Barbara Tallent is a former product manager turned CEO, who today is co-founder of LiveBinders, a social bookmarking application. I first connected with Barbara Tallent some years back after reading her informative article From Product Manager to CEO.
Barbara led a thought-provoking live presentation that asked the question, Why are there so few Great Product Managers?
Barbara Tallent interviewed six CEOs on a confidential basis to get their perspective on why there are so few great product managers. Much to her chagrin as a former product marketing executive, these CEOs were fairly jaded about the product marketing function: “I’ve never really worked with a great product manager,” one CEO told Barbara (and that CEO had worked with Barbara earlier in his career!). Another drolly responded, “Why aren’t there any great product managers?”
Another product manager turned CEO readily agreed that product marketing is “a really tough job,” for a number of reasons:
- The CEO, VP Development, VP Sales and sales team, etc. all see small portions of the overall product marketing job and assume what they see is all the product marketer does.
- Very few metrics – not all product marketers are judged based on sales success
- Risk of being the “fall guy” – product marketers and managers might be blamed if some issues with the product and/or sales levels come up; going back to the familiar refrain that the PM/PMM has all the responsibility and none of the line authority.
OK, now here’s the good news: There is ample reward to go with the above risk. CEOs also viewed product marketing and management as a key source of future company leadership.