Why Sales Professionals Make the Best Product Managers

Did you know that a career in Sales offers many useful skills for a career in Product Management? In today's article, we are exploring how Salespeople make the best Product Managers!

Sales and Product Management sound extremely different, and one can wonder if it’s ever possible to transition from Sales to Product Management.

If you have the same question, then read on! In this article, we will tell you how these two professions share many common traits and how you could be using these points to rebrand yourself as a Product Manager!

To help us explain this, we are having Kevin Park, a Product Gym member, who successfully transitioned from Sales to Product Management.

If you haven’t already, make sure you watch his unique transition story!

When we ask Kevin the most significant similarity between the two career paths, he tells us that it is stakeholder management.

Salespeople spend most of their time talking to people from different backgrounds to understand their pain points and how to position the product to increase their sales.

Product Management is similar in that an effective Product Manager has to spend the right amount of time talking to different stakeholders, asking questions, and determining the critical KPIs that would help the product succeed in the marketplace.

Perhaps the greatest asset that a Salesperson has is their ability to withstand pressure.

Salespeople work on a 100% commission rate most of the time, and they have to work very hard to get paid. Quitting is not an option for them, and they are solely evaluated based on the number of clients they bring.

Similarly, Product Managers are judged by the KPIs they improve and the impact of their actions on the overall product. So, both professions require one to think quantitively.

Both a Salesperson and a Product Manager are evaluated based on their contribution to teamwork. You succeed as a team, and you fail as a team!

One significant difference between the two professions is the stress factor! Salespeople have to hit the numbers to get paid and keep their jobs. Product Managers, however, are evaluated in a broader spectrum of factors.

Another difference is compensation. According to Kevin, Product Managers get paid better since a PM job starts with steady base pay, unlike Salespeople, who are mostly commission-based. Although there is theoretically no limit on how many clients a Salesperson can convert, Kevin notes that in general, the annual pay is capped at lower hundreds for starting salary.

If there are so many similarities between the two professions in terms of skillsets, then why do Salespeople find it so hard to transition into Product Management?

Kevin notes that the most significant factor is imposter syndrome. Similar to many other professions, Salespeople think that their job is very different from Product Management.

Yes, while Product Management has its own set of skills and conditions for success, it’s also a fact that Salespeople are primed to learn and deliver at the same time under pressure.

Especially in an environment like this where the pressure is incredibly intense due to the global pandemic and economic uncertainty, an effective product manager must know how to operate under stress!

Salespeople know how to generate results quickly, under significant pressure, and limited resources, while dealing with real-time challenges. This is certainly the way a Product Manager has to operate in today’s market!

Kevin also mentions that as a past Salesperson, he is grateful for his career in Product Management!

Coming from an extremely competitive work environment where every minute counts, Kevin, notes the importance of work-life balance that a career in Product Management offers. Instead of seeing his coworkers as his competitors, now he considers them as friends!

Kevin has been helping many Product Gym members coming from a similar background, landing PM jobs ever since he made a successful transition. Make sure you watch the full interview!

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