams such as engineering, design, and marketing to define the product roadmap and ensure that the product is delivered on time and within budget.

Product management is an important business function because it helps to ensure that the products are properly aligned with market demand and are being developed and delivered effectively.

What are Product Manager Responsibilities?

Product managers are responsible for overseeing the development and lifecycle of a product. Here are some specific responsibilities that product managers may have:

Market research: Conducting market research to understand the target market, the competition, and market trends, and using this information to inform product development and marketing strategy

Product development: Working with cross-functional teams such as engineering, design, and marketing to define the product roadmap and ensure that the product is delivered on time and within budget

Pricing: Determining the appropriate price for the product based on market demand, competition, and the cost of production

Marketing: Working with the marketing team to develop and execute marketing campaigns to promote the product

Sales strategy: Collaborating with the sales team to develop sales strategies and tactics to help them effectively sell the product to customers

Customer success: Working with the customer success team to gather feedback from customers and use it to inform product development and marketing efforts

Data analysis: Using data and analytics to track the performance of the product and make data-driven decisions about how to improve it

Must-Have Technical Skills for Product Managers

1. Pricing and Revenue Modeling

As a product manager, one of the most essential skills you need to have is pricing and revenue modeling. You need to align the pricing model with the product strategy and with the corporate strategy. 

This means understanding the data required to make pricing decisions and how to align pricing with value. It is also essential to create pricing models that respond to market changes and can maximize revenue. 

Michael Sena, Founder & CEO, SENACEA

2. SQL Expertise

Structured Query Language (SQL) refers to a set of rules for interacting with and managing data stored in a database. The language is straightforward, simple to understand, and quite helpful for handling data.

As a product manager, it is crucial that you can handle the process of data extraction and modification independently of business analysts or the data engineering team.

Edward Mellett, Co-Founder, Wikijob

3. Product Roadmaps

Building a product roadmap is essential to this role for aligning teams internally, fleshing out a product’s vision, and keeping consistent communication and updates with external stakeholders.

These roadmaps are the precise, strategic articulation of a product’s development that unify all participants on its direction and timeline. They are the most fundamental visual aids that emphasize what to prioritize and when.

Product roadmaps help product managers delegate tasks on schedule while delivering results and expectations to external stakeholders.

Zach Goldstein, CEO & Founder, Public Rec

4. Market Research

Product managers must understand basic market research principles and methods to stay focused on customer preferences. For setting appropriate price points, predicting consumer behaviors, and ensuring branding efforts align with customers, product managers must first research what makes users take action.

This research is fundamental to keeping a product in line with achievable goals. For example, product managers must often integrate customer research and feedback into several prototype iterations before launching.

Understanding the value of a product before it hits the market helps businesses plan for the long term while staying informed by customer insights. Product managers help bridge this gap with their market research skills to drive a product’s planning and success.

Justin Soleimani, Co-Founder, Tumble

Let’s take a brief break to learn mistakes to avoid during product management interviews.

5. APIs

Understanding APIs is so fundamental to how software works that it’s well worth getting well grounded with this concept. It’s less about being able to implement anything and more about understanding the technical details that will help with stakeholder discussion. 

For example, I would want a product manager to understand the following about an existing API:

  • Who consumes our API and how?
  • Do we offer a RESTful or GraphQL API? And, why? 
  • How do we test our API for stability?
  • Roughly, what are the different domains/entities of our API?

James Sear, Co-Founder, Avion

6. Cost-Benefit Analysis

No matter what type of product they’re working on, it’s important for product managers to have a strong understanding of financial concepts, such as forecasting, budgeting, and cash flow management. This will allow them to make better decisions about how to allocate resources and bring their products to market.

Cost-benefit analysis is one of the most important financial skills. It involves calculating the costs and benefits of a proposed action and then comparing them to see if the benefits outweigh the costs. Product managers who can do this effectively can make sound decisions that will benefit both their products and the company.

Jake Munday, CEO & Cofounder, Custom Neon

7. Data-Informed Decision Making

As a product manager, the technical skill I must have is data analysis skills. To make evidence-based decisions, I need to go through data, identify patterns and insights, and draw conclusions. This is essential to drive the product forward and create a successful strategy. 

For example, using data can help me understand how users are interacting with our products, what features they are using (or not using), and what areas need improvement. Without effectively analyzing data, it would be difficult to make informed decisions about the product and its direction.

Erik Pham, CEO, Health Canal

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