This week, Product School hosted Aayushi Agarwal, Product Leader at eBay, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Aayushi covers a range of essential topics, talking about product positioning, metrics, and communicating product vision to stakeholders like engineers and executives.
Aayushi Agarwal is a Product Leader with over seven years of PM experience. She is currently working at eBay on Consumer Experiences. During her time with the company, she built their managed payments internal startup that unlocked $2B in incremental revenue opportunity and was a Product Lead for 0 to 1 consumer products. Before this, she was a Senior PM at Cahoot, working alongside their CEO/Founder on the eCommerce fulfillment Saas startup. She has also worked as a Product Management Consultant at PwC and as a Product Manager for American Express.
How would you go about product positioning for a product that can be positioned differently in couple of markets?
That’s an interesting question. I think customer research can reveal a ton about how you as a PM think the product has been positioned, vs what the customers really think about the product.
- If you are planning to scale the products to different markets, partnering with UXR and getting a sense of local landscape, understanding alternative products, and talking to customers, can help understanding this data
- You can also incorporate education content in-app/ product to help sellers learn effectively about the product/features and identify their pattern of usage. This will reveal if there is a need to course correct/change direction
What approach would you suggest to identify the North Star Metric of the product?
North star should ideally represent the company’s long-term objectives and value delivered to customers. A few ways I usually approach this are—metric that measures customer value, revenue goals, and also incremental progress made via the feature/product launched.
How do you say No to executives? How do you get folks to say yes to your vision?
That’s a great skill to develop and continue to hone as a Product Manager. Influencing without authority comes down to how effectively the PM is able to articulate the merits of their ideas. What helps me when entering such discussion rooms is leading with the voice of the customer, being data-informed, and having a good sense of effort vs impact. This allows for an objective discussion that benefits all, leaving aside barriers of hierarchy.
Check out: When Saying ‘No’ Adds Value
How do you help engineering teams see the big picture instead of only focusing on putting out immediate fires?
I cannot emphasize enough how important it can be to share the overall product vision with engineering as you collaborate. Engaging with engineering early and continuously helps. Sharing the ‘why’ behind building a feature keeps the stakeholders motivated.
I usually set up brainstorming sessions with my partners on regular basis. If it is with engineering, it is definitely more focused on technical side, but it helps get them closer to the customer asks and importance of the effort. Hope that helps!
How can we identify if a metric is a business metric or a product metric?
I usually do not segment metric into business and product always. Business metrics are usually more focused on overall company objectives, while product metrics tend to encompass user value, experience, usage, etc.
How you balance the needs of your direct and indirect teams with the hard KPIs of the product? E.g. investing time unblocking team members to enable success (softer people investments) vs. directing that energy to harder line on direct execution.
I feel that comes down to prioritization. Where do you wanna channel the resources and effort to create maximum impact for users and over business. Usually, as the product matures, the focus tends to move from hard KPIs alone to also more nuanced KPIs (e.g. measuring customer delight).
What tools do you use to derive insights from user research? What is the right sample size of user research for a digital consumer product?
User research is crucial for getting to core user needs, so I am glad you are invested in it.
- I usually partner with my research team in advance to chart the things we would like to deep dive into and identify via interviews/group discussions, etc. This helps to keep the research focused and subsequently get back to the whiteboard with insights/feedbacks to the right problems
- There isn’t a right number, sample size may vary depending on the total customers and user personas you are building for b2b, b2c, c2c. If the product serves multiple customer personas, I suggest having a good distribution across
Do you propose design solutions to engineering team during brainstorming sessions or do you step back from hands-on design?
Great question, I trust the expertise of engineering/architecture teams for tech designs. However, as a PM I am definitely plugged in to always highlight the right user experience we want to deliver, and make a case of having the most optimized platform design with those considerations.
Another great read: Characteristics of Exceptional Product Managers
I’m a software developer with 7 years of experience. I want to make a shift to a PM role. What do you think should be my focus area?
I would recommend highlighting the value you bring as a developer. I also recommend networking with PM colleagues/designers/business partners and learning more about a PM’s day-to-day. It will help you develop other PM skills. I have seen many people transition internally from engineering to PM roles, so that’s an option you may leverage.
Any final advice?
PM roles tend to be intimidating at first, either when applying as an aspirant or getting started for the first few years, but you gotta keep HUSTLING, because that is what Product Management is all about in the end. For folks who are getting started, identify your strengths, master those, and learn how can you demonstrate PM experience through other work you have done. That can go a long way to get your foot in the door. PMs who are getting started… You’ll figure it out! Keep building and continue to network with other PMs and stakeholders to improve your craft.