The Top 3 Sales Skills To Excel At Product Management

In a world where everyone sells (ideas, products, services) and builds (friendships, products, experiences), what are the overlapping skills?

Nine months into being a product manager, transitioning from 4+ years of SaaS sales, the overlap has become increasingly clear.

Active listening

On a sales call, gathering information to understand problems being faced by the prospect is the initial priority. Gathering that information is an art form. Understanding how to ask questions, empathize, connect, reflect, mirror, and read the (Zoom) room is absolutely crucial. Few deals are won with an introduction like, “Hi, my name is Elizabeth, what’s the biggest problem you’re facing right now?” (Just consider how you would answer that question, it’s incredibly general.)

As a product manager, your priority is to be the voice of the user. If there’s one thing you accomplish, or put on your job description, that should be it. Understanding their needs, how they currently achieve their desired outcome, and if you can help them achieve their goal faster is paramount.

There are needs and problems that users aren’t aware they have, and it’s your job to convince them otherwise! Active listening is the foundation of customer obsession and by extension, customer delight.


When I first started in sales I hydrated at the fountain of fermented kool-aid. A side effect was hallucinations that the product I was peddling was fit for EVERYONE. Not close. This mindset not only resulted in an enormous amount of closed lost opportunities but also had a high opportunity cost. Every customer we were speaking with that wasn’t a fit depleted the amount of time that could have been spent talking to our target customer.

As a product manager, there are as many directions to pursue as there are opinions. And there are a lot of bad opinions. Being able to prioritize, based on what is cheapest, most valuable to the user, and the business is absolutely key. There’s always a compromise, and the reason for your decision must be backed by solid evidence.


The best salespeople are creative. The best product people are creative.

And there’s a reason why you have to be creative: the world is constantly changing.

People are constantly changing.

Adapting to their needs is the never-ending song and dance of our time.

May your listening stay active, your to-do list be ever prioritized, and your creative cup continue to overflow.

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