What it Takes to Be a SaaS Product Manager

Post by
Nir Ehrlich
What it Takes to Be a SaaS Product Manager

Note from the editor:

Being a SaaS product manager is a unique role that offers the opportunity to understand a specific market intimately and stay closely connected with customers through interviews and feedback collection

Taking from my experience as a product leader in both SaaS and B2C companies, from NASDAQ unicorns to being a startup founder, I find the following to be relevant for all product managers, but especially and with more focus for product managers in SaaS companies.  

How’s SaaS product management different?

Unlike other product management roles, SaaS product managers will usually specialize in serving a specific industry or niche, and serve a limited number of customers compared to B2C companies. This allows them to become domain experts and gain a deep understanding of market trends and customer needs. By actively engaging with customers and gathering feedback, SaaS product managers can make data-driven decisions, iterate on their products, and ensure they deliver exceptional value. In this blog post, we will explore the distinct advantages of being a SaaS product manager. Join us as we uncover what it takes to excel as a SaaS product manager.

What can I do to become a successful SaaS product manager?

Throughout my career as a product manager and product leader in SaaS companies, I frequently saw similar patterns that helped me and my teams succeed. Here are the most important ones:

  • Create great relationships with customer facing teams: While it’s important to have great communication and relationships with everyone you work with, building great relationships with customer facing teams allows you to both understand your customers and market better, but also understand the gaps and real pain points to solve with higher priority to make sure you deliver great products. 
  • Build your roadmaps with as wide a consensus as possible: It is important to involve various stakeholders in the process of creating product roadmaps. By soliciting input and feedback from various teams and individuals, as well as scheduling regular meetings to discuss current and future roadmap evolution, you will avoid friction and frustration from questioning why certain decisions were made, and nurture an inclusive culture in your company.
  • Implement tools and methods for stakeholder collaboration: Enable transparency and collaboration by providing stakeholders with visibility into your plans. By leveraging tools and processes that facilitate collaboration, you allow stakeholders to contribute their insights, ideas, and expertise. This inclusive approach fosters a sense of shared ownership and empowers the entire organization to contribute to the product's success.
  • Give your customers a voice: While collecting feedback from millions of end users in B2C companies may be counterproductive, one of the benefits of being a product manager in a SaaS company is that you will usually have a relatively limited number of customers (100’s to 10,000’s), which means you can effectively make sense of and use customer insights. Publish public roadmaps and idea boards (this can be shared with a single customer or many customers depending on context) and make sure you properly manage and update those who contributed insights and ideas to close the feedback loop
  • Separate customer requests from core product development: One of the mistakes I’ve seen in many SaaS companies is mixing custom product requests into the core roadmap. It is crucial to separate customer requests from the core roadmap. While an urgent request from a large customer can put external pressure on you to implement it ASAP, “no matter what”, incorporating every request can lead to delays in delivering core features and disrupt the product's overall roadmap. To manage this effectively, consider having a dedicated professional services team or allocating customer requests to a future quarter, ensuring that they align with the broader product strategy.

The day-to-day of the SaaS product manager

The day-to-day routine of a SaaS product manager is filled with a diverse range of tasks and responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conduct market research and analyze user data to understand customer needs and preferences.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to plan the product roadmap and prioritize features based on business objectives and user feedback.
  • Embrace agile development methodologies by participating in stand-up meetings, sprint planning, and retrospectives to ensure timely delivery of product increments.
  • Continuously gather user feedback through usability testing, customer support channels, and data analytics to validate assumptions and drive product improvements.
  • Communicate and collaborate with stakeholders, including executives, marketing teams, sales teams, and customer success teams, to align product strategies and goals.
  • Monitor competition and analyze industry trends to refine the product vision and strategy.
  • Maintain a customer-centric approach, balancing strategic thinking with tactical execution.
  • Adapt quickly to evolving priorities and effectively manage multiple tasks and responsibilities.

Skill and attributes

In today's dynamic landscape, a successful SaaS product manager must possess a wide range of multidisciplinary skills. Balancing technical knowledge, business understanding, and a customer-centric approach, they navigate the complex intersection of technology and market demands. Here are the key skills that a SaaS product manager needs:

  • Technical Knowledge: SaaS product managers should have a solid understanding of technology and software development processes. This enables effective collaboration with engineering teams, facilitates meaningful discussions around product feasibility, and ensures alignment between technical capabilities and product vision.
  • Business Understanding: A strong grasp of the business side is crucial for SaaS product managers to comprehend the market dynamics, competitive landscape, and customer needs within their industry. By aligning product strategies with business goals and identifying market opportunities, you can drive product success and contribute to the overall growth of the organization.
  • Customer-Focused Mindset: Understanding and empathizing with your customers is a key skill for SaaS product managers. You will be collecting and analyzing user feedback, conducting user research, and translating user needs into product requirements. This skill enables the creation of intuitive and valuable experiences that resonate with customers.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Excellent communication skills are essential for SaaS product managers. Make sure to effectively convey vision, roadmap, and priorities to stakeholders across the organization. Additionally, collaborate seamlessly with cross-functional teams, such as design, engineering, marketing, and sales, fostering a cohesive and collaborative environment.
  • Analytical and Data-Driven Approach: SaaS product managers should possess strong analytical skills to interpret data, make informed decisions, and track key performance indicators. They leverage data to identify trends, evaluate the success of product features, and improve the product iteratively.
  • Adaptability and Agility: Given the fast-paced nature of the SaaS industry, adaptability is crucial. SaaS product managers need to quickly respond to changing market dynamics, customer needs, and technological advancements. You should embrace agile methodologies, iterate rapidly, and pivot when necessary to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Leadership and Influencing Skills: SaaS product managers often need to lead without direct authority. They must inspire and influence teams, effectively manage conflicts, and align stakeholders toward a shared vision. Strong leadership skills will enable you to drive collaboration and successfully navigate complex decision-making processes.
  • Strategic Thinking: Think strategically to define long-term product vision and roadmap. Anticipate market trends, identify growth opportunities, and develop strategies to differentiate products from competitors. Strategic thinking helps to make informed trade-offs and prioritize initiatives that deliver the most value to customers and the business.

Today's SaaS product managers require a diverse skill set that includes technical knowledge, business understanding, customer-centricity, communication, and strategic thinking. By continually honing these skills, SaaS product managers are well-equipped to succeed in this fast-paced and evolving field.

Product-led growth in SaaS companies.

While it is beyond the scope of this article, In short, product-led growth is a customer-centric approach that leverages the product's value and user experience to drive organic growth and foster customer satisfaction. By prioritizing product adoption, usage, and expansion, SaaS companies can create a self-sustaining growth engine fueled by the inherent value of their product. In contrast, sales-led growth relies heavily on sales teams to drive revenue. Salespeople actively engage with potential customers, conduct product demos, negotiate pricing, and close deals. The focus is on driving sales through personal relationships and direct interactions.

As a SaaS product manager, you can employ product-led growth by focusing on delivering a seamless user experience, offering a free or freemium version of the product to attract a wide user base, and continuously iterating on the product to drive adoption, usage, and expansion.

The Importance of Cross-Functional Collaboration in SaaS Product Management

In SaaS product management, cross-functional collaboration plays a crucial role in driving success. It involves working closely with teams from various disciplines, such as design, engineering, marketing, sales, and customer success. By fostering collaboration and effective communication among these teams, SaaS product managers can ensure that everyone is aligned towards a common goal: delivering a valuable and cohesive product experience to customers. Cross-functional collaboration enables the exchange of diverse perspectives, expertise, and ideas, leading to better decision-making, innovative solutions, and improved product outcomes. It allows for a holistic approach to product development, incorporating inputs from different functional areas and ensuring that all aspects, from technical feasibility to marketability, are considered. 

By embracing cross-functional collaboration, SaaS product managers can leverage the collective strengths of their teams, foster a culture of collaboration, and ultimately deliver products that meet customer needs and drive business growth.


Becoming a SaaS product manager is no easy feat. It requires a diverse set of skills, from technical knowledge and business acumen to customer empathy and collaboration. However, the challenges are outweighed by the rewarding and exciting nature of the role. As a SaaS product manager, you have the opportunity to delve into a specific market, understand customer needs intimately, and shape products that have a meaningful impact. It's a dynamic field that constantly evolves, pushing you to learn, adapt, and innovate. So, if you're intrigued by the intersection of technology, business, and customer-centricity, I encourage you to explore further. Dive into the world of product management, embrace the challenges, hone your skills, and become a great product manager. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable!

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